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Looking forward-2018: A possible make or break year for Rahul Gandhi

Indian politics in 2017 virtually followed the trajectory of the past couple of years. A predominately saffron domination interspersed by pockets of opposition resistance. But overall the polity has slowly shifted towards right with BJP slowly and steadily becoming the numero-uno force in India, with its government in 19 states of the country, either directly or in alliance. Yet, as we turn the chapter of another year, the opposition is hopeful of breaking the pattern, of putting up a real fight in 2019 general elections. Is it a misplaced bravado, just a delusion based on one-off Gujarat results? 2018 will provide strong clues in that direction. The elections to crucial battleground states of Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are lined up in the coming year. These states in total have 93 Lok Sabha seats and in 2014 BJP had won a staggering 79 of those seats. Hence these states are vital in the national perspective and 2018 would be a fair indicator if BJP can repeat its stupendous performance in the next general elections. Karnataka is only the major state which is currently under Congress control. Slated to go to polls in April, it is number 1 in Amit Shah’s priority as he looks to reclaim the state under saffron fold. Shah is spending New Year’s Eve in Karnataka and already the state unit has launched a spirited campaign to dislodge Siddaramaiah. And here is where Rahul Gandhi needs to act, and act fast. In Gujarat, we saw he did a commendable job in galvanising the rural discontent against BJP government for Congress. But he failed to sway the swing voters who finally made all the difference. PM Modi’s masterstroke of changing the narrative in the last phase saved BJP from blushes. Rahul Gandhi needs to be proactive in Karnataka from the word go. Congress morale is currently in high after an improved performance in Gujarat. But a reversal in Karnataka can again get them to square one. Also readLooking forward – 2018: Amit Malviya sees a positive disruption in social mediaFor Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, Rahul needs to fix the leadership issue. Congress needs a strong state leader to counter BJP’s aggressive onslaught and rock-solid organisation in each of these states. Empowering the younger generation is the only way out. In Madhya Pradesh, Congress is heavily divided into several factions. Each work on their own accord, without any central planning thus giving Shivraj Singh Chouhan a free pass. Can Rahul manage the senior leaders and give a free-hand to Jyotiraditya Scindia? It may determine the fate of Congress in the state. Mandsaur agitation showed the extent of farmer’s anger in MP. A charismatic leader may just tip the scale in Congress’ favour in this BJP stronghold. Similarly for Rajasthan, Sachin Pilot needs full backing of the High Command to oust Vasundhara Raje government, which has been plagued by many problems recently. Former CM Ashok Gehlot did a stellar job for the party in Gujarat. It will be up to Rahul to give him a respectable position without upsetting the current equation in Rajasthan and giving Pilot the full authority to run the campaign, like Captain Amarinder did in Punjab. Also read2017: A year of roller-coaster India-China relationshipIn Chhattisgarh, post the Ajit Jogi era, Congress has seen a bit of void in leadership talent. Here Rahul’s job is to scout for a leader who can take on the formidable Raman Singh. It’s not that winning these states is any guarantee to winning the General election. In 2003, BJP did commendably well in these states and then slumped to an unexpected loss in 2004. But for 132-year-old Congress gasping for life, state victories or even improved performance in some of the states will provide much needed fillip to its sagging fortunes. And more importantly, it will earn Rahul Gandhi much needed respect among his peers. That he is not merely a leader who is the President of Congress by dint of his surname, he actually has the mettle to challenge the Shah-Modi campaign. It will help Congress to get the opposition united in 2019. A BSP in UP or DMK in Tamil Nadu or even the Left, TMC may only be inclined to support Congress, if they think Rahul Gandhi has a realistic chance of becoming the next PM of India.That’s why 2018 is so politically important. A clean sheet for BJP in this year would mean Congress staring down the barrel before the 2019 LS Polls. It would significantly reduce Rahul’s legitimacy to stake claim as being the natural leader of the opposition camp. Many regional satraps will be more than willing to occupy that position. Hence 2018’s Congress fight with BJP will have the larger subtext of Rahul Gandhi establishing himself as first among the equals in the opposition camp. He has several tricky decisions to make, about how to counter BJP’s Hindutva agenda and countering their development message. Truly a tricky year in offing for the Janeu-dhari Brahmin which may make or break his political career.

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BJP moves privilege motion against Rahul Gandhi over ‘Jaitlie’ remark

Irked by Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s tweet twisting Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s name as ‘Jaitlie’, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) moved a privilege motion against him in Rajya Sabha on Thursday.BJP member Bhupender Yadav took up the issue soon after the House endorsed External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s statement on Kulbhushan Jadhav.Moving the motion under Rule 187, Yadav urged Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu to take notice of the alleged breach of Jaitley’s privilege, who is also the Leader of the House.”All the members of this House have dignity. The name of Leader of the House Arun Jaitley has been intentionally published by the Congress president with malafide intentions to defame this House,” Yadav said.”The way the name of Leader of the House has been tweeted by the Congress president, it comes in the category of (breach of) privilege. There are precedents such as that of NC Chatterjee in 1954. I request you to go to this precedent and issue notice to Rahul Gandhi,” Yadav said.Naidu said he would take a view after examining the motion.Referring to Jaitley’s statement on Wednesday that led to end the week-long logjam in Parliament, Rahul Gandhi had tweeted, “Dear Mr Jaitlie (sic) – thank you for reminding India that our PM never means what he says or says what he means.”In his statement Jaitley had clarified Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s position vis-à-vis his ‘conspiring with Pakistan’ comments made during Gujarat campaign against his predecessor Manmohan Singh.”The statement (by Modi) did not question nor did he mean to question the commitment to the nation of Manmohan Singh or Hamid Ansari, the former vice president. Any such perception is completely erroneous. We hold these leaders in high esteem as also their commitment to the nation,” Jaitley had said.The finance minister made the statement as part of an understanding with the Congress party reached after several rounds of back channel parleys, that had led to continues stalling of the Rajya Sabha and disruptions in Lok Sabha for several days.The Congress also reciprocated by disapproving Mani Shankar Aiyar’s “Neech” comment regarding PM Modi.TWEET GONE WRONG?Rahul Gandhi had tweeted hitting at Arun Jaitley over his clarification of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comment against former PM Manmohan Singh.

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Congress Foundation Day | Constitution under threat, it’s our duty to defend it, says Rahul Gandhi

In yet another stinging attack against the Narendra Modi government, Congress President Rahul Gandhi today said that, ‘ the BJP operates on the basic idea that lies can be used for political benefit and it is the difference between us and them.’Addressing the party members on the 133rd Foundation Day of the Congress at the party headquarters in New Delhi on Thursday, Gandhi said that his party may suffer or lose elections but would not give up truth.He also attacked the government over the Constitution row. “The Constitution, the foundation of our country is under threat, it is under attack directly, statements are being made by senior members of BJP and it is under attack surreptitiously from the back and its our duty, duty of Congress party and every single Indian to defend it,’ Gandhi said.Keeping up the ante against the government, Gandhi said, ‘What is happening today in or country is a web of deceit, The BJP operates on the basic idea that lies can be used for political benefit and it is the difference between us and them, we might not do well, we might even lose but we will not give up the truth.”He also highlighted the Congress’s “glorious” history, claiming the central idea of the party was truth and “we will continue to fight for it”.

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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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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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Congress will lose Gujarat in 2022 even if Rahul Gandhi camps here: BJP

Gujarat BJP chief Jitu Vaghani today said even if Congress president Rahul Gandhi were to live in the state for the next five years, his party won’t be able to wrest the power.The Congress president had exuded confidence yesterday that after increasing the tally in the elections earlier this month, his party would come to power in Gujarat in the 2022 Assembly polls.”I want Rahul Gandhi to camp in Gujarat from today to ensure Congress’s victory in the 2022 Assembly polls. I am confident that even if he does that, the Congress will lose that election too, because the people of Gujarat know them well,” Vaghani said, speaking to reporters here.”It is my humble request to the Congress that it should shun its power-centric and caste-based politics. The Congress will never be able to defeat the BJP if it does not embrace positive politics,” Vaghani added.Gandhi held “introspection meetings” here yesterday to ascertain reasons for the party’s defeat in Gujarat.Also readThose who did not fight for Congress will face action: Rahul GandhiVaghani said the Congress will always end up doing introspection.”The Congress loses wherever Rahul goes for campaigning. It also lost in Himachal Pradesh. If its wants to do introspection on that defeat too, I am ready to provide them with a place if they can’t find one,” Vaghani said.Also readPM Narendra Modi’s Gujarat model debunked during polls, says Rahul Gandhi”The Congress will end up doing introspection only while people will keep on electing BJP to power,” the Gujarat BJP chief said.

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Prepare for 2019, Rahul Gandhi tells cadres

Prepare for the 2019 general elections, was the message Congress president Rahul Gandhi gave his party workers at a convention in Ahmedabad on Saturday. He told party men that if they work together, they can win people’s mandate.The convention was held after an internal review meeting of party office-bearers and newly elected MLAs in Gujarat. The reasons why Congress did not get majority in the House were discussed at the convention.Talking to party workers, Rahul talked about the challenges he faced during the recently concluded election.Rahul said the biggest challenge before him was to make party leaders and workers realise that the Congress can win in Gujarat. “I told everyone we can win. Seventy per cent of the message was well-received. Rest 30 per cent was not received. And you saw the results — the difference was only about 10 seats. The party now is confident,” he said.He alleged that the BJP has been using false propaganda to defame Congress leaders in Gujarat over the past 20 years. Rahul said he had to convince party leaders that if they think they can win, they will win.Gandhi advised his newly elected MLAs to take up issues faced by the masses, as the BJP government will continue to be of a few selected industrialists. “It is now your duty to protect the interest of the masses. This government will be of 8-10 industrialists. It will continue to forcibly acquire land from the people. It is now the Congress’s duty to protect the people. I will stand behind you,” he said.Rahul called upon the MLAs to be the party’s ambassadors and fight for the interest of the disadvantaged sections. “The fight has not ended. It will continue. We have to fight for the causes of farmers, youth, women,” he urged them.

