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After Congress, Shiv Sena to hold internal polls to elect party president

The Shiv Sena will hold internal polls to elect its party president on January 23 which happens to be the birth anniversary of its founder (late) Bal Thackeray.According to sources, incumbent Sena president Uddhav Thackeray will be re-elected at the party meeting to be held at Rang Sharda auditorium in suburban Mumbai, as there will be no other nomination for the post.Uddhav Thackeray took charge as the party president on January 23, 2013, after the death of his father Bal Thackeray (86) in November 2012.”Uddhav had refused the post of ‘Shiv Sena Pramukh’ saying it will be only Balasaheb who will remain as Pramukh or the chief. Uddhav dissolved the post of executive president which he served in Balasaheb’s lifetime and took the post of ‘Paksh Pramukh’ (Shiv Sena party president),” sources said today.Once the procedure of electing the party president is completed, Uddhavji will choose his new team.”He may either retain the old team or give a chance to new faces,” sources said.The election will be held to comply with the Election Commission’s (EC’s) directives to political parties to hold internal organisational elections, according to sources.

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Arunachal Pradesh by-polls: 68.5% voter turnout in two assembly constituencies

An estimated 68.5% votes were cast in today’s by-poll for Pakke-Kessang and Likabali constituencies in Arunachal Pradesh, polling for which was held today.Pakke-Kessang recorded 86% polling, while Likabali constituency recorded 51%, Joint Chief Electoral officer D J Bhattacharjee informed.The polling percentage in both constituencies will increase as reports from several polling stations are yet to be received by the election office here.The polling which began at 7 AM in the morning was largely peaceful except for an incident of damage to EVM by miscreants at Siberity, a booth in Likabali constituency where polling was suspended, Bhatacharjee informed.”Technical snag developed in one EVM at Durpai polling station under Likabali due to which polling was suspended,” he said adding re-polling would be ordered in both the booths.Though polling was moderate during the morning hours due to chilly weather conditions, it gained momentum as the day progresses.Elaborate security arrangements were made with state police, ITBP and four companies of central paramilitary forces being deployed.The critical polling booths were covered by CRPF and IRB personnel.Altogether 150 polling personnel were deployed for Pakke-Kessang, while 220 polling personnel conducted the polling in Likabali, Bhattacharjee said.The Pakke-Kessang assembly seat has 7,455 voters including 3943 women, while Likabali has 10608 electorates including 5331 women voters.Former deputy chief minister Kameng Dolo (Congress) is contesting against BJP nominee B R Waghe in Pakke-Kessang, while the Likabali constituency witnessed a multi-cornered contest by Kardo Nyigyor (BJP), Modam Dini (Congress), Gumke Riba of Peoples Party of Arunachal and Independent candidate Sengo Taipodia.The Likabali seat had fallen vacant after the death of state health and family welfare minister Jomde Kena in September.The Pakke-Kessang fell vacant after the Gauhati High Court declared null and void the election of Kameng Dolo from the seat in 2014 following an election petition filed against him by BJP nominee and former minister Atum Welly.Welly had alleged that a fraudulent move had thrown threw him out of the election as the EC had accepted a forged letter of withdrawal of his candidature that led to election of his lone opponent.Welly, in his election petition earlier, had said that his signature was forged in the letter.

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Can’t air: EC on Jaya video on bypoll eve

On the eve of Chennai’s RK Nagar bypoll, a purported video clip of late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on a hospital bed sipping a drink was released on Wednesday by a supporter of sidelined AIADMK leader TTV Dinakaran. The 20-second video was allegedly shot by her aide and confidant VK Sasikala.The Election Commission ordered TV channels to take the video off-air terming it a violation of the model code of conduct. The city police registered a case under IPC Section 188 (disobedience of a public servant’s order) and Section 126 (b) of the Representation of People’s Act on a complaint filed by the returning officer of RK Nagar Assembly seat.In the cancelled bypoll in April, the then rebel AIADMK led by Panneerselvam used a dummy coffin with Jayalalithaa’s figurine mounted on the bonnet seeking justice for her death.Senior AIADMK leader and Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar hit out at the release of the video saying that it was a conspiracy and a demeaning act with an eye on Thursday’s bypoll.

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

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

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Rajasthan Panchayat bypoll: Congress snatches 4 zila parishad seats from BJP

Close on the heels of an improved performance in Gujarat, the Congress today won all the four zila parishad seats and also 16 of the 27 panchayat samiti seats and six nagar palika seats, for which bypolls were held.The ruling BJP had to remain content with 10 panchayat samiti seats although it won seven nagar palika wards. The saffron party could not even retain even a single of the four zila parishad seats that it held, according to the State Election Commission.The bypolls for 27 panchayat samitis of 19 districts, 14 nagar palikas of 12 districts and four zila parishads were held on December 17. “The results of the local bodies bypoll has proved that the countdown for the BJP in Rajasthan has begun. Congress has expressed the feelings of the people in the last four years and they have trust in the party,” Congress state president Sachin Pilot said. He predicted a similar result in the upcoming bypolls for the two parliamentary seats of Alwar and Ajmer and Mandalgarh Assembly seat.Bypolls on all the three seats have been necessitated due to sudden demise of two of the ruling BJP’s parliamentarians and a BJP legislator.The civic by-election results are a setback for the BJP as it lost two nagar palika wards in Baran district, which is a strong hold of Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s MP son Dushyant Singh. However, state BJP spokesperson, Anand Sharma said that the result was good for the party as it has grabbed several seats earlier held by the Congress. In August, opposition Congress had won 19 out of the total 37 seats in bypolls to urban local bodies and panchayati raj institutions while the ruling BJP had got ten.

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RK Nagar bypoll | Election campaign ends today; prestige battle for AIADMK

Campaigning for the high-stakes December 21 bypoll to the RK Nagar assembly seat here will end this evening and the outcome of the hustings is likely to be seen as a report card of the 17-month old AIADMK government.The political campaign will end by 5 pm and the Election Commission has made it clear that there will be no related activities afterwards as per rules.The outcome of the by-election could serve as a report card of the ruling AIADMK which faced turbulence after late chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s death.The campaign witnessed the top leaders of various parties — Chief Minister K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam of the AIADMK, DMK leader MK Stalin and sidelined AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran — reaching out to voters with hectic campaign schedules.All parties are keen to make a mark in the election which has become a battle of pride as Jayalalithaa represented the constituency earlier. Her death in December last year necessitated the bypoll.The campaign also saw old rivals Stalin and MDMK founder Vaiko share stage for the first time in many years. The opposition is putting up a united show in a bid to to snatch victory in this city segment.Many opposition parties, including the Congress, the VCK and the Left have backed DMK candidate N Maruthuganesh.Dhinakaran, who fell out of favour with Palaniswami and also lost the battle for party’s ‘Two Leaves’ symbol to the latter, is fighting as an independent and has expressed confidence that he can spring a surprise against the AIADMK’s E Madhusudhanan as well as the DMK.With 59 candidates in fray, the bypoll is virtually confined to old warhorse Madhusudhanan, DMK’s greenhorn Maruthuganesh and Dhinakaran.Polling will be held on December 21 while the votes will be taken up for counting on December 24.

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Gujarat Elections 2017 | Over 5.5 lakh voters chose NOTA option

While Gujarat Assembly elections 2017 witnessed some of the most interesting trends not just in terms of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) coming back to power, though being nowhere close to its performance, and Congress improving its vote share, there is NOTA (None of the Above) too which has garnered voters attention. Over 5.5 lakh voters constituting 1.8% votes preferred NOTA, that allows voters not to choose for any of the candidates contesting in their constituency.According to numbers released by the Election Commission, NOTA ranked in 1.8 per cent or 5,51,294 of all votes polled in the Gujarat Assembly election. Interestingly, NOTA ranked higher than parties such as the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) that contested the Gujarat elections as well.Of the 29 seats of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), only three seats garnered votes more than NOTA whereas in the 26 seats, NOTA received more votes than AAP.In Mandvi, nearly 5,000 votes were given to NOTA whereas Gujarat Chief Minister’s constituency Rajkot West had 3,309 votes to NOTA. Rapar in Kutch had 4,614 votes to NOTA whereas in Ghatlodia, 4,173 votes were given to NOTA.

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Gujarat Elections 2017 | EVM-tampering charges now seem silly, but Hardik Patel still at it

The close contest between the BJP and Congress in Gujarat elections, that swung like a pendulum for most part of the day, seems to have drawn curtains on the controversy revolving around Electronic Voting Machines (EVM).The Congress, which continuously questioned the impartiality of the EVMs during the run-up to Assembly polls, did not raise the issue on counting day when it saw its tally growing. The only exception was Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel, who attributed the BJP victory to EVM tampering. “I won’t greet BJP on its victory because these victories have been won through unfair means,” said Hardik. “The public of Gujarat has awakened but is required to be awakened more. That EVMs have been tampered with is a reality.”Chief Election Commissioner Achal Kumar Joti cleared the air, saying, “No EVM has been tampered. Questions raised about EVM tampering have already been answered.” He added that voting had been conducted through Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails (VVPATs) which enabled people to see whom they voted for. “All arrangements were made in Gujarat by the Chief Electoral Officer of the state in view of the counting,” he said.To remove all doubts of tampering, the Election Commission (EC) had ensured 100% coverage of elections through EVMs fitted with VVPAT machines.Before deciding to deploy EVMs and VVPATs in Gujarat elections, the EC had even arranged a Hackathon in which it invited all political parties to try and show if tampering was possible.Former chief election commissioner, T S Krishnamurthy, said EVMs have emerged as the “real winner” in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh elections, and their “bashing” should stop now. “They (EVMs) have done their job well,” Krishnamurthy said. “After all, the Congress has increased its position (in Gujarat, as compared to the last elections). Some BJP leaders have been defeated. EVMs have served their purpose.”Blaming both the Congress and the BJP for attacking EVMs at their convenience, he pleaded that the debate should now stop. To this end, Krishnamurthy referred to a book authored by BJP national spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao some years ago casting doubts on EVMs. “If they (the political parties) want to show (sic) their responsibility, they have to go to court or to an independent body of technical experts and prove it,” he said.Former chief election commissioner H.S. Brahma also said that VVPATs could not be tampered with. “I firmly believe that our EVMs and VVPATs cannot be tampered with,” he said. “This matter should be closed once and for all.EVM is a standalone machine. The question of hacking doesn’t arise.” Two other former chief election commissioners N. Gopalaswami and Naveen Chawla have also said that they believe EVMs cannot be tampered with.

