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Gujarat local body polls acid test for Anandiben

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Gandhinagar: With more than half its population of 63.8 million going to the polls on November 22 and 29, the elections to 323 local self-government bodies in Gujarat will be a major popularity test for Chief Minister Anandiben Patel.

Anandiben Patel will face her first full-scale election after taking over as chief minister from her mentor and now Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2014. There were some assembly and local body by-elections last year, which produced a mixed bag of results.

The local body elections will be held with the state’s first woman chief minister in office for close to two years. Since the electorate of 35.5 million will be from both urban and rural areas, the results will be a referendum on her rule without Modi around. The term of the present state assembly expires in December 2017.

Agreeing that the elections will be a true test, the seniormost minister and government spokesperson Nitin Patel told IANS: “Every election is an acid test. Our party has begun preparations for the polls and has started the process to select candidates.”

Anandiben Patel is confident that people will again repose faith in the Bhratiya Janata Party (BJP).

The Congress however seems confident of overcoming the BJP challenge.

Gujarat Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki says: “We are exposing the failure of the BJP in municipalities. There is dirt, filth, corruption, everywhere. These are the real issues.”

Another task was to consolidate the Congress rank and file and iron out differences,says Solanki

According to State Election Commissioner Varesh Sinha, polling will be held first on November 22 for the municipal corporations of Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Jamnagar, all of which are controlled by the BJP, and have 9.49 million eligible voters. The votes will be counted on November 26.

The terms of two other newly-created municipal corporations of Gandhinagar and Junagadh, also under BJP rule, expire after six months and four years respectively.

The November 29 voting will be for 230 taluka (tehsil) panchayats, 56 nagarpalikas (municipalities) and 31 district panchayats. The vote count is due on December 2.

There are 3.66 million voters in the municipalities, while the taluka panchayats account for the largest electorate of 22.3 million voters. The mandate from the taluka panchayat areas is considered crucial since they comprise a mix of urban and rural population.

At present, the BJP controls 150 taluka panchayats, 42 municipalities and 30 district panchayats, excluding that of tribal-dominated Tapi in south Gujarat which is with the Congress.

The uncanny nervousness in the BJP government was evident when it promulgated an ordinance postponing the local body elections citing law and order concerns in the wake of the agitation by the Patel community.

The BJP had to face these elections after the State Election Commission was pulled up by the Gujarat High Court, which described as unconstitutional the move to put off the electoral process. It wondered why elections to local bodies could not be held when polling could be conducted in strife-torn Jammu and Kashmir.

(Darshan Desai,IANS)

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Over 81% Delhiites Received Fake News On Social Media During Assembly Elections, Reveals Survey

he survey, however, revealed that 60 per cent of the population stated that they made efforts to authenticate the news with a search on Google, Facebook, and Twitter

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Fake News
The epidemic of fake news is threatening the basic fragment of our democracy. Pixabay

Over 81 per cent of Delhi’s population received fake news through various social media platforms as the Assembly elections neared, according to a new survey by non-profit Social Media Matters and Institute for Governance, Policies and Politics.

Facebook and WhatsApp were the leading platforms that were used for the dissemination of misinformation, showed the results.

“The epidemic of fake news is threatening the basic fragment of our democracy. When the voter is in a constant state of cognitive dissonance how are they expected to make an informed choice. As a nation, it has to be our priority to bring an end to it,” Amitabh Kumar, Founder, Social Media Matters, said in a statement.

The Delhi Assembly elections were held on February 8. The results declared on February 11 saw the Aam Aadmi Party winning 62 of the 70 seats, bringing the Arvind Kejriwal-led government back to power with a massive victory.

The survey “Delhi – #DontBeAFool” was conducted on a sample size of 400 people to interrogate dissemination, penetration and impact of fake news spread via social media on the elections.

Rumours spread ahead of the elections included allegations that women participating in the sit-in protests at Shaheen Bagh were being paid to demonstrate against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Moreover, tweets of renowned individuals proved to be volatile before elections. A tweet by BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra along with a video clip of AAP leader Amanatullah Khan falsely claimed that Khan was talking about creating a “Sharia” law.

Fake News
Over 81 per cent of Delhi’s population received fake news through various social media platforms as the Assembly elections neared, according to a new survey by non-profit Social Media Matters and Institute for Governance, Policies and Politics. Pixabay

About 40 per cent of the people who participated in the survey were between 18-25 years of age. While 63 per cent of the respondents were males, 36 per cent were females and 1 per cent were transgenders.

The survey, however, revealed that 60 per cent of the population stated that they made efforts to authenticate the news with a search on Google, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Nearly 62.5 per cent of the respondents suggested that they have never been affected by fake news, but 72 per cent of them said they knew about people who have been misled by misinformation. (IANS)