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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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Action will be taken against those who didn’t help party in Gujarat: Rahul Gandhi

Addressing Congress party workers in Ahmedabad, days after narrowly losing in the Gujarat assembly election, Rahul Gandhi hinted that internal discord was the primary reason behind their defeat. Congress President said that if the party had worked unitedly, they would have emerged victorious. However, according to Rahul Gandhi’s assessment, while around 80-85% workers gave their best shot, some remained aloof or worked against the party and resulted in the eventual defeat. Congress significantly increased their seat tally and vote share in the recently concluded Assembly election restricting BJP to 99 seats in the assembly. However, even as Congress party did reasonaly well, many of its top leaders had to bite the dust. Alluding to it, Rahul Gandhi said that a new set of leaders have emerged who will be raising their voices in the Assembly. Congress President predicted that the party would win the next election under their leadership and get 135 seats. Also readRahul Gandhi offers prayers at Somnath temple in GujaratHe also said that Congress may have lost the election, but has scored a moral victory because BJP had lot more resource to fight the polls. Also according to Congress President, they spoke the language of love during the elections, while BJP spoke the language of rage. Congress lost many seats by extremely narrow margin in the recently concluded election. The state-leadership is currently taking a stock of the results and Rahul Gandhi joined them on the third day of introspection session. He held review meet with leaders from all four regions of Gujarat. Congress did significantly well in Saurashtra, but couldn’t maintain that surge in other regions. Congress chief Rahul Gandhi today visited the Somnath temple in Gir Somnath district, ahead of his meeting with party leaders to introspect on the Gujarat Assembly polls. The Congress leader landed at Keshod Airport in Saurashtra and offered prayers at the temple which is about 420 km from the state capital. Gandhi ad visited the Somnath temple during the recent election campaign and his name was found written on the entry register meant for non-Hindus, kicking up a row. The Congress had called it “fake” and the BJP insisted that the leader declare his religious faith before people.With PTI inputs

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Congress to demand debate in Parliament today

As the CBI special court verdict on 2G cases came as a big relief for the Congress and its newly-elected president Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hit out at the NDA government for its “massive propaganda” against the UPA, insisting this was “without any foundation”.Like the Bofors scandal that haunted the grand old party for decades, the alleged 2G scam had given a handle to adversaries and in fact, created a public perception against then UPA government in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, resulting in the worst-ever electoral debacle of the party.Soon after the “unexpected” verdict, the Congress leaders huddled together and decided to up the ante against the government and move a motion seeking a debate on the issue in Parliament on Friday. It also decided to demand an apology from PM Modi, FM Jaitley and former comptroller and auditor general (CAG) Vinod Rai.Congress president Rahul Gandhi dialed Kanimozhi, daughter of DMK patriarch K Karunanidhi, telling her that truth has triumphed. Later, many Congress leaders including Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad visited her residence to express solidarity.Manmohan Singh, whose image of impeccable integrity was hit badly after the 2G scam said after the court order, “I do not want to boast (about) anything. The court’s judgment has to be respected. I am glad that the court has pronounced unambiguously. All the massive propaganda which was being done against the UPA was without any foundation. The judgment speaks for itself.”Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal demanded an apology from former comptroller and auditor general (CAG) Vinod Rai and asserted that what he has been saying from day one about zero loss was vindicated. He insisted that there was no case from the beginning and a “scam of lies”.Many other former Union ministers and senior Congress leaders such as P Chidambaram, Anand Sharma, Kamal Nath, and Azad were also quick to target the BJP for what they called “propaganda against the UPA.””Will all such conspirators, whose ‘sardars’ (leaders) including prime minister Narendra Modi, Arun Jaitley and their “pichhlagu and pitthu” (stooge) Vinod Rai, should their accountability not be fixed,” asked Congress communication department chief Randeep Surjewala.

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What the Gujaratj results mean for Congress and Rahul Gandhi

Even though Congress has lost elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the fight and spirit exhibited by the party has given its newly elected president Rahul Gandhi to live for another day. Commenting on the results, a senior Congress leader told DNA that campaigning in Gujarat has helped them to test raw nerves of PM Narendra Modi and imparted lessons on how to defeat him in his own game. “We had modest expectations in the state, where we have been out of power for 22 years. Don’t forget, it is also home state of Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. It was always a tough fight,” he said. The party hopes that the spirited fight in Gujarat will help the party to evolve strategies to retain Karnataka, and wrest Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan from the BJP before 2019 general elections. The party’s general secretary incharge of Gujarat Ashok Gehlot said the results were a “victory” for the party keeping in view the response Gandhi’s campaign got from the people. “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,” he said.Since the Gujarat election was nothing but a perception-driven war of credibility and acceptability between Modi and Gandhi, the post poll narrative will focus on them. The Congress has succeeded wresting some 20 seats from the BJP in Gujarat. If one goes by the statistics of 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress has jumped from 33.4% popular votes to 43% plus. The BJP which secured 60.11% in 2014 has come down to 49.3%. With this statistics, the Congress has already announced Gandhi the winner who was able to contain the mass might of Modi and the mind power of Shah. But there are many within party who believe that remarks of Mani Shankar Aiyar against the PM, Kapil Sibal argument in the apex court on Ayodhya issue, pleading to put off the argument till 2019 general elections did cost the party in the second phase of polling.

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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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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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Gujarat ki goonj Rajasthan mein..

Gujarat touches 6 districts in Rajasthan. But it’s poll results will have impact on the entire state. A slim win in Modi’s bastion has sent warning bells ringing for BJP in Rajasthan. As the Raje government enters into the fifth year, Congress, post ‘moral victory’ in Gujarat, will go all out to oust the ruling party.Raje, on the other hand, has a tough task to counter anti incumbency factor while setting off on last minute development work for the public. Her immediate challenge is to win three byelections – one for assembly and the other two for parliament- which would disturb the tempo of Congress after its fighting performance in Gujarat.“If she is able to register wins in these elections, Congress will lose the edge which it has got after Gujarat elections. Also, it will send a message to high command that Raje holds the key for BJP in Rajasthan,” said a senior BJP leader.After facing tough fight in Gujarat, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah may change their strategy in coming state polls. They are said to keep complete control over ticket distribution in elections.“Now the duo may consider feedback of chief ministers and party chiefs of respective states in assembly elections lined up in 2018. This imminent flexibility may work well for BJP,” he said.For Congress, it is the golden chance to revive its fortune. The growing confidence and stature of Rahul Gandhi will imbibe confidence in his close aide Sachin Pilot also. After Ashok Gehlot proving his mettle in Gujarat elections, it is now up to Pilot to outsmart the strategies of the former chief minister, which foxed BJP in Gujarat.“Gujarat victory is morale booster for Congress, but Pilot will be under pressure. He is yet to showcase his leadership capabilities. With Gehlot winning crucial brownie points from Congress President, victory in by elections is the least Pilot needs to prove his point,” said a Congress leader.

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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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Gujarat elections 2017: Rahul Gandhi’s soft ‘Hindu’ strategy a success

Gujarat elections saw a new avatar in the ‘janeu-dhari’ and ‘tilak’-sporting Rahul Gandhi, as he hopped temples to woo Hindu voters. During his unusual temple run, beginning with Dwarkadheesh temple, Rahul covered nearly two dozen temples across the state. His pilgrimages included the famed Somnath temple, which has been at the centre of political discord between Congress and BJP, as well as the Akshardham temple of the Swami Narayan sect that has worked as a bulwark for the BJP.He even visited a Navarati pandal in Chandi Bazar, Jamnagar. And when his Hindu branding was challenged, Rahul declared at Bahuchara ji temple, “Main Shiv ka bhakt hoon. Sachaai mein believe karta hoon. BJP jo bhi bole, main apni sachaai mein believe karta hun (I am devotee of Lord Shiva, and I believe in honesty. Whatever the BJP may say, I believe in my own honesty and truth).”By wearing Hinduism on his sleeve, Rahul perhaps forced even Prime Minister Narendra Modi to up his temple visits amid a punishing campaign schedule.To keep the BJP at bay on religious issues, Congress took every care to steer clear of its minority appeasement image. In none of Rahul’s rallies were there any Muslims on the dais, so much so that even Ahmed Patel was kept at a safe distance.Rahul’s temple visits also underscored the fact that the Congress now believes that it will have to reclaim its earlier ‘soft Hindu’ party image, and undo the damage inflicted by its anti-Hindu, pro-Muslim image.The future course of Indian politics might seen a more “Hindu” Rahul Gandhi. It would be interesting to know how Rahul, after tasting relative success in Gujarat, deal with the Ram Mandir issue.RAHUL’S NEW AVATARSome of Rahul’s pilgrimages included the Somnath temple, the Akshardham temple of the Swami Narayan sect, the Bahuchara ji temple and a Navarati pandal in Chandi Bazar, Jamnagar To keep the BJP at bay on religious issues, Congress took every care to steer clear of its minority appeasement policy. Rahul forced even PM Narendra Modi to up his temple visits

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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: Congress’ bitter-sweet defeat is story of missed opportunity

If anyone in 2014 had predicted that Congress would end up only 8 short of majority in 2017 Assembly elections in Gujarat, they would have been dismissed as delusional or a sycophant. Congress was completely swept away by Modi wave in his home state, drawing a blank out of 26 seats. It was just ahead in 17 assembly segments with BJP’s towering lead in 165 segments. Another low point for Congress was the Rajya Sabha polls in August, where there was deluge of defections from the Congress ranks ending with epic midnight joust and Ahmed Patel winning by the skin of his teeth. At that time,Congress looked down and pretty much out with most top leaders jumping off the sinking ship. Yet, the party has come up with its strongest performance in well over two decades, breathing dangerously down BJP’s neck and nearly causing a political earthquake. Also readGujarat Election Results: No matter who wins, when will a villager reap benefits of development?Yet, the Congress can hardly afford to be happy because very rarely the stars would be so fortuitously aligned for them. The double disaster of demonetization and recently GST meant BJP’s core trader vote base was against it. The saffron party for the last three years has grappled in the dark looking for a good replacement of Modi for CM’s post. While Anandiben Patel failed to contain the Patel agitation, Vijay Rupani, too, has done precious little to create an independent narrative. The Patel agitation and the Una lynching meant a chink in BJP’s vote bank and resurgence of caste as a currency in electoral battle of Gujarat after two decades. As luck would have it in Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani, Congress found three caste leaders who were product of the social churn and ready to trade their guns against BJP. All they needed was an efficient general, who could strategise and pre-empt Amit Shah and Narendra Modi’s every step. Also readBJP MP who predicted party’s loss in Gujarat eats humble pie; says PM hero, he is zeroSadly for Congress, they had no one to tap the winds of anti-incumbency blowing past the Sabarmati. Hardik Patel tried his best considering it’s his first brush with electoral politics. But his magic was mostly limited to Saurashtra, where BJP ended up losing 13 seats. But in other areas and especially in big cities it paled compared to Modi’s appeal. Rahul Gandhi is a changed politician, much nuanced and steady in his approach, with a distinct connect with the electorates. Yet he didn’t have the chops to upsurge Modi’s party in his own backyard. Probably, if the party had started their campaign a little ahead, spoke more of what they have to offer, instead of only banking on anti-incumbency, the result would have been completely different. Rahul took jibe at BJP for late publication of manifesto, but Congress’ own document was released just a week before that. How many farmers knew about their promise to waive loans in 10 days? About schemes promised for women, minority and backward groups? Nearly 84 lakh voters didn’t exercise their franchise in 2017, compared to 2012. 5 lakh voted NOTA. It’s not a stretch to believe, most if voted would have gone against BJP, considering the general shrinking nature of their mandate. Somehow the Congress couldn’t reach them. Biggest Gujarat Congress state leaders lost their polls, indicating they are well past their sale date. But precious little has been done by Congress high-command to breathe fresh blood in the Congress state leadership. It finally proved costly for them. Gujarat in a way broke the recent trend of winner takes all in big states. It was tanatalisingly close and more of an election which the Congress lost, than BJP won. Yes, PM Modi managed to change the discourse with his Pakistan conspiracy theory and hyping the Mani Shankar gaffe. But it only shows that there were sufficient number of undecided voters at that late stage of campaign, who gave their vote to lotus to save BJP blushes in Central and South Gujarat. The bad news for Congress it will rarely get such sitter in platter in the rest of 2018. Mesta death has already vitiated the political climate in Karnataka, the next big state to go to polls. Congress faces an uphill task in BJP bastions of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and MP, slated to vote later in 2018. The good news is that in Karnataka, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the party has good leaders in Siddaramaiah, Sachin Pilot, and Jyotiraditya Scindia respectively to chaperon the campaign. Rahul Gandhi can give the nitro boost, but he doesn’t have the charisma to win the grand old party a win on his own. So he needs to understand his limitations and harvest a group of satellite leaders who can amplify his mantra in the poll-bound states.Another Rahul recently said about how one needs to learn to fail well. Dravid said that failure can only be a pillar of success, if one learns the lesson from it. The pillars of Congress resurgence from a force down in the dumps to a worthy challenger to BJP can start with this defeat. As it went to the lion’s den and gave it a fright of life. Will Rahul Gandhi go into snooze mode now or start planning for next campaign again, after postmortem of Gujarat? That may well be the difference between future wins and losses.

