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Homai Vyarawalla: The trailblazer who became India’s first woman photojournalist

Chronicling the life and times of India’s first woman photojournalist Homai Vyarawalla.

NCB to spring New Year Eve surprise at Ahmedabad colleges

The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) of Ahmedabad will carry out surprise checks at city’s colleges this New Year’s Eve, the agency has alerted college authorities. The move is aimed to ensure students don’t consume drugs at parties. The agency has also told college authorities that any student caught with drugs will have to face strict action.Students in many colleges throw parties during New Year’s Eve. In the past, NCB officials have nabbed college students consuming and supplying drugs, and they were let off with a warning.According to Hari Om Gandhi, Zone Director of NCB, the agency has cautioned college authorities based on some specific information that some students have been indulging in drug peddling.”We have alerted the more than 50 college authorities. We are going to deploy our officers on college campuses around the New Year’s Eve to keep a watch on any illegal activity. Our team is going to conduct surprise checks at colleges and hostels both during the day and at night. We are going to take strict action against students caught with drugs and alcohol,” said Gandhi.The 50 colleges that the NCB has reached out to include the National Institute of Design, CEPT, Gujarat University, Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University, NIFT, etc.

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Kamala Mills fire: Escape to Nowhere

The Victims Khushboo BhansaliOn the stroke of midnight Friday, Khushboo Bhansali’s mother wished her daughter on her 28th birthday It was to be their last conversation. Bhansali, who died in the fire in 1 Above restaurant on Friday, was out to celebrate with her husband Jayesh, sister, and 17 other family friends when the mishap took place. The fire broke out minutes after Khushboo cut her birthday cake. Khushboo and her friend Kinjal Shah rushed to the washroom, hoping they would be safe there. But they suffocated due to the smoke and lack of ventilation. However, her husband Jayesh, her younger sister Cherry Mehta, her husband, and other friends managed to escape. “Jayesh did check the ladies washroom if Khushboo was there. But he did not find her as she was in the gents’ washroom. Thinking she had run downstairs, Jayesh also went down along with the other friends,” her uncle Jethmal Bothra said.Kavita Dharani & Tejal GandhiEvery year Kavita Dharani and Tejal Gandhi, both 36, would look forward to the annual get-together with their other cousin sisters – a tradition they had been following for years. This year, however, what was intended to a joyous affair turned to tragedy. Seven sisters and the daughters of two of them, nine people in all, decided to meet before the new year set in. After meeting at Ghatkopar, all the sisters went to 1 Above, they started dinner at around 11 pm. As the fire broke out in the eatery at 12:30 am, all the sisters ran for the exit, except for Kavita and Tejal who sought refuge in the ladies washroom and succumbed to suffocation. The other sisters escaped. “Unfortunately, Kavita and Tejal had to lose their lives due to a small judgment that went wrong” said Nimesh Shah, their uncle. Tejal, who resides in Ghatkopar, was the only support of her ageing parents. “I cannot describe what it means to lose our only daughter in such an unfortunate manner. We can never recover from this loss” her father Harshad Gandhi said.Yasha ThakkarGrief-stricken residents of Salval Apartments in Paldi gathered on Friday afternoon as they waited for 27-yr-old Yasha Thakkar’s mother, who was on her way back from Mumbai after her daughter perished in the fire at Kamala Mills. On her arrival, she was inconsolable, insisting her daughter was fine. “Yasha will be coming home soon. Nothing has happened to her,” she kept saying. Of the 14 who died on Thursday night was Yasha Thakkar, a chartered accountant, who was visiting Mumbai to ring in the New Year with her cousins. Her body was brought to Ahmedabad by her husband Aalap Thakkar, also a CA. Ironically, Yasha had survived a car accident almost exactly a year ago, on New Year’s Eve. “While her cousins were done with dinner, she went to the washroom on her way out and got trapped. Yasha died due to suffocation,” a neighbour told DNA. Luck on Their SidePratik ThakkarTwenty-eight-year-old Pratik Thakkar who is being treated at Tardeo’s Bhatia Hospital, escaped the tragedy with minor burns on both his hands. Thakkar, a resident of Dadar, had gone to 1 Above with friends and family. Thakkar’s group was having dinner when people started screaming. “People did not know where to run as the staircase was too narrow for so many people to escape. People were not aware of the fire escape which led to even more chaos” said Thakkar.Siddharth ShroffAs the fire started to rage, 41-year-old Siddharth Shroff tried escaping but failed due to the panic that ensued. According to him, the narrow exit was the main reason for the chaos. One of his cousins suffered burn injuries, too. “One of my NRI cousins has suffered 30 to 40 per cent burn injuries. People were seeking help and searching for the fire escape gate. Luckily, a man at Kamala Mills took me to KEM hospital in his private vehicle and I was attended to in the nick of time.”Pooja KhubchandaniA group that was celebrating a friend’s birthday had a lucky escape at Mojo’s Bristo. This group, all of whom live in the suburbs and normally do not come to this part of town, decided, for a change, to celebrate at Mojo’s. “The group said that they that there was chaos as exit marks were not clearly visible and the staff did not seem to be trained. When we tried to open doors, we would either get into some toilet or a dead-end,” said Pooja Khubchandani, a resident of Khar.Subha G AroraWhenever there’s a fire, people tend to rush for the exit, but running towards the kitchen saved a doctor and her friend’s life. The fire, she recalled, started at around 12.15 am. “We saw a small fire at one corner and within seconds the whole restaurant was gutted,” she told DNA. Arora’s friend, who turned back and saw her lying on the floor, rushed to pick her up, and suggested they head for the kitchen, from where they made their way out.Akshay BalwaniAkshay Balwani, 23, a resident of Chembur was among those injured in the Kamala Mills restaurant fire, and has been admitted to the National Burns Centre (NBC) in Airoli in Navi Mumbai. According to doctors at the hospital, Balwani received about 12 per cent burns on his hands and the back and side of his head. Balwani was at MoJo’s Bistro along with nine other college friends for a reunion. Fortunately, Balwani’s friends escaped unhurt in the fire, but he was not as lucky enough as tarpaulin and bamboo shed fell on him. Heroes to the endDhairya Lalani, 26; Vishwa, 25lived up to his name which meant courage in Hindi. He had come down from the US to visit his family before taking up a job and was at 1 Above with his brother Vishwa, 25, with other family members.As the fire struck, both herded eight of their family members and moved them to safety, only to realise their aunt Pramila Kenia, 65, was nowhere to be seen. When they realized she had gone to washroom and was trapped there, they rushed to bring her back. Only this time, they could not come back. Thick clouds of smoke engulfed them and choked them to death. Their aunt too could not make it.Mahesh Sable & Suraj GiriWhile narrow staircase and closure of lifts proved to be hindrance in evacuating people in two different restaurants, Mahesh Sable and Suraj Giri, security staff from the same building, helped a number of people get to safety. “Around 150 people inside Mojo’s Bistro were evacuated after I guided them towards the emergency fire exit and further breaking the door as it was locked,” Sable told DNA. “It took another 30 minutes for this 150 people to leave the premises. After which I also helped around 15-20 people who were stuck in a restaurant next to Mojo’s Bistro..”Sudarshan ShindeSudarshan Shinde was one of the first policemen to reach the spot and managed to pull out three bodies even before the stretchers arrived.Hauling one body at a time on his shoulders, Shinde pulled three victims from the rubble. The woman in the picture was coughing, according to Shinde, and was eventually put in an ambulance. She even waved to her friends signalling that she was fine. However, she died on the way to hospital due to lack of oxygen, Shinde added.DeadJeet- 49 yrs Preeti – 36 yrs Tejal Unknown – 40 yrs Pramila Vishva- 23 yrs Veena- 28 yrs Kavita- 36 yrs Paroli- 30 yrs Dhairya- 26 yrs Manisha- 30 yrs Yasha- 27 Unknown Unknown InjuredShefali (Critical) Khushboo (Critical) Rohan- 22 yrs Abhishekh – 22 yrs Deep – 31 yrs Utsav- 27 yrs Ankita – 30 yrs Siddharth- 24 yrs Divya – 24 yrs Neha- 28 yrs Neh – 20 yrs Shankra Jeet- 21 yrs Yash – 22 yrs AftermathVarious theories are being floated as cause for the fire- short circuit, hookah, and even a fire act that went awry. An inquiry by the Fire department will ascertain the real cause over next few weeks. One of the officials who was suspended in the wake of fire, had reportedly sought to demolish the roof that was fire hazard, but he was disallowed. BMC woke up after the horses had bolted the stables and demolished few structures at Kamala Mills premises, Raghuvanshi Mill Compound and has promised to continue the action later today as well. When ZEE 24 Taas visited other resto bars in the premises, it was business as usual and crowd seemed little awar of what happened on Thursday night.

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Treatment to Jadhav’s kin like ‘Draupadi’s Vastra-haran’, Pak should be broken to four parts: Subramanian Swamy

Terming the treatment meted to alleged spy Kulbhushan Jadhav’s relatives in Pakistan during their meeting as ‘Draupadi Vastra-Haran’, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy on Tuesday said that India should now break the neighbouring country into four parts by waging a war.Reacting to treatment meted to Jadhav’s wife and mother, Dr Swamy said, `Draupadi’s Vastraharan had led to Mahabharat. We should wage a war and break Pakistan by creating 3 other countries of Sindh, Baluchisthan and Paktunisthan. Whenever I express such opinions, that becomes views of the party’. Ridiculing surgical strikes as solutions,Swamy said, ” In surgical strikes, we kill 2-3 Pakistanis and they kill our people but time has come to destroy Pakistan.” Replying to a question whether waging war against Pakistan would lead to third world war, Swamy said, ” Who would come in between if we destroy Pakistan? Pakistan does not understand logic and it is fomenting terrorism.”Also readFrom disallowing speaking in Marathi to forced to remove bangles: Jadhav’s kin harassed by PakStating that there is no need to declare war just now with Pakistan,Swamy said, “We should prepare for war and prepare with an objective of launching a military offensive to break Pakistan into four countries.”Swamy opined against giving medical visas for Pakistani citizens to come to India and avail medical treatment. Addressing students and invitees at VJTI guest lecture series, Swamy ridiculed Income Tax and said, “Income tax is idiotic tax and first thing India needs to do is to abolish Income tax.”Also readKulbhushan Jadhav’s family was harassed; wife had to remove mangal sutra, bindi: India exposes Pakistan’s PR showExpressing the need for creating conducive atmosphere for promoting innovations by young students, BJP MP said, “India should increase allocation for education to 6 per cent of GDP.’ In his inimitable style, he criticised Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Sanjay Gandhi and praised Lal Bahadur Shastri for bringing in Green Revolution.

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No decision taken on Rahul Gandhi’s elevation to UPA President: Moily

Senior Congress leader M Veerappa Moily has said that no decision has been taken on whether Sonia Gandhi would continue to occupy the position of UPA chairperson or make way for new party president Rahul Gandhi.Moily acknowledged there are calls for her continuation in the position, but said Rahul Gandhi, who assumed charge as the Congress president earlier this month, is also capable of holding the post.”Rahul Gandhi is also capable,” the former Union minister told PTI yesterday.The decision on the UPA’s chairmanship has not yet been taken and “it is left to them (Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi),” he said.Ever since Sonia Gandhi stepped down as the Congress president, there was speculation whether Rahul Gandhi would assume charge of the UPA chairperson or she would continue in the position.Asked if it would “help” if Sonia Gandhi continued to be the UPA chairperson, Moily declined to comment and said, “Ultimately, it’s between them (Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi); they will have to take a call.”He said Sonia Gandhi has “managed the party very well” during her 19-year tenure as the Congress president, adding that “she has to continue to be active in providing advice and, while running the party by Rahulji, she has to be behind him always.”She should continue to be a part of the decision- making process and her “wise counsel” should always prevail on the Congress, the former chief minister of Karnataka said.On TMC leader Derek O’Brien’s statement that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has the “finest credentials” to take on the BJP in 2019, Moily said it’s not an “objective” assessment.He argued that ever since Sonia Gandhi became the party president and also the leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP), she has provided “best leadership” for the party and also the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).”Most of the coalition partners…Including the Left…TMC…Everybody joined. That kind of leadership should be holistic, comprehensive and it should be inspiring,” Moily said.”That kind of inspiring leadership in the country… inspiring coalition was done under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi,” he said.”Even now, she should continue to play that effective role. That’s why people say that she has to continue as the CLP leader, the chairman of the coordination committee and also the coalition (UPA),” he further said.On O’Brien’s remark that if the anti-BJP forces come together, they can defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2019 elections, Moily said it’s possible.”It has been proved. Even the TMC was a part of our (Congress-led UPA) government, the Left parties also supported…Even the SP, Mayawati supported us. There is a history. The anti-BJP forces always united under the inspiring and dynamic leadership of Sonia Gandhi,” he said.

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Who will challenge BJP? For Arvind Kejriwal and Rahul Gandhi, one’s loss is the other’s gain

They are roughly the same age, both have been lampooned mercilessly on social media and are hoping to oust the BJP from power.But the similarities, perhaps, are not the link between Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal, 49, and Congress president Rahul Gandhi, 47. What threads their fates together is that one man’s success could spell the other’s failure.”Rahul Gandhi’s gain is Kejriwal’s loss,” said rebel AAP MLA Kapil Mishra. “Both parties vie for the same vote base.”Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal’s attempts to establish himself as an alternative to the Congress seem to be running into rough waters with the party’s improved performance in the recent Gujarat polls under the leadership of its president.The two parties are vastly different, of course. The Congress is 132 years old; AAP has just celebrated its fifth anniversary. The former has a pan-Indian presence, while AAP rules Delhi and is present only in patches in the north.But when AAP came to power in Delhi, it did so by engulfing Congress votes. In 2015, the Congress couldn’t win a single seat. Its vote share dipped to 9 %, whereas the BJP’s remained more or less the same.Now a string of ignominious defeats has battered AAP’s image, posing a threat to the image of its leader, Kejriwal.The chief minister’s influence now seems to be on the wane, while the Congress president’s is on an all-time high.AAP’s success was linked to Congress defeat. Will the Gujarat elections, fought by the Congress leader with such vigour that it upped its 2012 tally of 61 seats to 78, spell bad news for AAP?”Gandhi is yet to make a mark if you compare him with Modi’s electoral performance since 2014. But his rise will have an impact on Kejriwal,” said a former AAP leader.Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) director Sanjay Kumar points out that the AAP leader’s popularity has already taken a hit.?Kejriwal?s ratings have already gone down drastically, as has his popularity in the last few months,? Kumar said.A recent survey by the Pew Research Center, a US-based fact-tank, states that in 2017, 39 % of the people had a favourable view of Kejriwal, down from 60 % in 2015.Born out of the anti-graft movement, four years ago Kejriwal seemed to have captured the imagination of the people, fatigued by the corruption charges that mired the then UPA government led by Mammohan Singh and the Delhi government of three-time chief minister Sheila Dikshit.The Congress’s vote share in the 2008 polls was 40.31 %, which earned it 43 seats in the Delhi Assembly.In 2013, when Kejriwal’s AAP’s stormed to power in Delhi, the Congress was down to eight seats. A year later, in the Lok Sabha polls, Gandhi’s party managed a mere 44 seats.In the Assembly polls in 2015, AAP decimated the opposition, bagging 67 seats with a vote share of 54.3 %. That it won from all the minority dominated areas in Delhi indicated it had ousted the Congress from its bastions.Kejriwal?s visit to the Hyderabad University campus where Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula had committed suicide and a job offer to his brother in the Delhi government were also seen as moves to attract Dalit votes, traditionally won by the Congress, at the national level.AAP’s strategy was to attack BJP leader and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and establish itself as an alternative to the Congress. But while Kejriwal took Modi on, his campaign sought to project Gandhi as an ineffective rival.In an interview to NDTV, Kejriwal, attacking Modi over the turf war between the Delhi government and the Centre, had said, “Narendra Modi, get this that I am not Rahul Gandhi”.At a press conference in 2016, he said, “Modi ji I am not Rahul Gandhi whom you can scare off.”But then the tables turned. In 2017, the party had expected to do well in Punjab and Goa, which, AAP leaders believed, would help it in Gujarat and the 2019 elections.But the party failed to make a mark in the states, and lost ground in Delhi — where it lost the Rajouri Garden bypoll and the MCD elections.In the traditionally bipolar states of Goa and parts of Gujarat, Kejriwal campaigned hard to make AAP replace the Congress, but his attempts failed, with almost all candidates losing their deposits.While Gandhi may be getting his mojo back after Gujarat, is brand Kejriwal, carefully crafted on the weakness of the Congress president, now under threat?AAP leader Ashutosh does not believe Gandhi’s electoral success will impact Kejriwa’s national ambitions.“We have a very competitive climate in our polity. Rahul’s rise will not have any effect on Kejriwal,” he said.