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Gujarat Elections 2017: Akhilesh asks Rahul to build opposition unity ahead of 2019 polls

As the Congress lost to the BJP in Gujarat Assembly elections despite improving its seat tally, Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav today asked AICC President Rahul Gandhi to take along all opposition parties in 2019 Lok Sabha polls to defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi.The former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister said that it was now the responsibility of the Congress party to take along all opposition parties if it wants to defeat the BJP in 2019.The Samajwadi Party had contested five seats in Gujarat and failed to win any of them. Also readGujarat Elections 2017: It is a face-saving win but moral defeat for BJP in Gujarat, says Mamata BanerjeeAs per the latets trends provided by the Election Commission, the BJP has already bagged 85 seats while it is leading on 14 others. Congress has won in 71 Assembly constituencies while its candidates are leading on 6 other seats. In last Assembly elections, the BJP’s tally was 115 seats while the Congress had sent 61 MLAs to the 182-member house. Yadav said that the BJP has lost some ground to the Congress in Gujarat and results would have been in favour of the Rahul-led party had it roped in support of all opposition parties.Also readGujarat Elections 2017: Results won’t have any bearing on Karnataka polls, says SiddaramaiahHe alleged that the BJP won as it was successful in distracting attention of the people from the real issues. “Country cannot progress when poor and farmers face plethora of problems and youth unemployment is not addressed. But instead of contesting on real issues, the BJP resorted to aggressive Hindutava to divide the people and distract their attention,” he said.He asked Rahul to start thinking of making a grand alliance of all like-minded opposition parties, including regional ones, to take on the BJP in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.Also readGujarat Election Results 2017 LIVE: Saffron sweep for BJP, Shah-Modi hail vote for development“A combine anti-BJP opposition alliance will usher a new era in country’s politics,” he said. The Samajwadi Party and Congress had struck an alliance in 2017 UP Assembly polls but they did not fare well. Both had fought polls separately in Gujarat.

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If Ravi Shastri would be commenting, he would say EVMs has won: Twitter reacts to Assembly Election verdict

BJP assumed power in both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, much to the joy of its followers who are active on Twitter. The Gujarat win, albeit with a smaller margin, still showed that the party leadership and organisational skills are some of the best in the business.Here is how people on Twitter reactedPrime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said the assembly election results in Gujarat and Himachal Prades indicate BJP’s effort for development in the state.Also readAssembly elections 2017 results​: Nitish Kumar congratulates PM Modi, Amit Shah on Gujarat, Himachal victory”Election results in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh indicate a strong support for politics of good governance and development. I salute the hardworking BJP Karyakartas in these states for their hardwork which has led to these impressive victories,” PM Modi said on Twitter.”I bow to the people of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh for their affection and trust in BJP. I assure them that we will leave no stone unturned in furthering the development journey of these states and serve the people tirelessly,” he said in a series of tweets.Also readAssembly elections 2017 result: ‘I salute hardworking BJP Karyakartas,’ PM Modi’s victory tweetThe Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is all set to form a government in the state of Gujarat for the sixth time and end Congress’ reign in Himachal Pradesh.Union Minister Smriti Irani also hailed BJP’s win saying, “It’s a matter of happiness for us, this is the victory of development.””Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. It is a victory of every booth worker’s hard work and the people who trusted development,” she added.

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Gujarat Election Results: Did NOTA cost Congress the state?

The Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) will end up forming the government for the sixth term, but in some constituencies the elections saw NOTA as a key player.NOTA or None of The Above is exercised by a voter when s/he does not wish to choose any of the candidates on the ballot.The vote share of NOTA stands at 1.8%, higher than that of parties such as the BSP and the NCP. In essence, if NOTA was a party, it would have been the third most polled beside Congress and BJP. In all, 5,40,566 NOTA votes were recorded in Gujarat, the Election Commission shared on its website. According to the constitutional body, 1.8% of the voters didn’t vote for any party. BJP so far has won 49% of the vote, while the Congress has won 41% of the vote.But the question arises: given how close this election has turned out to be, has the NOTA votes cost the Congress? Data suggests that the margin of victory for the BJP was less than 10% in 33 constituencies. Porbunder was one of the seats that witnessed this. The winning margin of the BJP’s Babubhai Bokhriya is 1,855, while NOTA received 3,433 votes. There are 15 seats where the difference between winner and loser is less than 1000 votes. Also readGujarat Elections 2017: No longer a cakewalk for BJP in 2019 LS poll, says TRS leaderThus it can well be said NOTA and the fact that Gujarat witnessed a sharp drop in voting, finally helped BJP bunk the anti-incumbency trend. Interestingly, the Supreme Court said that a re-election was out of the question if NOTA was ever a majority in a general, assembly or civic election. The landmark judgment that was passed last month debunked a petition and said that conducting polls was an expensive exercise.Also read5 reasons why BJP managed to win Gujarat for consecutive 6th timeA bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra further observed that to entertain the plea, the court would have to declare that a candidate should compulsorily get 51 per cent of the votes to be declared winner.The top court termed the suggestion “unworkable” and said, “we cannot destroy our democracy just like that… holding an election in our country is a very serious and expensive business. Today we cannot say that unless a person gets 51 per cent of votes, he cannot be declared elected.”

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5 reasons why BJP managed to win Gujarat for consecutive 6th time

As predicted by exit polls, it’s a saffron sweep again, with BJP retaining Gujarat and wresting Himachal from Congress. Sure it had a bit of a shock, when Congress pulled away once and both its CM and deputy CM trailing at one point, but as they say the party with superior organisation and the better leader finally prevailed. As trends indicate, BJP will end up just short of 100, less than what it got in 2012 and much short of Amit Shah’s 150 seats target prediction. But after 22 years of anti-incumbency and battling resentment from Patidars , one suspects the saffron party will be more or less happy with this electoral win. Here are the major factors that lead to BJP’s win in Gujarat.The NaMo factor:Also readAs trends paint clear picture of BJP’s victory in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, this is how party celebratesIt may not be tsu-Namo any longer, but it’s sufficient to get BJP across the line. PM Modi did close to 40 rallies in Gujarat, criss-crossing his home state where his party was stuck on a rut. But what showed his great leadership quality truly was the ability to understand that people are veering away from BJP during the closing stages of the election. Thus came the changed narrative in the last phase of the polls bringing the Pakistan conspiracy theory and fully using the Mani Shankar Aiyar gaffe. He managed to be proactive and got Congress in the defensive. Naysayers will call it cynical politics not proper for the PM of world’s largest democracy, but he got the job done for his party, and that’s what all matters in electoral politics. BJP’s urban fortress remains intact:Also readHimachal Assembly Election 2017: What cost Congress the electionsStruggling with triple whammy of demonetization, GST and Patidar agitation, many thought BJP would fare poorly in its urban centres. As it turns out, the voters may be unhappy with BJP, but the love affair continues. A cursory look at Gujarat map shows giant cluster of saffron surrounding all the major cities. It is leading in 13 out of 16 in Surat and 17 out of 21 in Ahmedabad. BJP is down 6% from 2012 in vote share in urban seats, but Congress still lags behind. BJP has won 43 out of the 55 urban constituencies. In many places vote percentage has fallen sharply from 2012 and 2014. It’s plausible to guess that BJP supporters who are unhappy with the party but don’t want to reward the Congress, stayed away and saved Modi’s team from blushes. Hardik factor worked but only just..:The Patel factor reigned supreme in Saurashtra and North Gujarat, where the agitation started originally. In Saurashtra, BJP is set to lose around 13 seats. It is ahead only in 22, whereas it won 35 in 2012. However, in North Gujarat, the party has done decently well just dropping 2-3 seats from 2012. It has done reasonably well even in districts like Mehsana, Patan, Banaskantha. For Congress to win, Hardik’s clout needed to carry crucial seats in these district. But somehow the saffron party managed to hold on to many of the bellweather seats, thanks to older Patels voting for BJP and Hardik, who is a Kadwa Patel not getting support from Leuva Patels. Infact of the total 25 Patel dominated seats, BJP and Congress won 12 each. The state government’s good performance during the floods managed to give them brownie points in districts like Banaskantha. The party has lost only three seats in Central Gujarat, which has been a major Congress bastion. Congress couldn’t reap dividends from agrarian distress:With crops failing for two successive times, and poor MSP for cotton and groundnuts, many pundits expected the Congress to virtually sweep the rural seats. In the rural centres, in 2012, Congress was only a percentage point behind BJP in vote share. So the grand old party really had the chance to surge ahead in rural Gujarat, where the famed Gujarat model hasn’t really reached. However, the party couldn’t exactly latch on to the loose balls given by BJP and out of the 128 rural or semi-rural seats, it is leading only in 65 odd. In short, Congress needed to sweep rural Gujarat to fill the deficit of their weakness in urban pockets. But it failed in that account. Congress couldn’t decode the caste calculus:Congress before the elections had assurance of support from two of the largest caste groups, the Thakors and Patils. This along with Jignesh Mevani bringing the dalit vote should have been game-set-match for Congress. But on ground, owing to presence of rebels, poor selection of candidates and lack of proper coordination between PAAS and Congress workers, the caste advantage couldn’t be leveraged. While Mevani and Thakor both pulled through, they have some way to go before becoming cult leaders like Lalu or Mulayam, who can get the support of their entire caste group enmasse. But for Congress, the most disappointing thing would be loss of their several tall leaders. The likes of Arjun Modhwadia, Shaktisinh Gohil, Indranil Rajguru means the party is bereft of credible leaders who can tap on to popular resentment against ruling government. The Congress wanted to win this election by outsourcing it to caste leaders from outside. The gamble worked partially but failed in its core purpose, thus giving Rahul Gandhi many things to ponder upon. In the end, it was a case of a missed opportunity for Congress. It can pat on its back for winning more seats and giving BJP a real scare, but considering the anti-incumbency of 22 years , an ineffective state leadership of the saffron party and massive resentment till recently among the Patels, the Congress should and could have won easily. But BJP’s superior ground game and the Modi factor, finally got BJP home. Modi like in many of the past elections is truly the man of the match. When the dust settles, Rahul and rest will be just sideshows of the 2017 Gujarat election history.

