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Jairam Thakur to take oath as Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister today; PM Modi to attend grand ceremony

BJP leader Jairam Thakur is all set to take oath as the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh on Wednesday.Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, BJP president Amit Shah, former deputy Prime Minister LK Advani and several Union ministers and chief ministers are expected to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Jai Ram Thakur at the historic Ridge Maidan in Shimla at 11 AM.Governor Aacharya Devvrat will administer the oath of office and secrecy to Thakur. Along with Thakur, a few MLA will reportedly swear-in as Cabinet Ministers today. The five-time BJP MLA from Seraj constituency of the hilly state was elected to lead the state after the party’s chief ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal failed to register a win from his constituency.The BJP have ousted the Congress from power in Himachal Pradesh by winning 44 out of the 68 seats in the recently held Assembly polls.Along with many senior leaders and workers of BJP state unit, thousands of people are expected to witness the swearing-in ceremony.Also readHimachal Elections: After PK Dhumal’s loss, Jairam Thakur summoned to Delhi; likely to be CMFor the first time in the history of the state, Prime Minister will attend an oath taking ceremony.Massive security and other arrangements have been made ahead of the grand function. Besides seating arrangements, eight to ten LED screens have been installed outside the venue. SPG will look after the security arrangements.Also readHimachal CM designate Jai Ram Thakur lists out priorities Union Health Minister JP Nadda, Former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, Incharge for Party Affairs Mangal Pandey have reviewed the arrangements in Ridge Maidan.

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Who will be next HP CM? BJP central observers to meet newly elected MLAs on Thursday

As Himachal Pradesh awaits its new chief minister, BJP central observers Nirmala Sitharaman and Narendra Singh Tomar are likely to arriver here on Thursday and meet newly-elected party MLAs.In-charge of party affairs in the state, Mangal Pandey, would also arrive here tomorrow morning, state BJP vice- president Ganesh Dutt said in Shimla on Wednesday. The shock defeat of the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal from Sujanpur has opened up the race for the top post in Himachal Pradesh. Union Health Minister Jagat Prakash Nadda and five-time MLA Jairam Thakur were being seen as front-runners for the chief minister’s post.Some other senior BJP lawmakers in the state, including Mohinder Singh, who won for a seventh time, five-term MLA Rajiv Bindal, former state BJP chief Suresh Bharadwaj, and Krishan Kapoor, both elected for a fourth term, could also be considered, party sources said. The BJP has 44 members in the 68-member Assembly. When contacted, several BJP MLAs said they had no official intimation about tomorrow’s meeting but added that most of them already reached Shimla.Also readHimachal Elections 2017 | Standing tall: The lone victor from the communist partyThe central observers would elicit the view of the members and submit a report to the party top brass, Dutt said. Meanwhile, clamour for making Dhumal the chief minister was gaining momentum and three BJP MLAs reported to have offered to vacate their seats for him. Dhumal was still in Samirpur and many party leaders visited him today. The Congress managed to bag only 21 seats in the 68- member assembly. The BJP won the polls by sweeping 44 seats. The CPI(M) bagged one seat while two seats were won by Independent candidates. Assembly polls in the state were held on November 9 and the results were announced in December 18.

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Himachal Elections 2017: Prem Kumar Dhumal’s loss may spell gains for Jagat Prakash Nadda, Jai Ram Thakur

Whether to celebrate the party’s victory in Himachal Pradesh or to mourn the loss of its chief ministerial candidate — it would seem that the BJP, which has just emerged victorious in the state elections, faces a novel dilemma. Insiders, however, beg to differ and say everything went according to the Central leadership’s script.Ever since its formation in 1971, Himachal Pradesh has faced such a situation for the first time. Prominent BJP face Prem Kumar Dhumal lost to his one-time protégé Rajinder Singh Rana of the Congress from Sujanpur.Going by the insiders’ account, Dhumal was deliberately given a tough seat, instead of his traditional nurtured seat Hamirpur, in order to test his popularity. He lost his earlier constituency of Bamsan to delimitation in 2012. The Dhumal group was constantly putting pressure on the party to declare him as its face, despite opposition from his own party workers.So, in fact, many are seeing Dhumal’s defeat and the party’s win as causes for a double celebration, especially those who see his defeat as an opportunity to stake claim for the top post in the state.If insiders in the party are to be believed, BJP president Amit Shah declared Dhumal the CM candidate with a heavy heart, only nine days before the polls. This, too, after Shah got a feedback from state party president Satpal Satti that “only an old face like Dhumal can take on Congress CM Virbhadra Singh”.Now that he has lost the election, there are murmurs in the party that Union health minister Jagat Prakash Nadda might be the parachute CM in the newly emerged circumstances. A call placed from the headquarters in Delhi to Seraj constituency winner Jai Ram Thakur, however, has made him a front-runner in the race.The other name making rounds is Ajay Jamwal, who comes from the RSS, and hails from Joginder Nagar.THE CM FACTORJai Ram Thakur’s name was doing the rounds before Dhumal got the nod. Ajay Jamwal, who comes from the RSS ranks, was another probable for the top job.