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Gujarat Elections 2017: How GST tweak saved the day for BJP

Last ditch efforts to placate businessmen affected by Goods and Services Tax (GST) saved at least 20 seats for the BJP in the Gujarat Assembly polls, a top business leader in state claimed today. Another trade leader in Surat said that traders did not know that the contest would be so close and they did not want to rub the government in the wrong way and hence did not vote for Congress.From the results and trends available till now, the Congress has won 70 seats in the 182-member Gujarat Assembly, while the BJP was victorious in 75 seats. The Congress was leading in 7 other constituencies. The BJP was ahead in 24 other seats.Also readGujarat Elections 2017: Akhilesh asks Rahul to build opposition unity ahead of 2019 pollsCities like Ahmedabad, Surat and Rajkot which were major centers of protests by businessmen have voted for BJP as the party won most seats in these cities. BJP’s tally dropped marginally in these trader-dominated cities as Congress made some token inroads in urban areas but failed to make substantial gain in these BJP strongholds.The issue of GST cropped up in Gujarat, right from its rollout in July 2016. High rates of taxation and issues related to compliance caused anger in businessmen and tax practitioner communities. Also readGujarat, Himachal Assembly Elections 2017 Verdict: Nation is ready for reforms, PM Modi saysSevere penal provisions, often because of systemic issues, had caused severe dissent among the traders. As the issue snowballed, the central government rushed in a team of tax officials to Surat, Vadodara and Ahmedabad. Following the feedback received, the government initiated massive course correction. “After the meeting, businessmen preferred to stay with BJP. If these measures were not taken, BJP would have easily lost 20-22 seats,” said Shailesh Patwari, President of Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry.On the other hand, a segment of business leaders believe that even though traders were adversely affected because of GST, they did not vote for Congress as they underestimated the support Congress was getting from the masses. “Traders did not imagine in their faintest of dreams that Congress and Rahul Gandhi would be able to garner so much support. If it had occurred to them, then they have voted aggressively in favour of Congress,” said Jaylal, President of Surat Vividh Vepari Mahamandal and was one of the key players to lead the protests by textile traders in Surat. “Businessmen have to face government authorities day in and day out. So they preferred not to antagonize BJP,” said Jaylal. He said that the elections have key takeaways for trading community and Congress has re-emerged as a credible force in the country. “Even Rahul Gandhi has emerged as a leader who could single-handedly challenged Modi and Amit Shah in their den. We can’t say that he failed. Had the Manishankar Aiyar and Kapil Sibal episodes not happened, then results would have been quite different,” he added.

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Gujarat Elections 2017: Results won’t have any bearing on Karnataka polls, says Siddaramaiah

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah today 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.The Congress leader also claimed that by ensuring the party’s victory in the Assembly polls, Karnataka would give the “first gift” to newly-appointed Congress president Rahul Gandhi for his leadership.Also readAssembly Elections 2017: Gujarat, HP results lesson to parties indulging in caste-politics and dynasty, says Amit ShahClaiming that there was no anti-incumbency against his government, Siddaramaiah said if it was there, the Congress would have got to know about it in the Nanjangud and Gundlupet bypolls, which the party won by big margins.”I am sure that in 2018, we will come back to power hundred per cent,” he added.Also readGujarat Elections 2017: Rahul’s campaign reminded us of Indira Gandhi, ‘moral win’ for Congress, says Ashok GehlotThe Congress has already announced that Siddaramaiah will be its face in the Karnataka Assembly polls.Expressing doubts about the BJP’s performance in Gujarat, despite anti-incumbency and a strong undercurrent against it, the chief minister said the poll results lent credence to the doubts regarding the electronic voting machines (EVMs).Raising apprehensions that the EVMs could be tampered with, Siddaramaiah had recently demanded the use of ballot papers in the next Assembly polls in the state.Suggesting that in Himachal Pradesh, the BJP was expected to win because of the anti-incumbency factor against the Congress, he pointed out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah were from Gujarat and claimed that the duo had taken the Gujarat election as a “prestige issue”.He also acknowledged that the strategy of Modi and Shah of using the “Gujarati pride” card had effectively worked in the saffron party’s favour.Though there was an undercurrent and a strong anti- incumbency factor against the Gujarat government, Modi had asked for votes pointing out that he was from the state, Siddaramaiah said, adding, “Most probably, this worked.” Noting that the trends of the results showed an improved performance of the Congress, the chief minister gave the credit for that to Rahul Gandhi.”I feel, in Gujarat, we have won despite losing. The people have shown their support to Rahul Gandhi’s leadership,” he said.Pointing at Modi and Shah’s Gujarati origin and the fact that the BJP was in power both in Gujarat and at the Centre as factors behind the saffron party’s performance, the Congress leader accused it of polarising the voters by systematically playing the communal card.”They (BJP) are playing it in Karnataka also by triggering communal tensions with an intention to polarise the voters. But it will not happen here,” he said.The BJP is headed for a record sixth straight victory in the Gujarat Assembly polls today. The party is also set to evict the Congress from Himachal Pradesh.

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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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Gujarat Elections 2017: Key candidates and their fate

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is all set to retain power in Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi which the party has ruled for 22 years, although it is likely to lose some seats in the new Assembly.As per the trends of the Election Commission at 3 pm, the BJP has already bagged 35 seats while it is leading on 63 others. Congress has won in 26 Assembly constituencies while its candidates are leading on 52 other seats.Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has won by defeated Congress’ Indranil Rajguru from Rajkot West while his deputy Nitin Patel is leading by nearly 10,000 votes from Mahesana after early scare.Also readGujarat Election Results 2017 LIVE: Rajnath Singh takes a dig at Rahul Gandhi, says ‘sar mundwate hi ole pade’ Congress-backed independent candidate Jignesh Mevani has also won from Vadgam Assembly seat.Follow updates on key candidates of Gujarat Assembly election here.

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Assembly Elections 2017: Manohar Parrikar takes a dig at Rahul Gandhi, says ‘he scored zero in his opening innings’

Taking a dig at Rahul Gandhi over the impending defeat in the Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, Goa Chief Minister Manohhar Parrikar on Monday said the newly-elected Congress President “scored zero in his opening innings.” “In his opening innings he scored zero” Parrikar said. He was commenting on the results in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh where the poll trends are hugely in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). According to official trends of the Election Commission at 2:42 pm, the BJP has 28 seats and leading on 70 others in Gujarat. The Congress, on the other hand, has won 21 and is leading 57 other seats. The BJP has ruled the state for the last 22 years. In Himachal Pradesh, the BJP has won 5 seats while leading in 39 other constituencies. The Congress, which ruled the state for 5 years, has won one seat and is leading on 18 seats.

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Gujarat elections 2017: BJP upbeat, gears up for ‘twin wins’

Silently, but diligently, the BJP’s election machinery rolled on a chilly Sunday, with party spokespersons huddled at the headquarters at 11 Ashoka Road, just a day before the fate of its candidates in Guajarat and Himachal Pradesh was to be revealed.As exit polls give the BJP a decisive edge in Gujarat, the mood was upbeat with BJP general secretary in-charge for Gujarat, Bhupendra Yadav, and Information and Broadcasting minister Smriti Irani, who is a Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat, briefing the spokespersons.According to sources in the party, nearly 30 party workers met at the party office to discuss and finalise the media communication strategy for Monday. They included leaders such as Dalit face of BJP, Bizay Sonkar Shastri, former Union minister Shahnawaz Hussain, the suave Samajwadi Party-turned-BJP leader Gaurav Bhatia, and Zafar Islam.Yadav oversaw communcation management, BJP’s media in-charge Anil Baluni and his deputy Sanjay Mayukh helped.”This meeting is nothing special. We are here only to decide the media strategy for Monday, as it would be a long day. We are deciding the shifts in which the spokespersons would be present here to interact with the media,” a senior BJP leader said.As the results start trickling in from 8 am, most of the party members would be present at the headquarters by 7 am. In the event of a victory, celebrations have been planned, including sweet distribution and cracker bursting.Meanwhile, an eye-catching poster of Congress president Rahul Gandhi was seen hanging right opposite the saffron party’s central office, ostensibly put up by the Youth Congress. The poster had Rahul waving his hand, with the message: “Lead For The India”.

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Gujarat Elections 2017: EC withdraws notice to Rahul Gandhi over his TV interviews

The Election Commission of India on Sunday withdrew its notice to Congress President Rahul Gandhi which it had issued on December 13 for allegedly violating the provisions of the election law and the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by giving interviews to TV channels in Gujarat where the final phase of polls was due the next day. The ECI had asked Mr Gandhi to respond to the notice latest by December 18 evening. The EC had also directed the Chief Electoral Officer of Gujarat “to initiate necessary action by filing FIR against those who have violated the above mentioned provisions in phase two districts in Gujarat”.It had said that Gandhi, then Congress president-elect, talked about the Gujarat Assembly elections in which the polling for the second phase will be held tomorrow.Also readIf EC can send notice to Rahul Gandhi, why isn’t a notice being sent to the BJP: Congress questions ‘partisan’ moveSome local news channels in Gujarat had telecast Rahul Gandhi’s interview ahead of the second phase polling in the state on December 14.The BJP had complained to the poll panel about the interviews. Also readCongress cries foul over EC notice to Rahul for TV interviews, demands action against BJP leadersThe Commission also found that BJP’s election manifesto release on the eve of first phase of polling noting that there is no limit prescribed in the model code of conduct in this regard.The Congress had alleged that the BJP releasing its manifesto a day ahead of the first phase of polling in Gujarat on December 9 was also a violation of electoral laws. Also readGujarat Elections 2017: All eyes on Modi’s home state as stage set for counting tomorrowThe poll body has also decided to set up a committee to draw new guidelines on the violations of MCC and the Section 126 of the Representation of the People, 1951, in the new digital age.The poll panel accepted that Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act does not take into account the revolution in communication technologies.”It appears imperative to revisit the provisions relating to the last 48 hours before completion of poll to appropriately address challenges unleashed by fast changing technologies in the context of multi-phase polls,” the EC said.It said it will soon consult political parties, media, News Broadcasters Association (NBA) and other stakeholders to seek suggestions.