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Gujarat Elections 2017: Hardik Patel puts blame on EVMs, vows to continue ‘struggle’

Young Patidar leader Hardik Patel on Monday alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been able to win in Gujarat Assembly elections only because of money and EVM tampering.Talking to reporters as trends showed BJP’s win in the Assembly polls, the 24-year leader said, “There has been tampering in EVMs in Surat,Rajkot and Ahmedabad, hence the gap is very less wherever tampering happened. EVMs are hackable.”He also vowed to continue his “struggle” for the people of Gujarat.Also readGujarat Elections 2017: Key candidates and their fateAs per the official trends provided by the Election Commission at 3:30 pm, the BJP has already bagged 46 seats while it is leading on 63 others. Congress has won in 42 Assembly constituencies while its candidates are leading on 35 other seats.Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) convenor urged all opposition parties to take this concern against EVMs forward. Also readGujarat Election Results 2017 LIVE: Rajnath Singh takes a dig at Rahul Gandhi, says ‘sar mundwate hi ole pade’ “If ATMs can be hacked, why can’t the EVMs,” he repeated his earlier remarks. Patel also congratulated the BJP for the win in a sarcastic tone. “I congratulate the BJP which wins the elections by tampering with the EVMs,” he said. On Saturday, Patel had also questioned Supreme Court’s decision to reject Congress’ plea, seeking cross-verification of Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trails with votes cast with Electronic Voting Machines and asked why they were used in the Gujarat elections.He had also said if EVMs were not tampered with then the exit polls’ results, which showed BJPs’ victory, would be proven wrong.Hardik Patel, who led the Patidar quota agitation last year, had extened his support to the Congress and had extensively campaigned against the ruling BJP.

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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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As trends paint clear picture of BJP’s victory in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, this is how party celebrates

The trends have started emerging and as they move in the favour of the Bhartiya Janata Party recorded, party workers had already started celebrating. BJP recorded its first official win Gujarat and festivity at party offices across the country have begun. Party workers in Madhya Pradesh are already distributing sweets as the trends show the BJP winning both in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.Fire crackers and sweets have made entry in the BJP headquarters in New Delhi too. Bucking the initial trends, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani won the Rajkot West Assembly seat in the Gujarat Election results on Monday.The early trends had shown Rupani trailing to Congress’ Indranil Rajguru.Ahead of the Gujarat verdict, Rupani sounded confident and had said that the BJP will form the government in the state again.”The results are going to be in BJP’s favour and the party will form Government in Gujarat; people of the state have chosen development” Rupani was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.On Sunday, his supporters also started a ‘Havan’ for his victory.Pitted against Rajguru, one of the wealthiest leader in the fray, Rupani bucked the anti- incumbency factor and the Patel agitation that could have tilted the balance.Gujarat has 26 parliamentary constituencies and 182 assembly constituencies.A total of 977 candidates were in the fray in the first phase of elections, out of which 57 were women candidates and over 2.22 crore people took part in the election to decide their fate. While in the second phase, 851 candidates fought, out of which 69 women candidates contested.

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Gujarat Election Results 2017 LIVE: Vijay Rupani wins prestige battle in Rajkot West

Bucking the initial trends, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani won the Rajkot West Assembly seat in the Gujarat Election results on Monday.The early trends had shown Rupani trailing to Congress’ Indranil Rajguru.Ahead of the Gujarat verdict, Rupani sounded confident and had said that the BJP will form the government in the state again.”The results are going to be in BJP’s favour and the party will form Government in Gujarat; people of the state have chosen development” Rupani was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.On Sunday, his supporters also started a ‘Havan’ for his victory.Pitted against Rajguru, one of the wealthiest leader in the fray, Rupani bucked the anti- incumbency factor and the Patel agitation that could have tilted the balance.

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Development is the mantra of today’s polity, people are with Modiji: Prakash Javadekar

Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar on Monday said that the development is the mantra of today’s polity as the BJP headed for a victory in Gujarat and was set to retain power and also stayed on course to oust the Congress in Himachal Pradesh.Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stepped out of his car, greeted the media with a ‘namastey’ and flashed a victory sign, while entering the Parliament.Also readWatch: PM Modi flashes victory sign as BJP gets unassailable lead in GujaratWith poll trends favouring the BJP in both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the results were an approval of the Modi government’s policies.Asked if the results were an approval of the Modi government’s policies, the former party president said, “Of course. It is an approval of the government.” Seeking a sixth straight term, the BJP was ahead in 100 seats while the opposition Congress is leading in 70 seats, the Election Commission (EC) trends available for 175 of the 182 seats at stake showed.The BJP has been in power in the state since 1995, winning consecutive elections in the home state of Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah.In Himachal Pradesh, the BJP was ahead in 42 seats while the ruling Congress is leading in 22.

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Assembly Elections 2017: Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti asssures EVMs cannot be tampered with

After the Congress, the AAP and Patidar leader Hardik Patel expressed apprehension that the EVMs may have been tampered, the Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti on Monday assured that the electronic voting machines (EVMs) cannot be tampered with.The CEC said, “Questions being raised about EVMs have already been answered by us in the media. VVPATs were there in every polling stations in Gujarat, which enabled voters to see whom they voted for, so issues being raised aren’t right. I assure that EVMS cannot be tampered with.” Joti added that the Gujarat Chief Electoral officer had made all arrangements at all places in counting halls in the state.Former Chief Election Commissioner Naveen Chawla also asserted that political parties or candidate tended to cry foul and blame the electronic voting machines (EVMs) when they are losing the elections. “I have observed that when a political party or a candidate lose, they tend to blame the machine and I think that’s unfair,” Naveen Chawla told ANI.He added that people should have faith not only in the Election Commission (EC) but also the courts, who have called the EVM has one of the technological wonders.”We must have faith in the EC and also in the courts as all of them have examined different aspects of EVM as well,” said the former CEC.Even Bihar CM Nitish Kumar mocked at Opposition for criticising EVMs. “Some may criticise the EVMs out of fear of defeat, but the EVMs have made elections transparent and impartial. Now, nobody can deprive anybody of the right to cast votes,” Kumar, who has predicted a comfortable majority for the BJP in Gujarat, tweeted in Hindi. According to early trends, the Congress was giving tough fight to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in both the states.The counting of votes for 68 Assembly seats in Himachal Pradesh and 182 constituencies in Gujarat began at 8 am today.The hill state went to polls on November 9 while elections were held in two phases in Gujarat on November 9 and 14 respectively.(With ANI inputs)

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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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EC pulls back Rahul Gandhi’s notice, to set up panel

Following a massive controversy over the Election Commission’s (EC) action against Congress president Rahul Gandhi over a TV interview, the poll body on Sunday sought to set up a committee to recommend modifications in Section 126 of the Representation of People Act (RPA), 1951. The section prohibits public meetings and campaigning 48 hours prior to the commencement of voting.In separate orders, the Commission withdrew its showcause notice against Rahul but rejected the Congress complaint against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP.A controversy had broken out last week, when the EC issued a showcause notice to Rahul, after TV channels in Gujarat aired his interview a day ahead of polling. The EC called it violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC). An angry Congress then charged the Commission for not acting against PM Modi, who had allegedly conducted a roadshow with BJP flags in Ahmedabad on the polling day.The Congress lambasted the EC as a “kathputli (puppet)” and “bandhak (hostage)” of the ruling BJP and the PM’s office.In two subsequent orders, the Commission, while informing the Congress that it was withdrawing the showcase notice against Rahul and advised the BJP not to make any election matter pertaining toarea going to polls during the prohibited period of 48 hours, henceforth. The EC further stated that due to the expansion of digital and electronic media, the particular act and other provisions required revisiting the Act to cater to present challenges.On the Congress complaint against the BJP releasing its manifesto, the Commission said there was no time limit prescribed in the Act for releasing poll document and no instruction of the poll panel were required in this regard. But it advised both parties to not violate the MCC by engaging in any poll-related activity during the 48-hour period before polling.To address such controversies in the future, the EC directed the government to constitute a committee, with representation from the EC, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Ministry of Law and Justice, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, and representatives of National Broadcasters Associations (NBA) and Press Council of India (PCI), to examine Section 126 in the prevailing context of communication technologies.The EC order further said the committee will also suggest required changes so that the matter can be taken up with all stakeholders, including political parties and media houses, for their views and to recommend appropriate modification in law.The section says no person shall convene, hold, attend, join, or address any public meeting or procession in connection with an election; or display to the public any election matter by means of cinematography, television, or other similar apparatus; or propagate any election matter to the public by holding, or by arranging the holding of, any musical concert or any theatrical performance or any other entertainment or amusement with a view to attract the members of the public.The provision says any such act will invite imprisonment for a term that may extend to two years or with fine, or with both.The Commission further said that “the increasing changes in the technology of communication makes it necessary that the administration and preferably the Law Commission should have another look at the Section and clarify its limits”.The EC order also mentioned past elections, such as in Bihar, where it received a flood of similar complaints. It opined that Section 126, at present, does not take into account such a communication revolution, whereas it appears imperative to revisit the provisions to appropriately address these challenges.

