11 November 2020
A) Bihar Elections: NDA and Mahagathbandhan locked in close fight.
As the counting of votes continued, the JD(U)-BJP combine of NDA and the RJD-led Mahagathbandhan (MGB) were going neck and neck in a close race to the majority mark of 122 seats in an assembly of 243. The final outcome of the Bihar elections is expected to be clear later tonight. One indication of how close this election has been the vote shares: with 82% of the votes counted, NDA had a vote share of 37.18%, while the MGB had 37.08%. Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM), which was given tags like ‘vote cutter’ and spoiler in the Bihar assembly polls, appeared set to win five seats in the RJD’s stronghold of Seemanchal. With the election results on a knife’s edge, AIMIM could play a key role in the formation of the next government in case there is a hung assembly. After 12 hours of counting, as per provisional data from the Election Commission, the lead margins in over 100 seats were less than 5,000 votes. The RJD on Tuesday accused Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his deputy, Sushil Kumar Modi, of applying pressure on district and election officials to that ensure verdicts in closely-contested seats are declared in favour of the ruling JDU-BJP alliance. In a tweet posted in Hindi, the RJD’s party handle said officials were delaying counting in at least 10 seats and not handing certificates to winning candidates from others. The Nitish Kumar administration is delaying counting in 10 seats. Candidates who have won have not been given certificates. Sitting in the Chief Minister’s house, Nitish Kumar and Sushil Kumar are making the Chief Secretary exert pressure on officials for seats where the margin is slim, the party said. Most exit polls had predicted a comfortable victory for the MGB, an alliance comprising the RJD, the Congress, and Left parties (CPM, CPI and CPI-ML). But at the time of publication, in terms of seats won and leads, the NDA was headed for a final tally of 123, while the MGB was set to get 113, with Chirag Paswan’s LJP on course for zero wins.
B) Bypoll results: BJP secures majority in MP, sweeps Gujarat, Karnataka.
Along with the Bihar Assembly elections, results were also coming in for the by-polls held in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Manipur. In Madhya Pradesh, the most consequential of these by-polls, the BJP is assured of a majority in the Assembly, with the party securing nine, and on course to win 19 out of the 28 seats that saw polling. The BJP needed at least eight of the 28 seats in the Assembly by-polls to attain a simple majority in the 230-member Assembly, whose effective strength is 229. The bypolls in M.P. are being seen as a barometer of Jyotiraditya Scindia’s influence in the changed political scenario in the State. The Congress, still smarting from Scindia’s defection, was hoping to make a dent in the Gwalior-Chambal region, believed to be a stronghold of the Scindias, but has failed to do so. At the time of writing, the Congress had won one seat and was leading in eight. In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP was ahead in six of the seven seats, while the Samajwadi Party (SP) was leading on one. On Monday, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav had accused the BJP of rigging the elections in its favour. He, however, did not elaborate on the accusation, and said he would provide details after the results are declared on 10 November. In Gujarat, the BJP swept all the eight assembly seats that saw elections. In Karnataka, too, it made a clean sweep, winning both Sira in Tumkur district and Rajarajeshwarinagar in Bengaluru. In Manipur, BJP candidates won two seats while an Independent candidate bagged one in the by-elections to four Assembly constituencies, the results of which were announced on November 10.
C) Arnab Goswami moves Supreme Court for bail.
The Bombay High Court had on 9 November had refused to grant interim bail to Goswami and two others in the case and asked them to move the local court for relief. An apex court Bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Indira Banerjee will hear his bail plea. Meanwhile, the Alibaug Sessions Court today reserved its order on the revised petition filed by Raigad police challenging the order of the Chief Judicial Magistrate refusing police custody of Goswami and sending him to judicial custody instead. It will pronounce its verdict in this case on Thursday. The bail application filed by Goswami in this court has also been listed for hearing on the same day.
D) Top commanders ironing out process to reach pact: Gen Naravane
Senior military commanders of India and China were ironing out the modalities of how to proceed ahead. They are very hopeful that we will be able to reach an agreement that is mutually acceptable and mutually beneficial, said Army Chief Gen Manoj Naravane on 10 November on the situation in eastern Ladakh. The Army Chief also asserted that there was no shortage of extreme weather clothing or equipment for troops deployed on the front line. They had the 8th round of talks on November 6 between the highest military-level commanders on both sides. They are ironing out the modalities of how to proceed within the overarching guidelines, which had been communicated post the interactions and meetings between the respective Ministers [Defence and External Affairs), Gen Naravane said at the defence attach conclave organised by news portal Bharat Shakti. It was discussed by the defence ministers that it has to be an overall solution to the entire issue which brought this situation to the fore. Within those guidelines, they are discussing how to actually achieve it on the ground, he said.
A) EU charges Amazon with distorting competition
European Union regulators on 10 November has charged Amazon with distorting competition in online retail and opened a second investigation into its business practices. The European Commission has been investigating Amazon’s dual role as a marketplace for merchants and also a rival seller since July last year, following complaints from traders about the company’s practices. It has also looked into how Amazon uses competitively sensitive merchant data to select winners for its buy box, which allows customers to add items from a specific retailer directly into their shopping carts. They must ensure that dual-role platforms with market power, such as Amazon, do not distort competition, said Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, who has a reputation of being one of the world’s toughest antitrust regulators. Data on the activity of third-party sellers should not be used to the benefit of Amazon when it acts as a competitor to these sellers. The conditions of competition on the Amazon platform must also be fair, she added. The charges come as the Covid-19 pandemic has amplified Amazon’s role in the global economy, with online sales soaring. The second investigation is into the possible preferential treatment of Amazon’s own retail offers and those of marketplace sellers that use Amazon’s logistics and delivery services. Amazon has disagreed with the EU charges. The company can ask for a closed door hearing to defend itself. The final decision from EU could come next year.
B) Trump accuses Pfizer of delaying vaccine announcement
Incumbent United States President Donald Trump has accused the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and drug manufacturer Pfizer of withholding the announcement on Covid-19 vaccine ahead of the presidential elections in the country to deny him a vaccine win. His comments came after Pfizer and German biotechnology company Bio M.Tech. announced that their coronavirus vaccine was more than 90% effective in phase three clinical trials. The US Food and Drug Administration and the Democrats didn’t want to have me get a Vaccine WIN, prior to the election, so instead it came out five days later as he have said all along! Trump said in a tweet without giving any evidence to back the claim. Trump also fired Defence Secretary Mark Esper and is reportedly looking at terminating other top security officials, including FBI director Christopher Wray. He has still not formally conceded the election to President-elect Joe Biden and his campaign has launched legal suits in several states challenging the validity of the election outcome.