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Hero’s welcome for Ashok Gehlot, reiterates commitment for Rajasthan

Former chief minister Ashok Gehlot on Monday received a hero’s welcome at his residence after putting up an impressive performance in the recent Gujarat elections. More than 500 workers and well-wishers thronged his Civil Lines residence to greet him. Gehlot too was visibly happy with the kind of reception he received from partymen. While praising Rahul Gandhi and partymen for Congress’ good performance, Gehlot reiterated his commitment towards working for Rajasthan.”I will be active in Rajasthan till my last breath. I am and will remain active in Rajasthan. I have never gone anywhere…I have always been here with my people,” he said. Gehlot’s statement has further complicated the leadership riddle in Rajasthan. It has added fuel to the speculation that Gehlot may get a re-look for chief ministership if Congress wins 2018 elections. This has created flutter in the Sachin Pilot camp, which was sighing heave of relief after Gehlot’s Gujarat assignment.”Gehlot has comeback strongly. His equation with Rahul Gandhi has also improved. With Gujarat’s performance on his back, he has come into strong contention,” said a senior Congress leader. However, leaders of other camp are still convinced that Pilot will ultimately lead the battle. “Gehlot is a senior leader. We can’t ignore him. But then Pilot has performed remarkably well in ruffling feathers of the Raje government. Be it gag ordinance or farmers agitation, Pilot has led Congress to corner BJP on more than half a dozen occasions. Pilot has been able to keep Congress within the striking distance,” said a Congress leader. Meanwhile, Gehlot made a scathing attack on the Raje government for its alleged failures which he terms a misrule for which the voters will pay back in the upcoming bypolls. “The countdown of the government has begun. The people are angry with the NDA government through the country,” said Gehlot, taking a dig on Raje’s Jan Samwad Program which he called a drama. “The government passed four years in dramas. There is no public hearing by the government to address grievances of the common man. They are just creating a perception (of hearing the grievances). Even the CM’s bond with the people has been broken. She has done a public hearing once in Jaipur. She went to divisional headquarters- Bikaner, Bharatpur and Udaipur and later it was stopped in Kota,” said Gehlot. The former CM also alleged that the government was suppressing voices of all sections with lathicharge. However, commenting on current doctor’s strike, he has appealed them to continue protest without troubling patients.”It’s the failure of government. Doctors too should not observe strike at the cost of human lives. They can show their discontentment by doing extra work or tying black band,” he said.

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Join Naxals, will shoot you: Union Minister Hansraj Ahir to doctors skipping hospital event

Miffed over senior doctors remaining absent from a function he was attending at a government hospital in Maharashtra, Union Minister Hansraj Ahir today said “these people” should join the Naxals if they don’t believe in democracy, and the government will then shoot them down.The Minister of State for Home Affairs was speaking at the inauguration of a 24×7 store for generic medicines at a government-run hospital in eastern Maharashtra’s Chandrapur, which he represents in the Lok Sabha.”The mayor came, the deputy mayor came but what stopped the doctors from coming for the event?” an angry Ahir asked, noting the absence of senior doctors at the event.Also readHansraj Ahir: No one can stop India from wresting back PoK”What do the Naxals want? They don’t want democracy… So these people (the absent doctors) don’t want democracy, then they should join the Naxals. Why are you here? Then (once you join the Naxals) we will pump you with bullets, why you are dispensing pills here?” Ahir said, punning on the Marathi word ‘goli’ — which means both a pill and a bullet.Ahir wondered if it was appropriate for doctors to go on leave when a “democratically-elected” minister was on a visit.Also readVarun Gandhi pitches for ‘providing shelter to Rohingya refugees,’ gets slammed by MoS Hansraj AhirChandrapur is one of the four districts in Maharashtra which have been identified by the central government as affected by Left-Wing Extremism.

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Rahul Gandhi sends ‘big hug’ to woman on Twitter! Find out why

Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Monday took to Twitter to send a ‘big hug’ to a woman and also to wish her happy birthday and merry Christmas. Maybe Rahul Gandhi is finally smitten by someone and is ready to reveal it to the world. Actually, no, it’s the other way around! A 107-year-old woman blew her birthday candle on Monday and had only one wish on her mind- to meet Rahul Gandhi. Reason? She thinks the newly appointed Congress president is really “handsome”.A Twitter user with name Dipali Sikand tweeted on Monday with her grandmother’s picture cutting birthday cake with the caption: “Today my grandmother turned 107. Her one wish. To meet @OfficeOfRG Rahul Gandhi ! I asked her why? She whispers….He’s handsome !”Rahul Gandhi was quick to reply and tweeted, “Dear Dipali, Please wish your beautiful grandmother a very happy birthday and a merry Xmas. Please also give her a big hug from me. Best, Rahul.”It’s surely a Christmas miracle Deepali’s grandmother would have hoped for. Rahul Gandhi assume post as Congress President on December 16. During the recent Gujarat campaign, we witnessed his ‘change’ has got the media talking.From taking subtle digs at BJP to mixing ‘Khakra’ jokes in his speeches, Rahul Gandhi looked like a rejuvenated man.

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Rajasthan polls: Congress to fight BJP with a positive campaign, says Sachin Pilot

The Congress will launch an “affirmative and positive” campaign in Rajasthan to counter the “acrimonious” charge of the BJP and advocate a new model of governance while highlighting the failures of the state government, Member of Parliament Sachin Pilot has said.Buoyed by the results of recent bye-elections to local bodies, where the Congress fared well, the party has decided to strengthen its base at the booth level and reach out to the masses through an aggressive mass contact programme to be launched soon, the Rajasthan Congress chief said.Unlike the BJP, the Congress campaign will not be reduced to their level of acrimonious campaign and will not be negative. We will instead launch an affirmative and positive campaign, where the failures of the Vasundhara Raje-led government will be highlighted, Pilot told PTI.Also readPeople have made up mind, will support Cong: Sachin PilotThe party has already launched its Mera booth, mera gaurav (My booth, my pride)” campaign and will soon unroll its mass contact programme across the state.He said the Congress did not seek to reach out to the people merely on the failures of the BJP, but would offer them a better alternative.Also readSachin Pilot ‘ticks off’ Raje govt on fourth anniversaryWe will present the people with the blueprint of a model of alternative governance which will be holistic and inclusive, will care for the young and old, create jobs and have a vision to take the state forward, he said.Pilot said the workers in the state were already geared up and ready to tackle the BJP now that Rahul Gandhi had taken over the leadership of the Congress and infused new energy into it.The Rajasthan government has nothing to show for the four years that the BJP has been in power in the state, he said, charging it with selling off assets to generate money.This, Pilot stressed, was poor fiscal management.He alleged that the state s assets, including buildings, schools, roadways, hospitals and other infrastructure, were being sold to a select few in the name of public-private partnerships.This is nothing but an example of poor fiscal management. Such a policy where precious assets of the state are given out to a select few at throw-away prices smacks of crony capitalism,” he said.Once voted back to power, the Congress would “review and reverse all such decisions taken arbitrarily” and re-acquire the state s assets, he added.Pilot said the Congress, which faced a historic defeat in 2013 when it could win only 21 of the 200 Assembly seats, had got its vigour back and in the just-concluded bypolls had won seven out of 14 urban local bodies.He said the vote share gap between the Congress and the BJP, which had widened to 25 per cent, had narrowed down to 1.5 per cent in the state Panchayat elections held last year.In the Panchayat polls, the Congress won 45.5 per cent of votes against the BJP s 47 per cent. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress was down to 31 per cent, compared to the BJP’s 56 per cent.The former Union minister said the Congress party would now aggressively take its campaign forward while highlighting the problems of the jobless, farmers and the common man.This, he said, would be done through public rallies and by underlining the Congress’s plans for the future.The Congress will “force” the BJP government in the state to announce farm loan waivers to help ease the burden of debt that farmers faced, he said.Pilot wondered why the government was dithering over loan waivers when it could bring in a law that allowed former chief ministers to select a house for their lifetime.”The people of the state did not vote the former chief ministers in so that they could have the power to have a house for life, he said.Asked about the Mera booth, mera gaurav scheme, he said every leader would be put in charge of a booth and would launch a mass contact programme to reach out to every voter in the state.There are a total of 51,000 booths in the state.Rajasthan goes to the polls in 2018, along with Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.

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I ‘prefer’ Indira, but not against BJP either: Shatrughan Sinha

Disgruntled BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha, who had earlier refused to comment on politics earlier from the dais of Ajmer Literature Festival, expressed his liking for Indira Gandhi while speaking at the concluding session of the festival.”I would have rather followed Indira Gandhi, however, after her death I decided to join BJP and learned much from senior leaders of the party,” said Sinha.Sinha had earlier turned down politics oriented questions stating that the literature festival was a platform for ‘creativity’ and not ‘politics’. However, he continued to talk around the political lines.”People assume that I speak in disagreement with the party, but it is not so,” Sinha said. “Party is like a family and if a member is more attached to one member it does not mean he is against other,” he explained further without taking any names.As he reinstated that the party is like ‘mother’ and that he is not against ‘BJP’. He could not help comparing the party’s leadership face Narendra Modi. Even as he spoke high of Modi as prime minister, he left room open on the debate stating that Modi is ‘Nayak’ (leader) while Jai Prakash Narayan was ‘Maha-Nayak’ (great leader).Sinha was among the panelist on the concluding session of the Ajmer Literature festival that concluded on late Sunday evening.

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Held up Air India flight dampens holiday mood

An Air India flight, AI 866 from Mumbai to Delhi, was allegedly delayed by five hours on Sunday morning resulting in passengers creating a ruckus at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport.The flight was scheduled to take off at 9 am but could not due to technical engineering faults, claimed the passengers. After spending almost two hours in the aircraft, the 800 on-board passengers were offloaded, said Sanyukta Dharmadhikari, one of the passengers. She added, “At 10.15 am, there was an in-flight announcement that the flight would be ready to take off in 30 minutes but at 11.15 am we were told the issue couldn’t be fixed and that we would have to be offloaded.” Dharmadhikari continued, “The next flight was scheduled for take off at 1 pm but even at 12.30, the boarding gates were not open which agitated the passengers further and began shouting slogans like ‘Air India haaye haaye’.”The flight finally took off at 2.15 pm and landed at Indira Gandhi International Airport at around 3.45 pm. “I had to report to office by 2 pm which is why I had booked a 9 am flight. We couldn’t make an official complaint as the airline crew had moved out of the aircraft and sent in security,” Mihika Sarangi, another passenger.An Air India spokesperson told DNA, “The aircraft had developed a technical snag due to which the passengers had to wait until we could make arrangements to accommodate them in another aircraft.”

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Those who did not fight for Cong will face action: Rahul Gandhi

Those within Congress who did not work to make party candidates win will have to face disciplinary action, said Congress President Rahul Gandhi in Ahmedabad on Saturday. He also assured that those who had worked for the party will be rewarded and that the grand old party also has a bright future.Addressing the party workers in Ahmedabad after a review meeting with the party leaders and MLAs, the newly elected party President said, “90% of workers fought for the party. 10% did not help the party. We will act against them, whoever they are, however big they may be. Everything will happen in a gradual manner.”Rahul thanked workers for their fine show even if the party did not get majority. Terming the performance a victory of sorts, he said that it was an uneven fight with BJP putting all the might of central and state governments besides ‘money power’, while Congress had only truth to rely upon.”We fought with love and we have won,” he said adding that during the course of the campaign, Congress was successful in bursting myth about development during Narendra Modi’s rule in Gujarat. “Inspite of asking so many questions, the PM was not able to reply,” he said.Gujarat Congress in-charge Ashok Gehlot said that PM Modi and BJP President Amit Shah had a tough time countering the onslaught of Congress and they had to take resort to sea plane and ‘Son of the Soil’ aspects to emotionally appeal to the masses. He said that the situation has changed in Gujarat and the countdown has begun for BJP, which will be reflected in the 2019 polls.THANKS PARTYMENRahul gave credit to AICC General Secretary and in-charge of Gujarat Ashok Gehlot as well as the party leadership for the results and termed the party manifesto a landmark document

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DNA EXCLUSIVE | The energy is back in Congress, says Salman Khurshid

Former Law Minister Salman Khurshid could not escape defeat in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, when the Congress slumped to just 44 seats from 206 in 2009, and the party managed only two wins in his home state UP—Raebareli and Amethi, the pocket boroughs of the Gandhi family.As the party girds for elections in six states next year, Khurshid, a former Cabinet minister, tells DNA’s Anand Mishra that Congress will win the 2019 LS polls and feels the CBI court’s verdict on 2G spectrum case is “truth” panning out at a time when Modi’s magic, is “on the slide”. Edited excerpts:What is the takeaway from Guajrat polls. Some in Congress believed it was the best chance ever for party to win the state but it did not happen…What is more important is the manner in which you lose or the extent to which you lose. The manner in which you fail to win, or grow towards winning, is the matter. Essentially, it’s a feel of energy. Energy is back. If you ask are we re-energised, the answer is yes.What has brought this energy? There is no immediate reason visible for it.There are a variety of reasons for it. One is new leadership. Everyone is pitching to make Rahul Gandhi’s new leadership successful. Circumstances are changing. People are becoming aware of the truth of what the present government is all about. All that is happening. A combination of all this has given us new energy. In sum total 2017 has not been a bad year for us.What is there to celebrate for Congress from Gujarat election outcome?Gujart elections have brought us back into the normal course of fighting elections. It does not matter whether you win or lose with a whisker. We have shown that we are back with strength. This is what we have shown and that is a very important message for the party.2018 is an election year. How will Congress perform in these polls. In many of the states like Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, BJP is in power for a long time. How will you win those elections when the party organisation in disarray.We will do well. Circumstances for those elections are much better. This is a phenomenon of Indian politics that organisations come together despite not being in power for a long time and when you see a sense that you are in a winning strick, the organisation falls in place. An organisation without victory is a very difficult thing. So it is good, it is necessary but I do not think this is the only factor.B S Yeddyurappa, who had brought BJP in power in Karnataka in 2008 is back. Can Congress put up a formidable challenge as you had won the last election only against a divided BJP. Is he a problem for you?There is no such problem. Circumstances are much better for us in all the elections including Karnataka and we should do well.How does the 2G scam verdict by the CBI Special Court pan out for Congress? How will the verdict help you contest state elections in 2018.How does truth pan out for anyone. What has happened is amplification of truth. There is nothing better in life than truth. After this we will fight with greater vigour in times to come.BJP says Modi magic worked when it wins elections, Congress says Modi magic is over. What do you think?It’s sliding. The magic is gone, persuasive power still remains. Let us see how much it slides between now and next general elections.Is there any surge in Rahul Gandhi’s image when you say Modi’s image is on slide? Not many people think so?Rahul Gandhi always had enormous potentials. People were disbelieving it. Now they are beginning to believe it. Therefore it has given him a good start. But obviously he has a huge responsibility ahead and we are all confident that he will fulfil it.Where do you see Congress with 44 Lok Sabha seats now going in 2019 general elections?Congress will be in power in 2019, I promise you.

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Hyderabad horror: Stalker sets woman on fire in full public view, victim succumb to injuries

A 25-year-old woman, who was allegedly set ablaze on Thursday evening in full public view in Secunderabad by a man, succumbed to her burns this morning, police said.She died around 7.30 am while undergoing treatment at Gandhi Hospital in Secunderabad, Deputy Commissioner of Police (north zone) B Sumathi said.The woman worked as a receptionist at an aluminium fabrication unit, the police said.The preliminary investigation say, the 28-year-old accused called the victim to Lalaguda area, located about 10 km from Hyderabad.After she reached the spot, the man suddenly poured kerosene on her and set her on fire before fleeing, a police official yesterday said.Hearing her cries, some passersby rushed to her aid and put out the fire.The woman, who suffered 60 per cent burns, was then shifted to the hospital.”She passed away this morning. We are now altering the case sections also,” Sumathi said.The police had yesterday registered a case under Indian Penal Code section 307 (attempt to murder).A police official earlier said the man was stalking the woman and was harassing her.However, the woman never told her family members about the man or the harassment, the official said.The police neither disclosed any details about the man nor confirmed if he was taken into custody.