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Himachal Elections 2017 | A play with a difference: The tale of two CM faces

In an unusual tale that played out in Himachal Pradesh, one of the two most prominent political faces won his seat but lost power, while the other found his name in the losers’ list but still led his party to victory.End of the ‘Singh era’For 83-year-old outgoing chief minister Virbhadra Singh, this is certainly the end of his active political life that spanned over five decades. His only consolation is that under his watchful eyes, his son Vikramaditya Singh, 28, has managed to enter the Assembly by winning the Shimla (Rural) seat.During the campaign, the six-time CM had declared that this election would be his last. His departure from Himachal politics means that now the hill state has no one with a mass appeal. His immediate future also remains uncertain as he faces a string of corruption charges, which continue to be heard at Delhi courts.In almost 60 years of public life, first as a junior minister in Rajiv Gandhi’s Cabinet and then as the chief minister of Himachal, Singh had a long rivalry with two BJP stalwarts — Shanta Kumar and Prem Kumar Dhumal. Known for his unique style of administration, where he controlled almost every department of the government, Singh would be remembered as someone who ruthlessly crushed rivals and never allowed anyone within the party to grow in stature. For instance, Anand Sharma and Vijay Singh Mankotia, though hugely popular, were never allowed to come anywhere near the CM’s chair.Even state Congress chief Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu was not allowed to have any say in the last five years. The office-bearers of the state unit were allowed to take directions only from Holy Lodge, Singh’s residence in Shimla.Singh’s biggest weapon to keep the BJP away from student politics was propping up the Left-wing Students Federation of India (SFI) in colleges and university campuses. This was necessary for him to keep the RSS-backed Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarathi Parishad (ABVP) at bay.Singh’s personality was such that when denied complete freedom in selection of candidates, he even went up to the extent of breaking the Congress legislature party, twice. Once, after the Congress’s victory in the 2012 election, he got his lot of loyal legislators under one roof at a Shimla hotel in order to prevent the Central leadership from trying to woo them in Vidya Stokes’ favour.‘Outsider’ Dhumal’s woesOn the other hand, 73-year-old Prem Kumar Dhumal, who was not the party’s initial choice, was happy when the party finally decided on his candidature. His son, flamboyant BJP MP Anurag Thakur’s controversial tenure with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), however, served to exacerbate the problems of an otherwise low-profile Dhumal.This time, Dhumal chose his younger son, Arun Kumar Dhumal, to lead his campaign. Despite being the CM face, he was called an ‘outsider’ by his opponent Rajendra Singh Rana. To make matters worse, his son Thakur brought a battery of hand-picked workers from other states, such as Punjab, Jharkhand, and Rajasthan.Locals say the presence of ‘outsiders’ in Dhumal’s campaign did not go down well with the rural voters in Sujanpur and cost Dhumal the seat.THE CM STORYDespite the party’s return to power, Dhumal had to eat humble pie. Singh and Dhumal are out of the picture; BJP and Congress will have difficulty with successors.

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Himachal Elections 2017: From PM Modi to Virbhadra Singh, who said what after BJP’s thumping win

Unseating Congress from power in Himachal Pradesh, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday registered an emphatic win over the ruling party in the 68-member Assembly. The latest trend showed that the BJP has won 34 seats while it was leading on 10 other seats. Its rival Congress won 19 seats and was leading in 2 other constituencies, as per the latest trends. The BJP’s win turned sour as its chief ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal and its state unit chief Satpal Singh Satti both were defeated in their respective constituencies. While Dhumal was lost the Sujanpur Assembly seat to his Congress rival Rajinder Singh Rana by about 3,500 votes, Satti was defeated in Una by Satpal Singh Raizada by over 3,000 votes.Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his son Vikramaditya Singh won from Arki and Shimla(Rural) respectively.Also readHimachal Elections: After PK Dhumal’s loss, Jairam Thakur summoned to Delhi; likely to be CMHere is how local and national leaders of the two parties reaction to the Himachal Pradesh Assembly election results:Narendra Modi, Prime Minister Also readHimachal Pradesh Election Results 2017 LIVE: BJP wins battle, Virbhadra Singh accepts defeatThe results in Himachal Pradesh show that if if do not work for the development and are embroiled in all wrong acts then after 5 years people will not accept you.Watch: PM Modi speaks at BJP Headquarters after party’s win in Gujarat, HimachalAmit Shah, BJP PresidentThe two-third lead in Himachal Pradesh shows that people there want to join PM Narendra Modi in the journey to development.Prem Kumar Dhumal, BJP CM candidatePersonal loss is not of much importance.The gain that victory has brought to state BJP is important. Thankful to people of the state for voting for BJP. In politics, sometimes one wins, sometimes one loses. I was not expecting to lose, I will do analyse this. Rajinder Rana, Congress (Who defeated Dhumal)It’s a symbol of people’s confidence in Congress. Thankful that they made me victorious. We have never stepped back from serving people in Sujanpur and we will always serve them.Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister I accept the victory of BJP. I, being the CM, take full responsibility of our performance here. I hope Vikramaditya keeps winning in future, like he won today.Vikramaditya Singh, CongressI’ll always stand with government, whichever party it might be of, and serve people. As a son, I am sad we couldn’t make it possible for him (Virbhadra Singh) to become the CM 7th time. We’ll analyse our drawbacks in meeting.Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Minister We are sad about Prem Kumar Dhumal losing but we are happy that people of Himachal Pradesh voted for the BJP.(With ANI inputs)Watch: BJP President Amit Shah speaks after Gujarat, Himachal win

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Himachal Elections: After PK Dhumal’s loss, Jairam Thakur summoned to Delhi; likely to be CM