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Gujarat elections 2017: Cong complains, Wi-Fi suspended in Surat

After Congress candidate from Kamrej seat in Surat city Ashok Jirawala wrote to the District Election Office objecting to the presence of wifi network at a counting centre, authorities have suspended the network.Jirawala said, “We had deputed two people to keep a watch at the counting centre because we do not trust BJP as it can do anything to win. A Namo Wi-Fi was found in the range by our workers. We wrote to the concerned authorities and demanded to suspend the WiFi service in the area.”The counting for Olpad, Mandvi, Mahuva, Vyara, Kamrej and Mangrol was to be held at Gandhi Engineering College in Surat city. The WiFi network was provided on the campus for students and is named as Namo WiFi.Jirawala supported his arguments saying, “As many as 13 EVMs and VVPATs were not operating properly in Surat on the polling day. The voters and we complained to the concerned officials but they did not do anything deliberately as they all are having nexus with BJP. The voting was stopped for a few hours and many voters could not cast their votes. That was the conspiracy of BJP and now they wish to hack the EVMs through WiFi here.”After receiving the complaint letter from Jirawala, Surat collector and District Election Officer Mahendra Patel issued an order to college authorities to suspend the WiFi service from the collage campus. Patel said, “We received the complaint from Congress candidate doubting over the tampering of EVMs through WiFi. All the EVMs of six constituencies have been put inside the strong room here. The premise where the counting is going to be held in an engineering college and WiFi service also is operated by them only.””It is not possible that EVMs can be hacked or tampered through WiFi but, we ordered to suspend the service so that they do not have any discontent or objection,” Patel added.

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Gujarat and Himachal Elections 2017: Can Congress stop a saffron sweep?

Counting of votes will be held tomorrow for the Gujarat and Himachal polls. The Gujarat Poll is considered a prestige battle for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his home state and a litmus test for new Congress president Rahul Gandhi.While the BJP is seeking a sixth straight term in office, the Congress is aiming to stage a comeback in power after being in the opposition for over two decades.The results are expected to have a bearing on the 2019 parliamentary polls also as Modi had come to power in 2014, based on the Gujarat ‘model of development’.Also readGujarat Election 2017: Confident of bagging more than two-third seats, says BJPThe much-awaited results of the keenly fought elections will be announced tomorrow when the counting of votes will be held at 37 centres across the state’s 33 districts, amidst tight security.The voting was held following an acrimonious campaign, where both the main political parties indulged in no-holds- barred attacks on each other.Also readGujarat Election 2017: Exit polls are ‘nonsense’, BJP will definitely lose, says Jignesh MevaniModi led the campaign for the BJP, while Rahul Gandhi was the pivot of the Congress’ electioneering.During the campaign, Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah trained guns on the Congress on issues like Ram Temple, alleged Pakistani interference in the Gujarat polls and (suspended Congress leader) Mani Shankar Aiyar’s remarks.Also readHimachal Elections 2017: Exit Polls predict BJP will oust Congress in the hill state Gandhi persistently attacked Modi and the BJP for “not talking about the future of Gujarat” and skipping key issues being faced by the people of the state.The Congress also stitched about a broad social coalition with prominent Patidar, OBC, and Dalit leaders – Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jigesh Mevani – in its bid to unseat the BJP in power for over two decades.Patel led a long agitation of his community for reservation, while Thakor led an counter protest against inclusion of Patidars in the OBC reservation list. Mevani raised his voice against Dalit atrocities.The influential Patidar community, which accounts for around 12 per cent of the state’s population, could prove to be the ‘X factor’ in the polls in which Patel pledged support to the Congress and appealed to people to “uproot the BJP” this time.As the campaign was nearing its end, “Vikas” (development) took a back seat, and caste and religious issues received prominence.The two main rival parties also tried to counter each other on social media, as the Congress and its supporters launched the campaign “Vikas Gando Thayo Che” (development has gone crazy), while the BJP launched a counter drive of “I am development, I am Gujarat”.An average 68.41 per cent polling was recorded in the two-phase Assembly elections in Gujarat.According to the final figures released by the Election Commission, the voter turnout in the second phase of balloting on December 14, for 93 seats of North and Central Gujarat, stood at 69.99 per cent.In the first phase of polls held on December 9 for 89 seats in Saurasthra, Kutch and South Gujarat, 66.75 per cent voting was recorded.The total voter turnout this time has seen a dip of 2.91 per cent, as compared to the 2012 polls when 71.32 per cent polling was registered.In terms of numbers, of the total 4.35 crore registered voters, 2.97 crore exercised their right to franchise in the elections held on December 9 and 14.According to the EC data, the tribal-dominated Narmada district witnessed the highest voter turnout of 79.15 per cent, while Devbhumi-Dwarka of Saurashtra region recorded the lowest at 59.39 per cent.The districts which recorded a high turnout are Tapi (78.56 per cent), Banaskantha (75.15) and Sabarkantha (74.97). The districts which saw a low turnout are Amreli (61.29), Bhavnagar (61.56) and Porbandar (61.86).Out of the total 33 districts, 15 recorded over 70 per cent polling, while 17 others clocked between 60 per cent and 70 per cent.Only Devbhumi Dwarka district registered polling below 60 per cent.Counting in Himachal The fate of 337 candidates including Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his predecessor Prem Kumar Dhumal will be known tomorrow as counting of votes is taken up in Himachal Pradesh where traditional rivals BJP and Congress have contested all 68 seatsThe hill state witnessed a record 75.28 per cent turnout and pollsters have predicted a BJP vitory.Adequate security arrangements have been made for counting which would start simultaneously in all 68 constituencies at 42 counting centres.Corruption was the main focus of the BJP campaign with the party training its guns at Chief Minister Singh, while the Congress hit out at the BJP over the issue of GST and demonetisation.The BSP contested 42 seats followed by the CPI(M) 14, the Swabhiman party and the Lok Gathbandhan Party six each and the CPI-3.Out of 67 sitting MLAs, 60 MLAS, nine cabinet ministers, HPCC president Sukhvinder Singh Sukkhu, state BJP chief, Satpal Singh Satti, Deputy Speaker, Jagat Singh Negi and eight Chief Parliamentary Secretaries (CPS) contested the poll along with a dozen former ministers.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.There are 25 Congress, 28 BJP and four independent MLAs in the outgoing house while one seat was lying vacant after death of former minister Karan Singh from Banjar.Sitting Rajya Sabha member Viplov Thakur(Congress), former Lok Sabha members, Chander Kumar(Congress and Dr Rajan Shushant (Independent) and former Rajya Sabha member Kripal Parmar(BJP) are also among key contestants.While the BJP is confident of winning the polls with a comfortable majority, the Congress has rejected the exit-polls and claimed that it was all set to repeat.The 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 2007.2,820 counting staff has been deployed for tomorrow’s exercise which includes counting supervisors, counting assistants and micro observers.Chief Electoral Officer, Pushpender Rajput said three- tier security arrangements have been made at all counting centres.He said wire mesh barricading has been done at counting centers and there was a separate entry passage for counting staff and counting agents.Videography and CCTV coverage will be done in all counting centres.

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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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Gujarat Elections 2017: Over 70% voter turnout in re-polling at six booths

More than 70% voter turnout was recorded in the re-polling held today at six polling booths in four Assembly constituencies of Gujarat, said officials.Following the Election Commission’s (EC) directive yesterday, the polling was held at two booths each in Vadgam and Savli constituencies and one each in Viramgam and Daskroi constituencies.While the Chhaniyana-1 and 2 booths of the Vadgam seat clocked a 74 and 73 per cent voter turnout respectively, booth number 27 in Viramgam recorded an 83-per cent turnout, said Gujarat’s Chief Electoral Officer B B Swain.Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani is contesting from the Vadgam (SC) seat as an Independent candidate supported by the Congress.The Nava Naroda booth of the Daskroi seat registered a 73-per cent voter turnout, while the Nhara and Sankrada booths in Savli constituency registered a 71 and 75 per cent voter turnout respectively.Also readGujarat Elections 2017: Wi-Fi service suspended at Surat college following complaint of EVM hackingThe re-polling was held from 8 am till 5 pm.The EC had yesterday ordered the re-polling after the second phase of voting in the Gujarat Assembly polls, covering 93 seats of central and north Gujarat, on December 14.Also readGujarat Elections 2017: All eyes on Modi’s home state as stage set for counting tomorrowHowever, the poll panel did not specify the reason for the fresh polling at these six booths.The EC had also directed that the voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) slips of 10 booths in seven constituencies be taken into consideration during tomorrow’s counting of votes as the presiding officers of these booths had failed to wipe out the votes cast during the mock poll from the control units.In the first phase on December 9, polling was held for the 89 seats of Saurashtra, Kutch and south Gujarat.The counting of votes for all the 182 Assembly seats will be taken up tomorrow.

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RK Nagar By-poll: AIADMK distributrd Rs 100 crore among voters, alleges DMK’s Stalin; seeks ‘appropriate action’

DMK working president MK Stalin has alleged that the ruling AIADMK distributed over Rs 100 crore to voters ahead of the by-election in Chennai’s RK Nagar. In a letter to the Election Commission, Stalin claimed that the AIADMK paid Rs 6,000 to each voter.Stalin has asked the polls body to take appropriate action against AIADMK candidate E Madhusudhanan.”Take appropriate and necessary action against AIADMK and the erring officials and to ensure free and fair election RK Nagar Assembly Constituency,” he said in the letter.The RK Nagar Assembly constituency, which was represented by former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, goes to the bypoll on December 21. DMK is going all out to wrest the seat from its arch rival after over two decades. AIADMK is also leaving no stone unturned to retain the seat. Also read RK Nagar by-poll: Madras HC dismisses plea to disqualify AIADMK and DMK candidates Chief Minister Palaniswami, his deputy O Panneerselvam and ministers are criss crossing congested lanes and by lanes of RK Nagar in Chennai. At the same time, AIADMK sidelined group, led by T T V Dhinakaran, is trying hard to prove to his rivals in mainstream AIADMK that he is the heir to Jayalalithaa’s welfare legacy. Also readRK Nagar Bypoll: 59 candidates in the fray for Jaya’s vacated seatDhinakaran, nephew of jailed leader V K Sasikala and contesting as an independent, is campaigning with vigour. Madusudanan, ruling AIADMK candidate, is also banking on his popularity in North Chennai, besides his party’s strength. Also readRejected, accepted, rejected: Drama unfolds over Vishal’s election nomination papers for RK Nagar bypollDMK nominee Marudu Ganesh, also a local up and coming party functionary, has accused the ruling regime of graft and assures he will address people’s issues, all of which have been left “unaddressed” by the ruling party. Jayalalithaa won the seat by a huge margin of 1.5 lakh votes in the 2015 bypoll. She retained it by a reduced margin of about 40,000 votes last year. From 1991 till the last year’s Assembly election, DMK has won the seat only once in 1996. In 2015, P Vetrivel (AIADMK) vacated the seat to pave the way for Jayalalithaa to contest after she was acquitted by the Karnataka High Court in disproportionate assets case. (With PTI inputs)