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Gujarat effect: Audio of song eulogising Ashok Gehlot goes viral

A graceful defeat of Congress in Gujarat assembly polls, where former CM Ashok Gehlot played a pivotal role in the party’s campaign spearheaded by Congress party president Rahul Gandhi, has boosted morale of his supporters in Rajasthan and they are celebrating his ‘performance’ in their unique way. Just two days after the poll results, an audio of a song composed in regional dialect has been circulating on WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook. It begins with the singer asking ‘What is your name’ and second singer says his name is former CM Ashok Gehlot, recognising him Jannayak, ‘leader of masses’.Crediting him for creating a thunder in Gujarat polls and shaking politics in Rajasthan, the song further says as a politician he will create clatter in entire country soon. He has been referred to ‘heart beat of the youths’ in the song as well. As assembly polls are nearing, his supporters on social media have become active, projecting two times of CM Gehlot as a mass leader. Although who has composed the song is yet to be ascertained, it wants to create an air of his popularity, even before by-polls in Mandalgarh assembly, and Alwar and Ajmer parliamentary constituencies.Gehlot, with the Gujarat assembly polls, has emerged as a stalwart and an impressive poll manager handcrafting campaigning and giving a tough fight to the BJP in its fortress, where it has ruled nearly 22 years. His skills in strengthening party in Gujarat are expected to reap benefits in his home state Rajasthan and he could be seen in a new role of chief aide of Gandhi as well.His increasing clout in the party has silent the rumour mills which had started spinning his departure from state politics and admission in Central leadership when he was sent to Gujarat. A group within the party even started claiming that he has been given tough task to fight in Modi’s Gujarat where defeat of Congress will signal his farewell from active politics. Now, the scenario has been changed completely and his zealous supporters are cashing in on it.‘HEART BEAT OF YOUTH’Crediting him for creating a thunder in Gujarat polls and shaking politics in Rajasthan, the song further says as a politician he will create clatter in entire country soon. He has been referred to ‘heart beat of the youths’ in the song.

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Blood young faces, boost BJP roots: PM Modi is ‘atal’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi turned emotional at the BJP’s continued electoral successes, fondly referred to his association with former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and called for strengthening the party at its roots. The PM pitched for young faces ahead of the 2019 general elections.Addressing the BJP parliamentary party here on Wednesday, he also urged leaders not to be affected by the Opposition’s “disinformation” campaign against the party, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said.Rahul Gandhi said on Tuesday that Gujarat’s election outcome was “a moral victory” for the Congress and “a massive jolt” for the BJP, and has “raised questions on Modi’s credibility”. The BJP won a sixth straight term in Gujarat on Monday, but got 16 seats less, compared to the 2012 Assembly electionsModi asserted that it was a big win for his party in his home state. No party in power at the Centre has done this well in elections across the country in over three years of tenure as the BJP has , he said, referring to the BJP’s winning streak in Assembly elections.”This is no mean achievement. We have won for the sixth time in a row and are spread in 19 states, a feat that even Congress could not achieve during Indira Gandhi’s peak when her party ruled in 18 states,” PM Modi reportedly told BJP parliamentarians.He exhorted them to start preparing for the 2019 polls by strengthening party’s base.Modi also referred to his association with party president Amit Shah, who was present at the meeting, and spoke about how he groomed Shah, 14 years younger to the Prime Minister, they said.In his address, Shah attacked the Congress over its claim of a moral victory in the Gujarat polls, saying it was a “laughable exercise” for the opposition party to see victory in defeat.BJP MPs who attended the meeting said, the PM traced the party’s journey from 2 seats in 1984 to the present and became emotional when he fondly recalled Vajpayee and said that had he been healthy, he would have been happy to see the party rise to such glorious heights.Modi remembered how Vajpayee congratulated him in person when the party did well in the 1998 Lok Sabha elections in Gujarat when he had joined the BJP from the the RSS and was not widely known in the party.The PM got emotional for a second time when he spoke about the faith the people of Gujarat have put in the party and him and increased its vote share to 50%.Giving his own example of travelling to eight states immediately after wrapping Gujarat campaign on December 12 and at the same time delivering responsibility as the PM, Modi asked the MPs to shirk off laid back attitude and work for the country and the party.”Hum yahan satta bhogney ke liye nahi aaye hain, balki desh ko aagey le jaane ke liye chuney gaye hain. Mein abhi 8 rajyon ka daura kareke aaya hun, agar aap mujhse aur kaam chahte hain to mujhe bataiye mein tayyar hun. (We have not come here to indulge in fruits of power but have come to serve the country and take it forward. I have just come back after visiting 8 states, if you want me to do work more, I’m ready to do it), the PM reportedly told BJP MPs.

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Gujarat: BJP likely to pick CM on Friday; Cong begins analyses of results

The newly elected BJP MLAs of Gujarat are likely to meet in Gandhinagar on December 22 to elect their leader who would be the next chief minister of the key western state, party sources said today.Union minister Arun Jaitley and party general secretary Saroj Pandey, who have been appointed central observers for the election, will hold consultations with the MLAs before the new chief minister is announced. Though incumbent Vijay Rupani continues to be the favourite for the coveted job, there is speculation about his continuance given the BJP’s narrow victory in its bastion. The BJP has 99 seats in the 182-member Assembly, seven more than the 92 required for forming government but its lowest in a long time. The Congress and its pre-poll allies have 80 seats, with the main opposition party having 77.BJP chief Amit Shah had said during the campaign that the elections would be fought under Rupani. Since Modi was the face of the BJP in the keenly fought electoral battle, a last minute change cannot be completely ruled out, sources said. Many in the party wonder if the top leadership would go for somebody from the Patidar community, as the party prepares for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Though the Patidars have traditionally backed the BJP, a section led by young community leader Hardik Patel turned against the party over the quota issue.Also readGujarat elections 2017: BJP had more close victory calls in 2017 than in 2012The BJP leadership’s propensity for springing a surprise while making its choices for top positions, be it a chief minister or the president, has left many guessing if someone new will be chosen to helm the state. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, and Manohar Lal Khattar and Trivendra Singh Rawat, his Haryana and Uttarakhand counterparts, were all surprise choices. So was President Ramnath Kovind. Even Rupani was seen as a surprise choice when the party decided to replace Anandiben Patel last year. While many thought Nitin Patel was an obvious replacement of Anandiben, he was eventually made the deputy chief minister. Rupani is known to be close to Amit Shah, has a clean image, and is seen as caste neutral, qualities which may finally tilt the scales in his favour.Congress begins stock-takingAlso readGujarat Election Results: Congress must concede defeat; voters gave a clear cut mandate to us, says BJP Two days after the Gujarat assembly poll results, the Congress today began an exercise to analyse the electoral outcome at a three-day conclave that will be attended by party president Rahul Gandhi on Friday. During the ‘chintan shivir’ (introspection camp), the Congress leaders and workers will analyse the election results district-wise and discuss the road-map ahead in view of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, state party president Bharatsinh Solanki said here.In the elections, the results for which were declared on Monday, the Congress could not wrest power from the BJP even though its tally increased to 77 seats from 61 last time. The Congress ally Bharatiya Tribal Party won two seats, and along with an independent backed by it winning his seat, the tally of the Congress-led alliance stood at 80, 12 short of the simple majority in the 182-memberassembly. The BJP retained power for the sixth time, though with a reduced score of 99 seats against 115 in 2012. The Congress performed well in rural areas of Gujarat but failed to make a significant mark in the urban pockets.The venue of the conclave today and tomorrow is a resort in Mehsana district and on the third and final day, the venue will shift to Ahmedabad where Gandhi will be present, Solanki said. Gandhi, who campaigned extensively in the state for the assembly elections, will address the Congress workers on Friday. “The Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee has organised the ‘chintan shivir’ with the aim of discussing the Assembly poll results and to provide a road-map to strengthen the organisation and increase its connect with the people, keeping in mind the 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” Solanki told reporters.”For two days, we will meet here in Mehsana, and on third day, we will meet in Ahmedabad where Congress president Rahul Gandhi will visit to address party workers,” he said. Congress general secretary and election in-charge for Gujarat, Ashok Gehlot, expressed satisfaction over the party’s performance in the polls, while accusing the BJP of “misusing government machinery” and raising questions over the approach of the Election Commission. “Both in terms of seats and campaigning, the Congress performed wonderfully well. Although we could not form the government, a message has been sent across that the BJP can have a tough time fighting the Congress even in the home state of (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi and (BJP president) Amit Shah,” said Gehlot, who is also attending the camp.”The way the BJP campaigned involving cabinet ministers with the prime minister himself making emotional appeals, the way they misused government machinery for polls, and the manner the Election Commission took decisions, we believe we have done exceedingly well,” he said. Senior Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, who lost from Mandvi in Kutch district, said the party could have formed government had it won 16 seats on which it got defeated by narrow margins.However, he took solace in the fact that the BJP was reduced to “double-digits” despite an aggressive campaigning. “At one point after forming the government in 1985, the Congress was reduced to a mere 32 seats. This time people have supported Congress in large numbers and we have increased our seat tally,” he said. “And after 1990, for the first time the BJP has been reduced to double-digits. We were defeated by small margins on as many as 16 seats. Had we won those seats, we could have formed the government,” Gohil said.

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Gujarat Election Results: Congress must concede defeat; voters gave a clear cut mandate to us, says BJP

The Gujarat BJP today said the Congress must concede its defeat in the just-concluded polls in the state because voters gave a “clear cut” mandate to the ruling party to form the next government.The BJP’s statement came in the wake of assertions by Congress leaders that their party has recorded a moral victory in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Congress president Rahul Gandhi yesterday said the Gujarat election results were a “zabardast jhatka” (a massive jolt) to the BJP, which narrowly won the polls.Gujarat BJP president Jitu Vaghani said the opposition party must admit defeat in the state polls, which saw the BJP winning 99 seats in the 182-member assembly, down from 115 in 2012, and the Congress bagging 77, a gain of 16 seats.Vaghani accused Congress leaders of trying to protect their newly elected president by only projecting the rise in seats and not highlighting defeat, both in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.”While fighting the election in Gujarat, the Congress did not say they want to be in the opposition after the polls. They used to say that entire Gujarat is unhappy (with the BJP) and people were impressed with Rahul Gandhi. Now, when they lost, they must admit their defeat,” he told reporters here.Referring to the Congress’ defeat in Himachal Pradesh, where the BJP has come to power, he said, “The Congress just cannot win (polls). Neither in states where they were in power nor where they were in the opposition.””We will be forming the government here for the sixth consecutive term. Though the Congress tried to lure voters through promises which can never be implemented, people gave us a clear cut mandate. The people of Gujarat are smart and did not fall prey to Congress tactics,” he added.”To save Rahul Gandhi, the Congress does not even talk about their defeat in Himachal Pradesh, where the BJP took the reins from them.”In Gujarat, too, the Congress talks only about the number of seats they won. This is their tactic to help Rahul escape responsibility for the party’s defeat,” he said.Vaghani exuded confidence the BJP would do well in Gujarat during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

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Man held at IGIA with gold worth Rs 45 lakh

A passenger trying to smuggle in gold by hiding it in a metal strip in his trolley bag was held by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) on Tuesday. The man had arrived from Dubai and was travelling to Bangkok.According to senior officers, the passenger was carrying nearly 1.5 kg gold, worth Rs 45 lakh, concealed in his hand baggage. “At 5.15 am, during the pre-embarkation security check at the International Transfer Security Hold Area of IGIA, assistant sub-inspector Biman Biswas noticed a suspicious image in the hand baggage of a passenger, while conducting an X-Ray screening. The passenger was identified as Abdul Nizar, an Indian who had arrived from Dubai by flight AI 996 almost an hour ago and was scheduled to travel to Bangkok by the Air India flight AI-332 the same day,” said Hemendra Singh, AIG and PRO, CISF.The passenger was then asked to open the bag for physical checking. Sub-Inspector Santosh Kumar Saha of CISF then recovered three packets of saffron, weighing nearly 3 kg and also an extra strip affixed on the inner border of the baggage.”The extra strip was affixed by a screwdriver and wrapped with black cello tape for concealment. It was also noticed that the strip was coated with mercury to avoid detection during screening. During interrogation, the passenger revealed that the extra strip had gold weighing about 1.5 kg,” Singh said.

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BJP tears into ‘clueless’ Rahul Gandhi for attacking PM Modi despite wins

A day after Gujarat’s election results were announced, a fierce war of words broke out between the Congress and the BJP.Rahul Gandhi said on Tuesday that the outcome was “a moral victory” for the Congress and “a massive jolt” for the BJP, and has “raised questions on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s credibility”. The BJP won a sixth straight term, but got 16 seats less, compared to the 2012 Assembly elections. The saffron party ridiculed Rahul, saying he was “clueless on how to compete with Modi”, and that it was the Congress leader’s credibility that was at an all-time low.In a stinging response, two Union Ministers, Ananth Kumar and Prakash Javadekar, said Gandhi was probably trying to redefine the meaning of “setback”.”Frankly, Modi ji has a credibility problem. His party repeats whatever he says, but the nation is not listening to it. Gujarat polls showed it and it would be clearer in the times to come,” Rahul said outside Parliament, in his first interaction after the verdict came on Monday.Rahul said he learnt only in Gujarat that people actually do not accept the so-called “Modi model” of development as it is “a very good propaganda, very good PR (public relations) stunt, very good marketing” but the model is “khokhla” (hollow) from inside.Ananth Kumar said that PM Modi’s credibility was at its peak, not just in India but globally. He also reminded Rahul that the BJP was in power in 19 states. Kumar said the BJP’s vote share of 49.1 per cent in these polls is an improvement over the 47.9 per cent it achieved in 2012.Javadekar also said, “Yesterday (Monday) the BJP won Gujarat for the sixth consecutive time and also got the mandate in Himachal Pradesh. But today (Tuesday) a new definition has emerged as Rahul Gandhi described the results as a setback for the BJP.”He said that if Rahul thinks that it was a jolt for the BJP, then either “he is changing the definition of jolt or trying not to understand it”.”Those who were saying that development has gone mad, people gave them a severe jolt by reposing their faith in the BJP,” he said.The BJP leader said that since 2014, BJP has formed governments in Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Manipur, Assam, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. “While under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership they have lost since 2014,” he said.Javadekar further reminded Rahul that his party has not only been losing state elections, but was also defeated recently in civic polls in Rahul’s pocket borough Amethi.

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No life insurance for leopard rescuers

The leopard rescue team from Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) has been effectively managing increasing human-animal conflict situations including rescuing leopards that enter human-dominated habitat. However, the team faces one of the biggest challenges —absence of insurance despite several assurances by the Forest department.Case in point is the recent incident when a leopard had to be rescued in the Sher-e-Punjab area in Andheri east. The Thane rescue team was the first to reach the site. The leopard was tranquilised by the leopard rescue team from SGNP, which was on its way back from Chalisgaon where it had helped capture a leopard suspected of killing seven people.Both the leopard rescue teams have eight to ten members. Most of these members work on a contract basis called forest labourers (van majoor). While the forest officers are covered under the Government Insurance Scheme (GIS) the contract labourers who earn less than Rs 10,000 a month as wages have no insurance nor any benefits in case of an injury or death during rescue operations.”We do not let our work suffer and rush for any leopard rescue. We ensure that neither any human nor the leopard is harmed during a conflict situation. It feels sad that even the forest department doesn’t think about the work we do and the risk we take. Despite several assurances we are still awaiting the insurance scheme promised to us, which could help us or our families in case of an eventuality,” said a member from the rescue team who is on a contract basis.According to Pawan Sharma, honorary wildlife warden of Thane, a dialogue with a few insurance companies and agents was initiated five months back, and they were ready to provide insurance cover.