The BJP high command has called in Jairam Thakur to Delhi this evening. He’s likely to take over as Himachal Pradesh CM since the party’s CM candidate PK Dhumal and state chief Satpal Singh Satti have lost, say party sources.Thakur was a cabinet minister in Bharatiya Janata Party ministry in Himachal Pradesh. He was minister of rural development and panchayati raj. He was elected to Himachal Pradesh Assembly from Mandi. He had won his first election in the year of 1998.Dhumal, the original chief ministerial candidate, lost to Congress’ Rajinder Rana, said he had expected to win the seat in Sujanpur. He won 18,559 votes as opposed to Rana who won 21,492.“Personal loss is not of much importance. The gain that victory has brought to state BJP is important. Thankful to people of the state for voting for BJP. In politics, sometimes one wins, sometimes one loses. I was not expecting to lose, I will do an analysis,” Dhumal was quoted speaking to ANI.Prem Kumar Dhumal, popularly known as PK Dhumal, was born into a strict Brahmin family on April 10, 1944, in Samirpur Village of Hamirpur district.During his two stints as chief minister, the hill state saw significant infrastructure developments, particularly of roads. He also oversaw the development of new railway lines as well.This gave rise to Dhumal being called as the ‘sadak walla mukhyamantri’.Congress candidate Anirudh Singh won the Kasumpti seat by defeating BJP’s Vijay Jyoti by a margin of 9,397 votes. Also readAs trends paint clear picture of BJP’s victory in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, this is how party celebratesIn Lahaul and Spiti, Dr Ram Lal Markanda of BJP defeated Ravi Thakur of Congress by more than 1500 votes.Congress veteran and six-time Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his son Vikramaditya Singh are leading from Arki and Shimla (Rural) respectively.Since the past 24 years, Himachal Pradesh has had alternative governments between the BJP and the Congress.Main rivals BJP and Congress contested all the 68 seats at stake. The hill state witnessed a record 75.28% turnout.The Congress and the BJP had 36 and 26 seats respectively in the outgoing House.

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Himachal Election: Here’s a status of key candidates – Virbhadra Singh, Prem Kumar Dhumal, Anil Sharma and others

The BJP looks set to wrest power from the Congress in Himachal Pradesh as it was leading in 40 seats while the ruling party bagged one seat and was leading in 21 others, according to Election Commission trends.Congress candidate Anirudh Singh won the Kasumpti seat by defeating BJP’s Vijay Jyoti by a margin of 9,397 votes.Prem Kumar Dhumal, BJP’s chief ministerial candidate, is trailing behind Congress’s Rajinder Rana in Sujanpur, Out of 67 sitting MLAs, 60 MLAS, nine cabinet minister and eight Chief Parliamentary Secretaries (CPS) contested the poll along with a dozen former ministers.Congress veteran and six-time Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his son Vikramaditya Singh are leading from Arki and Shimla(Rural) respectively.Prem Kumar Dhumal, BJP’s chief ministerial candidate in Himachal Pradesh, was trailing behind Congress’s Rajinder Rana in Sujanpur, according to early trends.Also readGujarat Election Results 2017 LIVE: Vijay Rupani wins prestige battle in Rajkot WestHere’s a status of Key CandidatesThe BJP ousted the Congress in 1990 and the Congress avenged defeat in 1993. The BJP formed the government with the help of Himachal Vikas Congress in 1998 and the Congress was back in power in 2003. The BJP made a comeback in 2007.

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Himachal Pradesh Election Results 2017 LIVE: BJP takes early lead

The counting of votes for 68 Assembly seats in Himachal Pradesh that went to polls on November 9 began at 8 am on Monday.The results are expected to come out by afternoon.As many as 50,25,941 voters were eligible to cast their votes and 37,605 polling personnel were deployed at 7,525 polling booths. 983 polling stations were declared vulnerable and 399 critical to ensure free and fair elections in the state.The fate of 337 candidates including Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his predecessor Prem Kumar Dhumal will be known. Both – the ruling Congress Party and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – are confident of their victory.Himachal has a tradition of change in government after every elections and going by the trend, this time it is the turn of the BJP which is upbeat after exit poll results.Security personnel have been deployed outside the counting centres to avoid any untoward situation.8:39 IST Monday, 18 December 2017Counting has begun for Himachal Pradesh. BJP is leading in 9 constituencies, Congress in 4.

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Assembly elections 2017: Will Himachal Pradesh results throw up a surprise?