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EC to set up panel to suggest amendments in election law in view of latest communication technologies

The Election Commission (EC) on Sunday decided to set up a panel to suggest amendments to a provision in the election law barring campaigning 48 hours ahead of polling, following complaints that it has failed to keep pace with information technology.In an order issued tonight, it said the proposed committee will have members from the poll panel, the information and broadcasting, law and IT ministries, in addition to those from the National Broadcasters Associations (NBA) and Press Council of India (PCI).They will “examine these provisions in the prevailing context of communication technologies and suggest required changes”, it said.The order comes in the wake of controversies over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s FICCI meeting, Rahul Gandhi’s TV interviews and the release of BJP manifesto — all after campaigning had ended in Gujarat.The poll panel accepted that Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act does not take into account the revolution in communication technologies.”It appears imperative to revisit the provisions relating to the last 48 hours before completion of poll to appropriately address challenges unleashed by fast changing technologies in the context of multi-phase polls,” the EC said.

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From selling ‘Rahul herbal tea’ to distributing ‘Rahul rose’, meet Rahul Gandhi’s number 1 fan Anwar Hussain

As Rahul Gandhi officially took charge as the Congress president on Saturday, a 30-year-old Congress leader in Gorakhpur was filled with emotions and happiness. Anwar Hussain, who started his political career as a student leader, said he and his party leaders have been working really hard to establish Rahul Gandhi brand.From selling ‘Rahul herbal tea’ to distributing ‘Rahul rose’, Anwar have been the biggest fan of Rahul Gandhi. Anwar has already made plans to strengthen the Congress party by involving both young men and women in the party.“My plan now, after Rahulji’s elevation, will be to strengthen the Congress by getting more and more young men and women to join the party. He (Rahul) is very popular among youth,” said Anwar according to an HT report.During the recent UP assembly elections, he even distributed ‘Rahul rose’ to voters, appealing to them to vote.He also grabbed a lot of media attention when he promoted the Samajwadi Party and Congress alliance in Uttar Pradesh during the assembly elections. He called Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav ‘Karan Arjun ki Jodi’.Anwar also distributed ‘Rahul herbal tea’ during demonetisation when people stood in bank queues. He even sold ‘Rahul onion’ at Rs 5 per kg when the prices soared.Back in 2014, when BJP launched their ‘chai pe charcha’ poll campaign under their candidate Narendra Modi for general elections, Anwar found a new way to counter his rival party. In an effort to sideline BJP’s campaign ‘Modi tea’, the Gorakhpur leader started ‘Rahul Milk’ campaign.Anwar was also part of the campaign of the Congress members who wrote letters with blood and made an emotional appeal to elevate Rahul Gandhi as the party president in 2015.Not just that, Anwar has been Rahul Gandhi’s ultimate fan, setting up a picture gallery of his mentor in his house and even a coffee mug of Rahul’s pictures in it.

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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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‘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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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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Rahul Gandhi is captain of a ‘sinking ship’: Union Minister Babul Supriyo

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Babul Supriyo on Saturday termed Congress President Rahul Gandhi as captain of the “sinking ship.”Speaking to ANI, Minister of State (MoS) for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Supriyo said, “Rahul Gandhi is the captain of a sinking ship. I would enjoy his speech back home as he must have said something humorous. I have heard his speech is already doing rounds on social media but I think he should talk about himself also.” He added that Rahul Gandhi is talking only about the BJP, which is already doing wonders.Also readPM taking us back to medieval times, says Congress President Rahul Gandhi “He is talking about 21st century but I am not sure the party will remain even till this century given that its performance is falling apart every day. Definitely Congress has a great history and I hope it has a great future too,” the BJP leader stated.Earlier in the day, Rahul took over as the Congress president by succeeding his mother Sonia Gandhi.Also readHimanta Biswa Sarma congratulates Rahul’s elevation; says will continue to have political contests with himThe 47-year-old was officially declared party president in a ceremony held at the party’s 24 Akbar Road headquarters here.He was given the certificate of Congress president by Mullappally Ramachandran, the chairman of the party’s central election authority, who oversaw the organisational polls.Also readSonia Gandhi and the unexpected rise and stunning fall of CongressThe ceremony was attended by party stalwarts, including former prime minister Manmohan Singh, former union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan and other party leaders.His sister Priyanka Gandhi and brother-in-law Robert Vadra were also present on the occasion.Sweets were distributed, slogans raised, crackers burst and party workers danced to drum beats to celebrate the change of guard. Artists from different parts of the nation were also seen performing outside the party head office. Congress workers marched from Rail Bhavan to party office. Sonia headed the party for 19 years since 1998.

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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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Gujarat Elections 2017: Satta bazaar bets big on BJP win

Even as the exit polls have predicted a sweeping win for the saffron party, the ‘satta bazaar’ in Gujarat has also put its money behind the Bharatiya Janata Party. The market, which predicted a close finish till the second phase of polling, has now increased the margin from 90 to 103-105 after the exit polls. As Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi criss-crossed the state rallying votes, the market fluctuated, based on the sentiment of the masses.Initially, the market had predicted a clear victory for BJP, but as the campaign progressed, the Congress started gaining momentum as a series of Rahul Gandhi rallies hit their mark. Closer to voting day, the margin between BJP and Congress reduced, but at the end of the second phase of polling, the odds again changed and the gap widened.The bazaar had prized BJP at 70 paise, giving the ruling party about 90 seats till the second phase of polling. However, after the exit polls, the prize dropped to 25 paise, giving BJP seats in the range of 103-105.In market parlance, it implies a bet of Rs 1 lakh before the exit polls would yield a return of Rs 70,000 on that lakh, but one after would only get Rs 25,000. This indicates a BJP victory is now more obvious.While no such rate has been fixed for Congress, the market has reduced the tally to 66-68 seats after the exit polls, compared to 82-84 seats before.The market is also bullish on BJP candidates compared to Congress candidates. In Rajkot-West constituency, the rating for Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has been pegged at 25 paise, lower than 40 paise for his Congress rival Indranil Rajguru. It means that betting for Rajguru is riskier when compared to Rupani. Similarly for Mehsana seat, rating for Nitin Patel is pegged at 35 paise compared to 50 paise for his Congress rival Jivabhai Patel. The 2017 elections have been the most closely contested in about two decades.MONEY MATTERSThe bazaar had prized the BJP at 70 paise, giving the ruling party about 90 seats till the second phase of polling. However, after the exit polls, the prize dropped to 25 paise, giving BJP seats in the range of 103-105.

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Gujarat elections 2017: BJP confident of victory, but won’t celebrate till results out

The array of Gujarat BJP leaders, ranging from current CM Vijay Rupani, party chief Jitu Vaghani to national leaders like PM Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah are confident that the saffron party will win the state assembly polls that concluded on Thursday. However, in a bid not to be seen as counting the chicken before they are hatched, it has been quite restrained and anxious.Party spokesperson Jagdish Bhavsar said, “There is nothing like celebration in the party, as it is not the right time yet. We are confident the party will win with more than 150 seats, but there is no need to show exuberance at this moment. We will celebrate on the day of results and that would be statewide. We will not need too much time to prepare for the celebration.”The election has been a closely fought one, as there were many weighing factors.There were issues like community agitations, Rahul Gandhi’s extensive campaigning and temple visits, anti-incumbency in rural parts of state and focus of Modi and Shah on local issues that could turn the tide.A senior party leader, on condition of anonymity, said, “I agree that the party can win in Gujarat, but it will be hard to predict how many seats it will ultimately get. Congress has also worked hard and to an extent, convince many voters of Gujarat. This could lead to upsets and that is why the party is not celebrating till the results. We are keeping fingers crossed. “Meanwhile, the state party leaders are going to meet on Saturday at the party headquarters in Gandhinagar. The meeting will focus on analysing the poll results and discuss other poll-related issues. The party leader also will prepare an account of the poll expenses of party and candidates individually. State Party chief Jitu Vaghani will head the meeting, and will be attended by Rupani, Nitin Patel and other senior leaders.

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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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Sonia Gandhi ‘retires’ as Rahul Gandhi takes the reins today

A day before Rahul Gandhi takes over the Congress, the outgoing party president and his mother, Sonia Gandhi, said on Friday that her role is to “retire” now, indicating she is taking a backseat in the party’s affairs.The party, in which a number of senior leaders are more comfortable with Sonia, rushed to add that she had retired as Congress chief and not from politics, reflecting the unease with the idea of her taking a complete break.There has been speculation whether Sonia will continue to hold the posts of UPA chairperson as well as Congress Parliamentary Party chief after Rahul’s elevation.Gandhi told mediapersons in the Parliament complex: “My role is to retire”. She was asked what role she will assume after Rahul’s elevation.Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala soon tweeted, “Would sincerely request friends in the media to not rely upon innuendos.” He said Sonia has retired as Congress president and not from politics. “Her blessings, wisdom and innate commitment to Congress ideology shall always be our guiding light,” he said.Former Union Minister Renuka Chowdhury said it was not easy for party members to accept that Sonia was going to quit politics. She said the leader would always be there to steer the party in the right direction.”(She) may say. It is part of her nature, her personality… she has never aspired for a post or clung to power”, Chowdhury said but added “for those of us who are around, it is not something that we can accept easily.”When Rahul replaces Sonia on Saturday, this will bring to an end her interrupted leadership in the party for 19 years, starting from 1998 during which the Congress-led UPA won two successive Lok Sabha polls in 2004 and 2009 and formed UPAI and UPAII governments.The party also recorded its worst-ever electoral performance in 2014, winning a mere 44 Lok Sabha seats.

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Sonia Gandhi retires as India Congress party president

Her son, Rahul Gandhi, has been elected unopposed as the new Congress leader.