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You can’t get a better result: Captain Amarinder ecstatic after Congress sweeps Punjab civic polls

On Sunday, Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh was ecstatic after Congress’ impressive performance in Punjab Civic Polls.He said: “Election results have been very good, we are very pleased. You can’t get a better result than this. Out of three corporations, we have swept polls and won all of them.”He added: “In Patiala, out of 60 seats, 56 results are declared, won those 56. Similarly, in Jalandhar, out of 80, 77 are declared and 63 we have won. In Amritsar, out of 85, 61 have been declared, 45 we have won.”He also tweeted: Meanwhile, SAD’s Sukbhir Singh Badal alleged booth capturing. He said: “It was organised booth capturing. We told EC that they are not letting our candidates file nominations. 20% candidates weren’t able to file nominations, some nominations were rejected & some candidates were arrested but state EC did nothing.” He added: “Our candidates & polling agents were thrown out of booths, media persons were beaten & booth was captured at every place. For the 1st time, state EC & govt became one & captured EVMs. We are going to High Court against this criminal conspiracy.”Ruling Congress today swept the three municipal corporations of Amritsar, Jalandhar and Patiala while the opposition SAD-BJP alleged misuse of official machinery.The Congress virtually swept the wards in the three important corporations as results were out by late evening, prompting celebrations in the ruling camp.The results come as a boost for the Amarinder Singh led government in the state. The opposition alliance, however, alleged gross poll code violations and demanded countermanding of the Patiala corporation elections.Polling was also held in 29 municipal councils and nagar panchayats today, amid tight security arrangements.Among the three municipal corporations, Patiala registered the highest poll percentage of over 62.22 per cent followed by Jalandhar at 57.2 and Amritsar at 51 per cent while the voting percentage in the municipal councils and nagar panchayats ranged between 60-86 per cent.Also readPunjab can fund education of children of soldiers killed in action if Centre can’t: Amarinder SinghIn Patiala, the Congress won 58 wards while the opposition failed to open account. In Jalandhar, 66 wards fell into the Congress’s kitty followed by 8 which went to BJP and four to their ally SAD.In Amritsar, Congress won 69 while 12 went to the SAD-BJP alliance.The voting started at 8 AM and continued till 4 PM, a spokesman of the state election commission said here.Tight security arrangements were made to ensure fair and free polling, which by and large remained peaceful barring a stray incident, officials said.The main political outfits in the state: ruling Congress, SAD-BJP and AAP, were contesting the polls on their party symbols.A total of 8,000 election staff and 15,500 police personnel were deployed at the polling stations. The Election Commission had ordered videography of 103 hyper-sensitive wards.Polling was held for 222 wards out of the 225 wards of the three municipal corporations and 327 wards of the 29 municipal councils and nagar panchayats.In 90 wards, the candidates had earlier won unopposed, Of these, three were in the Patiala Municipal Corporation and 87 in municipal councils and the nagar panchayats.Nearly 900 candidates were in fray for the elections to the three municipal corporations – Amritsar, Patiala and Jalandhar.The civic polls in the state were held nine months after the state assembly elections after which the Congress stormed to power in the state.Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh hailed the poll results as a “clear vindication of the Congress policies and a resounding defeat of the opposition’s deceitful propaganda.”Meanwhile, SAD-BJP demanded countermanding of the Patiala corporation elections.A SAD-BJP delegation submitted a memorandum to State Election Commissioner Jagpal Singh Sandhu here and also sat on a dharna outside his office.The SAD-BJP leaders claimed they had vidoegraphic evidence of alleged blatant rigging and violence in Patiala.Former minister and SAD leader Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, who led the SAD-BJP delegation, said “the Congress had murdered democracy in the state by using the police force to commit atrocities on Akali-BJP cadre”.Cheema said that even former SAD mayor from Patiala, Amarinder Singh Bajaj, was manhandled.He alleged that in Mullanpur Dakha a SAD candidate’s mother was attacked and injured by Congress supporters.”Similarly SAD polling agents were attacked by Congressmen in Sahnewal who barged into their booths with a group of outsiders. In Ghanour, when Akali-BJP supporters protested casting of fake votes they were thrashed..,” he alleged adding the SAD-BJP would now take recourse to democratic protests as well as legal remedy.BJP demanded a repoll in Patiala, Ghagga and some wards in Mullanpur Dakha and Jalandhar, alleging violation of model code and misuse of machinery by the ruling Congress.Former Chief Minister Parkash Badal described the entire process of civic poll as “utterly uncivilised” and a huge blow to democracy in Punjab.”This day will be remembered as a black Sunday for democracy in Punjab,” Badal said in a statement here.The AAP also alleged misuse of government machinery by the ruling Congress.Meanwhile, Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar thanked the people and party workers for ensuring smooth and impressive turnout in the polls, “despite the efforts by the Akalis to scuttle the poll process through threats, violence and rumour mongering in some areas.”He said the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had lost its ground completely in Punjab, as in the rest of the country.With inputs from PTI

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Gujarat Elections 2017: Re-polling on six polling stations underway

The re-polling at six polling stations of Gujarat commenced today.It is being conducted in Vadgam, Viramgam, Daskroi and Savli polling stations.The re-polling was ordered on Friday late night, citing technical reasons, where the Election Commission annulled the polling data that was present in the EVMs.Ahead of re-polling in the areas of Gujarat, security has been beefed up with polling agents, officers and police jawans prepared and stationed at their respective places for the elections.Elections were held in these six polling stations in the second phase of Gujarat Assembly polls on December 14.Apart from this, counting of votes will be done through counting of slips in VVPAT in 10 polling stations in Visnagar, Becharaji, Modasa, Vejalpur, Vatva, Jamalpur-Khadia, Savli and Sankheda as the presiding officers did not clear from the control unit the votes that were cast during mock poll, the poll commission added.The results of the Gujarat Assembly election will be announced on December 18.

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

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

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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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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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Gujarat Elections 2017: Exit polls predict BJP win for sixth time in a row

What was predicted to be a real keen contest between BJP and Congress in Gujarat, may actually have ended up as a virtual rerun of 2012, if the exit polls are to be believed. Most of the polls predict BJP winning around 110 seats, touch short of 115 it won in the last assembly polls. Today’s Chanakya though has predicted a two-third mandate for BJP predicting that the party will win 135 seats. Here’s what the exit polls of the major agencies predicted:Also readAs Gujarat campaign progressed, we saw complete bankruptcy in BJP: Rahul Gandhi in Kerala Agency BJP Congress Others Today’s Chanakya 135 47 0 Times Now-VMR 113 66 3 ABP-CSDS 117 64 1 NewsX 110-120 65-75 2-4 Sahara Samay-CNX 110-120 65-75 C Voter 108 74 News Nation 124-128 52-56 1-3 India Today-Axis 99-113 68-82 1-4 So all 8 exit polls predict a clear win for BJP, though most predict Congress to do better in terms of vote share than 2012. But their seats aren’t really increasing and that would be a major cause of concern for Congress President-elect Rahul Gandhi if these results turn out to be correct. Today’s Chanakya has the most lavish prediction for BJP and expect them to win 135. The Axis survey actually shows BJP trailing Congress in Saurashtra and North Gujarat. They also have the most conservative estimate for BJP, with lower range of 99. The election result will be published on 18th Gujarat, and we will know soon if the polls got it right. Gujarat recorded an estimated 68.70 per cent voter turnout in the second and final phase of polling for 93 Assembly seats today, the Election Commission said. The figure is likely to go up as details are still being worked out, Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha told reporters here. The 93 seats are spread across north and central Gujarat.Around 2.22 crore people were eligible to exercise their franchise to choose their representatives from among 851 candidates in the fray. With PTI inputs

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You loved it when same EC declared Ahmed Patel a winner: BJP slams Congress over ‘puppet’ comment

The BJP today lashed out at the Congress after it accused the Election Commission of acting like a “puppet” of the government, and said the opposition party was looking for excuses before its impending defeat in the Gujarat polls.A party delegation, which included Cabinet ministers Nirmala Sitharaman, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi among others, also met the Election Commission to refute the charges levelled by the Congress against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other leaders.Though the delegation members did not speak to media on record, sources said they submitted a memorandum to the EC where they accused the opposition party of misleading the poll watchdog and called the attack on it “unfortunate”. Also readGujarat Elections 2017: Congress files anticipatory complaint with EC against PM Modi’s ‘roadshow’BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimhra Rao launched a sharp attack on the Congress, saying its “dynastic arrogance” was on display in its attack on the EC.The party should find better excuses for its “impending defeat”, he said and deprecated “verbal abuse” by the Congress.The Congress was upset because the EC dared to serve notice to “King Rahul”, Rao claimed.Also readGujarat elections 2017: ‘Modi, Modi’ chants and 500-metre walk – When PM Narendra Modi stood in queue to cast his vote “Sheer pettiness of the Congress to call the EC names is glaring. You loved it when the same EC declared Ahmed Patel a winner in the Rajya Sabha poll. Why are you taking out your anger now on it for the (people) spontaneous support to the PM?”Isn’t it too much to expect the EC to act as Parivar’s Darbaris (courtiers of the family)?” he tweeted.Also readGujarat elections 2017: PM Modi’s mother Heeraben casts her vote in GandhinagarThe Congress today said the Election Commission was a BJP “puppet” as the party criticsed it for not acting against Modi after he hed a “roadshow” in Gujarat. After casting his vote at Sabarmati in Ahmedabad district, the prime minister was seen walking some distance and greeting people standing on both sides of the road outside the polling booth. Later, he stood on the foot-board of his car and waved to the crowd.