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‘What jolt? 19 states are now with us,’ BJP takes down Rahul Gandhi on Gujarat verdict

The BJP on Tuesday slammed Congress President Rahul Gandhi for his ‘jolt’ remark agint the ruling party for the Gujarat Assembly elections results.The Congress chief, while talking to reporters, said that the Gujarat verdict is a massive jolt for BJP. He also said that the result in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has raised questions over his credibilty.The BJP, in a strong comeback, said that there is no question of any ‘jolt’. Union Minister Prakash Javadekar took a dig at Gandhi and said that, ‘It’s a jolt for Congress. We are in 19 states now.’Attacking the newly-elected Congress chief, Javadekar said that ‘those calling ‘vikas’ crazy are saying all this due to frustration.’Union Minister Ananth Kumar also echoed his colleague Javadekar’s sentiments and said that, ‘Credibility of Congress and Rahul Gandhi is at an all time low, while PM Modi’s credibility is at an all time high not just in India but globally.’The BJP won 99 seats in the 182-member assembly, down from 115 it won in 2012, and far lower than the 150-plus seats it had hoped for. It is also the first time in 22 years that the BJP has ruled Gujarat that its tally has fallen below 99.The Congress won 77 seats, up by 16 seats Gandhi called it a “very good result” for the Congress, and a moral victory.

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Not politics of hate, but politics of love is the way forward: Rahul Gandhi

Congress President Rahul Gandhi thanked the people of Gujarat for the love they had shown him a day after the state announced its election verdict.In the 182-seat Assembly, the BJP won 99, while the Congress won 80 in a closely fought battle.“The people of Gujarat have shown me a lot of love. The biggest gain the Congress party gets from this is that when there is anger and hate, you can always topple it with love,” he said.Attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi said that he had a credibility problem. “On Monday, the Congress president tweeted how he felt about the verdict. “The Congress party accepts the verdict of the people and congratulates the new governments in both states. I thank the people of Gujarat and Himachal with all my heart for the love they showed me. My Congress brothers and sisters, you have made me very proud. You are different than those you fought because you fought anger with dignity. You have demonstrated to everyone that the Congress’s greatest strength is its decency and courage.”Also readAssembly elections 2017| ‘Gujarat model’ has been shaken, verdict a warning for 2019, Shiv Sena tells BJPEarlier on Tuesday, the Shiv Sena issued a warning to the BJP on the Gujarat verdict. “The BJP won in Gujarat and Himachal, but the Congress was not defeated and the dream of a Congress-mukt Hindustan was not realised, this is a final message to people who think their word is the law. The Gujarat model has been shaken to its roots, We sincerely hope it does no collapse in 2019,” said an editorial in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamna.The editorial said while the BJP had won, the discussions centered around Rahul Gandhi’s leap which denoted its position as a strong opposition party. The Shiv Sena also scoffed at BJP president Amit Shah’s claim that the party would garner 150 assembly seats in Gujarat, when in reality it’s tally had failed to even touch three digits.Also readGujarat Election Results: Congress may have lost, but the outcome will bost morale, says Ashok Chavan”If the result is to be explained in one line, the winds have not changed but have slowed down. The wave has receded,” the editorial said.

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Narrow escape for jodi no 1 in Gujarat

Gujarat was indeed tough for BJP. And the ruling party knew that very well. No wonder Jodi No 1 – Narendra Modi and Amit Shah once again led from the front and saved BJP from blushes. Had this invincible Jodi taken this election for granted, the outcome would have easily been termed as referendum against Modi’s radical reforms including GST and demonetization. But the thin margin of 19 seats is enough to trigger a panic button for BJP, which is slated to face stiff challenge from rejuvenated Congress in major states like Karnataka, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.The results have been a set back for BJP as it was claiming 150 seats but failed miserably to even touch the three figure mark. This is termed as a victory of two individuals rather than the party’s. The Jodi has so far created a record of sorts by winning 13 elections out of 15. Gujarat’s result may not savour well for BJP but it will definitely germinate internal democracy in the party. Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are likely to be more flexible and receptive to ideas of other senior leaders. A green shoot was evident when Amit Shah, in a press conference allowed reporters to ask questions in otherwise what used to be one-sided press conferences.For Congress, this was a moral victory and led to an emergence of a strong leader in party. Rahul Gandhi, who had been relegated as a flop leader after a series of drubbings, is now being hailed as a leader who revived the ailing Congress. He showed consistency, maturity and quick decision making in his 40-day long campaign. For the first time, he looked like throwing direct challenge on Modi. With Rahul, Congress also discovered a shrewd strategist in Ashok Gehlot, who charioteered the election rath of Gandhi. People are saying that Gehlot may take up role of Ahmed Patel but it is not easy to replace Patel. However, still Gehlot might have a major say in Rahul’s decision making process in coming days.There’s much to cheer for Congress but the magic of Jodi No 1 is there to stay. At this moment, there is no apparent challenge to the domination of Modi-Shah, but the tight finish of Gujarat elections has given them enough food for thought ahead of 2019.

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Congress vanquished but valiant

Though Congress has lost Gujarat election, the party has got a new stalwart and an impressive poll manager in the form of AICC general secretary and state in-charge Ashok Gehlot. He masterminded the campaign under the leadership of AICC president Rahul Gandhi to give a tough fight to the BJP in its fortress. Going by what unfolded in Gujarat, the Congress is likely to reap benefits of the same in the upcoming Assembly polls in Rajasthan next year and Gehlot could be seen doning the role of Sarathi of Gandhi as well.The appointment of Gehlot as party in-charge of Gujarat campaign gave rise to speculation that he is being shunted out of state politics. A group within the party even started claiming that he has been given a charge of a losing cause as PM Modi is invincible in Gujarat. As BJP’s victory in Gujarat was a forgone conclusion, many believed it will bring down curtains on Gehlot’s political career. Moving Gehlot to Gujarat was also seen by many as clearing the field for PCC chief Sachin Pilot to take reign of the party. “Creating alliances and support base on caste lines in a state was a key move. The Congress had on its side Patidar leader Hardik Patel, OBC community leader Alpesh Thakor as it ally and support from Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani. Gehlot played a major role bringing these leaders on same platform which definitely worked to improve tally of the party. He could be seen in a greater role in the party soon,” said a senior Congress leader reacting to the results. Gehlot worked tirelessly with Gandhi and during this campaign a new chemistry was developed between the two. Although BJP retained power in Gujarat, it will not be seen as a debacle of Gehlot’s campaign because BJP could not cross the hundred mark while Congress increased its tally unlike Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.Ashok Gehlot’s performance in Gujarat will have an impact in his home state Rajasthan, which set to go for polls in 2018. BJP basks in victoryThe BJP state headquarters broke into celebration after BJP’s victory in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections on Monday. The party workers were seen dancing, bursting crackers and exchanging sweets. BJP leaders, including BJP state president Ashok Parnami, social justice and empowerment minister Arun Chaturvedi, minister of rural development and Panchayati Raj Rajendra Rathore also reached the state headquarters and congratulated the party workers. Parnami said that the hardwork put in by PM Modi and national president Amit Shah is reflecting in the victory registered in Gujarat and HP. “The BJP government has been in Gujarat for 22 years. There have been no riots in Gujarat for 22 years and the public likes development and peace,” Parnami said. While commenting on the statement of the former Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot on EVMs, Parnami said that Gehlot should have faith in democracy.

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Gujarat Elections 2017 | Congress is a strong opposition now

Congress may have lost, but it has a very strong mandate as the Opposition. Thus despite a loss, Congress has gained enormously in stature. Its vote share and the tally both have gone up in the state. For the first time since 1995, Congress gave a tough fight to BJP in PM’s home state.BJP had claimed it will win more than 150 seats, but the party has been limited to double digits, albeit one short of a century. This is a huge morale gain for the Congress.But, then there is so much that the party still needs to do. For instance, the party failed to cash in on 22 years of anti-incumbency and massive agitations against the government. Four of its stalwarts had to bite dust. As a result, the party has good numbers in the House, but doesn’t have a capable leader to lead the resistance in the legislature. Mohansinh Rathva was assigned the task in the outgoing Assembly, but failed to make an impact. The party may have to look beyond Rathva and the job could go to a young face like Paresh Dhanani whom Rahul Gandhi could trust as his close confidante. Increased tally also augurs well in terms of Rajya Sabha voting that took centre stage in August.Resurgence?Increased tally also augurs well in terms of Rajya Sabha voting that took centrestage in August.Congress failed to cash in on 22 years of anti-incumbency.

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Gujarat Elections 2017 | Below-expectation results mar joy around sixth straight govt

During the BJP’s rule in Gujarat, its seats have been shrinking, but the tally never went below 100. The party will form government in Gujarat for the sixth consecutive term, but it showed no exuberance after the results were declared. Perhaps, these are the most shocking results for the BJP, in the home state of PM Narendra Modi and the party’s national president Amit Shah.Those who have seen the Modi era in Gujarat till 2014 would remember the scene at the party headquarter where winning candidates would be pouring in, and workers would be seen beating drums, doing Garba, chanting slogans for Modi, bursting crackers, continuously. The entire atmosphere would be coloured with saffron and ‘gulaal’.Visitors of Shri Kamalam, the BJP headquarters near Gandhinagar, were surprised to see the deserted look there. A couple of leaders were present, locked in their offices. A few workers from Gandhinagar reached there just to mark their presence and CM Vijay Rupani came to address a press conference. By 6 pm, Shri Kamalam was almost empty.During the press conference, Rupani said, “We accept the verdict of Gujarat and will try to live up to people’s expectations in the coming five years as people of the state have given us an opportunity to serve them. This is historic in India that a single party won for the sixth consecutive term. This shows people’s faith in Narendra Modi and development. The credit goes to our leader Amit Shah too for his guidance.” In fact, this is the time for the BJP to start reflecting on the reasons of the party’s performance in Gujarat. PM Narendra Modi addressed as many as 34 rallies travelling 10,000 km in Gujarat and held six major roadshows.Moreover, a range of leaders starting from Amit Shah, Union Ministers like Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and others were deployed to woo voters but the charishma of BJP leaders did not shine much this time as compared with past polls.Surprisingly, the PM and the entire cadre of the BJP diligently tried to play victim on the issues of Mani Shankar Aiyar calling Modi ‘neech’ and tossed issues connecting Congress leaders with Pakistan, but failed to earn sympathy from voters in desired numbers. Development was the core agenda of the BJP for the campaign but that became subsidiary and temple visits by Rahul Gandhi, Ram Mandir and Nehru-Gandhi family’s treatment to Gujarati leaders were reverberating in the skies of Gujarat during BJP leaders’ poll rallies in the state.BJP under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi and national president Amit Shah, the BJP aimed for more than 150 seats in Gujarat and could not cross 100 too. Sixth consecutive termVisitors of the BJP headquarters near Gandhinagar, were surprised to see the deserted look. A few workers from Gandhinagar reached there just to mark their presence.

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BJP flared up emotions, misused state machinery: Ashok Gehlot

Congress’s state in-charge for Gujarat, Ashok Gehlot speaks to DNA’s Amrita Madhukalya about his party’s campaign and expectations. The former Rajasthan CM feels that the BJP’s use of the Gujarat state machinery played its role.Now that the results are out, how do they compare with the party’s expectations?The campaign that the BJP ran in Gujarat was never based on any issues, while our politics was based on real issues. Rahul ji spoke to farmers about better wages, about jobs to the youth, to the fishermen and to the Adivasis for inclusive development. Our manifesto drew from these experiences. The BJP released a manifesto just a day before the first phase of voting commenced. We’ve done our best for the people of Gujarat, and we are in a position to claim a moral victory.Was there any room for change in the Congress’s campaign?Our campaign drew from months of intensive research and experiences with different sections of the society. But, if you compare it with the BJP’s campaign, their simple pitch was to project Narendra Modi as a Gujarati man. Modi’s pleas to the people were: ‘I am a Gujarati’, ‘they have insulted me’ and ‘please vote for Gujarat asmita (pride)’. The BJP have simply flared up emotions. To add to that, they had more than 20 ministers and over 80 to 90 MPs sitting there. This was a clear misuse of state machinery. They raised no issues, and they had no replies to our questions. We raised the issue of the botched up Rafale deal and of the corruption linked to the party president’s son.Do you think the Congress covered some lost ground since 2012?See, Narendra Modi was then the CM, today he’s the PM. That has a huge role to play. He ensured that he was there in the state during the campaign. And yet, they have lost about 15 seats and a vote share of 16 per cent. The Congress has clearly made the dent it wanted to make.Rahul Gandhi took charge of the Congress just after the Gujarat campaign was over. Was that a calculated move?The Congress, no doubt, needs to look inward. Rahul ji took charge formally recently, but he has been at the forefront for a while. Every party worker and leader in Gujarat worked selflessly and they deserve applause for their efforts.

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Rahul Gandhi lauds party’s performance, claims decency its strength

Accepting the people’s verdict in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, Congress President Rahul Gandhi struck a conciliatory note and lauded party workers for putting up a fight with “dignity and courage”.Though it lost, in what can be considered a moral victory, the party has managed to rake in 80 seats, the maximum since it last held power in the state in 1995.”My Congress brothers and sisters, you have made me very proud. You are different than those you fought because you fought anger with dignity. You have demonstrated to everyone that the Congress’s greatest strength is its decency and courage,” he said on Twitter.He said that the Congress party accepts the verdict of the people and congratulates the new governments in both states.”I thank the people of Gujarat and Himachal with all my heart for the love they showed me,” he said.Party communication department chief Randeep Surjewala took a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra asking him “not to dream of Congress Mukta” India and took potshots at BNP, saying Rahul has pushed the BJP in the trap of 99, an allusion to the 99 seats that the BJP looked set to win. In Hindi, it translates into getting trapped in a vicious cycle that never end.

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Gujarat Elections 2017 | Down 16 seats in vote of caution; bags Himachal

In the end, it was left to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to deliver, once again, Gujarat. Facing its toughest electoral contest in over 22 years, the BJP fell back on its most-trusted mascot to help it cross the finishing line in the state.The Narendra Modi-led BJP bucked strong anti-incumbency to retain Gujarat, while at the same time displacing the Congress in Himachal Pradesh.With Monday’s results, the BJP is now in power in 19 states while the Congress remains at the helm in only four — Punjab, Karnataka, Mizoram and Meghalaya.The BJP won its sixth straight Assembly election in Gujarat — but with its lowest tally ever — helped in no small measure by Modi’s 34 rallies. While the Congress’s vote share went up from 38 per cent in 2012 to over 41.5 per cent, BJP’s vote share also increased from 47.85 per cent to 49 per cent. However, when compared to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when the party swept all 26 seats, the BJP’s vote-share fell by almost 11 per cent, from 60 per cent to 49.In the hill-state of Himachal Pradesh, the BJP won 44, up 18 seats from 2012, to dethrone the Congress, which came down to just 21 seats, down 15 from its 2012 tally, in the 68-member House.However, in a shock for the BJP, its chief ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal lost to his erstwhile aide Rajinder Rana from the Sujanpur constituency. Outgoing chief minister Virbhadra Singh, however, won from Arki while his son Vikramaditya Singh also won.However, while the Saffron party leaders suggested that victory and not size of the win matters, knowing Modi and his style of functioning, political observers expect some tough decisions in the offing.For Modi understands well that the next general election is only about a year away and nothing can be left to chance.A loss of 16 seats — the party’s tally went down from 115 to 99 in a House of 182, while Congress won 77 seats — BJP leaders say will certainly lead to intense soul-searching and pointed questions from the prime minister.”Election results show the country is ready for reforms,” PM Modi said while addressing party leaders and workers at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi on Monday evening.The Sensex couldn’t agree with him more. After counting of votes began at 8 am at 37 centres, Sensex crashed by over 800 points in early trades as initial trends showed that the two parties were neck-and-neck. However, it soon recovered as it became more or less clear that the BJP would emerge as the winner. For the opposition Congress, which went for broke under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi (who was anointed party president after the campaigning had ended), the results point at two things: First, there are signs of revival but that revival could be a long, tough road ahead. Second, every time it can’t fall back on the likes of Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakor to put up a decent fight against the BJP.Counting of votes came with its own share of twists and turns. At one point, the BJP was leading in 108 seats, but the eventual tally was 99.A quick analysis of the results shows that different regions of the state voted differently. While suffering heavy reverses in Saurashtra, the BJP managed to hold on to Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, and Rajkot, winning 33 out of 37 seats on offer. The Congress improved its tally in Ahmedabad city from two to four, but failed to open its account in three of Gujarat’s largest cities.The BJP improved its tally in north and central Gujarat, the two regions where Congress had won 44 out of 93 seats in 2012. This time, the BJP increased its numbers in the two regions to 53 seats, while its tally in south Gujarat dipped from 28 to 25 seats. The rallies by Patidar reservation leader Hardik Patel hurt the BJP in rural areas, but failed to deliver any gains to Congress in urban seats. In Morbi, Gir Somnath and Amreli, the party could not win a single seat.Incidentally, the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which had led to huge protests in Surat, Rajkot and other places, and was repeatedly raised by Rahul Gandhi in his campaign speeches, didn’t seem to have yielded any major electoral gains for the party.

