Second phase of Bihar Assembly polls; US Presidential Election Day; UK court to hear Nirav Modi extradition case; IPL: SRH vs MI; Champions League (Real Madrid vs Inter Milan, Man City vs Olympiacos, RB Salzburg vs Bayern Munich)
It is Election Day in the United States. American voters — an eclectic mix of white, black, Hispanics and Asian-Americans — decide whether to give incumbent Donald Trump a second term or pass the baton to Joe Biden of the Democratic Party, to be the 46th President of the country. A decision the world keenly awaits.
More than 11 million Asian-Americans are eligible to vote, the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group in the US, as per Pew Research. Biden’s running mate is Kamala Harris; Trump’s is Mike Pence.
But nothing in 2020 has been the usual, and neither is this US election. Over 94 million have already cast their vote, either by mail or in person — an early voting record. For context, 138 million voted in total in the 2016 election. With millions more to vote today, the US is on course for a record turnout.
We wouldn’t immediately know who the winner is. Due to the high number of mail-in votes this time, the counting could take days.
To be clear, Trump and Biden are not the only candidates. There are others: from Green Party’s Howie Hawkins to independents like Kanye West and Brock Pierce. But the two-party dominance of US politics means no independent candidate has ever been elected as President, save for the very first, George Washington.
In effect, it is Trump vs Biden. Most polls show Biden holds an edge. But polls were spectacularly wrong in 2016.
The election isn’t a full direct vote. The eligible voters are essentially telling the Electors of their state who they want as the President. There are 538 such Electors: 100 senators (2 per state) and 438 representatives (distributed by state population). That’s the Electoral College system. To win the White House, a candidate must win at least 270 electoral votes.
This exercise in American democracy has profound global implications. Since World War II, the US has been the preeminent global power. It still is, despite China’s rise. Trump has steered the US in an “America first” direction that has upset many of its allies, though ties with India have strengthened. Biden has promised to bring back multilateralism and greater cooperation with allies, including India.
The polls: Bihar today votes in the second and penultimate phase of assembly polls, which will be held in 94 constituencies spread over 17 districts. Over 2.86 crore voters will exercise their franchise at 41,362 polling booths. Keeping an eye would be 1,174 companies of central armed police force.
The biggies: This phase, which will see polling in maximum number of seats among all phases, will decide the fate of seven ministers in the Nitish Kumar cabinet and heavyweights like opposition’s CM face Tejashwi Yadav (from Raghopur) and his elder brother Tej Pratap (Hasanpur). Tejashwi, who was dismissed as a mere pretender just weeks ago, has been the lone crowd puller for the opposition. The fact that the home districts of both chief minister Nitish Kumar and his long-standing rival Lalu Prasad are part of this phase adds an extra edge to the contest.
The fight: In 28 seats, RJD candidates are locked in direct contest with BJP nominees while on 24 seats, they will take on JD(U) candidates. Congress candidates are contesting 12 seats each against JD(U) and BJP nominees.
The past: In the 2015 assembly elections, the RJD had won 33 of these 94 seats, while 30 seats had gone to JD(U). The Congress had got 7, BJP 20 and LJP 2. One seat each had gone to CPI-ML and an independent. BJP, JD(U) and RJD had all got a higher share of the vote in this area than in the state as a whole. The RJD, JD(U) and the Congress had contested the 2015 assembly elections together.
The choice: Out of the 3,722 election candidates analysed by poll rights group Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), 1,201 (or 32%) have declared criminal cases against themselves. In the 2015 elections, out of 3,450 candidates analysed, 1,038 (or 30%) had declared criminal cases against themselves.
The vote: Along with Bihar, voters across several states will vote in by-elections to fill 54 of the 63 vacant seats today.
The turncoats: The biggest chunk of 28 seats is in Madhya Pradesh, which fell vacant when rebel Congress members resigned from the party and the assembly to join the BJP. Elections for eight seats in Gujarat were necessitated after the sitting Congress MLAs resigned ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls held in June this year.
The vacancies: Most of the other seats fell vacant due to the death of sitting MLAs. Voting will also be held in seven seats in Uttar Pradesh; two each in Odisha, Nagaland, Karnataka, and Jharkhand; and one seat each in Chhattisgarh, Telangana, and Haryana.
The commission: The Supreme Court on Monday expressed serious reservation over Election Commission’s power to strip the leader of a political party the status of ‘star campaigner’ and stayed the EC’s October 30 order divesting Congress leader Kamal Nath’s similar status for Madhya Pradesh bye-elections.
Its powers: The apex court told EC: “We are staying the order. You do not have the power. Where do you get the power to decide who should be the leader of the political party to enjoy star campaigner status. We will examine the issue.”
A new equation: All 10 candidates — eight from BJP and one each from SP and BSP — were elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha from UP. Another BJP candidate was elected unopposed from Uttarakhand. The nine new seats take BJP’s tally in the Upper House to 92, its highest-ever. The Congress tally in RS, on the other hand, has been reduced to 38, its lowest.