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Gujarat elections 2017: ‘Modi, Modi’ chants and 500-metre walk – When PM Narendra Modi stood in queue to cast his vote

Amid loud cheers and ‘Modi, Modi’ chants, it was a grand homecoming for Prime Minister Narendra as he visited Sabarmati’s Ranip to cast his vote in the second phase of the Gujarat Assembly Elections on Thursday.Hundreds of voters lined up on both sides of the roads leading up to the booth number 115 in Ranip area to catch a glimpse of the Prime Minister.Smiling and waving to the crowd, PM Modi stood in the queue to cast his vote. Later, he walked around 500 metre right outside the polling booth to his cavalcade showing his inked finger to the loud cheers. Many were seen clicking photos of the Prime Minister.The Congress has termed the walk as a ‘roadshow’ and called it a breach of the poll codes. Addressing the media, senior Congress leader Randeep Surjewala slammed the Prime Minister. Another party leader Ashok Gehlot said that ‘the Election Commission it seems is working under pressure from PM and PMO.”There are reports that the poll panel will look into the allegations made by the Congress. Earlier in the day, senior-most BJP leaders were seen casting their votes in the second phase of Gujarat elections.The biggies include BJP president Amit Shah, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and LK Advani.After an acrimonious campaign, voting for the second and final phase of the Gujarat assembly elections is under way today in 93 seats in North and Central Gujarat.Around 2.22 crore voters are eligible to exercise franchise today to choose between the two main contenders, the BJP and the Congress.A total of 851 candidates are in the fray for the second phase.The first phase of voting, held on December 9, covered 89 seats of the 182-member House.The election is being seen as a “prestige battle” for Prime Minister Modi and a litmus test for the leadership of Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi.In the 2012 Assembly polls, the BJP won 115 seats while the Congress bagged 61. The votes will be counted on December 18.

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

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

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On the election trail with Gujarat’s women bikers

Why are girls dropping out of school in the Indian prime minister’s home state? The BBC and four women bikers hit the election trail to find out.

Election Commission to ‘examine’ Rahul Gandhi’s interviews with Gujarati channels after BJP complaint

The Election Commission on Wednesday said it it is looking into the complaints regarding the alleged violation of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 by Congress President-elect Rahul Gandhi whose interview with Gujarati TV channels was telecast after the campaigning for the Gujarat Assembly elections closed on Tuesday evening. BB Swain,Chief Electoral Officer of Gujarat, said the poll body has collected the DVDs of the interviews and is looking into the matter. “We have got a complaint regarding telecast of an interview. We have collected the DVDs. We will be doing due examination and look into whether it has violated Rules 126 RP Act or not,” Swain said. Earlier, Union Minister Piyush Goyal alleged said it is not permitted to give an interview after the campaigning has ended. “It was not permitted to give an interview in the last 48 hours of campaigning in Gujarat. I am sure the Election Commission will take cognizance of this and take an action,” Goyal said. The campaigning for the Gujarat Assembly elections drew close on Tuesday evening. Reacting to the BJP charge, Congress said the ruling party is using the “EC as a tool for its political gains.” Also readGujarat polls: Rahul hopes for ‘zabardast result’; give a fitting reply to opposition’s lies, says Modi“When Congress President-elect Rahul Gandhi gave interviews to a few Gujarati news channels, BJP, in the name of Election Commission, threatened to jail the journalists of those channels for broadcasting it. We condemn this arrogant behavior of BJP,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.Rahul’s interview with two regional channels, including Zee Kalak, was telecast on Wednesday. Speaking to Zee Kalak, Zee media group’s Gujarati channel, Rahul said this Gujarat 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.Gandhi, who will formally take over as party president later this week, said he believes in the truth and speaks the truth.Voting for 93 seats of 182-member Gujarat Assembly will take place tomorrow and the results for elections will be announced on December 18.

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12 special courts to try cases against politicians: Govt to Supreme Court

The Centre Tuesday told the Supreme Court that it will set up 12 special courts to speed up trials in pending cases involving MPs and MLAs in the country.These special courts would adjudicate 1571 criminal cases pending against lawmakers. The scheme for establishing these special courts is ready, the court was told. Decisions regarding requirement of additional courts will be taken in due course.According to the affidavit, more time was required to compile the nationwide data on pendency of cases against MLAs and MPs.According to data compiled by Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), affidavits filed by politicians at the time of submitting nomination papers for 2014 general election and Assembly polls showed that 1,581 cases were pending against politicians. Ten cases were later dropped due to death of the politicians named in the cases.It may be recalled that the Supreme Court had asked the Centre and the Election Commission for their response to a PIL seeking to restrain convicted politicians from holding any posts in political parties.The PIL sought directions to the Centre and the Election Commission to frame guidelines to decriminalise the electoral system and ensure inner-party democracy as proposed by the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC).The petition also named several politicians who have been convicted or have charges framed against them but continue to hold posts in political parties and “wielding political power.” It points out that now even a person who has been convicted for heinous crimes like murder, rape, smuggling, money laundering, loot, sedition, or dacoity can form a political party and become its president.

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Govt to set up 12 special courts to fast-track pending criminal cases against lawmakers

The Narendra Modi-led government on Tuesday told Supreme Court that it will set up 12 special courts in a year to fast-track the pending criminal cases against MPs and MLAs.These special courts will decide the pending 1,581 criminal cases against lawmakers and trial will be completed in a year. The document, filed through Reeta Vasishta, Additional Secretary of Ministry of Law and Justice, said that as per the scheme, “12 special courts for a period of one year” shall be set up to dispose of cases against politicians.The government’s affidavit said that the figure of 1,581 cases has been obtained from an NGO but the data as to in which courts these cases are pending is not available.”It is difficult to gather the facts and figures required for the purpose of answering the queries mentioned in the order of the court.”Since the states in which these cases are pending is available, the ministry has initiated action by seeking to collect the requisite details from the respective state governments,” the affidavit said.The Centre informed the apex court that the special courts will be set up at the an expenditure of Rs 7.8 crore and the financial ministry have already approved the funds.The Supreme Court had also asked the Centre to set up an elaborative plan for speedy disposal of cases.In November, the apex court gave the government six weeks time to submit a plan to set up the special courts.The top court was hearing a petition from Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, a lawyer and a member of the BJP, who urged for a lifetime ban on convicted lawmakers. The present law imposes 6 years ban on politicians involved in criminal cases.The petition had also sought a direction to the Centre and the EC to fix minimum educational qualification and a maximum age limit for persons contesting polls. The Election Commission had supported the lifetime ban and said it is a necessary step to decriminalise politics and politicians. EC also said said they have already made recommendations on this to the Centre.The political career of RJD chief and former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and VK Sasikala who is in jail on corruption charges will be over if the court decides on a life-time ban.(With inputs from PTI)

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Rahul Gandhi likely to assume reins of Congress on December 16

Rahul Gandhi is likely to assume the reins of the Congress on December 16, marking a generational shift in the grand old party when his mother and its longest-serving president would formally hand over the baton to him.While pageantry would herald the dawn of a new era in the party which has ruled the country for over half-a-century since independence, the 47-year-old scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family will face the daunting task of restoring lost glory to the party whose fortunes have been dwindling in the recent past.Today, the party, which once controlled almost the entire country, has its governments in just five states and the Union Territory of Puducherry.The announcement of Rahul Gandhi’s elevation, however, is likely to be made tomorrow, the last date of withdrawal of nomination for the election of the Congress president which is a one horse race.Altogether 89 nominations received in his favour were found to be valid during scrutiny.The Congress’ Central Election Authority chairman Mullapally Ramachandran, and CEA members Madhusudan Mistry and Bhubaneswar Kalita will announce that Gandhi’s was the only nomination for the top job tomorrow.Also readGujarat Elections 2017 | PM Modi resorting to bhashan ka shasan, says Rahul GandhiRahul Gandhi would, however, be handed over the certificate appointing him the party president on December 16 in the presence of Sonia Gandhi and other senior leaders, Ramachandran said.Sonia Gandhi will officially hand over the mantle of the 132-year-old party to her son around 11 AM after which Rahul Gandhi will meet leaders from across the country at the Congress’s headquarters, party sources said.The Congress has been losing state after state since the 2014 Lok Sabha election with the exception of Punjab.Rahul Gandhi’s elevation would come just two days ahead of the counting of votes for the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly poll.A sure-footed Rahul Gandhi powered a spirited campaign for the Congress in Gujarat, and a win in the election, which many analysts say could be dead heat between the two parties, would come as a massive boost for him.Also readOnly Rahulji can be Cong President: Party leader Ayub Ali claims his application for post was rejected”Delivering in Gujarat will be important as it is the immediate test facing Rahul Gandhi, who has mounted a strong anti-BJP campaign in the state and led personally from the front. We are looking at victory in Gujarat,” said a Congress leader and former chief minister. Mahila Congress chief and party spokesperson Sushmita Dev said reorganising the party would be another major task for him.”Every post comes with a challenge. He has to rebuild the party at the grassroots and strengthen the ideological base.His undisputed election as party president is a sign of his strength. He will have to take everyone along from the AICC level right up to the states,” she told PTI.Striking a balance between the old guard and the young leaders would be a key to running the organisation which has many seasoned politicians whose wisdom he could use as he steers the party.Gandhi had said in the past that he would draw upon a blend of experience of the old and the energy of the young.”Initial signs are encouraging since he put veterans like Ashok Gehlot and Sushil Kumar Shinde in charge of elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh respectively and was willing to bank on them,” said a leader. He also got appointed young leaders as secretaries.Clarity on the party’s ideological stand on the issue of Hindutva would also be important as he is being seen as projecting the Congress’s soft Hindutva with his visit to temples in Gujarat. He has also proclaimed himself a “Shiv bhakt”.These visits are also being seen as an attempt to blunt the BJP’s accusation against the party of Muslim appeasement.”This is to course-correct after it was felt that an overtly pro-minority image of the Congress undermined its electoral prospects on the eve of 2014 Lok Sabha elections,” a party veteran noted, adding cobbling together electoral alliances will also be key to the future growth of the party.Another former union minister said every state had its own set of challenges and Gandhi would be expected to take informed decisions in each by taking everyone along.Gandhi has already been taking all major decisions in the party even though his formal elevation was delayed due to a long-drawn internal election process.The deadline set by the Election Commission for conclusion of the organisational elections in the Congress expires on December 31.Organisational elections in the Congress were due in 2015. The party constitution provides for elections to be held every five years. The last such polls were held in 2010.Rahul Gandhi, who was initially hesitant about taking over the reins from Sonia Gandhi, who held the party s top post for 19 years, will be the sixth member and fifth generation leader of the Nehru-Gandhi clan to occupy the post.These include Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and now Rahul Gandhi.Some eminent leaders who held the post in the pre- independence era included Mahatma Gandhi, Subhas Chandra Bose, Abul Kalam Azad, Vallabhai Patel and Rajendra Prasad.Eminent people like Madan Mohan Malviya, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Dadabhai Naoroji, Annie Besant and Womesh Chandra Bonnerjee, the first party president, also led the party in the pre-independence era.