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Gujarat elections 2017: Decoding BJP’s disappointing performance in rural areas

Rural and agrarian distress was reflected in the results of legislative assembly in Gujarat on Monday as voters punished the ruling BJP, giving its rival Congress more than 50 percent of seats in rural and semi-urban areas of the state. This is in clear contrast with the voting pattern in the cities, where voters continued to repose their faith in the BJP. Congress’ performance was the most impressive in Saurashtra region where it swept districts of Amreli, Morbi, Gir Somnath and Surendranagar.The results show that the Patidar agitation also affected BJP’s vote share in Saurashtra than other parts of the state.Rural areas didn’t get swayed by emotional issues and stuck to real issues.Also readGujarat Elections 2017: Congress’ bitter-sweet defeat is story of missed opportunity In the 182-member legislative assembly of Gujarat, as many as 134 seats come from rural and semi-urban seats. Congress won 71 of them, followed by the BJP’s 57 while two went to Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP), one to Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and three to independents, one of which is Congress-backed Scheduled Caste (SC) leader Jignesh Mevani. Chhotubhai Vasava-led BTP had entered into a poll pact with the Congress.Also readGujarat Election Results: No matter who wins, when will a villager reap benefits of development?Dinesh Shukla, former Professor of Political Science said the results were a reflection of the results of District Panchayats and Taluka Panchayats almost two years ago. He also attributed the result to the hard work done by Rahul Gandhi and three young men of Gujarat, namely Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani. Also readGujarat Elections 2017: How GST tweak saved the day for BJP“Rahul Gandhi’s emergence as a credible political leader is a welcome aspect of Gujarat elections. His down to earth nature has impressed the masses. Congress’ gains is the result of effort put in by him, Hardik, Alpesh and Jignesh,” said Shukla. He said that the rural distress coupled with lack of efforts by the government to resolve the problems made farmers vote against the BJP. Sagar Rabari, secretary of Khedut Samaj – Gujarat attributed the anti-establishment voting in rural areas to the persistent neglect of agriculture and farmers during the BJP rule, particularly after 2001. “The key problems of farmers are low prices of their produce. Most often farmers do not even recover the input costs. They get electricity only at night, do not get adequate water for irrigation. They are at a constant mercy of market forces, they are vulnerable and the government is not able to protect them. They obviously voted against BJP,” said Rabari.He complimented rural voters, who are relatively less educated compared to their urban peers but voted on the basis of real issues, while urban voters ‘blindly supported BJP’. He also said that while Patidar agitation was effective in Saurashtra, it was less effective in other parts of the state.

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From PM Narendra Modi to Jignesh Mevani: Who said what after BJP’s narrow Gujarat win

The Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP is all set to come back to power for the sixth consecutive time after a lower margin victory in Gujarat assembly elections.BJP crossed 92 seats it requires for a majority in the 182 assembly constituencies in Gujarat.Soon after the results were announced, political leaders from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to young Patidar leader Hardik Patel have come forward expressing their views on their win or loss.Soon after the results were announced, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday took to Twitter to hailed the massive victory as ‘Jeeta Vikas, Jeeta Gujarat’.”Election results in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh indicate a strong support for politics of good governance and development. I salute the hardworking BJP Karyakartas in these states for their hardwork which has led to these impressive victories,” said PM Modi on Twitter.”I bow to the people of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh for their affection and trust in BJP. I assure them that we will leave no stone unturned in furthering the development journey of these states and serve the people tirelessly,” he said in a series of tweets.For Congress, it was yet another major loss for them and newly elected President Rahul Gandhi on Monday accepted the loss and thanked his party workers for fighting ‘anger with dignity’.The Congress party accepts the verdict of the people and congratulates the new governments in both states. I thank the people of Gujarat and Himachal with all my heart for the love they showed me,” Gandhi tweeted.”My Congress brothers and sisters, you have made me very proud. You are different than those you fought because you fought anger with dignity. You have demonstrated to everyone that the Congress’ greatest strength is its decency and courage,” he added.BJP chief Amit Shah hailed the party’s win as “victory of development over dynasty and polarisation”.”We have once again emerged triumphant. I offer heartfelt gratitude to the people of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh that they gave us anther opportunity to serve them,” said Amit Shah”This is a victory of development over dynasty and polarisation,” he added.Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh took a direct dig at newly appointed Congress President Rahul Gandhi after the assembly elections verdict.”Won’t say anything now as he has recently been made party president, ‘sar mundwate hi ole pade’ (Abhi toh kuch nahi bolunga kyunki woh haal hi mein adhyaksh bane hain lekin),” Rajnath Singh told ANI.Union minister Smriti Irani on Monday said the victory is “of every booth worker’s hard work and the people who trusted development”.”It is a matter of happiness for us, this is the victory of development. It is the victory of every booth worker’s hard work and the people who trusted development,” said Irani.When Smriti Irani was asked about Congress giving a tough fight in Gujarat she was quick to reply and said, “jo jeeta wohi sikander”.While Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said that the election results reflect “people’s unshakeable faith in the agenda of development and classless society”.”I would like to give credit for this victory to the people of Gujarat and I also give assurance that in the coming five years, BJP will work towards what the people of the state wants,” Rupani said.”The party’s vote share has increased and despite the tally of seat share leaning in favour of the Congress, the BJP maintained a lead of over 8 percent. The Assembly elections showed people’s unshakable faith in the agenda of development, caste-less and classless society,” he added.However, young Patidar leader Hardik Patel on Monday alleged that the BJP(BJP) has won Gujarat Assembly elections only because of money and EVM tampering. “There has been tampering in EVMs in Surat,Rajkot and Ahmedabad, hence the gap is very less wherever tampering happened. EVMs are hackable,” Patel was quoted as talking to the reporters.Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, who won the Vadgam constituency, said will raise the voice of Gujarat’s discriminated sections in the assembly. “I express my gratitude to the people of Vadgam for all their support. Now I will raise the voice of Gujarat’s discriminated sections in the assembly,” Mevani said after his win.Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said that it was a lesson for those who indulged in “divisive and caste politics” to reject the Gujarat Model of development.”The election results of one state will not have an effect on the election of another state. The issues will be different. Whatever may the Gujarat poll results be, it will have no impact on Karnataka,” Adityanath told reporters at Yadgir in the northern parts of the state.However, the results of the Gujarat assembly elections result did not go down well with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The TMC chief on Monday attacked BJP saying it was a moral defeat for the Hindutva-party the people of the state have “belled the cat for 2019″.”It is a temporary and face-saving win, but it shows a moral defeat for BJP. Gujarat voted against atrocities, anxiety and injustice caused to the common people. Gujarat belled the cat for 2019,” Banerjee tweeted.Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah for winning the Assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.”Congratulations to honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party for the victory in the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections. The Congress, which had claimed it would wrest power from the BJP in Gujarat, has ended up losing even Himachal Pradesh,” Kumar tweeted in Hindi.Goa Chief Minister Manohhar Parrikar said the newly-elected Congress President “scored zero in his opening innings.” “In his opening innings he scored zero” Parrikar said. Earlier on Monday, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said the results of the Gujarat Assembly polls would not have any impact on the Assembly election in the state, which is due early next year.”The election results of one state will not have an effect on the election of another state. The issues will be different. Whatever may the Gujarat poll results be, it will have no impact on Karnataka,” he told reporters at Yadgir in the northern parts of the state.Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav on Monday took to Twitter to mock BJP’s victory in Gujarat.”BJP getting limited to double-digit in Gujarat is the beginning of the end for the party. It is the result of neglect of the villages, poor and rural people. This is the BJP’s so-called victory,” Akhilesh tweeted.Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said: “I think it’s clear in Gujarat: the BJP has won but the Congress has not lost.”

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BJP MP who predicted party’s loss in Gujarat eats humble pie; says PM hero, he is zero

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Sanjay Kakade on Monday hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s victory over Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections terming himself ‘Zero’ and latter the ‘Hero’.While addressing the media here, Kakade said, “I personally feel happy and elated for this victory of Prime Minister Modi; he has left the Gandhi family and Nehru behind in gaining people’s love. According to me, only ‘Modi factor’ has worked.”“I also accept that Prime Minister Modi is ‘hero’ while I’m ‘zero’ in comparison to him. In my earlier statement, I have said that BJP’s situation looked tight during the campaign; only because of ‘Modi magic’ everything worked well,” he added.Also readPune: BJP RS MP Sanjay Kakade predicts party’s loss in GujaratFurther hailing Prime Minister Modi’s rule, Kakade stated, it is for the first time that BJP has ruled for 27 years in a state.“It has happened for the first time in India that a certain party has ruled for 27 years in a state. This clearly shows that every community has accepted Modi ji from heart and mind.“I’m even confident with states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan as we will win there too; because the Chief Ministers in both the states are working towards progress,” he further stated.

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Vasundhara Raje hails BJP’s victory, credits Modi-Shah for clean sweep

Congratulating Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah for winning the Assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje today said there was no alternative to the party in the country.Raje said it was the victory of Modi’s leadership and Shah’s organisational skills.”The people of Gujarat have once again voted for development. They once again reposed faith in the BJP leadership. It shows there is no alternative to the BJP in the country. “Results in Himachal Pradesh have proved that the country is moving ahead to become Congress-free,” Raje said in a statement.Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee chief Sachin Pilot said the BJP made tall claims of winning 150 seats in Gujarat. Rahul Gandhi s leadership was accepted by the people of Gujarat, he said.The BJP inched towards a record sixth straight victory in Gujarat assembly polls, and was set to evict the Congress in Himachal Pradesh, tightening the party’s grip over the country’s politics with general elections only 18 months away.Also readGujarat Elections 2017: Akhilesh asks Rahul to build opposition unity ahead of 2019 pollsThe Gujarat results proved to be a seesaw, with BJP and Congress running neck and neck in the morning trends. At midday, BJP pulled ahead, but by 5 p.m. it apeared that although the party will emerge victorious it will be with a slim majority. “I assure (people of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh) that we will leave no stone unturned in furthering the development journey of these states and serve the people tirelessly,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet.According to Election Commission tally at 5 p.m., the BJP had won 70 seats and was leading in 29 for a possible total of 99 in the 182-member Gujarat assembly. At the start of the campaign, the BJP had said it was aiming for 150 seats. In the outgoing assembly it had 115 seats. The Congress won 62 and was leading in 15 for a possible total of 77, compared to 61 previously.Also readGujarat Elections 2017: It is a face-saving win but moral defeat for BJP in Gujarat, says Mamata BanerjeeCongress President Rahul Gandhi virtually conceded defeat, saying the party “accepts the verdict of the people and congratulates the new governments in both states.” He thanked his party members for fighting “anger with dignity.” The BJP called the results a vote for development pushed by Modi, who was the tireless star campaigner in both states.The Congress took solace in the fact that it bettered its tally in Gujarat, the home turf of Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah.Shah expressed satisfaction with the result, saying that the party’s vote share in Gujarat had gone up to 49.10% from 47.85% in 2012. The Congress vote share was 41.5% in Gujarat, compared to 38.93% in 2012 was 38.93%.

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Assembly Elections 2017: You fought with dignity, you made me proud, says Rahul Gandhi after twin loss

The Congress accepts the people’s verdict in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, party president Rahul Gandhi said today and thanked his party workers for fighting “anger with dignity” in the polls.He also expressed gratitude to the people of the two states for the love they showered on him. “The Congress party accepts the verdict of the people and congratulates the new governments in both states. I thank the people of Gujarat and Himachal with all my heart for the love they showed me,” Gandhi tweeted.”My Congress brothers and sisters, you have made me very proud. You are different than those you fought because you fought anger with dignity. You have demonstrated to everyone that the Congress’ greatest strength is its decency and courage,” he added.Also readAssembly elections 2017 results: People rejected caste politics for Gujarat Model of development, says Yogi AdityanathFrom the results and trends available till now, the Congress won 73 seats in the 182-member Gujarat Assembly, while the BJP was victorious in 82 seats. The Congress was leading in nine other constituencies. The BJP was ahead in 18 other seats.In Himachal Pradesh, BJP has won 23 seats, 10 more than that of the Congress. The saffron party was ahead in 21 seats, while the Congress was leading in eight other segments.The state has a 68-member Assembly.

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Assembly Elections 2017: Congress leader Ashok Gehlot says results depict victory for Rahul Gandhi’s campaign

As the BJP appears to be on its way to retain power in Gujarat, senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot today said he saw the results as a “victory” for the party due to the response its chief Rahul Gandhi’s campaign got from the people.Gehlot, the Congress election in-charge for Gujarat, said Gandhi ran a nice campaign in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Trends from 181 seats in the state, gave the BJP a lead in over a 107 seats while the Congress was following with 65.The simple majority mark in the 182-member Assembly is 92. The Congress, however, appears to be on its way to improve its 2012 tally.”The way the Congress campaigned and the way Rahul Gandhi did bus trips, we put up a very nice campaign. Whatever the results, the country will see this as the Congress’ victory,” Gehlot said.”Through the campaigning and manifesto, we have been successful in reflecting the feelings of the people of Gujarat and we believe we have been successful in that,” he said.To a question, Gehlot said the saffron party tried to turn the direction of the campaign by raising the ‘son of the soil’ issue. “The BJP tried to turn the campaign in another direction by its ‘son of the soil’ comments and saying that he (Modi) is a prime minister from Gujarat. We have given a very nice message to the people of Gujarat,” he said.He said it is not the culture of the Congress to make such comments.”Rahulji (Gandhi) had said that Congress people will not make such commments against the prime minister. The manner in which the prime minister made comments against Manmohan Singhji, Soniaji and Rahulji, we did not want to respond to them in the same language,” he said.