While exit polls have already given a sweeping victory to BJP in Himachal Pradesh, locals are keeping their fingers crossed in the hilly state, which has in last 24 years never re-elected an incumbent government.BJP, which made an impressive comeback in adjoining hill state of Uttarakhand early this year replacing the Harish Rawat-led Congress government, is confident to romp home in Himachal as well where Congress’ Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has been battling age and corruption charges.Singh, called Raja by locals is a popular face and it was his popularity, which apparently forced BJP to declare Prem Singh Dhumal its CM face towards the end of the election even as it has earlier decided not to project any face and had in fact given more prominence to Union Minister J P Nadda.While exit polls suggest, Dhumal forming the next government in the state with huge margin, for the locals the outcome will be more based on the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Many feel that it could be close contest this time and Virbhadra Singh may not just sink into oblivion with as poor results as being predicted by the exit polls.While Congress is striving hard for ‘Mission Repeat’ in the hill state this time, BJP is confident that the swing state will live up to its tradition of not returning the ruling party to power. It has also taken steps to check dissension. It’s confidence is also due to the fact that it had won all the four Lok Sabha seats in 2014 Lok Sabha polls.Supporters of Singh say that exit polls had also predicted win for BJP in the last assembly elections in 2012, where Congress won 36 seats in comparison to BJP’s 26.Ask anyone to give two reasons to ousts Singh’s govt and the answers would come on predictable lines… One, no govt has ever been repeated since eighties.Two, the corruption case against sitting chief minister where he could be arrested soon.The Congress government had not rubbed the government employees the wrong way in Singh’s five-year-tenure, which could be the reasons its supporters feel that the employees will back it.Singh led Himachal campaign single-handedly despite falling health and that has also struck a chord with voters to bring him back for one last time before he calls it quits, his supporters argue.They argue that there is no such sympathy wave for Dhumal on the other side who is fighting a tough battle to win own seat Sujanpur, where the former Chief Minister is locked into a tough battle against Rajinder Rana, who has nurtured it for many years. Rana, a protege turned rival of Dhumal had contested the 2012 election as an Independent and defeated his nearest Congress rival Anita Verma by 14,155 votes.It’s an open secret in the state unit that Dhumal, who contested the last assembly polls from Hamirpur assembly segment, was not willing to contest from Sujanpur.BJP had projected Dhumal as its CM face, hoping it could give a boost to the party’s campaign in all five assembly segments in Hamirpur.An old slogan, which does rounds in Himachal is that whosoever wins Kangra valley forms a government in Himachal.Congress had 10 seats from this region while BJP had just three in the last assembly. This time around, the Congress has strong presence in this region and it could be a neck to neck results. BJP state Mahila Morcha chief Indu Goswami, who has openly faced backlash from party workers, is pitted against politically-established Butail family’s son, Ashish Butail.

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

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

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Assembly elections 2017: Gujarat decides, India watches

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

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Change in air as Himachal Pradesh votes big; 74% polling recorded

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Himachal Pradesh saw a record turnout of over 74 percent in the Assembly elections on Thursday, up from the 73.51 percent in the 2012 elections. Speaking at a news conference at Shimla after polling ended, Chief Election Officer Pushpendra Rajput said apart from a few glitches, the polling has largely been peaceful.Rajput said the high turnout could be attributed to greater involvement from the younger generation, while poll-watchers opined that it could be a reflection of desire for change. “In the remote and tribal areas of the state, too, the turnout has been great. One of the highest polling percentage was reported approximately 82% in Sirmour, while the lowest 69.5% was in Hamirpur district,” he said.While the overall turnout saw an increase, Sirmour, Una, Kangra and Bilaspur were the only districts where the turnout improved from the 2012 turnout. The rest of the eight districts say a dip in the overall turnout in the constituencies.Some of the key poll planks on which the electoral wrestle played out in the 68 constituencies were corruption, unemployment and development, with the rape and murder of a minor in Kotkhai being a key poll issue. CM Virbhadhra Singh, in his sixth term, said that this will be his final elections, while BJP’s PK Dhumal edged out union minister JP Nadda to be declared as the CM candidate. Dhumal has served as the CM two times earlier in the state where the takeover of power between key rivals BJP and Congress has been a simultaneous one since 1985.While polling remained peaceful, there were several complaints of EVM and VVPAT malfunctioning from several polling areas. As per data from state officials, over 58 EVMs and 102 VVPATs had to be replaced during polling as they did not function well. Apart from that, over 31 balloting units in addition to 27 control units of the EVMs had to be replaced due to malfunctioning.Despite its record turnout, polling in a few booths in Sirmour had to be delayed for over half an hour in the morning, while complaints were registered at Theog, too. In Gondla polling booth at Lahaul and Spiti district, polling had to be stopped after continuous malfunctioning. An official from the state election department said the districts from where the maximum complaints of malfunctioning EVMs and VVPATs came from were Una, Mandi, Kangra, Solan and Shimla.Results will be declared along with that of Gujarat assembly elections on December 18.HOW HP VOTEDPoll percentageKullu – 77.9%Solan -77.4%Una -76%Mandi -75%Bilaspur -75%Kinnaur -75%Chamba -74%Shimla -72.5%Lahaul -73.4%Kangra -72%Hamirpur -69.5%Kullu -86%Banjar -85%Doon -84%Jubbal-Kotkhai -81%Manali -79%Harola -78.96%