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Gujarat Elections 2017: PM Modi thanks people for turning out in record numbers

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today thanked the people of Gujarat for turning out in record numbers for voting in the first phase of the state polls.”Thank you Gujarat! Gratitude to my sisters and brothers of Gujarat for voting in record numbers today. I am seeing that BJP is headed towards a historic victory, powered by the affection and support of every Gujarati,” he tweeted.Earlier in the day, he had urged the youth to turn out in large numbers to cast their vote.On polling days, Modi usually tweets exhorting people to exercise their right to vote.Eighty-nine seats went to polls today in phase one of the election. The second phase is on December 14, when voting will be held in the remaining 93 seats.

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Gujarat Elections 2017: Morbi village boycotts election to protest water woes

Zero voting was recorded at Gajadi village in district of Gujarat today as the locals, fed up with water shortage, boycotted polling.While long lines were seen outside polling booths in Saurashtra and South Gujarat in the first phase of Assembly polls, none among the 1,000 registered voters in Gajadi turned up to cast vote, officials said.The village, though situated in Tankara tehsil of Morbi, comes under Kalavad constituency of Jamnagar district.The district administration said they tried their best to persuade villagers to vote.”Villagers had announced a few months ago that they will refrain from voting. Their main grievance was about water supply. Though the village is being supplied water through a pipeline, they claimed it was not enough and demanded another pipeline,” said Morbi Collector and District Election Officer I K Patel.Also readGujarat Elections 2017: Phase 1 comes to an end; Porbandar, Botad see lowest voter turnout, highest in Navasari, Morbi”Even today senior officials went to the village and urged them to cast vote. But no one turned up at the polling booth,” he added.”When we told them there are plans to lay a new pipeline, villagers asked us to give the assurance on paper. As the model code of conduct was in place, it was not possible to give it in writing. Such an assurance on the day of polling would also set a wrong precedent,” the Collector added.

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Heard EVMs are picking up gravitational waves: Twitter in splits after Congress leader thought Bluetooth could hack EVMs

The Election Commission (EC) in Gujarat said that an inquiry found that the apprehension about possible EVM tampering through Bluetooth technology, raised by opposition Congress, was baseless.The device which the complainant’s mobile phone detected after putting on Bluetooth was not an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) but a mobile phone, carried by a polling agent, the commission said.Twitter as usual, had a host of jokes for the occasion, given EVMs special powers from being to able to download movies to chugging Old Monk.Check out some of the best ones: Earlier, as voting for 89 seats in the first phase of Gujarat Assembly elections was underway, senior Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia complained of possible EVM tampering at three polling booths in a Muslim-dominated area of Porbandar, a seat he is contesting.Some EVMs were found to be connecting with external devices such as mobile phones through Bluetooth, he had claimed.Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) B B Swain told reporters this evening that as per the report of an inquiry it ordered, the mobile phone of the complainant was detecting — when its Bluetooth was activated — another device identified as ‘ECO 105’.”ECO 105 was feared to be the EVM at the polling booth, giving rise to the fear of possible tampering through Bluetooth technology,” Swain said.The collector and observer were sent to the booths from where complaints were received, and the complainant was also called.An inquiry was conducted in front of local media, and the report submitted by the District Election Officer (DEO) is that a polling agent was carrying a mobile phone of Intex company, bearing model number ECO 105, he said.”A polling agent named Manoj Singrakhiya was carrying the mobile phone. He was in the close vicinity of the phone of the complainant….The complainant might have thought that ‘EC’ in ECO stands for Election Commission,” Swain said.Modhwadia had said that complainants found that EVMs at three polling booths in Memanwada, a Muslim-dominated area, connected with external devices through Bluetooth.This meant EVMs can be tampered with through Bluetooth, he had said. “The chips fitted in EVMs appear to be programmable using Bluetooth, and this raises the possibility of tampering. The voting system should be immune to such connectivity to external devices,” he had said.The ruling BJP had dismissed Modhwadia’s complaint saying it showed the Congress was looking for an excuse.”Congress is searching for an excuse even before the results are out, as it stares at a loss in the elections,” said BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra.With inputs from PTI

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Gujarat Elections 2017: EC disposes Congress leader’s ‘Bluetooth EVM’ hacking complaint after investigation

The chief electoral officer in Gujarat BB Swain came on record to give the status on the complaint filed by Congress in Porbandar about the Bluetooth-operated EVMs. In a press conference, Swain said that it was the misunderstanding as a polling agent deputed at the polling station was carrying a mobile phone of Intex company with the model name ECO105, which created the confusion.Swain also said that the report to ECI has been sent on the status of the complaint that it has been disposed after proper investigation. The complaint had been lodged by Congress leader Arjun Modhwalia who had claimed EVMs in three polling booths were connected to an external device via Bluetooth. Swain, addressed a press conference at his office in Gandhinagar on Saturday and said, “Because, the Bluetooth mobile device was carrying the model name ECO105, which belonged to a polling agent of one party, it was reflected in the mobile instrument of a complainant. Because the initials of the model name resembled with EC, they filed a complaint but ultimately the matter is disposed after thorough checking by the experts.”Also readGujarat Elections 2017: Meet 126-year-old Ajiben Chandravadia, ‘oldest voter’ in the world “The election commission took this complaint very seriously and the district collector with returning officer reached the polling station and senior expert engineers of BEL reached for the investigation of the case. The complainant and local media persons also were kept present during the fact checking process and the mobile device having ECO105 model name was found ultimately. We have sent this concluding report to the Election Commission of India also,” added Swain.The complaint of EVMs being operated through Bluetooth technology was filed by the Congress candidate Arjun Modhwadia to the Election Commission. Senior Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia had complained of possible EVM tampering at three polling booths in a Muslim-dominated area of Porbandar claiming that some machines were found to be connecting to external devices via Bluetooth.Also readWATCH | Gujarat Elections 2017: Cricketer Cheteshwar Pujara casts his vote in Rajkot”We detected that the EVMs at three polling booths at Memanwada, a Muslim-dominated area, are connected to external devices through Bluetooth. When the Bluetooth of a mobile phone is turned on, a device named ‘ECO 105’ is shown as available,” Modhwadia, the Congress candidate from Porbandar, said. This clearly means that the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) can be tampered with using the device via Bluetooth, he alleged.”The chips fitted in the EVMs appear to be programmable using Bluetooth, and this raises the possibility of tampering. The voting system should be immune to such connectivity to external devices,” he said.Also readGujarat Elections 2017 | Congress asks for mobile jammers outside rooms guarding EVMs to prevent riggingThe CEO also mentioned that the progressive and constant voting has been observed throughout the Gujarat. By 2:00pm, the average voting was recorded at 45.61%. He said that the number of voting turnout was considerably good and expected to remain high during last hours of polling.With inputs from PTI

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Gujarat Elections 2017 | Congress asks for mobile jammers outside rooms guarding EVMs to prevent rigging

The Congress has reportedly requested the Election Commission to install cell phone jammers outside rooms that guard the electronic voting machines (EVMs) fearing rigging, an NDTV report has revealed.According to the report, the Congress made a special request to the Election Commission, who confirmed it to the news channel. The Commission, however, maintained that the EVMs were tamper-proof and adequate security measures had been taken.The Election Commission rules permit all parties to check EVMs before elections as a procedure. The Congress says that it wants VVPAT slips to be manually counted after voting, the report added.Also readGujarat Elections 2017 | PM Modi appeals voters to turn out in large numbers during Phase 1Over 2 crore voters will decide the fate of 977 candidates in the Phase 1 of the elections. The polling will begin at 8 am and will conclude at 5 pm. Along with the Electronic Voting Machine, the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail will also be used during the polling.Security has been beefed up in the state to ward off any untoward incidents and maintain law and order. Security personnel have been deployed to maintain peaceful atmosphere for the smooth conduct of elections. CCTV cameras have also been installed for effective monitoring and surveillance.Also readLIVE: Gujarat Elections 2017- Polling for 89 seats continues; EVM glitches at some booths delay votingConcerns over the rigging of EVMs began after the BJP won a record 325 out of the 403 seats in the state. The Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party alleged that the EVMs and been rigged. Similarly, the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi party had alleged rigging of EVM machines and even gave a demonstration inside the Delhi Assembly a month later.Gujarat votes in two phases on Saturday and next Thursday. Results will be declared on December 18.

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Gujarat elections 2017 | DNA IMPACT: EC turns off ‘Ramkatha’ during polling

The Election Commission has directed the organisers of Morari Bapu’s Ramkatha in Surat not to hold it on Saturday until the first phase polling of the Gujarat Assembly elections does not come to an end.The DNA had first reported on November 14 that Ramkatha was being organised in Surat in the middle of a busy election schedule from December 2 to 10 and might create problems as the polling day in Surat happens to be on December 9.The move had ignited a debate in Surat over whether the Ramkatha was being organised to change the discourse from agitation to patriotism. It is being organised by pro-RSS Veer Maruti Jawan Trust of diamond merchants and builders to raise Rs 200 crore to honour and help Army martyrs’ families.It also raising funds to help the descendants of great patriots such as Rani Laxmi Bai and the families of Bhagat Singh, Raj Guru and Sukhdev.Moreover, Morari Bapu is also considered close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.EC sources said though the Commission had not given any instructions not to allow candidates from participating in it, they deliberately kept out of it knowing that their participation would be deemed as electoral campaigning and the day’s expenses of Ramkatha would be counted in their election expenses.With candidates allowed to spend only up to Rs 28 lakh, participation in Ramkatha for a single session could send their election expenses swelling by Rs 1.4 crore (total cost of holding 10 day Ramkatha has been pegged at Rs 14 crore by the organisers) which may result in the cancellation of their candidature.However, this does not explain the Surat police stopping Patidar youth leader Hardik Patel, who is not even fighting elections, from entering the Ramkatha on Friday.Hardik tweeted on Friday morning, “Just now I was going to attend Morari Bapu’s Ramkatha in Surat, but police stopped me and said the model code of conduct was in force, you cannot go. Model code even in religious matters. Ram Ram.”Incidentally, Ramkatha is being organised at Surat’s Varachha Road which is dominated by the Patidar community and has been one of the epicentres of anti-BJP protests.