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There are going to be new, exciting faces in Congress: Rahul Gandhi

Congress President Rahul Gandhi has said that major changes will be undertaken in Congress under his leadershipIn his first exclusive interview since taking over as Congress President, Rahul Gandhi told NH that he would help the party embark on a path of greater democratisation & bring in interesting facesNewly-elected Congress President Rahul Gandhi says that the party will undergo major changes under his leadership, with more exciting people being projected in key positions.In his first exclusive interview since taking over as party president, Rahul Gandhi told National Herald that he would help Congress embark on a path of greater democratisation and bring interesting and young faces within the party fold.The 47-year old leader also rubbishes BJP’s claims that his party fought the recently held Gujarat state elections of casteist lines, instead highlighting that Congress brought the OBC, Dalit and the Patidar communities together on a Congress platform.Edited excerpts from Rahul’s interaction with National Herald’s Editor-in-Chief Neelabh Mishra and Qaumi Awaz’s Editor-in-Chief Zafar Agha. DNA present excerpts.Neelabh Mishra: Congratulations to you on being elected as President of the Congress Party. Thank you for giving this interview, which is the first since your appointment as party head.Rahul Gandhi: Thank you very much.NM: So, where do you go from here, in the Congress party as well as for the country?RG: I liked very much Mr Manmohan Singh’s formulations today, which is the politics of hope versus the politics of fear, or you can say the politics of anger. The BJP has divided the society. And they have created a false animosity between our people. I think Congress party’s role is to create a bridge between our people, start a conversation, where we can once again start to say that we all are Indian. Not a particular class, caste or religion, but our first identity is that of an Indian. And after that, come all other identities. And that is something that the Congress ideology can do.Zafar Agha: The problem is that Congress’ ideology of secularism and harmony is itself threatened now. There is tremendous fear and insecurity among the people. Isn’t this a great challenge before the country and the Congress?RG: Yes, periodically — look at Indian history — this has happened. A sort of polarisation you saw in the 1990s as well. But I primarily think that this country stands together, and we believe very deeply in love and affection. This country does not believe in hatred. And of course there has also been a large organised defamation campaign against the Congress party, carried out by the BJP and the RSS. Very organised, systematic, against its leaders, against its workers, against its ideas, against its past. I really felt this in Gujarat, that certain myths have been created, which are just lies. I mean, in Gujarat, the myth is that Sardar Patel and Jawahar Lal Nehru didn’t get along. It’s a lie. Jawahar Lal Nehru and Sardar Patel were friends. They spent time in jail together. They disagreed on certain things, but they were friends, and Sardar Patel had strong views against the RSS. He had also banned the RSS.As I said in my talk in the US and also during my campaign speeches in Gujarat, there is a central problem that India is facing, which is, India is simply not producing enough jobs, for the number of youngsters of this country.ZA: People say that Congress is not ready organisationally to take on the challenge posed by the RSS-BJP combine. Do you feel this is a problem for Congress?RG: There is lot of work that Congress has to do. There are a large number of new people that we have to bring forward. There is tremendous talent in the Congress party that we have to utilise. But one has to realise that there is a systematic campaign against the Congress party, and we are going to show to the country, the true face of the Congress Party. You are going to see a change in the Congress party, you are going to see more of people who excite you, people about whom you can say that they are somebody very interesting who have been put there by the Congress party. We would like to be associated with decent persons.NM: Will the Congress democratize itself more?RG: That is certainly my intention. We have done a lot of work in the Youth Congress and NSUI, and very successful work at that. We would like to bring in as many new faces, young faces, exciting faces and dynamic faces (as we could). That’s not to say that people who are experienced or older should not have space.

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A dialogue with JC: Hapless Cong prays for a miracle as BJP set to wrest power in Guj and Himachal

Will results of Exit Polls be proved right in Himachal and Gujarat?The Exit Poll results of Himachal are 100% right. BJP is getting absolute majority there…Dhumal will be the chief minister and Modi-Amit Shah will also be present there…there is a tried trend in Himachal …it’s 5-year term for Virbhadra, 5 year for Dhumal…now it’s Dhumal’s turn.Will Amit Shah’s forecast of 15-year rule of BJP stand true in Himachal or will Congress come back after 5 years?Amit Shah has declared in election rallies that this time Himachal is not voting for 5 years , it is voting for 15 years. But how far this forecast is going to be true, it can’t be ascertained…after 5 years Dhumal will be 78…I think he is playing last innings…I think both the leaders are in their last leg due to their age…new generation is coming. How the pair of J P Nadda in Delhi and Dhumal in Shimla work together? Will they become two different centres of power?Nadda was a contender of chief minister…But when his name was ruled out and name of Dhumal was announced then he withdrew himself and dedicated entire focus on elections but going forward it can’t be denied that Nadda and Dhumal will be two different power centres. One will be Delhi and other will be in Shimla. High Command will have its task cut out to maintain coordination between them. Eventually what is the political future of Dhumal’s son Anurag Thakur and Virbhandra’s son Vikramaditya?As far as Anurag Thakur is concerned, he is an MP and close to Arun Jaitley. On the other hand, Vikramaditya is contesting election this time…his future is in time wrap.Will Gujarat again see the reemergence of Jodi No : Narendra-Modi-Amit Shah? Will there be absolute majority for BJP or will it be the single largest party?Jodi is Super Hit…as far as election results are concerned, I believe that BJP is getting 112 seats and Congress 70. These days public gives decisive mandate…in 2014 polls BJP had led in 162 constituencies out of 165 and in this elections, the polling percentage was 68% and if we look at it, the vote looks even more decisive. Whichever party wins, it will get 125-130 seats. But it is believed that BJP will form government will 105-107 seats.Who besides Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and Rahul Gandhi emerged as the hero of poll campaign in Gujarat?If we look at heroes of Gujarat campaign then only three are there – Modi, Amit Shah and Rahul Gandhi…in second category we may keep Yogi, Smriti Irani, Jaitley, Hardik Patel and his two partners.Was the agenda of Gujarat Pride and Hindu-Muslim related issues came again into picture during last days of electioneering? Was there once again polarisation of Gujarati voters?Narendra Modi smartly raised the issue of Gujarat Pride…The word Neech which Manishankar uttered, Modi encashed that sensibly. Modi also raised the issue of Hindu-Muslim when he said that Manmohan Singh was present in a meeting with people of Pakistan to stall BJP from forming government Gujarat. This people believed to some extent. In the last leg of elections, what would be the impact of negative campaign carried out by Modi and BJP against Congress?Negative campaign is the strategy of Modi. But this should not have happened. Maximum people believed that campaigning should not stoop down to this level. When permission for roadshow in Ahmedabad was turned down, Modi campaigned from Sea-Plane. Was it Modi’s poll branding exercise? It was a masterstroke of Narendra Modi…people of Gujarat was hooked to the Plane. It was 100% a branding exercise.In this situation of Gujarat election, what would be the scenario in 2019? Will Rahul be able to give straight fight to Modi? How much impact would Gujarat and Himachal result will have on the outcome of 2019 elections?The 2019 scenario is absolutely clear which is showing Modi on seat. A Times of India survey say that 79% people want to see Modi as prime minister while Rahul Gandhi has only 16% vote for PM.In the second leg, a day before the polling, Rahul has given interview to Gujarat’s regional channel, what would be the impact on this?It was a mastermind move on Congress part…there is anxiety in BJP. That interview of Rahul was a big challenge for media managers of BJP, it was a failure. Interview came into light of election commission, sent notice to the channel and talks about filing FIR against Rahul also came into being. Later Election Commission retreated following uproar over this issue. Is Election Commission favouring BJP in case of violation of Code of Conduct and how much the independence of EC getting affected?It can’t be said that EC is favouring BJP or not but that goes as an impression among people, questions have been raised on the sanctity of EC. BJP has suffered from this.What would be the national agenda of Narendra Modi after winning elections in Gujarat and Himachal? Will he focus on governance or remain in election mode till 2019 elections? Modi is a man of passion. He has his own style of working. Whether he wins elections or not, it doesn’t affect him because he feels whatever he is doing is right. Whether it’s demonetisation or GST. But in coming days, he will have an agenda of conducting assembly and parliamentary elections simultaneously. Second agenda would be to make GST successful, third would be to have a crack down on shell companies and fourth would be to eradicate corruption. What would be the agenda of Narendra Modi’s one man army – Amit Shah? Will he again come into electioneering mode after forming cabinets in Gujarat and Himachal?If BJP forms government in Gujarat then his entire focus would be on Karnataka and then he will concentrate on Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and MP. He is completely immersed making political strategy 24X7. What is the political fallout of entry of Amit Shah in Rajya Sabha? Has remote control of BJP in Rajya Sabha gone to Amit Shah? This is Modi’s strategy not to merely send Amit Shah to Rajya Sabha but to establish him there. With Shah in RS, BJP MPs will be present in full strengthen with aggression. Definitely, the remote control will be with Amit Shah.Do you see any difference in the personality of Rahul Gandhi pre and post Gujarat elections?There is a big difference in both the situations. Earlier people used to make fun of Rahul Gandhi…now two major personality traits have been visible during Gujarat elections. Now he doesn’t hesitate and speak the language of people. His image has also seen a turnaround. Whether he wins election or not, he has emerged as a leader.Who will be Ahmed Patel of Rahul Gandhi? Or will core group of 4-5 leaders keep taking trivial decisions? Ahmed Patel has been in force as an advisor for last 20-25 years…there is no alternate to him in Congress…I don’t feel there can be any Ahmed Patel in the life of Rahul Gandhi Jagdeeshji, if I ask you to summarise this analysis in one sentence, what would you say?BJP is forming government in both the states but in Gujarat possibility of a miracle can’t be ruled out.

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2 men arrested for smuggling gold at IGIA

The customs officers at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) on Saturday caught two men for allegedly trying to smuggle gold worth over 50 lakhs into the country by hiding it in the transformer of a microwave oven. Both were arrested and the gold was seized from them.According to the officers, the two men, aged 21 and 34, arrived at the IGI airport from Dubai in different flights. When the duo was about to exit the green channel, it was then that they were stopped by the customs sleuths deployed at the terminal 3 and were asked to cooperate for a thorough frisking.”It was then, while checking their baggage, that a microwave transformer was recovered in which two gold cylinders were found concealed. The market value of these gold cylinders weighing 2,000 grams is worth Rs 56.6 lakh,” an airport official said.The officials said that both of them were asked about the gold but since they could not provide any satisfactory reply, they were arrested under the provisions of Section 104 of the Customs Act, 1962, and the gold was seized.Further investigation is underway, the officer said. Customs at the IGI airport has stepped up vigil following repeated cases of gold smuggling busted at the airport recently.

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Ashok Gehlot says Cong set to form govt in Gujarat

AICC general secretary and Gujarat party in-charge Ashok Gehlot has expressed fear of EVM tampering in Gujarat polls, counting for which be conducted on Monday.The leader, albeit, hoped that party would form government by registering a landslide victory. He was in Jaipur after holing over a month long campaigning in the neighboring state, Gujarat.Interacting with mediapersons, Gehlot said, “Almost after 22 years Congress will form a government in Gujarat, provided the EVM’s are not tampered.”Gehlot said it was his personal opinion. He demanded the the election commission of India (ECI) should introduce ballot system for voting which would erase doubts over the EVMs.The exit polls in Gujarat have clearly indicated BJP retaining the state which it ruled for 22 years. The Congress, which campaigned aggressively across the state at the grass root level under the leadership of party president Rahul Gandhi, is sure of victory but expressed apprehensions over rigging of EVMs. Patidar leader Hardik Patel and a Congress leader also has expressed similar doubts recently.Whether the party forms government or loses with a thin margin to BJP, would certainly impact Rajasthan where Assembly elections are slated in December.MANDATE TODAYExit polls in Gujarat have clearly indicated BJP retaining the state which it ruled for 22 years. The Congress is sure of victory but expressed apprehensions over rigging of EVMs.

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Assembly elections 2017: Gujarat decides, India watches

Will the BJP hold on to Gujarat, a state that has been its citadel for over 20 years, or will the Congress create a huge upset by defeating the party in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi? Who will the Patidars vote for? The answers to these questions and more, which have been on people’s minds for the last few weeks, will be known in a few hours, when the counting of votes takes place.Also, in Himachal Pradesh, which is a swing state, Congress and BJP have been alternating to power since 1985. The counting on Monday will make it clear whether the state will live up to its over three-decade-old trend of voting out the incumbent government or not.The BJP has remained undefeated in Gujarat since 1995, having comfortably won five Assembly elections, including three when Modi was the chief minister. While exit polls have predicted another big victory for BJP, the Congress is also confident of ending its losing streak in the state.Coming just a little more than a year before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the outcome of the Gujarat elections could have far reaching consequences on national politics. A defeat or even a poor result in his home state could be a huge setback for Modi in his re-election bid, as an adverse result could break the aura of invincibility that surrounds him and his trusted aide and BJP chief, Amit Shah.A lot is also riding on these results for Rahul Gandhi, who took over as Congress president just two days before the D-Day. Not surprisingly, both Modi and Gandhi campaigned extensively for the elections.Modi addressed as many as 34 elections rallies across the state, targeting Congress for its “anti-Gujarat and anti-Gujarati” mindset. He also likened Rahul’s elevation as Congress president to Aurangzeb Raj.A low point in the campaign came when Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar used the word ‘neech’ to describe the PM. While Aiyar was suspended from the Congress, Modi used the word to launch a blistering attack on the party, accusing it of being anti-poor.Rahul, on the other hand, kept up the attack on Modi over demonetisation, GST, and other issues. He also repeatedly targeted the PM for failing to talk about Gujarat’s future and directing his energy at criticising the Congress. The Congress scion also drew a leaf out of the rival’s book and visited several temples during his election yatras.While the BJP seems to have banked more on candidate selection and its organisational strength, the Congress tried to woo youths as well as different communities by roping in the trio of Patidar reservation agitation — Hardik Patel, OBC leader Alpesh Thakor, and Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani. Thakor and Mevani are contesting the elections, while Hardik held several roadshows, urging the people to vote against the BJP.The counting will start at 8 am for postal ballots and from 8.30 am for EVM votes at 37 counting centres, state’s chief electoral officer BB Swain said. “Nearly 10,000 counting staff and 8,000 support staff will be engaged. Over 25,000 security personnel have been deployed at the counting centres,” Swain said.Meanwhile, in the 68-member Himachal Assembly, 35 is the majority mark. Congress’ incumbent chief minister Virbhadra Singh is battling corruption cases, besides the usual anti-incumbency factor.BJP, which had earlier decided to go to polls without a CM face, declared its veteran Prem Kumar Dhumal as its candidate. The CM’s chair in Himachal Pradesh has been rotating between Virbhadra Singh and Dhumal for the last two decades.GUJARAT IN NUMBERSA total of 1,828 candidates contested in Gujarat elections, which were held in two phases on December 9 and 14. The polls saw a 68.41 % turnout. Of the 4.35 crore eligible voters, a little less than 2.98 crore exercised their right to vote. The turnout was 3.5 % lower than the 72.02 % turnout recorded in the 2012 elections. The BJP fielded candidates on all 182 seats, while the Congress fielded on 176 seats, leaving five seats for Chhotu Vasava’s Bhartiya Tribal Party. It did not field a candidate on the Vadgam (SC) seat and instead declared support for Jignesh Mevani. KEY FACES BJPChief Minister Vijay Rupani Deputy CM Nitin Patel Gujarat BJP chief Jitu Vaghani CONGRESSSenior MLA Shaktisinh Gohil Senior leader Arjun Modhwadia Senior leader Siddharth Patel

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Shame! In India, 2 women harassed daily at workplace: National Commission for Women 2017 report

India may surpass first world nation in terms of economic growth, but when it comes to women empowerment, the Asian giant cuts a sorry figure.The latest numbers from the National Commission for Women report just proves the pathetic state of affairs.Sample this – two women were harassed at their workplace daily in 2017, with Uttar Pradesh topping the ‘shame list’.The women panel’s report for the year 2017 says that on an average, the NCW received 1.7 complaints per day, a Times of India report said on Sunday.The Commission got 539 complaints with maximum coming from UP, Delhi, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana. But the panel feels that this is just a minuscule number, a tip of the proverbial iceberg as majority of victims still don’t report such matter either to the local police or to the Commission.In last four years, the Commission has received just 1,971 complaints. With #MeToo trending all this year in post Harvey Weinstein expose era, there has been a greater understanding among the women about this issue. Now, the stigma attached to such cases is giving way to women speaking openly about their horrifying experiences.The trend was also responsible for finally making the Indian Inc responsible towards the issue with the Corporate Ministry making it mandatory for all companies to make full disclosure on their compliance with the Sexual Harassment Act.It should be noted that this was a two-year-old demand by the Maneka Gandhi’s ministry, which was accepted only in 2017.

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Gandhi surname helped me become two-time MP at young age: Varun Gandhi

The ‘Gandhi’ surname helped me become a two-time Lok Sabha member at a young age, BJP MP Varun Gandhi said, adding that those without “influential” fathers and grandfathers find it difficult to make a mark in politics.The BJP MP from Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh was speaking at a seminar here.”Today, I have come to you and you all are listening to me. But the fact is if there was no Gandhi in my name, probably I would not have become a two-time MP at a young age and you would not have come here to listen to me,” he said.Gandhi said many talented youngsters are unable to join and shine in politics as they do not have influential fathers and godfathers.”The fact is that a young person from a humble background, even if he has the talent and leadership qualities, cannot come into politics unless his father or godfather is someone worthy,” he said.Also readI want an India where my surname does not matter: BJP MP Varun Gandhi on equal rights for allThe BJP leader said as many as 14 lakh farmers or common people in the county had to go to jails for payment default of Rs 25,000 during the past 15 years, whereas rich people, who owe crores of rupees to banks, are conducting lavish marriages of their daughters.”As long as there is no uniform justice in this country, we will not be able to see the India that we are dreaming of. There is still a lot of inequality among people,” Gandhi said.Also readAfter Congress, Varun Gandhi criticises Election Commission, calls poll body ‘toothless tiger’He claimed that 60% of the nation’s wealth was controlled by 1 % of the country’s population.Cricketer Mithali Raj also spoke at the seminar.