PM Modi’s language shows his arrogance says Virbhadra Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day before the polls CM Virbhadra Singh is taking a break from his continuous campaign trail at Holly Lodge in Shimla, before he takes off for Rampur to cast his vote in the wee hours of Thursday. Most of his travel is by road, believing his 83 years. He says that the BJP has taken the debate to a crude level and that the Congress will be back for another term. Edited excerpts of an interview with dna.The BJP has been attacking you on the grounds of corruption.This house, built in 1880, belongs to my father, as does the vast ancestral properties that was passed on to me, while the BJP is saying that I am corrupt. In their own party, former CM PK Dhumal’s son, Anurag Thakur, started the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association and his father passed on some prime land. They ran it as a family business. In Shimla, Dhumal passed on the grounds of the British-era government school in Lalpani for the association. Even the finance minister, who was involved in cricket with the DGCA, has cases against him. In my case, the same issue is looked after by the Income Tax department, CBI and ED. If this is not persecution, what is it. I’m not going to bow down.The language that the PM used while attacking the Congress has been quite strong; he’s called the Congress ‘termites’ and likened the party to ‘demons’.One does not expect such rude behaviour and crude language from a PM. For example, in a poll rally he said, “What is Congress. ‘Gandi keera’ hai.” We haven’t resorted to that sort of language; this is crass politics. Congress has a history of over a century, and to liken us to insects shows the arrogance of the PM. The power has gone to his head.Do you think that the Kotkhai rape and murder incident could have been dealt with differently?I sympathise with the family as their daughter has been brutally raped and murdered. Yet the government did what was possible. The day after the incident, I wrote personally to the PM saying that the case be referred to the CBI, and also called the union home minister. So many months have passed, there has been no findings and the High Court has rapped them on it. The BJP has been unscrupulous and have used it to build a political movement. A few days after the incident at the Kotkhai PS, the BJP leaders gave an instigating speech, vandalised the newly-constructed office and attacked the store room and the record room which housed files of the station for decades. What form of a protest is that.You are one of the senior most people from the Congress. And there has been an exodus of senior party leaders. Why is that so?I don’t know, everyone has their own reasons. I joined the party in 1961, and soon became an MP from Mahasu. I keep my personal life and beliefs away from my politics, I believe in clean politics based on issues. The political stage is not meant for venting or anger.There has been a lot of talk about Rahul Gandhi taking over as vice-president. What do you think of him as a leader?Somebody has to head the party, and he’s eligible to become President when the seat will be vacant.Is this election more about Virbhadra Singh versus Prem Kumar Dhumal or it is a battle between the Congress and the BJP? Do you think it would have been any different if JP Nadda was selected as CM candidate?It is a battle between the parties. There’s no personal fight, at least so fast as I am concerned. We have no accused anybody and have carried this campaign as cleanly as possible.I don’t think the difference would have been significant, whether it is Nadda or Dhumal or Shanta Kumar, it doesn’t matter. The Congress will come back to power.The Congress has been attacking the BJP on the implementation of the GST. And it is a year since demonetization was declared.These are valid arguments, people in every sort of trade and industry are talking in the same terms as us. We are echoing the same concerns. In Himachal Pradesh, there are many farmers, and they have been severely affected. The time is gone when parties threw money to people and buy their votes, the people of Himachal have always been politically aware.

Must wipe out Congress like termites to free Himachal of this disease: PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the Congress has conceded defeat in Himachal Pradesh as its senior leaders have “run away” from campaigning in the state leaving Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh to his fate.Addressing a rally in the state’s largest district, Modi launched a blistering attack on the Congress over corruption, likening the party to termites, and exhorted the people to finish it off by handing over three-fourths majority to the BJP in the November 9 Assembly election.Launching a scathing attack, he likened the party to termites, and said: “If you clean just on the surface, termites come back after a few days. The Congress party’s depraved mentality is like termites. You cannot just change the government and expect to be done with it, you have to take them out from the roots. Only then we can free Himachal of this disease.”He went on to say that there shouldn’t be ‘one polling booth where these termites be allowed to thrive’, and said the that party leaders had run away from campaigning in the state leaving CM Virbhadra Singh to his fate.In a reference to the Congress’ decision to mark the first anniversary of the demonetisation as black day, he said the opposition party would observe “blackmoney day” and burn his effigies as it was angry with his fight against corruption.Modi claimed that the poor and the middle class were back to work but the dishonest people were angry with him and wanted to seek revenge from him as he forced them to deposit their bagfuls of cash with banks.Seeking strong mandate in favour of the BJP, he said the state had progressed most when Prem Kumar Dhumal was its chief minister and Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister as the central government pumped in money which Dhumal used effectively for development of Himachal Pradesh.Modi said he and Dhumal, who is the party’s chief ministerial candidate, would take the state to new heights of development, adding that its infrastructure and tourism sectors needed a boost. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also hinted at a crackdown on ‘benami’ properties, and said the Congress is worried as such assets of its leaders will not be spared in his government’s action.Launching a stinging attack on the opposition party over corruption at an election rally in Sundernagar, Modi said the Congress’ campaign against demonetisation was driven by its attempts to mislead the people and create an atmosphere against him before he can raise a “storm” over benami assets.”The time has come to return to the poor what had been robbed of them…. I am going to create a situation that they (Congress leaders) would not be able to reclaim their benami assets,” he said.”I tried to get some information from Congress leaders… some (Congress leaders) lost their bags of Rs 500 notes, some of Rs 1000 notes. In the meantime, Modi has come with benami law. Their worry is that Modi will start showing results.”Their worry is that the benami assets like land, flats, shops they have kept hidden like Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes are not going to be spared. Therefore, they are creating an atmosphere so that before Modi raises a storm over benami assets, they observe blackmoney day and mislead the people,” he said.In a ‘benami’ property, the person who pays for it buys it in the name of some other person.There would be many Congress leaders, the prime minister claimed, who would have purchased assets like cars and houses in the names of their drivers and cooks.He would tell these people that they should not return them to these leaders if they are asked to transfer their ownership, Modi said.”I am going to create a situation that they would not be able to reclaim it. This is people’s money. This has been robbed of the masses and would be used for their welfare,” he said.People had given him power in 2014 to fight corruption and he would continue to do so, Modi said.Mocking at the Congress’ campaign against demonetisation, he said that God gives at times the opposition party “wisdom” which comes to his use.With inputs from agencies

Himachal Assembly Elections 2017: No monkey business, say BJP and Congress; promise relief from semian menace