Gujarat elections 2017 | BJP to form govt with record-breaking number: Vijay Rupani

Exit poll trends, predicting a clear win for Bharatiya Janata Party, led to celebratory mood in BJP camp. Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and state BJP president claimed BJP was on course to break many records in the state.Rupani said people of Gujarat had celebrated the festival of democracy with great enthusiasm. “All the exit polls have showed that BJP is forming the government. Gujarat has shown path to entire nation and has always preferred value-based politics. The BJP never followed nepotism or vote-bank politics. The BJP will win with the maximum seats in Gujarat by creating a history,” he said.”The Congress has conceded defeat and therefore they desperately made complaints before Election Commission. They did this as a part of face saving exercise for Rahul Gandhi. This is the chariot of victory that has passed through Gujarat after other states like UP and now this will proceed towards other seats,” Rupani further said.Gujarat BJP chief Jitu Vaghani said, “I thank all Gujarati voters for showing continuous support in BJP as the party is forming government in Gujarat for sixth consecutive time. This is a start of new era and these moments will be written in golden words in pages of political history of Gujarat. People have rejected casteism and nepotism, but embraced development. People have shown faith in PM Modi who is the pride of Gujarat. I should also acknowledge that our leader Amit Shah guided entire organisation in great manner.”CM CONFIDENTAll the exit polls have showed that BJP is forming the government. Gujarat has shown path to entire nation and always preferred value-based politics. BJP never followed nepotism or vote-bank politics, CM said.

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As Gujarat campaign progressed, we saw complete bankruptcy in BJP: Rahul Gandhi in Kerala

The Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi today hit out at the BJP, saying the saffron’s party “complete bankruptcy” was exposed during campaigning for the Gujarat assembly polls.”As the campaign progressed, we saw complete bankruptcy in BJP. They diverted from one issue to another,” Gandhi said at a function here in connection with the centenary celebrations of late RSP leader Baby John.Taking potshots, Gandhi said “first they (BJP) talked about Narmada, followed by OBCs and then they moved to ‘vikas’ and eventually we saw a spectacle.”Targeting Narendra Modi, Gandhi said “In the last 3-4 days of the campaign, all that was left for the prime minister was to talk about himself and insult the previous prime minister (Manmohan Singh) of this country. That is all they have,” he said.Expressing confidence about his party’s good performance in Gujarat’s two-phased polls that ended today, Gandhi said “we are going to defeat these forces.””These forces are not going to stand in front of us. The foundation of these forces is actually extremely weak. They have inherited marketing muscle and money. So they have very loud voice. But the voice is hollow,” he said.Also readGujarat Elections 2017 | BJP’s attempts to create distractions won’t work this time, says Rahul GandhiHe charged the BJP-RSS with trying to divide people on lines of caste and religion.Gandhi also said they were trying to get a foothold in Kerala. “It is our duty to fight these forces not only in Kerala but also in the country,” he said.The congress leader said after spending time with people of Gujarat, they told him that the last 22 years (of BJP rule) “have been a lie.””The labourers and farmers and women have been forgotten. Health care system has been destroyed and there was a tremendous upsurge against the ideas of BJP in Gujarat itself,” he claimed.Gandhi said the Congress worked unitedly on the basic issues of the people of Gujarat.

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Election Commission notice to Rahul Gandhi on poll code breach

A day before the final phase of polling in Gujarat, the Election Commission cracked the whip on Congress leader 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.He also accused the BJP of distorting his image by putting huge money.”There was no (image) makeover. BJP workers used money to distort the reality of Rahul Gandhi… a lot of money was put into this,” said Rahul.Reacting to the BJP’s oft-repeated line that Rahul is BJP’s biggest ally as he makes it win wherever he goes, he termed Prime Minister Narednra Modi his biggest help.The second phase of Gujarat is today, on December 14.Hitting out, Cabinet Minister Piyush Goyal said, “Congress is so scared and Rahul Gandhi is desperate to save his face. That is why he violated the Model Code of Conduct and gave interviews. We don’t think such interviews are allowed in the 48 hours prior to polls. We have never given such interviews.”He also claimed that the undercurrent which Rahul said was present in Gujarat, will work against the Congress, and the BJP will win over 150 seats in the 182-seat Assembly.In a strong retort, the Congress alleged that the BJP was threatening journalists in Gujarat for airing Rahul’s interview and urged the EC to take notice of it.Surjewala claimed that some journalists were receiving threats from high-level state BJP functionaries who were telling mediapersons that they would be jailed for violating the poll code.

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Congress cries foul over EC notice to Rahul for TV interviews, demands action against BJP leaders

The Congress on Wednesday took objection to the Election Commission’s directive ordering FIR against TV channels that aired interviews of Congress President-elect Rahul Gandhi and pointed several instances where the BJP leaders have addressed press conferences on the eve of polling. In a memorandum submitted to the ECI, Congress demanded “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 asked. “We were deeply shocked and anguished to see the news item on various news channels stating that Election Commission of India has ordered registration of FIR against news channels on the ground that they have conducted an interview of Congress President, Rahul Gandhi at New Delhi today,” the memorandum said. The party said the decision is “completely discriminatory and does not take into account the conduct of the ruling party, including the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi), BJP President (Amit Shah), Finance Minister (Arun Jaitley), Union Cabinet Ministers and other BJP leaders. Code of Conduct cannot be implemented only qua one political party.”Pointing out past instances of alleged violation of the model code of conduct by the BJP leaders, the party said Modi, as prime ministerial candidate during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, gave TV interviews a day before polling in more than one phases. “No notice was issued to him or the BJP,” the Congress said. It said the BJP released its election manifesto on December 8, despite the fact that election campaign for the first phase of polling for Gujarat ended at 5 pm on December 7, but the “EC took no action.”The Congress, in a request to the polls body, asked to “immediately withdraw the order, if any, directing registration of an FIR against news channels for telecasting the interview of Congress President.” It also asked the ECI to register an FIR against BJP for causing aspersions on the conduct and fairness of EC even before a decision was taken. Earlier, the Election Commission issued a show cause notice to Rahul Gandhi for “prima facie” violating the provisions of the election law and the model code by giving interviews to TV channels in Gujarat where the final phase of polls is due tomorrow.The notice said the display of his interviews by TV channels fell within the definition of “election matter” under Section 126 (3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and their telecast within 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for the conclusion of the poll amounted to violation of Section 126 (1) (b) of the Act.”…By giving such interview and its display on TV channels on December 13, you have, prima facie, violated the…provisions of para 1 (4) of the Model Code of Conduct, Section 126 (1) (b) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and the Election Commission’s lawful instructions in this regard,” it said.The EC, in a press statement, said that it has asked TV channels to “forthwith stop” airing interviews of Gandhi as they violated the election law and directed the Gujarat poll authorities to lodge FIR against anyone for infringement of legal provisions.The BJP had complained to the poll panel about the interviews.It said Gandhi, the Congress president-elect, talked about the Gujarat Assembly elections in which the polling for the second phase will be held tomorrow.The statement said after due deliberations, the EC has directed the Chief Electoral Officer of Gujarat “to initiate necessary action by filing FIR against those who have violated the above mentioned provisions in phase two districts in Gujarat”.”Further, those TV channels which are violating the provisions of Section 126 (1)(b] by displaying said election matter in phase two district in Gujarat have been directed to forthwith stop the display of such matter,” it said.The poll body said it had today received reports and complaints that some of the TV channels in Gujarat have displayed interview given by Gandhi in which he had talked about the state elections.(With PTI inputs)

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Even BJP workers are saying the road is tough for them in Gujarat this time: Rahul Gandhi

Come Thursday, and Voters will cast their votes for the second and final phase of Gujarat Assembly elections. Now, campaigning has ended–no hectic rallies or public meetings–and it’s time for the party workers to ensure their supporters come out in large numbers to vote on December 14. While BJP under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is hopeful of an emphatic victory, Rahul Gandhi has predicted ‘Zabardast’ results for the Congress party. Speaking to Zee Kalak, Zee media group’s Gujarati channel, Rahul said this election is about truth.”This election will be fought on truth – the truth of note ban, ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’ (in reference to GST) etc. You go to Surat, Ahmedabad or any other place in Gujarat, all the small businessmen are saying the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has destroyed them,” he said.Also readDay before second phase of Gujarat polls, UP farmers protest, raise slogans against Rahul Gandhi in AmethiThis election is not about Modi, not about me but about the people of Gujarat, he added.Targetting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government, Rahul alleged that all those with black money converted it to white after GST. Rahul claimed that because of the decisions that Modi government took, it’s going to be difficult for the BJP to win the trust of voters. “Even BJP workers in Gujarat are saying this time, the road is tough,” Rahul said.Also readGujarat Elections 2017 | PM Modi’s words on former PM unacceptable: Rahul GandhiWhen asked about his or Congress’ vision for Gujarat, Rahul said, “Gujarat’s vision will be formed by its electorate. It will be formed on the basis of what the people of Gujarat want. I will help in its formulation, but Gujarat’s vision will be based on the wishes of people.””The love and affection people of Gujarat showered upon me during the last three-four months has won my heart. I am at the service of Gujarat,” Rahul said.

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Parliament attack anniversary: Modi, Manmohan Singh shake hands after row over ‘Pak meddling’ allegations

Back from the election campaign for Gujarat Assembly elections 2017–which saw a bitter war of words between BJP and Congress–Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his predecessor Manmohan Singh on Wednesday greeted each other with folded hands and then shook hands. They came face to face during an event to mark the anniversary of 2001 parliament attack. Prime Minister Modi and Manmohan Singh met outside parliament when they went there to pay a tribute to those who lost lives in the attack. Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi, Union Minister Sushma Swaraj among others were also in attendance at the memorial event. Also read’Pak meddling in Gujarat polls’ remark: BJP is intellectually bankrupt, says its Maharashtra ally Shiv SenaNarendra Modi, during the election campaign in Gujarat, had linked the dinner meeting with the ongoing polls and questioned: “Why are people who previously held high posts in the Pakistan military intelligence writing that we should help make Ahmed Patel (senior Congress leader) the CM (of Gujarat).”Denying all allegations, Manmohan had hit back at Modi demanding an apology from the PM for his “thought transgression”.”I sincerely hope that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will show the maturity and gravitas expected of the high office he holds instead of concentrating his energy solely on erroneously scored brownie points,” Manmohan said.