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We depend on Rahul to sustain hope: Manmohan Singh

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday launched a scathing attack on the BJP and said the Congress now depends on Rahul Gandhi as its president in a time of “disturbing trends”.”Rahulji is taking over as the president of the party at a time when there are certain disturbing trends noticeable in our polity. As a distinguished academic pointed out a few days ago, there are dangers that the ‘politics of fear’ will take over from the politics of hope,” he said. “Rahulji, we depend upon you to transform and sustain politics of hope,” Singh said.He started his speech by saying, “I recall a letter that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru wrote to Indiraji. He said that in the matters of the state, one should not be sentimental but should be full of sentiment.”He said that Rahul’s elevation was a “unique day” in the history of Congress.Singh further thanked Sonia Gandhi for providing “powerful leadership”. “We salute Soniaji for uniting the leadership, something that she has been doing for the last 19 years,” he said.

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‘Ray of hope’: Wishes pour in from politicos for Rahul Gandhi as he becomes Congress President

Wishes poured in for Rahul Gandhi from various opposition parties as he took over the reins of the Congress party today, with RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav saying the whole nation “wants to see him as the next prime minister”.Forty-seven-year-old Gandhi responded to the leaders on Twitter, saying, “thank you”. The leaders hoped that Gandhi would strive for the welfare of the people, put up a fight to protect secular fabric of the country. Former Bihar deputy chief minister and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav lauded Gandhi for “redefining” Indian politics. Also readCongress prez Rahul Gandhi pays tribute to martyrs of 1971 warYadav said Gandhi has proved his mettle in inclusive, secular and liberal politics. The RJD leader said the youth feels “duped and cheated” under the current BJP-led NDA regime. “And this respect, Rahul Gandhi ji is being seen as a ray of hope to bring this pessimistic politics to an end. The whole nation wants to see him as the next prime minister of India,” Yadav said in a video message posted on the Congress’s Twitter handle. Also readBJP rakes up Madhu Koda’s sentencing to target Rahul Gandhi on his first day as Congress PresidentReferring to a line “that there are many promises to keep, miles to go before I sleep” from Robert Frost’s poem, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury hoped it would be the guiding motto for Gandhi during his stewardship of the Congress. “In Indian politics, we wish all those who have taken up new responsibilities the best. Our wishes to him in discharging these responsibilities only with the hope that it will be in the interest of the people and the country,” he said in a video message on the Congress’s Twitter handle. “Congratulations Rahul ji for this big responsibility and our best wishes for all ur endeavours,” Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal tweeted.In a video message posted on the Congress’s Twitter handle, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav noted Gandhi’s responsibilities have now become greater and hoped he would make consistent efforts to take the grand old party forward. DMK working president M K Stalin also joined the leaders in wishing Gandhi, hoping he would restore glory of secularism. “Am confident that he will fulfil the aspirations and hopes of the people and restore the glory of Secularism, Socialism and Federalism. @OfficeOfRG,” Stalin tweeted. Taking to Twitter, Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said that the party takes a pledge for a new movement that is free from fear, fascism, prejudices, equity and true democracy.”New Energy, Newer steps, New Challenges & Navsarjan! Under the leadership of Rahulji, We shall write a golden chapter for Our Nation!” Surjewala tweeted.Facing the uphill task of reviving a moribund party, Rahul Gandhi today took over as the Congress president, and immediately hit out at the BJP, accusing it of spreading hatred and violence in the country.”They break, we unite. They ignite fire, we douse it. They get angry, we love. This is the difference between them and us,” he told party workers.Gandhi, who was heralded by the 132-year-old party’s top brass, family members and boisterous rank-and-file, alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was taking India back to the medieval times.In his first speech to party workers after his formal takeover, he set the tone of its future course and how the party would take on its arch-rival BJP, saying the Congress was for inclusive politics and that it respects all Indians that extends even to the ruling party.The 47-year-old Gandhi family scion said he took over the party reins knowing that he would always be walking in the “shadow of giants”.”Today, the BJP people are trying to spread fire and violence in the entire country and only the force of lovable Congress workers and leaders can stop them,” he said.Before he gave his first address, he sought his mother Sonia Gandhi’s blessings and kissed her on the forehead.Attacking Modi, he said the Congress took India into the 21st century, “while the prime minister today is taking us backward, to a medieval past where people are butchered because of who they are, beaten for what they believe and killed for what they eat”.This ugly violence in the country, he said, has “shamed us” in the world as India’s philosophy and history, born out of love and compassion, are being tarnished by such horror.In an emotionally charged final speech as the Congress chief while passing on the party’s mantle to her son, Sonia Gandhi said the grand old party should set its house in order and introspect while readying for any sacrifice to stop communal forces in the country.She exuded confidence that Rahul would lead the party with courage, patience and devotion. He has endured many personal attacks which have made him “fearless”, she said.She also voiced concern over the alleged attacks on the core constitutional and fundamental values of the country by the BJP and asked party workers not to relent in the fight against such forces.”We are all witness to daily attacks on our fundamental values, against the freedom of speech and expression, against our rich diverse culture, and an atmosphere of fear and suspicion is being created.”Amid this, the Congress must look within and introspect and forge ahead. If we do not stand by our principles, we will not be able to wage this fight for the common people. This is a moral battle and to achieve success, we must set our house in order and be ready for any kind of sacrifice,” she said.Sonia Gandhi said the country was facing “unprecedented challenges”, but stressed that the party was not going to be scared and would fight it out.She recalled the times when she entered politics after losing her “anchor” (Rajiv Gandhi) and “mother” (Indira Gandhi), and how with the support of Congress workers she steered the party to power both at the Centre and in state after state.Congratulating Rahul Gandhi on his elevation, she said personal attacks on him have made him fearless and voiced confidence that his leadership will infuse new vigour in the party.”I am confident that with a new and young leadership, our party will be reinvigorated and bring about changes we need. You have chosen Rahul as your leader. He is my son, and it is not right for me to praise him,” she said.Former prime minister Manmohan Singh said Rahul Gandhi will sustain the “politics of hope” which is needed in the country and not allow the “politics of fear” to take over.In his brief address at an event where the new Congress president was handed over a formal certificate by the party’s election authority, Singh said certain “disturbing trends” are noticeable in the country’s polity and the people were depending on Rahul Gandhi to transform it.Singh described the day as “unique” in the party’s history and said Rahul Gandhi’s leadership would bring a new sense of dedication and commitment to steer the party to greater heights of glory.He also praised Sonia Gandhi for the “powerful and magnificent” leadership provided by her to the Congress which would go down in the annals of its history.”As a distinguished academic pointed out a few days ago, there are dangers that the politics of fear will take over from the politics of hope,” the former prime minister said, apparently targeting the BJP.”May your path be blessed,” he said as he ended his speech.Rahul Gandhi was given the certificate in the presence of Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Robert Vadra and several senior party leaders.The new party chief also met PCC delegates from various states thanking them for electing him unopposed.There was chaos outside the AICC headquarters where party workers gathered in large numbers to witness the event, making it difficult even for senior party leaders to enter the premises.While there was bursting of crackers outside the venue, women played with ‘gulal’ and young party workers danced to the beats of ‘dhol’.Posters and banners were put up in Lutyens’ Delhi and traffic was halted around the AICC office on Akbar Road.

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BJP rakes up Madhu Koda’s sentencing to target Rahul Gandhi on his first day as Congress President

The BJP today dubbed the Congress as a “corrupt thought process” as it shrugged off Rahul Gandhi’s elevation as its president, saying its working style and “corrupt ways” remained the same.BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra launched a sharp attack on the Congress after Gandhi attacked the ruling party soon after replacing her mother Sonia Gandhi as its president.Patra cited the sentencing of former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda, who was supported by the Congress, in a corruption case to hit out at the party, claiming it would remain corrupt despite the change in leadership.He said it was an irony that despite the Congress not being in power for four years, corruption cases were still tumbling out and people jailed for corruption they did when it was in power.”This speaks volumes about the thought process, the working nature of Congress party. So a new president or an old president, the working style of Congress party, the corrupt ways of Congress party still remain the same,” he told reporters.He said when the Congress talks about a change in leadership, the country is seeing how during its 10-year rule, corruption of ten to fourteen lakh crore rupees took place under their very nose.”Congress is not an ancient thought process as claimed by a few, rather Congress is a corrupt thought process and that has been proved by the judicial process today,” Patra added.After assuming the leadership of the party, Rahul Gandhi accused the BJP of spreading hatred and alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was taking India back to medieval times.Also readRahul Gandhi is captain of a ‘sinking ship’: Union Minister Babul Supriyo”The BJP is spreading hatred and communalism… they break, while we unite. They ignite fire, we douse it,” Gandhi said.Asked about the ‘Aag laga ke’ (ignite fire) comment, Patra said this is “not a decent way” to react.”Elections are won not because of riots on streets, not because ‘sadak pe aag laga ke’. Elections are won because the mantra of reform, transform and perform works in the country under the able leadership of Narendra Modi,” he said.Also readPM taking us back to medieval times, says Congress President Rahul Gandhi He went on to add that elections are won as people compare how during the UPA days, the direct benefit transfer (DBT) was not there and the money could not reach the pockets of poor man.”Today because of DBT, what the poor man deserves, reaches his pocket. Elections are won by giving LPG cylinders to the last man standing in the queue, when electricity reaches every village.”So my simple request is we should not demean the basic nature of democracy in the country. Democracy is vibrant in the country because development is taking place as never before,” he added.Patra said that today is an important day as Madhu Koda, who was the chief minister of Jharkhand with the support of Congress party, has been sentenced to three years in jail because of his involvement in the coal scam.Also readHimanta Biswa Sarma congratulates Rahul’s elevation; says will continue to have political contests with him”We all know that Madhu Koda was an Independent MLA, but because of the fact that the government was formed with the outside support of the Congress party, the government then was almost a Congress government run by10 Janpath, 24 Akbar Road by the help of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Ahmed Patel,” he said.

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‘I can’t speak’: Sonia Gandhi sees red after fireworks interrupt her last speech as Congress president

Sonia Gandhi, who led the Congress part for 19 years, on Saturday passed the baton to his son Rahul. During her emotional farewell speech, the outgoing Congress president was interrupted by noise erupting from incessant fireworks as party workers celebrated Rahul’s elevation outside the 24, Akbar Road headquarters. “Today I am addressing you for the last time as Congress president. A new era, new leadership before you,” Sonia Gandhi said. But she stopped as loud crackers outside the party office drowned her voice. “I can’t speak,” she said, turning to the dais where senior leaders of the party were seated. Also readPM taking us back to medieval times, says Congress President Rahul Gandhi Signalling to the workers to bring down the noise, she said, “I have to shout because of this.” An announcement failed to deter the workers and they continued with the crackers. She resumed after a few minutes even as the noise continued.Congratulating Rahul on his elevation, she said personal attacks on her son have made him fearless and voiced confidence that the young leadership will infuse new vigour in the party.Also readSonia Gandhi and the unexpected rise and stunning fall of CongressEarlier, Rahul Gandhi was handed over certificate of election as Congress president.Sonia Gandhi, who headed the 132-year-old Congress for the last 19 years, also thanked party leaders and workers for the support she received during her tenure as its chief.Sonia, who has been unwell over the past few year and had virtually handed over the charge of the party to Rahul, said she was proud of her son’s endurance and determination.”Rahul is my son and I don’t feel it is appropriate that I praise him but I will definitely say that since childhood he had faced the agony inflicted by violence.”In his political life, he faced vicious personal attacks which have made him more fearless. I am proud of his endurance and determination. I am fully confident that he will lead the party with courage and dedication,” she said.(With PTI inputs)

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Congress prez Rahul Gandhi pays tribute to martyrs of 1971 war

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday paid homage to the Indian soldiers, who had made the supreme sacrifice in the 1971 war with Pakistan, on the occasion of Vijay Diwas.”On VijayDiwas, we salute the indomitable spirit and sacrifice of the martyrs of 1971 War. “Let each one of us remember the unfathomable valour of our soldiers, who defend India’s freedom every day,” he wrote on Twitter. Vijay Diwas is commemorated on this day every year to mark India’s victory over Pakistan in the war, which had led to the creation of Bangladesh.Also readPM taking us back to medieval times, says Congress President Rahul Gandhi Over 90,000 Pakistani soldiers had surrendered before the Indian Army in the 1971 war.

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My mother will continue to contest from Rae Bareli, not me: Priyanka Gandhi virtually rules out Sonia’s retirement

Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra today put to rest the speculation over her contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Rae Bareli, saying her mother Sonia Gandhi would again be in the fray from the Parliamentary constituency in Uttar Pradesh.Rae Bareli is currently represented in the Lok Sabha by outgoing Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who passed on the mantle of the top party post to her son Rahul Gandhi today.There is a speculation in the media over Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra assuming an active role in politics to assist her brother, Rahul Gandhi.The speculation arose after Sonia Gandhi indicated her “retirement” yesterday.The Congress had, however, clarified that Sonia Gandhi was only retiring as the Congress president and not from active politics.Also readHimanta Biswa Sarma congratulates Rahul’s elevation; says will continue to have political contests with him”There is no question of me contesting (the 2019 polls)…My mother will contest from there (Rae Bareli),” Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra said after Rahul Gandhi assumed charge as Congress president at an event at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters here.She also lauded her mother, calling her the “bravest” woman for overcoming huge difficulties during her record 19- year tenure as the Congress chief.Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi (from Amethi) are the only two Congress representatives from Uttar Pradesh in the current Lok Sabha. Also readPM taking us back to medieval times, says Congress President Rahul Gandhi Soon after taking charge as the Congress president, Rahul Gandhi today launched a frontal attack on the BJP, accusing it of spreading hatred and alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was taking India back to medieval times.Gandhi said the BJP is “fighting for itself”, while the Congress is “fighting for everyone” in the country.Also readRahul Gandhi is captain of a ‘sinking ship’: Union Minister Babul SupriyoThe Congress chief said he wanted the party to be an instrument of dialogue with people from all corners of the country, “all religions, all ethnicities, all ages and gender and for our dialogue to be led by love and affection”.He lamented that politics “was being used today to crush the people and not lift them up”.”The BJP is spreading hatred and communalism… They break, while we unite. They ignite fire, we douse it,” Gandhi said.”The Congress took India into 21st century, while the prime minister today is taking us backwards to medieval past when people are butchered because of who they are, beaten for what they believe and killed for what they eat,” he alleged.”This ugly violence shames us in the world,” he said in his first address to party men after taking over as the Congress president.47-year-old Rahul Gandhi took charge of the Congress in the presence of his mother and outgoing president Sonia Gandhi, sister Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra, her husband Robert Vadra, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and other senior party leaders.Reaching out to the youth, he said as “it is stated that the Congress is a grand old party we will make it a grand old and young party… We will fight all hatred with love.”Rahul Gandhi said the Congress party is like a family to him and vowed to take it forward.

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Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist found dead in Jammu and Kashmir

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Saturday 16 December 2017 15:58 ISTMust readMinor set ablaze by neighbours for opposing molestation in UP’s MainpuriAaditya Thackeray sets deadline for quitting alliance<!–end of artlmustredbx–><!–end of articllftpbx–>One Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist, a Pakistani national, was found dead in Tral Eidgah in South Kashmir on Saturday.<!– /11440465/DNA_Mobile_Article_300x250_BTF_1 –>Also readJammu and Kashmir | 3 terrorists gunned down in Handwara encounter, ‘raining whole night,’ tweets DGPThe terrorist was killed after a landmine went off where he was hiding.More details are awaited.