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Harassed by troops of monkeys which frequently attack passers-by and destroy crops, residents of Himachal Pradesh are being promised relief from the simian menace by both the BJP and the Congress if voted to power in the upcoming elections.As many as 2,000 villages across the hill state are affected by simians.BJP’s chief ministerial candidate, Prem Kumar Dhumal, blames the Congress government for not running the sterilisation drive in an effective manner to tackle the growing population of monkeys.”They have not run this programme in an effective manner and it seems that the number of monkeys has increased rather than going down,” he said.”We will motivate farmers to install net fencing around their fields. We will also take other necessary steps as this problem is not limited to villages and has spread to cities as well,” Dhumal said.State BJP president Satpal Satti, who is seeking re- election from Una, alleged that the Congress government had failed to tackle the problem.Satti said crore of rupees were spent to catch the monkeys for sterilisation but their number continued to increase.However, Industries Minister Mukesh Agnihotri said, “We have run sterilisation campaigns and taken other steps as well. We will take more steps needed to tackle the problem.” According to a monkey census carried out in 2015, there were over 2,400 monkeys within the Shimla Municipal Corporation limits and eight forest beats were identified as “endemic areas”.The Assembly election in the state is scheduled for November 9.

How Modi & a napkin led to BJP win in 1998

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Everyone says it was a paper napkin that did in the Grand Old Party. It was 1998, and a trying time for the BJP in Himachal Pradesh. To steer it clear from political doom, the party sent the then national secretary Narendra Modi.What Modi and the state party leaders did then amidst a high-wire post-poll stitching of a coalition is part of political folklore in the state. In its poll campaigns, the BJP takes every opportunity to remind voters of the time when Modi was part of the party’s activities in the state and that this is the first home of the PM, the second head of state after Atal Bihari Vajpayee to call the state home.For those who witnessed the action, the memory is still fresh. In the 1998 Lok Sabha elections, when the results were declared, in the 68-member constituency, the Congress bagged 31 seats, while the BJP 27. Himachal Vikas Manch, a party formed by former telecom minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu won four seats.While the BJP managed to win over the HVM candidates, the Congress managed to win over a rebel BJp candidate — Ramesh Dhamala, considered close to former CM Shanta Kumar. Eventually, the Congress was invited by then governor to form the government and the party had to prove majority in six days.”Polls were fought in 65 seats as Kinnaur, Lahaul-Spiti and Bharmaur, usually cloaked in slow and inaccessible, held polls after the government was formed. The winning party’s candidates usually won there,” says journalist Shashikant Sharma, who teaches journalism in the Himachal Pradesh University. Sharma, who is also a honorary advisor to the Governor, was covering the elections then as a reporter.The BJP alleged that Dhamala was kidnapped and was kept in the CM’s residence in Oakover and was surrounded by policemen at all times. Khushi Ram Balnatah, who was then the BJP’s general secretary and witness to it, recalls the high-wire drama that ensued. Senior leaders including Shanta Kumar, JP Nadda, PK Dhumal, Balnatah and Modi were thinking of ways to reach out to Dharmala, who was very close to Shanta Kumar.”We found a person working in the hospitality wing of Oakover and asked him to hand over a note in a paper napkin, where we sent a message asking him to call Shanta Kumar,” says Balnatah. He recalls that it too some deft maneuvering on the part of Dharmala and a fair bit of running before he jumped into a waiting car to join the BJP finally to form the government with Dhumal as CM. Dharmala later said that he was held against his will.Sharma says that the polls changed the fate of Modi, who was later elevated within the party. “When Modi reached Shimla, he managed cars for the party and ensured it had its own building here. He was resourceful and knew what he wanted. He also snubbed older leaders like Shanta Kumar the wrong way. It was then that Dhumal rose within the party,” recalls Sharma. In his poll rally in Shimla earlier this year, Modi mentioned Sharma and other journalists, who he said, treated him to endless cups of coffee at the India Coffee House on the Mall Road.Deepak Sharma of the Deepak Bhojanalaya in Mall Road talks of the time Modi came to take naps in his house. His wife, Seema, remembers exchanging Gujarati recipes with him. “We never thought he will be the CM of Gujarat back then, let alone be the PM,” says Seema.A trip down memory laneDeepak Sharma of the Deepak Bhojanalaya in Mall Road talks of the time Modi came to take naps in his house. His wife, Seema, remembers exchanging Gujarati recipes with him. “We never thought he will be the Gujarat CM back then, let alone be the Prime Minister,” says Seema

‘Tsunami, not just a wave’: Rahul baba, BJP is coming to power in Himachal, says Amit Shah

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah on Wednesday said that there was not just a wave but BJP tsunami in Himachal Pradesh.Addressing a rally in Mandi, Shah said, “Rahul baba the writing is on the wall, BJP is coming to power in Himachal Pradesh.”Looking at the rally today, the BJP chief said, “I can confidently say that there is a BJP tsunami in Himachal, not just a wave.”The BJP and the Congress had been ruling the state alternately for close to three decades, and Dhumal was at its helm for 10 years.On Tuesday, Prem Kumar Dhumal, who has been the Himachal Pradesh chief minister twice, was declared as BJP’s chief ministerial candidate by Shah.Dhumal had been spearheading the party’s campaign in the state since 1998 assembly polls. He led it to victory in 1998 and 2007 but lost in 2003 and 2012.Himachal Pradesh goes to polls on November 9 and results would be declared on December 18.Meanwhile, the ruling Congress released its manifesto, promising to strengthen the farm sector by granting interest-free loans to farmers, a creation of 1.50 lakh jobs in the government sector and free laptops to 50,000 college students.Restoration of the pre-2004 pension scheme, regularisation of contract employees after two years, enhanced daily wages, social security pension and appointment of anti- corruption grievances commissioner were the other promises made in the manifesto.