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Gujarat elections 2017: In Patel dominated Viramgam, a society battles infra woes, blames caste

Mangalmurti Society near Popat Chokdi looks like any other tenement complex that dots Viramgam. But the similarity ends there. The housing society has no roads, overflowing gutters and drinking water problem so severe that residents prefer to pay for water.The society is just a stone’s throw away from where Rahul Gandhi addressed a public hearing recently. Apart from the usual bureaucratic and political apathy, the residents have another explanation for their condition- caste.The society is made up of mostly Bharwads and Thakors who come in the Other Backward Caste (OBC) category. They believe the fact that they are not as prosperous and as educated as the Patels, the other dominant caste in the area is the reason why their problems are not addressed.”The gutters overflow and it stinks. Drinking water is so bad that we let it flow for half an hour before filling our tanks and we never drink it. The society has a road that ends within 20m of the entrance,” said Mangubhai Thakor. He takes this correspondent to his residence to show the muddied water he gets.If there is one thing common to all households in the society, it is the blue water jug. Each and every of the 200 household in the society have the water jugs brought from private water suppliers. “There is no way but buy these. Our water is undrinkable,” said Nathusinh Chauhan.Chauhan, who interestingly happens to be a BJP worker, is also a senior citizen who runs around to get the water and solve gutter problems of the society. “It is made up of OBCs and most of them are not very educated. They don’t know much about how to approach politicians and bureaucrats and know where things are stuck. The other societies that have a majority of Patel population don’t face these issues.They have money as well as the education to know how to get things done. They also have the political backing,” said Chauhan matter of fact.He says his being a BJP worker was also not of much use as the nagarpalika has been sending him from door to door. The nagarpalika is ruled by the BJP.Residents allege that the grants meant for the roads and water works have been diverted some other place. That no political leader has visited them so far. “We can threaten to boycott the election but that can happen only when someone visits us. They have not bothered to visit us either,” said Thakor.Chauhan said they have made representations to Tejashree Patel, the current MLA who belonged to Congress but shifted to BJP in 2017.Kanubha Patel, the chairman of the nagarpalika under which the society comes said the overflowing gutter problem is because it is yet to be connected to the sewage treatment plant. “As for the roads, we have done some work there,”s aid Patel. When reminded that the society has just a patch of road at the entrance, Patel said more work will be carried out once elections are over.”They have made representations to me and we will make roads but right now things have come to a stop because of model code of conduct,” claims Patel. He professed ignorance about the water problems stating that no one has ever complained to him.

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Gujarat elections 2017: Hardik Patel met Rahul Gandhi and Robert Vadra thrice: Dinesh Bambhania

Dissident PAAS convener Dinesh Bambhania said that Hardik Patel had three secret meetings with Rahul Gandhi and his brother-in-law Robert Vadra thrice in New Delhi.He also alleged that Hardik Patel and a PAAS convener Dilip Sabva siphoned of money that was collected through donation for financial aid to families of people who died in the police firing during Patel agitation.”Hardik is trying to shield himself but he met Rahul and Robert Wadra thrice. He did not reveal why he met them. Today, he said he also did not like Congress but has been asking people to vote for it. He should have a clear stand,” he said. “No Congress leader visited the family of the deceased in the police firing.”He also said that Hardik suppressed two PAAS conveners Alpesh Kathiriya and Manoj Panara.

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Gujarat Elections 2017 | No narrative, vigour in BJP campaign: Rahul Gandhi

Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi, on Tuesday, expressed surprise at the lacklustre fight put up by the ruling BJP in the Assembly elections. Gandhi was addressing his first press conference after being declared the president-elect of the party.This was in response to a question as to why the Congress expected to win in 2012 when it did not win in 2002 and 2007.”After 22 years, Congress now knows its strength,” said Gandhi, “We are standing united and talking in one voice. In fact, I expected the BJP to fight this elections with much more vigour and strength. Even BJP admits that we are fighting with strategy.”He added that every election is won with a narrative and the Congress has been steadfast. “The BJP, on the contrary, cannot get its hand around any issue. Modiji has stopped talking about corruption, development,” said Gandhi.

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Gujarat Elections 2017 | Campaign ends in land, air and water; Gujarat set to vote

Curtains came down on Tuesday on the month-long high-voltage Gujarat poll campaign, which often spiralled into a vicious war of words between the lead contenders — the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a somewhat resurgent Congress in the state.As the cacophony over the second phase of polls ended, newly-declared Congress president Rahul Gandhi capped his temple visits by sporting a ‘Rudraksha’ and Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a seaplane to reach his hometown Mehsana, bringing the spotlight back on his Gujarat Vikas plank. Polling for 93 seats in central and north Gujarat will be held on Thursday.Issues such as Ram Temple in Ayodhya and Rahul Gandhi’s religious origin after his entry in to the Somnath Temple, kept the political pot boiling, overshadowing the debate over development. The last leg of the campaign saw the PM alleging Pakistan’s involvement in Gujarat polls and a sharp rebuttal by former PM Manmohan Singh. The trends, in fact, left both parties baffled even as they publicly claimed victory.As per indications, the state is all set to witness its most keenly contested polls in the last two decades. While no election rallies or public meetings will now be allowed,candidates can carry out door-to-door campaigning.While Modi, who served as Gujarat chief minister for 13 years, was the party’s poster boy even for this election, Rahul spent over 20 days in the state to end his party’s 22-year losing streak.The BJP and the Congress had also planned roadshows in Ahmedabad, featuring Modi and Rahul, respectively, in a last attempt to win over the voters but the plans had to be dropped as they couldn’t secure police permission.The BJP responded by getting a seaplane to take off from the Sabarmati river along with Modi. The plane landed on the Dharoi lake before going to the Ambaji temple in north Gujarat. At the same time, undeterred by BJP’s criticism, Gandhi visited the city’s Jagannath temple to offer prayers.The ongoing Gujarat elections are being seen as a huge test for Modi ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. An adverse or poor result in his home state could be a huge setback for him. Considering the high stakes involved, it wasn’t surprising that the election battle witnessed high-pitched campaigning from both sides.BJP’s attack on Congress mainly revolved around injustices to Gujarat and to Sardar Patel, while Congress’ criticism of BJP was mostly over issues such as note ban, GST, farmers’ distress, among others.A key component of the campaign was the emergence of the Patidar reservation stir leader Hardik Patel, whose rallies attracted huge crowds. But whether that will translate into votes for Congress is yet to be seen. Hardik, who declared support for the Congress, has vowed to inflict heavy losses on BJP.Meanwhile, election authorities said as many as 2.23 crore voters were eligible to vote in the second phase. “All preparations have been completed. Polling will take place in 25,558 booths. Over 1.75 lakh personnel will be on duty,” state’s Chief Electoral Officer BB Swain said.There are 851 candidates in the fray in the second phase, including deputy chief minister Nitin Patel, ministers Bhupendrasinh Chudasama and Pradipsinh Jadeja, leader of Opposition Mohansinh Rathwa, and senior Congress leader Siddharth Patel.Journalist and Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani, who is contesting as an Independent from the Vadgam SC seat, but with Congress support, is also in the fray. OBC leader Alpesh Thakor, fighting on a Congress ticket from Radhanpur, is another prominent face.The 93 seats that go to polls in the second phase are in Banaskantha, Sabarkantha, Patan, Aravalli, Mehsana, Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, Mahisagar, Kheda, Anand, Vadodara, Panchmahals, Dahod, and Chhota Udepur.

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Rahul Gandhi as Congress President: 5 big challenges that await him

Finally, after numerous ‘confirmed’ reports proving to be false, for the better part of a decade, Rahul Gandhi is set to take over as the Congress President. The throne was there for his taking all this time around, and no one really minded him taking over except some senior leaders who wanted the old status quo to be maintained for self-preservation.Yet, Rahul Gandhi dilly-dallied and finally is taking over Congress, at a time when the party is staring down a barrel. And irrespective of whatever happens in Gujarat in a week’s time, the Congress President has his task cut out to resuscitate the sinking ship.Here are some of the major challenges Rahul will be facing in the coming days, and how deftly he manages them well make the difference between a champion and an also-ran challenger.Also readFrom a reluctant politician to Congress president: Timeline of Rahul Gandhi’s political journeyIs ‘Gujarat model’ the way to go?Rahul’s ‘Gujarat model’ was pretty much unabashed symbolism of being a ‘janeu carrying Hindu’, with his temple tourism. But not every state is Gujarat, where he can take the Muslim vote for granted. Going forward, he has to campaign in states like West Bengal, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, etc where there is more than one stakeholder to get the minority votes.Also readReluctant Rahul Gandhi is now a crowd-puller: His team That will be a real challenge for Rahul Gandhi, and it will be interesting to see Congress President’s approach there especially regarding virtue signalling by visiting places of religion. Also, what about the majority population? As Arun Jaitley said, will the public accept a clone when BJP is positioned as the ‘Hindu party’? Is Gujarat a one-off or Congress will toe the soft Hindutva line in the future too? The future of Congress’ identity depends on these questions.Will he empower regional satraps?While Shah- Modi duo gave BJP the killer instincts, what made the party tick even before that was bunch of strong state leaders who nurtured their constituents and brought home the bounty during elections. Vajpayee and Advani aided with RSS help, ensured that such a system is well entrenched within the BJP hierarchy.Even, Modi is product of such system. Whereas in Congress, for a very long time, it has been extremely High Command-centric, where the state leaders or CMs are mere rubber stamps running the show. The problem with such an approach is that once the High Command loses its currency or credibility, it’s easy for the opposition to win many states at one swoop as domino effect, in absence of potent firewalls. Rahul made an exception to this Congress culture with Captain Amarinder Singh in Punjab, who was given a free hand to take on the SAD-BJP combine and a budding AAP. Amarinder didn’t let Congress down, and turned out to be a rare ray of sunshine in the general gloom and doom surrounding the party.For sake of Congress’ sound health, Rahul needs to groom and empower such leaders in all states. Sure, they will fail from time to time, but here the Congress President has to be patient and play the long game. In this way, the party can be made immune from another 44 seat-like apocalypse, the kind we witnessed in 2014.How does he accommodate senior leaders?The Mani Shankar saga, which virtually sidetracked Congress’ well-choreographed campaign in Gujarat is enough indication that the party is carrying a lot of dead-weight. There are many leaders of the old school durbari style, true blue ‘seculars’, quote-happy about any topic under the sun. They bring precious little to the party except embarrassment with hectic firefighting needed to douse the fire they have inadvertently lit.The biggest challenge for Rahul Gandhi is that he is up against Shah-Modi duo- who are masters of communication. So even a slightest slip-up, can be death nail of a campaign, from the Congress point-of-view. Also with Congress being the default party of governance in most states for last 60 years, public’s tolerance for their goof-up is pretty less. To quote McLuhan, medium is the message and Rahul needs his best men to do the job for it. Yet, there are some senior leaders like Ashok Gehlot, Ahmed Patel and Siddaramaiah who are still good enough to do their job. Hence, Rahul needs to do a brutal purge and send some leaders to ‘Margdarshak mandal’ without throwing the baby out of the bath-water.Can Rahul be pragmatic for 2019?Derek-O-Brien in his book says in 2019, the opposition should be looking at fighting 29 small battles in 29 states, rather than going for one giant war against the rampaging BJP. Essentially,he pitches for opposition parties to come together and contest against BJP with state-specific agenda. It’s not a novel idea. The Mahagatbandhan or even the Third Front in its previous avatar has tried this experiment, albeit against different opposition. But it has mostly resulted in dead-ends because of too many internal contradiction and political sacrifices which are needed to be done. For a united opposition to work in 2019, Congress has to accommodate lot of parties, and Rahul Gandhi has to massage many fragile egos. Can he work with both Mayawati and Akhilesh in UP, a Kejriwal in Delhi, an Omar Abdullah in J&K, a Mamata in Bengal? If a Grand Alliance does take place, Congress will be contesting significantly lesser seats. It will also limit chances of Rahul Gandhi becoming the next PM, in case a non-NDA government is formed. Is he willing to take that gamble to risk his political space just to keep BJP in abeyance? This central question may well hold the key to the 2019 puzzle.Can ‘dynastic’ Congress run on pure merit again?‘That’s how India works’ – was Rahul Gandhi’s rationale when asked about Congress party’s dynasty issue in UC Berkley. While it’s understandable why Rahul became defensive, as he is the greatest product of that dysfunctional system, it is hardly anything to be proud of. Almost every Congress leader in prominent states are sons and daughters of prominent leaders. From Sachin Pilot to Sushmita Dev, from Jyotiraditya Scindia to Jitin Prasad – dynasty runs deep among next-gen Congress leaders who will helm important posts in future. Not like these emerging leaders are incapable, but a more inclusive process would have helped to prop up more sons and daughter of the soil. At a time when voters are increasingly aspirational, people from humble backgrounds are more likely to click with the public.Thus, in essence Congress has no answers when a chaiwallah PM Modi accuses Mani Shankar Aiyar of elitism and classism with his ‘neech aadmi’ jibe. Rahul is aware of the issue and he tried to rebuild the youth wing of the party from scratch during his time as Vice President. Now he needs to do that autopsy with the main stem. Nurturing promising young talent sometimes at the behest of old-Family faithful would go a long way in rejuvenating the legacy of the Grand Old Party.The challenges are steep and there is very little gestation period for the Gandhi scion. Congress is in a historical threshold facing a real danger of being further obliterated. It is up to Rahul Gandhi to prove his naysayers wrong and restore lost glory of the century-old organization.