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Setting tone for 2019 Lok Sabha polls? PM taking us back to medieval times, says Congress President Rahul Gandhi

All roads led to 24, Akbar Road since early morning on Saturday as the Congress prepared for the change of guard at its headquarters in New Delhi.Celebration was in the air as party workers were seen dancing and bursting crackers ahead of the official elevation of Rahul Gandhi as president of the 132-year-old party.The 47-year-old arrived at the venue in his trademark white kurta payjama teaming it with black half jacket.Sharing the dais with his mother Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi was beaming with confidence.Sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and her husband Robert Vadra were seen in the front row.Terming the moment as ‘historic’ Mullappally Ramachandran, the chairman of the central election authority of Congress, handed over the certificate of elevation to Rahul Gandhi amid loud cheers.After Ramachandran’s brief remark, former PM Manmohan Singh took the stage to congratulate Rahul Gandhi. He also took the moment to recall the stint of Sonia Gandhi as Congress president.Though the spotlight was firmly on Rahul Gandhi, but his mother’s emotional farewell speech managed to strike a chord with party workers.In her 20-minute long address, Sonia Gandhi talked about assassinations of her mother-in-law Indira Gandhi and her husband Rajiv Gandhi. She recalled the difficult days and her initial years in Indian politics.With a rousing standing ovation, the Congress gave its respect to the outgoing party president.Then came the moment everyone was waiting for. In his first speech as Congress President, Rahul Gandhi talked about the ‘politics of fear’. In an all out attack against the ruling BJP and the Prime Minister, Rahul Gandhi said that the Congress took India to 21st century, but ‘the PM today is taking us back to medieval times.’He also spoke about how these days, people are being targeted for what they eat. The stinging attack clearly shows that the 47-year-old will not sit back but take aggressive stance in future.The address also shows his confidence and the vision that he is providing the party for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.Congress trying to set an alternative political narrative will decide the future of Grand Old Party, which was reduced to just 44 out of 543 Lok Sabha seats in 2014. With just 8 per cent votes, it was Congress’ worst performance ever. The same was seen in Sonia Gandhi farewell address when she said that ‘we have lots many elections, but we won’t bow down.’ It is this self-realisation that will help the Congress in coming times and help the party to stay relevant.In his address, Rahul Gandhi slammed the BJP for politics of hate. He said, ‘They (BJP) crush voices but we allow them to speak, they defame, we respect and defend.’ He also said, ‘Those in BJP are soldiers fighting for self. Whereas the Congress is guided by service of community.’ It is these statements clearly portraying the Congress as the party working for ‘spirit of India’ that may propel Congress to a course correction.The big question remains – can Rahul Gandhi put Congress back in power? What was seen in Gujarat – his temple visits or marathon public interactions – may have shown that he has finally arrived on the political scene, yet the Monday results may set new tone.

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Rahul Gandhi to take charge as Congress president today: 10 updates

Rahul Gandhi will take over the reins of the Congress party on Saturday. This marks the beginning of the new era in the Grand Old Party, which has so far seen the leadership of Sonia Gandhi for 19 years.Ahead of the official elevation, here are the major updates on this political story:1: Rahul Gandhi will receive a formal certificate of being elected as the Congress president unopposed from the party’s central election authority at a function at the party headquarters in New Delhi today.2: The 47-year-old will take the charge from his mother Sonia Gandhi, who has been the longest serving president of the Congress.3: Sonia Gandhi, who became Congress president in 1998, steered the 132-year-old party for 19 years.Also readSonia Gandhi ‘retires’ as Rahul Gandhi takes the reins today4: Sonia Gandhi’s two-decade long stint saw the Congress-led UPA winning two successive Lok Sabha polls in 2004 and 2009 and formed UPA-I and UPA-II governments.5: On Friday, the media was abuzz with stories about Sonia Gandhi’s retirement.Also readIt’s official! Rahul Gandhi is new Congress president, to assume office on December 166: Congress, however, clarified that she is retiring from the post of party president and not from politics.7: The reluctance shown by Rahul Gandhi in his initial years of politics is now a thing of past.8: The Gujarat Assembly Election saw him in an alll-new aggressive avatar. Be it going to temples or questioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Twitter, Rahul Gandhi managed to infuse new energy in the party’s poll camapign.9: Though all major exit polls are showing the BJP victory in both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the fact remains that this would be solely seen in comparison with Rahul Gandhi’s aggressive campaigning.10: At a time when the Congress has been reduced to limited political presence across India, Rahul Gandhi will have huge responsibility on his shoulders.

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Ambitious Rs 6.5K cr Parwan agri project initiated by Raj-Centre

Accusing Congress government for delaying ambitious Parwan irrigation project, chief minister, Vasundhara Raje has claimed that her government worked with sincerity on the project and laid its foundation, finally. She was addressing a gathering in Baran district where she along with Union road surface and water minister, Nitin Gadkari laid foundation stones and inaugurated development works worth Rs8,487 crore, including Rs 6,490 crore of Parwan alone.“Congress has done politics in 50 years of its rule but we implemented it. When it gets completed, it will become lifeline of Baran, Jhalawar and Kota districts. The dam capacity of this project is 490 million cubic metre. After completion, 317million cubic metres of water will be available for irrigation. Along with irrigation, this project will also provide 50 million cubic metres of water to quench thirst of 1,821 villages of Baran, Jhalawar and Kota districts. The thermal power generation of 2,970 MW will be achieved with 79 million cubic metre of the project,” Raje spoke here at a rally.The project is set to be a boon for three districts of Hadoti region- Baran, Jhalawar and Kota- where over 2 lakh hectare will get sufficient water. By laying foundation the government fulfilled a major promise which may impact the assembly polls too. Albeit, it is also a truth that the government took four years in finalizing detailed project report (DPR) and issuing work tenders. In the event which is part of government celebration of 4 years anniversary, the CM also presented report card on major irrigation works done. She noted that her government spent Rs5,633 crore on various irrigation projects including Indira Gandhi canal to provide water to 50,000 hectare land. “Dholpur lift project is also one of the major project which we took up. This project was not realised in 5o years but we are making it,” said Raje.

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AIR launches aggressive campaign on Centre’s feats

The Election Commission, which has drawn flak over its “discriminatory” role in the Gujarat elections, has also chosen to ignore an aggressive radio campaign aired by All India Radio (AIR) on the NDA government’s achievements between December 11 and 21 when the high octave state polls are underway.On Wednesday, the EC had ordered that FIRs (first information reports) be filed against television news channels for airing Congress President-elect Rahul Gandhi’s interview, a day before the second phase of polling in Gujarat (on Thursday). The EC also served a show cause notice to Gandhi for violating the model code of conduct.An order issued by the public broadcaster on December 7 states that the national and regional networks and FM channels of AIR will have to run programmes on the theme ‘Positive India’ during its primetime slot, between December 11 and 21.The order has listed around eight programmes which would be broadcast by AIR Delhi in this 10-day period. It has asked the broadcast stations at state capitals to air similar programmes highlighting positive stories from their regions.These programmes include special success stories of people who have benefited from various flagship schemes of the central government, vox populi on how government schemes have impacted the common man’s life, continuous radio campaigns on positive stories spanning across serials, documentaries, jingles and slogans, and radio bridges which have positively impacted lives of Indians.A separate satellite message issued on December 8 has asked programme heads of all capital AIR stations to identify prominent NGOs working on positive initiatives of the central government in their respective regions and produce radio stories in “regional languages” for various programmes. The programmes will also be included in AIR’s news bulletins. Prasar Bharati sources said these programmes will also be aggressively promoted on YouTube and other social media platforms with the “positive India” hashtag.RADIO GAGAAIR has a wide network across India and has a high penetration in the rural and remote parts of the country. It operates 420 radio stations. AIR has plans to extend the coverage of its FM channels to about 65% of India’s population.

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Lalu Prasad demands probe over Nitish Kumar’s Vikas Samiksha Yatra, calls it a ‘scam’

Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad on Friday attacked Chief Minister Nitish Kumar over his ongoing ‘Vikas Samiksha Yatra’, saying it was a “scam” wherein crores of rupees from the public exchequer was being splurged on an image-building exercise.He claimed that for every district covered under the yatra, Rs 10 crore was spent from the public exchequer.However, the ruling Janata Dal (United) dismissed the charge as “sheer frustration” of the RJD supremo, who is facing trial in several corruption cases and convicted in one.Addressing a press conference, Prasad distributed copies of a purported order issued by an official of Jeevika, a state government project for providing employment to rural women.As per the order, “4,000 women would participate in every public meeting of the CM during ‘Vikas Samiksha Yatra’ and would be paid Rs 75 each apart from the conveyance.”This is in addition to expenditure incurred on security arrangements, allowances to officers, arrangements for public meetings etc,” Prasad, who was accompanied by senior party leader Shivanand Tiwary, claimed.”This is turning out to be Vikas Samiksha Yatra ghotala (scam). At least Rs 10 crore is being spent in every district during CM’s Samiksha yatra,” he alleged.”If the ‘yatra’ was so indispensable, the CM should have taken only security personnel along,” Prasad said, wondering why review meetings were being held in districts, away from the state capital.He also alleged that flags of the JD(U), of which Kumar is the national president, were being displayed at the public meetings funded by the state.”There should be a probe into how much money has been spent on the CM’s yatra,” Prasad said.Kumar is on a state-wide ‘Vikas Samiksha Yatra’ since December 12 to take a first-hand account and review the progress made in various districts on development schemes launched by his government over the years.Prasad also reiterated his earlier claim that Kumar’s standing in his own government has diminished and JD(U)’s junior ally, the BJP, was establishing a “firm grip on the government and administration”.JD(U) chief spokesman and MLC Sanjay Kumar Singh, however, said, “It is sheer frustration of Lalu Prasad…a person, who is convicted in a corruption case, is levelling charges against a man known for his honesty and probity”.Prasad also dismissed exit polls predicting a BJP victory in Gujarat and claimed that the Congress would form government in the state and “all the exit polls will prove to be wrong like they did in Bihar in 2015”.On Sonia Gandhi’s “retirement”, he said, “She may not hold a post but will continue to give her guidance.” The RJD chief also added that Rahul Gandhi’s elevation as the Congress president will “strengthen the Grand Alliance”.He also opined against the draft law banning instant triple talaq with provision of of three years imprisonment for violations, saying “the Centre is behaving like an autocrat, taking steps as per whims and fancies”.

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Sonia Gandhi’s retirement | Congress clarifies, says she has not retired from politics

A day before son Rahul Gandhi assumes charge as Congress president, mother Sonia Gandhi on Friday announced retirement from politics.’My job is to retire,’ the 71-year-old reportedly told media persons on the Day 1 of the Winter Session of Parliament.Even as the news reports announced Sonia Gandhi’s retirement, the Congress has put out a clarification.In a tweet, party spokesperson and Randeep Surjewala said that “Sonia Gandhi has retired as President of Indian National Congress and not from politics.”“Her blessings, wisdom and innate commitment to Congress ideology shall always be our guiding light,” he said.Also readFrom a reluctant politician to Congress president: Timeline of Rahul Gandhi’s political journeyThe longest-serving Congress president, Sonia Gandhi held the post for 19 years.The announcement, however, won’t affect her role as the leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party.Till 2019, she will remain the Chairperson of the CPC and carry out her duty.After that, she is likely to take up the role of party mentor.From a quiet daughter-in-law to a brilliant politicians, Sonia Gandhi has carved a niche for herself.The move comes just days after Rahul Gandhi was elected as the Congress president on December 11.But, while expectations are high, Rahul Gandhi will need to fill the shoes of his mother.Rahul Gandhi’s era begins at a time when the Congress has lost most of its political power. The Congress has been losing state after state since the 2014 Lok Sabha election with the exception of Punjab.Rahul Gandhi’s elevation would come just two days ahead of the counting of votes for the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly poll.A sure-footed Rahul Gandhi powered a spirited campaign for the Congress in Gujarat, and a win in the election, which many analysts say could be dead heat between the two parties, would come as a massive boost for him.

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Gujarat Elections 2017 | Election result will be reverse of exit poll, says Arjun Modhwadia

Almost every exit poll, conducted by television news channels and other agencies after the second and final phase of polling in Gujarat assembly elections, has predicted a clear win for Bharatiya Janata Party. But former president of Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) Arjun Modhwadia insisted in a press conference that the final result will be that of reverse of what the exit polls had predicted. He pointed that the exit polls had gone wrong in many states.”People have voted and decided fate of the Gujarat. They have seen 22 years’ rule of BJP and are tired. That is the reason why there were long queues outside the polling booths. Such lines were seen during the regime of Indira Gandhi,” said Arjun Modhwadia, former GPCC president.He also said that BJP is always caught in spreading falsehood. “During 2012 elections BJP was claiming to get more than 151 seats. Even during this elections, they have aimed to get 150 seats. But I am confident we are getting majority,” added Modhwadia.He thanked Rahul Gandhi for his guidance and support during this election. “Rahul Gandhi has guided us well and we thank him for campaigning in state. BJP had no topic or agenda and has again gone back to issues like Pakistan. This has showed their frustration foreseeing their defeat,” Modhwadia remarked.

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In Kerala, Rahul Gandhi nudges Left to join ‘fight against BJP’

Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi today asked the CPI(M) to make its stand clear on its fight against BJP and “fascist forces” in the country.It is very important that the left party, which rules Kerala, makes its position clear on this at the national level, Gandhi said. The Congress leader’s statement assumes significance in the wake of reports that the recent CPI(M) politburo meeting had failed to reach a consensus on whether it should have a political understanding with the Congress and other secular parties against the BJP. “I want to ask my friends in CPI(M) whether they actually want to fight the fascist forces in the country,” Gandhi said.”It is very important that that they make their position clear at the national level…Why because…not standing against BJP means supporting BJP,” he said. He also asked whether they accept the fact that the biggest challenge to the county is from “the fascist ideas spread by BJP.” Gandhi was addressing congress workers here at the valedictory of the one-month-long “Padayorukkam” rally led by state opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala.The rally was taken out to highlight the “anti-people” policies of the BJP-led central government and the LDF-led state government.Also readAs Gujarat campaign progressed, we saw complete bankruptcy in BJP: Rahul Gandhi in Kerala A two-day CPI(M) politburo meet recently discussed two notes one presented by CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury and the other by his predecessor Prakash Karat suggesting the political approach it should follow in the coming three years. According to CPI(M) sources, since the party had not been able to reach any consensus, the draft would be placed before the central committee.

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If EC can send notice to Rahul Gandhi, why isn’t a notice being sent to the BJP: Congress questions ‘partisan’ move

The Congress late Wednesday responded to the Election Commission’s (EC) to its president-elect Rahul Gandhi, saying that the commission should ideally issue a notice to the BJP.“Congress delegation submitted a memorandum to ECI demanding immediate registration of FIR against BJP leaders in the context of them violating the model code of conduct. If FIR can be registered against news channels for telecasting Rahul ji’s interview, then why not against BJP?” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted with two documents on Thursday. The document added that the Congress was ‘shocked and anguished’ at the EC’s notice. “Such a decision, if taken, is discriminatory and does not take into account the conduct of the ruling party,” the document added.The Election Commission had cracked the whip on Rahul Gandhi and certain television channels that aired his interviews even after the end of campaigning.The BJP and the Congress traded charges against each other for trying to influence the voters in the mandatory no-campaign period.Within hours of the filing of three complaints by the BJP, the EC served a showcase notice to Rahul on Wednesday and ordered FIR against certain Gujarati television channels.The EC asked Rahul to explain by December 18 why he violated the poll code of no campaign within 48 hours of the conclusion of the final day of polling.The EC also instructed the Gujarat Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) to stop the display of such matter in districts going to the polls on December 14.Following the EC’s step, the Congress reacted sharply and called it partisan. The party demanded from the EC that an FIR be filed against BJP leaders. At the EC’s doorstep, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala described it as an attempt to strangle the press.”In 2014 Mr Modi had given a television interview just a day before the polling, and on the day of polling, he had even displayed the BJP symbol, but EC did not act then. On December 8, a day before the first phase, the BJP finance minister released the manifesto but EC did not issue a show cause,” he said.In his first interview, Rahul said the “BJP is not scared of him but of the voice of Gujarat.””In the last three months, I have just raised the voice of Gujarat. They are not scared of me. They are scared of the voice of Gujarat. This election is not about Rahul Gandhi or Narendra Modi. This is about the voice of Gujarat,” Rahul told TV channels.

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