Himachal Elections 2017: Prem Kumar Dhumal announced as BJP CM candidate

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a sudden development, the Bharatiya Janata Party has named former Himachal Pradesh CM Prem Kumar Dhumal as the CM candidate for the poll bound state. The decision was announced by BJP President Amit Shah who is currently campaigning in Himachal. ​Dhumal is a two time CM of the hilly state. Himachal Pradesh with 68 Assembly seats will be polling on November 9. The counting of votes will be held on December 18. Dhumal along with JP Nadda were tipped as the two favoured choice for the top post. Finally Dhumal got the nod ahead of Nadda. The fact that BJP lost power twice under Dhumal was weighing on the mind of the BJP top leadership. But finally the clout Prem Kumar Dhumal enjoys in Himachal swayed the decision in his favour.Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah on Tuesday questioned Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi about the work Congress has done in all these years. “Rahul asks Modi that what they have done in three years. But I would like to ask him that what they have done in all these years,” Shah said, while addressing a public rally in Kangra. He also hit out at the Virbhadra Singh-led government, saying there has been no development in the state.”For five years the way how the government has worked in Himachal, I don’t think that Himachal has developed the way it should have been,” he added.With agency inputs

Himachal Assembly Elections 2017: BJP meet likely to pick poll candidates on Saturday

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The BJP Central Election Committee is likely to meet here on Saturday to finalise the party’s nominees for the Himachal Pradesh Assembly election, scheduled to be held on November 9.Top party leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and its president Amit Shah, are among the members of the committee.The BJP is seeking to capture power in the hill state, which it had lost to the Congress in the 2007 Assembly polls.Himachal, which has a 68-member Assembly, has a history of throwing the incumbent party out of power.It remains to be seen if the saffron party announces its chief ministerial face in the run-up to the Himachal polls.The Congress has announced Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh as its choice for the top post in the state again.Two-time Himachal chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and Union minister J P Nadda are being seen as the two most likely choices of the saffron party for the top post with the latter being considered a favourite because of his clean image and proximity to the party’s central leadership.

BJP to launch a Rath Yatra in every HP Assembly constituency

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Gearing up for the Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, the BJP has decided to launch “Rath Yatras” in all the 68 Assembly constituencies in the state. The three day state executive meeting of party, which concluded here today, decided to intensify the mass contact programme to reach out to the voters. Briefing media, former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said that women’s safety, corruption, law and order etc would be the main poll plank of the party. All cases of crime against women including the infamous Kotkhai rape and murder case would be raised, he said. Dhumal said the credibility of the state police had touched rock bottom and people were demanding CBI probes in all sensitive cases. He alleged that the government was shielding the culprits and criminals and added that people were fed up and wanted change. He said that the BJP had targeted fifty plus seats in the 68-member assembly but as the situation is changing, the party may even win sixty plus seats. The vision document for the Assembly polls is under preparation and party has sought suggestions from various sections of the society, he said. Besides local issues that have “completely eroded the credibility of the government”, the achievements of NDA government and the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi would factors steering the BJP to a landslide victory, Dhumal claimed. He asserted that the NDA government gave liberal assistance to Himachal, restored special category status and sanctioned developmental projects including 72 National Highway and four-laning projects. But the state government did not even prepare the Detailed Project Reports (DPRs), he claimed adding that the financial mismanagement have put the state into a debt trap and loans of the state government have mounted to Rs 50,000 crore. Earlier addressing the meeting the Union Health minister JP Nadda called upon the workers to tighten the belts and ensure a massive victory. He listed the achievements of the NDA government and detailed the steps to detect the black money, passing of the GST Bill and a series of other schemes for the welfare of poor. Senior leader Ramlal also addressed the meeting. He urged the workers to highlight the achievements of the Modi government and actively participate in the mass contact programme.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Shimla rape and murder case: Resign within 48 hours, BJP leader threatens Himachal CM

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Leader of the Opposition P K Dhumal on Monday asked Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh to take moral responsibility of the alleged rape and murder of a girl and resign within 48 hours.Dhumal, who visited the victim’s family in Kotkhai, warned that if Singh failed to quit, BJP workers led by women activists would stage dharnas at all 7,479 polling booths in the state to seek justice for the girl.”It is a very serious and sensitive issue, and should not be politicised. But, the manner in which the government handled it, the credibility of the police has been completely eroded. The government was forced to refer the case to the CBI,” he said.”The CBI has, now, taken over the probe and the people should fearlessly provide credible evidence to the investigating agency,” the former chief minister said. He alleged that the police had committed one mistake after the other and claimed that the “tardy” investigations had led to huge public outcry which the government had failed to contain.”The family members of the victim are deeply hurt by the attempts of the police to frame innocent people in false cases to save the real culprits,” Dhumal said. The BJP leader said his party was with the victim’s family and would render all possible help to them.However, Singh accused the BJP of politicising the issue and said the government would render all assistance to the CBI for bringing the culprits to the book. He told reporters in Kinnaur that the Congress would contest the assembly polls under his leadership and win with a majority.