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PM Modi takes sea-plane from Sabarmati to visit Ambaji Temple, Omar Abdullah says security guidelines flouted

Prime Minister Narendra Modi flew this morning in a sea-plane from the Sabarmati River here to Dharoi Dam in Mehsana district on the last day of campaigning for the Gujarat Assembly polls.Modi boarded the single-engine sea-plane from near the Sardar Bridge connecting the old city with Ahmedabad West, the first-ever flight by such a craft in the country. A special jetty was constructed to facilitate the prime minister’s boarding from the river. The plane took off from the Sardar Bridge-end amid chants of “Modi-Modi” from BJP workers and other city dwellers, who flocked the Sabarmati Riverfront to witness this one-of-a-kind event.The plane landed at Dharoi Dam reservoir in Mehsana.From Dharoi, the prime minister proceeded to Ambaji Temple in Banaskantha district via road. After visiting the temple, he would return to Ahmedabad by the sea-plane in the evening. Modi had yesterday said at a poll rally that today, for the first time in the history of the country, a sea-plane will land on the Sabarmati river. “I will go to Ambaji in the sea-plane after landing in Dharoi dam and come back,” he said.He said the BJP had planned a road show for today in Ahmedabad.Also readGujarat assembly elections: Politics in India has become ugly, I want to change it, says Rahul Gandhi”However, the administration has not given permission and I had time so I decided to go to Ambaji in the sea-plane,” Modi had said. “We cannot have airports everywhere, so our government has planned to have these sea-planes,” he said. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani yesterday said this is for the first time in the country’s history that a sea-plane will land on a water body and that will be the Sabarmati river. Also read’Pak meddling in Gujarat polls’ remark: BJP is intellectually bankrupt, says its Maharashtra ally Shiv SenaHowever, reacting to this incident, National Conference leader and ex-J&K CM Omar Abdullah accused that security guidelines were relaxed for PM Modi’s sea-plane ride. Pointing out towards technical aspects of a sea-plane, he said :He followed it up with another quote where he said, “Single engine plane. Foreign pilots. Is there any security guideline that will not be thrown out today?”Rahul Gandhi reacted to PM Modi flying in a sea-plane terming it as a ‘distraction’ between the elections. With PTI inputs

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Gujarat Elections 2017 | Rahul Gandhi: If Congress is dead, why is PM Modi dedicating speeches to us?

Congress president designate Rahul Gandhi on Monday questioned the logic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicating 50% of his speech to Congress when the latter in the same breath says it is a dead party.”These days 50% of Modiji’s speeches are about Congress. The rest are about himself. He keeps saying that Congress is a dead party, then why does he feel compelled to talk about the Congress so much,” said Gandhi.The Congress leader who was addressing his second public meeting of the day in Viramgam said the PM has moved on from Narmada water to OBC to Vikas and now only talks of himself and Congress. “This is because after 22 years of ruling Gujarat, the truth has finally caught up with him,” said Gandhi.He said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Modi have clearly said no to any farm loan waiver for farmers. “But if you come in a Mercedez Benz or fly by helicopter and wear a Rs10 lakh suit, they will listen to your demands to waive off loans. That is how 10 to 15 rich friends of Modiji had their loans waived off,” said Gandhi.RaGa slams BJPGandhi said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Modi have clearly said no to any farm loan waiver for farmers. “But if you come in a Mercedez Benz or fly by helicopter and wear a Rs10 lakh suit, they will listen to your demands to waive off loans. That is how 10 to 15 rich friends of Modiji had their loans waived off,” said Gandhi.

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Backing the young: Cong tunes in with new RaGa

Congress leaders celebrated the elevation of Rahul Gandhi as AICC president at the party headquarters on Monday. PCC president Sachin Pilot and AICC general secretary and former chief minister Ashok Gehlot who is campaigning with Gandhi scion in Gujarat election termed the event historic.Pilot expressed happiness over Rahul’s appointment and said that the new energy has been transmitted in the party. “Under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, the Congress Party is working to preserve country’s pluralistic culture and protecting country’s democratic and constitutional values. He is determined to keep intact unity, brotherhood and goodwill in the country following the principles of the party and he is battling against divisive powers. Every Congress worker feels strong and capable in the directions Rahul Gandhi has provided to the party,” said Pilot in a released statement.Gehlot also congratulated Gandhi and gave his best wishes to Rahul. “It is a historic moment for Congress party. His youthful energy, compassionate nature and intentions to do good will be an asset. Rahul ji has been working very hard over the years and his dedication, commitment and sincerity will take the party forward on a glorious path. We all look forward to working with him in the interest of the country,” Gehlot tweeted.Meanwhile, the Congress is geared up for its protest against Raje government on Tuesday. In a response to Raje government’s programmes and celebrations being held on the occasion its 4th anniversary the Congress has decided to hold agitation across the state.

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Gujarat Elections 2017: City police say no to PM, Rahul Gandhi, Hardik Patel rallies

Citing the Election Commission’s guidelines, the Ahmedabad Police have denied permission to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi and PAAS leader Hardik Patel to hold roadshows in the city.A K Singh, city police commissioner, said, “We have denied permission for all the roadshows due to law and order as well as security concerns. It would have caused much public inconvenience as all the rallies were overlapping.””We have brought it to the notice of organisers our inability to manage the situation because an EC guidelines on roadshows emphasise on public convenience. Roadshows are expected to be done in a manner that the public is not inconvenienced.” Singh added.The routes proposed for the roadshows were through crowed areas, busy markets, railway stations, bus stands, the walled city, etc.It would have required a large deployment of police personnel to manage so many roadshows, Singh noted.The roadshows of Modi and Rahul were scheduled for Tuesday (December 12), while Hardik’s event was to take place on Monday. The public meeting was granted permission, but not the roadshow. However, he was allowed to move in his small convoy of four to five vehicles on the routes with small welcome events at some points.Modi will now address members, MPs and MLAs of the party’s OBC cell through an audio bridge on Tuesday, the BJP said.The campaigning for the second phase of the Assembly elections will come to an end at 5 PM on Tuesday.

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DNA EXCLUSIVE: Old tweets reveal Salman Nizami had also mocked Rahul Gandhi

As Gujarat election is turning out to be a season of backstabbing and strange bedfellows, Congress leader Salman Nizami, whose anti-India stance was used by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to rip into Congress, is ostensibly also a Rahul Gandhi-baiter even while he is rubbing shoulders with Congress’ president-elect and campaigning for him in Gujarat.Several posters appeared in Gujarat on Monday showing Rahul and Nizami together in a pic.DNA accessed screenshots of what was Nizami’s Twitter account, which was protected following the outbreak of the controversy surrounding his anti-India, pro-Kashmiri azadi posts along with such ones which were derogatory to the Prime Minister, that show his tweets ridiculing Rahul for his foreign origin, even cracking a joke showing Rahul’s political understanding in poor light.In a tweet from 2011, Nizami had raised questions about the origins of the Congress president—Rahul’s elevation was announced on Monday after an election that was morally contested by some rebels such as Shehzad Poonawalla rather than any actual rival candidate in the fray.”If Rahul Gandhi is half-Indian…,” Nizami’s tweet had said. He had in the same tweet gone on to also question Omar Abdullah as the latter part of the tweet had said: “…What Omar Abdullah is?”In yet another from 2013, and rather denigrating tweet, Nizami had gone on to crack a joke on Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi. In what was presented as an imaginary conversation between Rahul and Sonia, Nizami had posted: “Rahul Gandhi overheard whispering during the Republic Day parade: Mummy, if the whole army is here, who is guarding the border right now?”While Nizami has maintained that these posts had figured after his account had been hacked, Rahul Gandhi-baiter Poonawalla told DNA that the Congress had been blinded by sycophancy so much so that it had sidelined such “nationalist” Muslims as himself and had promoted the likes of Nizami.”Back in 2013 after I had written an article in a national daily against terrorists, several accounts had been made in my name and I was defamed through them. Again in 2015 such things happened and I had lodged a police complaint,” Nizami said, but these tweets date back to 2011.Meanwhile, Poonawlla told DNA that he had complained about these things regarding Nizami to Rahul Gandhi, but nothing was done. “He (Nizami) rather was promoted as a spokesperson of the party. While the party has been calling television channels and asking them not to call me on air, they have this person close to them. He was active in UP campaign, and now in Gujarat campaign. Is the Congress a hub of separatists?”