Up: The IHS Markit India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to its highest level in over 12 years, to 58.9 in October, compared to 56.8 in September — boosted by a surge in new orders and output due to relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions as also increase in exports. A score above 50 indicates economic expansion.
Down: India’s unemployment rate again went on an upswing, to 6.98% in October from 6.67% in September, after falling from 8.35% in August, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). Rural unemployment was the major reason for the rise in joblessness, rising from 5.86% in September to 6.90% in October.
Up: The pick up in industrial and commercial demand also led to a double digit growth of power consumption, which rose 13.38% year-on-year in October, to 110.94 billion units (BU) — from 97.84 BU in October 2019.
Down: Gross direct tax collections for the period April-October dipped 22% to Rs 4.95 lakh crore, compared to the same period last year — with corporate tax collection down by 26%, to Rs 2.65 lakh crore.
Meanwhile, spooked by fears over the health of Reliance Industries (RIL) chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani, coupled with a 15% drop in Q2 net profit, shares of India’s biggest company by market value tanked over 9.5% intraday — the biggest intraday fall after March when the scrip fell over 12% — before finally closing down 8.62% at Rs 1,877.45, wiping out over Rs 1 lakh crore of investors’ wealth.
Mumbai Indians (MI) had already cemented top spot on the points table, and Delhi Capitals (DC) guaranteed themselves second place on Monday with a win against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), thanks to an all-round effort. First up, the South African pace duo of Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje did well to keep RCB to below 160. Twin fifties from Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane then propped them up during the reply.
MI and DC will now be playing Thursday’s Qualifier 1. The winner directly reaches the IPL 2020 final, while the loser plays the winner of the Eliminator to determine the second finalist.
Now, RCB needed to stretch the chase till 17.3 overs or more to end up with a better net run-rate than Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and seal their spot in the Eliminator — contested between the third- and fourth-placed teams of the league stage. And they did, with DC reaching their target with an over to spare.
So, who will RCB play in the Eliminator? The final league stage match today, between Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and MI, holds the answer.
If SRH win: SRH finish third on the table and face RCB.
If SRH lose: KKR finish fourth and face RCB.
The scorecard:DC 154/4 (Rahane 60, Dhawan 54) beat RCB 152/7 (Padikkal 50, Nortje 3-33) by 6 wickets
Gunmen stormed Kabul University as it was hosting a book fair on Monday, sparking an hours-long battle with security forces and killing at least 19 and injuring 22. A government spokesperson said there were three attackers involved in the assault, all of whom were killed in the ensuing firefight. The attackers were shooting indiscriminately at students, a witness told Reuters.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack; the Taliban said the assailants were not theirs. Officials and observers suspect the Islamic State. Last month, an Islamic State suicide bomber had targeted a seminary Kabul’s Shiite dominated neighbourhood of Dasht-e-Barchi, killing 24 students and injuring more than 100.
The attack comes as the Afghan government representatives are holding peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar. Afghanistan has seen a spate of deadly attacks in recent weeks as the Islamic State and its affiliates target Shiites and other religious minorities. The Taliban and Afghan security forces have also engaged in fighting despite the peace talks.
The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to file a status report in six weeks on the confidential legal proceedings pending in the UK on extradition of fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya to India. The apex court has posted it for hearing in the first week of January 2021.
This after the Centre, on October 5, had told the apex court that Mallya cannot be extradited to India until a separate “secret” legal process in the UK, which is “judicial and confidential in nature is resolved”.
The bench also refused to accept the plea of Mallya’s lawyer EC Agarwala in the apex court, seeking discharge from the case due to his client’s non-cooperation. More details here.
Also: The Westminster Magistrates Court in London will hold a one-day hearing today in the Nirav Modi extradition case, days after he was refused bail for the sixth time on October 26.
Tuesday’s hearing will be on the issue of admissibility of evidence presented by the Indian government against Modi.
The National Green Tribunal Monday issued a notice to the ministry of environment and forests and four state governments (Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan) on whether use of fire crackers be banned from November 7-30 in the interest of public health and environment.
The tribunal was hearing a plea by Indian Social Responsibility Network seeking action against pollution by use of firecrackers in the national capital region during the time air quality is unsatisfactory with potential of severity of Covid-19 pandemic.
The Rajasthan government on Sunday decided to ban the sale and bursting of firecrackers in view of its adverse impact on Covid-19 patients and those suffering from heart and respiratory diseases.
Doctors in states like Jharkhand and West Bengal have appealed to the respective state governments to make Diwali a smoke-free affair given its potential impact on those suffering from lung ailments.
New Zealand. Ernakulam, Kerala-born Priyanca Radhakrishnan, 41, on Monday became the country’s first-ever Indian-origin minister after PM Jacinda Ardern inducted five new ministers into her executive. (New Zealand placed second on the 2020 Global Peace Index, behind Iceland.)
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