Shimla girl rape and murder: BJP leader asks HP CM to resign

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Leader of the Opposition P K Dhumal today asked Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh to take moral responsibility of the alleged rape and murder of a girl and resign within 48 hours. Dhumal, who visited the victim’s family in Kotkhai, warned that if Singh failed to quit, BJP workers led by women activists would stage dharnas at all 7,479 polling booths in the state to seek justice for the girl. “It is a very serious and sensitive issue, and should not be politicised. But, the manner in which the government handled it, the credibility of the police has been completely eroded. The government was forced to refer the case to the CBI,” he said. “The CBI has, now, taken over the probe and the people should fearlessly provide credible evidence to the investigating agency,” the former chief minister said. He alleged that the police had committed one mistake after the other and claimed that the “tardy” investigations had led to huge public outcry which the government had failed to contain. “The family members of the victim are deeply hurt by the attempts of the police to frame innocent people in false cases to save the real culprits,” Dhumal said. The BJP leader said his party was with the victim’s family and would render all possible help to them. However, Singh accused the BJP of politicising the issue and said the government would render all assistance to the CBI for bringing the culprits to the book. He told reporters in Kinnaur that the Congress would contest the assembly polls under his leadership and win with a majority.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Cops ‘callous attitude’ led to escalation of protests: Dhumal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Senior BJP leader P K Dhumal today blamed the “callous attitude” of the police in handling the Kotkhai schoolgirl rape and murder case for escalation of protests across Himachal Pradesh. The former chief minister said the police lack people’s trust for which the case has been handed over to the CBI. Asserting that the Congress government in the state was committing one mistake after another in handling the case, he said its decision to upgrade and name a school in Dhar after the real name of the rape victim was “obnoxious” and in violation of the directions of the Supreme Court. Dhumal said he would visit the family members of the victim at Kotkhai tomorrow. Meanwhile, the CBI, which registered two cases in connection with the rape and murder of the minor girl and custodial death of one of the accused, held discussions with state police officials and also perused the case file which was handed over to it under the directions of the High Court. A Class 10 student was allegedly raped and murdered in Kotkhai area of Shimla district on July 4 after she took a lift on a vehicle driven by one of the accused Rajender. The body of the victim was recovered from the nearby Halila forest two days later. Six persons were arrested in connection with the case.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

HP CM attacks Shah for levelling graft charges against him

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Himachal Pradesh CM Virbhadra Singh today hit back at BJP chief Amit Shah for accusing him of being involved in corruption, saying the BJP leaders have the habit of levelling baseless charges. “Everyone knows about the role of BJP leaders in Godhra riots and making false charges against others would not help them,” he said addressing a public meeting at Chandi in Doon assembly constituency in Solan district. Singh said that the BJP president has levelled charges of corruption against me today but he should better know that merely terming someone as corrupt would not make a person corrupt. “It is the habit of the BJP leaders, who never believe in facts and try to manipulate the things,” he said. Alleging that former HP chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and his son, in connivance with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, had conspired against him by levelling false charges, he said “So much so, three central investigating agencies were probing a single charge of my income tax returns which had long been closed.” The chief minister said that “it is for first and the last time I am quoting the name of opponent leader in my speech and henceforth, whatever the BJP leaders say, I will consider it as their mere frustration and nothing else.” He said that Shah was the guest of the state but he had no right to make “unpalatable” statements, and he was speaking as if he was the judge though the matter was still sub-judice. He advised Shah not to be a judge himself before the judgement of the court. “I have no complaints against the Prime Minister, and I know him since long,” he said.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Bhoranj bypolls: The seat was never a Cong bastion, says HP CM

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh today played down the defeat of the Congress in the Bhoranj Assembly by-election and said “it was never a bastion of the party”. Reacting to the election result, he said it was not a trend setter for the ensuing Assembly polls and it would have no impact on the Congress in the general elections. The BJP has hailed the victory as precursor for the state Assembly elections and said it would sweep the polls and return to power. Former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, Lok Sabha member from Hamirpur Anurag Thakur and chief BJP spokesman Rajiv Bindal said the party’s victory was only a trailer to the Assembly polls. “Count down has begun for the Congress and BJP would sweep the Assembly polls and return to power,” they claimed. The BJP had won the Bhoranj seat in 2012 by a margin of more than 10,000 votes and the margin has reduced to 8,290 this time.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Delhi Court to take cognizance of charge sheet filed against Himachal CM in DA case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A Delhi Court, on Thursday, is likely to take cognizance of the charge sheet filed against Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh in a Disproportionate Assets (DA) case. Earlier on Monday, the Court adjourned the hearing in the case till April 6. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), on Friday, had filed a charge sheet against Singh in the case. A day after being booked by the CBI special court in the disproportionate assets case, the Chief Minister accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of conspiring against him and asserted that all charges levelled against him were fabricated. “The fight has just begun and I know the truth will prevail. All cases against me are fabricated. This is a conspiracy against me stitched by some BJP leaders like Prem Kumar Dhumal and Anurag Thakur. The BJP is misusing its power. There’s no truth in it,” said Singh. He also said the case against him is a ‘political vendetta’ and he was ready to face the charges registered against him. “This is a political vendetta. I am not afraid of it. I am ready to face the case,” Singh told ANI.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

On eve of Budget session HP Speaker urges parties to cooperate

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Himachal Pradesh assembly Speaker B B L Butail today urged all the parties to maintain decorum and cooperate in smooth running of the House. He urged the parties to raise issues under relevant rules and hoped that all parties would cooperate in maintaining order in the Vidhan Sabha. The Speaker had convened an all party meeting on the eve of the budget session but the chief minister Virbhadra Singh and leader of the opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal skipped it. While Parliamentary Affairs minister Mukesh Agnihotri, Chief whip of BJP, Suresh Bharadwaj and independent MLA Balbir Singh Verma attended the meeting. Meanwhile, Congress and BJP are holding their legislature party meetings for finalizing the strategy for the session.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

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