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Congress is stuck in Blue Whale trap: Narendra Modi

Prime minister and BJP’s star campaigner Narendra Modi took a dig at Congress leaders for complaining about EVM tampering using Bluetooth, saying they were stuck in the Blue Whale challenge.”The Congress is certain of its defeat after the first round of voting, and is raising the issue of EVMs to save Rahul Gandhi. One of its leaders even linked Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to Bluetooth. I want to ask them to stop complaining about Bluetooth. The reality is that they are stuck in the Blue Whale (game), whose final episode will be seen on December 18,” Modi said while referring to the banned game, in which players are led towards suicide in the final stage.Modi made the comment while addressing an election rally in Patan in north Gujarat, and came in response to a complaint by Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia during the first phase polling that EVMs were being rigged using Bluetooth. However, the complaint was found to be without any basis.”The Congress party has given up even before the second phase of polling. This is because the party realised that it cannot compete with north Gujarat’s son,” Modi said, referring to his own origins in the neighbouring Mehsana district.Attacking the Congress for its promise to waive off farm loans, Modi questioned farmers if they wanted a one-time benefit or permanent one. “Do you want a hen that lays golden eggs, or do you want to finish it?” he questioned.He charged the Congress with spreading lies repeatedly, and also accused the party of abusing him day in and day out.Taking a jibe at Rahul Gandhi without naming him, saying they were born with a golden spoon, and would never understand what poverty means.He also reminded the audience that when north Gujarat was hit by floods in July, the CM and the whole government was camping in the region, “while Congress leaders were having a good time in a resort in Bengaluru”.While lauding the role played by farmers in north Gujarat in the White Revolution, Modi said he wanted them to usher in a Sweet Revolution by focusing on honey production.”There is tremendous demand for original honey. We can become a major exporter of honey,” he said.

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Gujarat Elections 2017: Rahul Gandhi is now King of Cong; it is official

Rahul Gandhi (47) was elected Congress president unopposed on Monday, a much-awaited generational shift in India’s oldest political party that comes in the middle of the fiercely contested Gujarat elections. Rahul is likely to take over from his mother Sonia Gandhi on December 16, the party’s foundation day.The spotlight will now be on Sonia who has been the party’s longest serving president. She has been leading the Congress for 19 years since 1998. Party sources said Sonia remains UPA chairperson and head of the Congress Parliamentary Party.While senior leaders feel Sonia could remain the final arbiter, she herself has given enough indications of not coming in way of Rahul’s decision making. His elevation also ends speculation over his sister Priyanka Gandhi’s leadership role in the party.The move comes 10 years after Rahul was made AICC general secretary and five years after he became Congress’ vice-president.There will be now greater scrutiny of Rahul’s performance. Next year, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh will go to the polls ahead of the 2019 general elections.All 89 nominations — all in Rahul’s favour — were found valid. When the time for nomination withdrawal ended on Monday, Rahul had no other contestant for the post.Soon after the announcement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “I congratulate Rahul Ji on his election as Congress President. My best wishes for a fruitful tenure.” PM Modi had earlier likened Rahul’s imminent elevation as Congress president to “Aurangzeb Raj” or the rule of the 17th century absolutist Mughal emperor.Party workers gathered outside the AICC office broke into celebration with a slogan “Desh ka neta kaisa ho? Rahul Gandhi jaisa ho” renting the air. The Congress has sought to project the election as democratic to counter the BJP’s charges of dynastic politics.Rahul’s elevation comes at a time when the Congress faces an uphill task of reviving its flagging fortunes after having recorded its worst poll performance in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, wining only 44 seats.Rahul was campaigning in Gujarat, attacking PM Modi and the BJP, when his party made his election official in Delhi. The elevation concludes a year-long organisational election process in the 132-year-old party.

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Despite no police permission, Hardik Patel holds roadshow in Ahmedabad

Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) convener Hardik Patel today began his 15-km-long roadshow in Ahmedabad despite police denying permission to it.Hundreds of supporters of the quota agitation leader took out the rally on motorcycles and four-wheelers through the main city area, even as police said they will take legal action against Patel for holding the roadshow without permission.”We had not given permission to Hardik Patel to hold the roadshow in Ahmedabad, but from the kind of rally that has been taken out by his supporters in the city area, we do see that it is violation of the condition and we will take legal action,” Ahmedabad Police Commissioner A K Singh said.Also readGujarat elections 2017: Hardik Patel’s ‘shadow’ moves far from PAAS over Congress tiltPolice have also denied permission to the Congress and the ruling BJP to hold roadshows in the city tomorrow, citing traffic congestion and law and order situation as reasons.Patel started his roadshow from the Bopal area. It will culminate in Nikol.His supporters, especially youths from the Patidar community, gathered at various places on the way to greet and express their support.Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi was scheduled to hold the roadshow tomorrow, but police denied permission to it.Also readGujarat Elections 2017 | Patidar youth rally behind Hardik Patel, seniors still with BJPAlso, police did not allow the BJP to hold a roadshow tomorrow, the last day of campaigning for the second phase of Gujarat elections scheduled to be held on December 14.The first phase of polling was held on December 9. The results will be declared on December 18.

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From witty tweets to Khakra jokes: How Rahul Gandhi reinvented himself

Before the Gujarat assembly elections, a new Rahul Gandhi dawned upon us and got the media talking. The Congress president appeared to turn a new leaf, a more confident leader with a change in his attitude and persona.The first sign of change came when he started taking on PM Modi on Twitter, targeting him with jokes and memes. During his Gujarat campaign, we witnessed a certain change in him as he addressed large audiences in PM Modi’s home-state.From taking subtle digs at BJP to mixing ‘Khakra’ jokes in his speeches, he sure looked like a rejuvenated man. Rahul Gandhi’s speech in Ranesar, Gujarat on December 8 somehow reminded one of former US President Obama’s speech in India during his recent visit.Obama at HT summit in New Delhi recently cracked up the audience when he mentioned the Indian ‘Dal’ and how he likes it and how he is the only US President in history to know a dal recipe.While Rahul has a long way to go before he can capture the audience the way the former US President does, the new Congress honcho certainly seems to have learned to use the emotional quotient.Starting the speech with ‘Kemcho’ (a greeting in Gujarati), Rahul Gandhi managed to make the people in the audience smile by mentioning his love for ‘Khakra’ while addressing them in Ranesar.He joked about how the much-loved Gujarat snack was wreaking his diet plans, “Aap logo ne mujhe bigad diya hain hain and aadate bhi bigad diya hain, mera wajan bhi badh gaya hain (You all have spoiled me, and my habit and I think I have put on weight and it’s because of khakhra).”In another one of his rallies in Kalol, Rahul managed to add a humane angle in his speeches saying, ‘Till the time I am alive, I am with you people, I won’t forget the love you have given me in the past 3 months. If you ever need me, just call me, order me and I will get it done. You have made a relation with me, a lifelong relation, which will never break.”Rahul Gandhi was earlier criticised for dedicating too much time slamming PM Modi but this time he has somehow done it gently and smartly without deviating from his agenda.In one of his recent speeches, Rahul Gandhi said: “Modi ji, Gujarat mein hum aapko pyaar se, bina gusse ke haraane jaa rahe hain (PM Modi, this time in Gujarat we will defeat you with love, with no anger, we will defeat you).”Adding more fuel to the drama he said, “Modi ji keeps using bad words against me in his speeches, even today he did so. Rahul Gandhi respects the post of PM. No matter what PM says about me, but I won’t utter even a single bad word about the PM.”Of course, given he had torn up a draft ordinance of his own PM back in the day, that remark might be a tad economic with the truth, but it certainly hit the mark.Showing his firm side, Rahul Gandhi also announced the suspension of Mani Shankar Aiyar who had called PM Modi ‘neech’, sending out a strong message that such unparliamentary language won’t be tolerated from party members.This time Rahul Gandhi also tried to do away with the image that he was born with the silver spoon, when he said, “Mere pass zada kuch nahi hai, Modi ji ke pass sarkar hai, magar humaare pass sachchai hai, Hindustan sachchai ka desh hai (I don’t have too much, Modi has the government, but I have the truth and India is a country which believes in the truth)” And that’s not all, but, he has even admitted the error he made in one of his tweets. He had made a calculation error in price rise and inflation chart, which soon became a joke on Twitter.He wasted no time in accepting his mistake publicly, and tweeted saying, “For all my BJP friends: unlike Narendrabhai, I am human. We do make the odd mistake and that’s what makes life interesting. Thanks for pointing it out and please do keep it coming, it really helps me improve. Love you all.”However, for now all we have are speeches and tweets and jibes, and only time will tell whether the new Rahul Gandhi can challenge PM Modi on his own turf. For that we will have to wait for the results of Gujarat election, to know whether Rahul Gandhi has actually come of age or is simply old wine in a new bottle.

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Modiji please devote two-three minutes of your speech to talk about Gujarat: Rahul Gandhi

Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi today took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for talking about Pakistan, China, Afghanistan and Japan in the Gujarat elections but avoiding speaking about his home state.Gandhi, who was declared elected as Congress president today, said Modi was frequently shifting his campaign plank in Gujarat. He said, first it was the Narmada water, but after farmers started saying it has not reached their fields, Modi changed tack and began speaking about OBC issues. When that also did not find favour with people, he went for development issues “but people punctured it”, he said.”Now, Modiji speaks about Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, and Japan. Modiji, this is the election about the future of Gujarat. Please say something about Gujarat also,” he told a well-attended rally here in Banaskantha district. Gandhi was apparently targeting the prime minister over his yesterday’s suggestion that Pakistan was trying to influence the Gujarat Assembly polls and that some current and former officials of that country had met Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s residence a day before Aiyar’s ‘neech’ remark against him.Also readIt’s official! Rahul Gandhi is new Congress president, to assume office on December 16The Congress leader said, in his speeches in the last couple of days, the prime minister devoted half the time to Congress-bashing. “On one hand he is claiming that he has finished the Congress party from India, and on the other, he devotes half of his time to Congress. The other half of his speech is devoted to Narendra Modiji himself,” the 47-year-old leader said. “Modiji please devote two-three minutes of your speech to (talking about) the future of Gujarat,” he said. Also readGujarat Elections 2017 | PM Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi, Hardik Patel denied roadshow permission by Ahmedabad Police Gandhi reaffirmed his promise that the Congress, if voted to power in Gujarat, will waive farm loans within 10 days. He claimed the NDA government waived Rs 1.30 lakh crore loans of 10 richest people in the country. He said when farmers also ask for a loan waiver, Union finance minister Arun Jaitley and the prime minister say it is not their policy.”Why the loans of farmers are not waived,” Gandhi asked, and in the next breath gave the reply “as they do not fly in planes, they do not have big cars, and they do not have suit worth Rs 15 lakh.”Gandhi again alleged there was corruption in the Nano deal between the Gujarat government and the Tatas. “The Congress allocated Rs 35,000 crore to MNREGA, while the BJP government gave Rs 33,000 crore to the Tata Nano factory. The water from Narmada went to that factory. The factory gets electricity for 24 hours even when you get it only at night,” he alleged.The Congress leader claimed land in villages in and around Mundra were given to the Adani group at the rate of Re 1 per square metre, which the latter sold back to the government at Rs 3,000 for every square metre. Assailing the government over demonetization and the GST, he said half the money of common people was “looted” by the note ban and the rest by the “Gabbar Singh Tax”.Tomorrow is the last day of campaigning for the second and final phase of Gujarat polls which has been high-pitch and vitriolic, with both Modi and Gandhi often making personal attacks against each other. Polling will be held on December 14. Votes would be counted on December 18.

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