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Gujarat elections 2017 | Cong should not have fallen into BJP’s Hindutva trap: Shankersinh Vaghela

Shankersinh Vaghela (77) once a potential chief ministerial candidate both in the BJP and then in the Congress is now waging a lonely, almost lost battle in the bi-polar political arena of Gujarat. DNA catches up with the ‘Bapu’ of Gujarat politics in Gandhinagar.Vaghela is unfazed with virtually no possibility of any of his 100 candidates winning a seat or tepid response in his public rallies, insisting no one should run away from doing an “experiment” He praised both Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi, saying some people with an influence on the Congress high command, forced him to quit.This time you, rather your candidates are in the fray for the first time without the backing of any major party. Do you feel the difference?The big difference is that having seen the functioning of both major national parties, I am now going for this new experiment. Sycophancy rules in the national parties in the name of the high command. While political parties are must in a democracy, there is no democracy in political parties. You saw leaders in both parties avoiding party workers when they faced anger after ticket distribution. What kind of candidates are you fielding that you have to seek protection against them? Then what will such elected representatives do to people?How do you see this election campaign going on in Gujarat. Have you seen such sharp election campaigns in the past.What election campaign? Where are the people’s issues. One is calling the other ‘chor’, the other is calling back the first ‘Mahchor’. So are the people expected to choose between ‘thag’ and ‘mahathag’.You quit Congress ahead of Assembly polls. Now there is a buzz that Rahul Gandhi is getting quite some traction in Gujarat and the election is a tight one. Rahul Gandhi has visited a number of temples. Your views?There was no need for Congress to fall into this Hidutva trap of BJP. If the discourse is between “Naram Hindu” (soft Hindutva) and “Garam Hindu” (hard core Hindutva), it is the latter which will have the last laugh. Congress should instead have focused on people’s issues, jobs, development. Congress has squandered an opportunity.But why did you leave Congress? Do you think your presence could have helped Congress and you would also have been a beneficiary?Yes, Congress would have come to power had my association with it continued. I told Rahul Gandhi that I will deliver 90 plus seats without any financial support for the party. He had agreed. But then some people in the party, who are in hand in glove with BJP , created some doubts. Congress leadership did not show the inclination to prevent me from deserting the party. Now they have lost the plot. In the second phase, the Congress has gone for chaotic seat distribution.A number of leaders who left the Congress castigated Rahul Gandhi. What are your views on him? Do you see Congress benefitting after his becoming party President or rather losing traction?He is a very good person. He is not crooked person like many in politics. He is an open man and the Congress will benefit after the command passes on to a single hand. Earlier, with two power centres, some people with vested interests used to have influence on decisions even after he had decided something. Now the crooked people will be out. Even in my case, he had agreed to hand over the decision to me in Gujarat. But then some people prevailed.What about Sonia Gandhi?She carried herself with utmost grace. She had married Rajiv Gandhi on a pre-condition that he will not join politics. But destiny had it otherwise. So she is here. But the thing is they are not controlling the party. One particular leader of Congress in every state is running the show. If you do not bow before him, you are out.Who are those people?We all know.Do you regret having left the Congress?There is no question of regretting when you take a decision after thinking about the pros and cons. A political party must come to power to serve the people. I saw lack of will in Congress to capture power. I was not there to sit in the Opposition. Even when I was with Jansangh, I used to impress upon the fact that we must come to power to serve people. When I was convinced that the manner in which it is operating, Congress will not come to power in the state, I left. Since I had RSS or Jansangh roots, it seems they could not trust me. Then what was the option?What impact do you see of Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakore and Jignesh Mewani on the polls. All three are backing Congress.They have created an atmosphere, a buzz. Congress will benefit due to this Patidar agitation. OBC and Dalits already supported the Congress. But Patidar impact will only be felt in four five pockets. BJP has a number of senior Patel leaders. They will retain their seats like Nitin Patel in Mehsan, Saurabh Patel in Botda, Jitu Bhagnani in Bhavnagar.Is Modi magic working for BJP?When one reaches a peak, a climbdown is the natural corollary. (Chadte sooraj ko dheere dheere dhalna hi hota hai). Modi reached his peak when he became Prime Minister in 2014.Who according to you is winning this election?BJP has been in power for 22 years. They have an edge, though their seats will come down from what they had got in 2012. Demonetisation and GST have shaken BJP in industrial hubs but Congress is not prepared enough to make a change.Is it a Rahul versus Modi battle.This is media creationYou have worked in both BJP and Congress in past. Which party would you like to go back? In which party, you are more comfortable.I have been comfortable in both parties. The difference between BJP and Congress is that while I was in the making of the former, the latter was made by some one else.I will not join any political party as such but will be available to work for any of them if people from BJP and Congress approach me. It will be issue based support. I am open to work with both.Your son also left Congress along with you. But neither your nor your son is contesting election this time. Where will he go?Ans-He was going to join BJP. I prevailed upon him not to do so. He will take his own call. He is a matured person.Anything you would like to suggest?Ans- The Election Commission should do something to ensure that people holding top posts like PM or CM do not misuse their official position in election. The exemption given to them should be curtailed. Besides political parties, lot needs to be done to correct ticket distribution process. A primary system like one prevailing in US should be followed here in ticket distribution in which party presidents and top leadership should have miniscule role.

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DNA EXCLUSIVE: Guj High Court has asked EC to clarify on VVPAT counting by Dec 12

In its reply to the Gujarat High Court on December 12, the Election Commission has decided to stick to its decision of randomly electing and counting vote slips of one voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machine in each constituency and match it with the corresponding electronic voting machine (EVM).Hearing a petition seeking 100 per cent manual counting of VVAPT vote slips and matching it with corresponding EVMs, the Gujarat high court on Thursday had sought Commission’s reply on if had set up any framework for sample counting of VVPAT slips along with EVM votes on random basis or not.EC sources said, the Commission has decided to do it on a pilot basis as it cannot take the risk of counting more than one VVPAT per constituency which may put the counting process in disarray, create confusion and delay the results.”On the basis of this pilot, we will be able to know exactly what are the lacunae and problems and will increase the number of VVPATs in future elections,” said the source adding that the Commission had never said that votes of 5% VVPATs will be matched in Gujarat elections.”The former CEC (Nasim Zaidi) has said 5% in terms of elections that will take place in distant future as he also knew that the EC first does everything on pilot basis and slowly increases the number and implements it,” said the source.Sources added that in case of any dispute or mismatch of votes between the VVPAT and EVM, the VVPAT counting will prevail as it is documentary evidence. He also clarified that a mismatch will not mean that votes of all machines in the particular polling station or constituency will be physically counted.”But the polling agents can ask for counting and matching of a particular VVPAT if they come across a complaint by a voter that the button pressed on the EVM and VVPAT slip are not matching,” said the source.In an elaborate statement issued on Friday, the EC described in detail the entire framework of administrative system, security protocols and procedural checks-and-balances in Gujarat to prevent any possible misuse of EVMs/VVPATs or procedural lapses in the use of EVMs and VVPATs during polls.”The Commission would like to reassure the people of the country that the Commission would leave no stone unturned in preserving the purity, integrity and credibility of the elections and reinforcing the faith and trust of the people in the electoral democracy of our county,” it said.On the poll day, a mock poll by casting at least 50 votes will be conducted at every polling station by the Presiding Officer in the presence of the polling agents one hour before start of actual poll.After the mock poll, Presiding Officer will ascertain the result in the CU, count the VVPAT paper slips in the presence of the polling agents and confirm that the results tally for each candidate. All mock poll data in CU and VVPAT paper slips from VVPAT will be stamped as mock and removed by the Presiding Officer and the empty drop box verified by the Polling Agents.After poll, EVMs and VVPATs will be sealed in their respective carrying cases and polling agents will also be allowed to put their signatures on the seals, which they can check for the intactness of the seal before counting.Candidates/representatives will also be allowed to follow the vehicles (with escorts) carrying EVMs and VVPATs from polling stations to counting storage rooms where the central armed police force (CAPF) will be on guard, the EC said.No vehicle, including that of any official or ministers or any other political functionary, will be allowed inside the secured campus where the EVMs and VVPATs are stored and it will 24X7 under video surveillance with a gazetted officer along with a senior police officer put on duty round the clock for monitoring the security arrangements of strong room.DCs and SPs have been made personally responsible for security of the strong room within the district and meticulous implementation of the protocol.On the day of counting of votes, the strong room will be opened in the presence of candidates/their representative, RO and observer under videography.After completion of counting of votes, Control Units and VVPATs shall again be sealed as and shifted back to strong room for safe storage for a period of 45 days to allow any party seek redressal through courts.The Commission said it is confident and of firm conviction that no unauthorised person is allowed access to EVMs and VVPATs before, during or after the polls. Besides, no unaccounted EVMs and VVPATs can enter the election eco-system at any stage, since all EVM/VVPAT activities are done in presence of stakeholders and tracked through the ETS.POLL RULESPolling agents can ask for counting and matching of a particular VVPAT if they come across a complaint by a voter that the button pressed on the EVM and VVPAT slip are not matching, said a source.

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Gujarat Elections 2017: BJP released manifesto after we raised questions about it, says Rahul Gandhi

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Friday claimed that BJP was forced to release its manifesto after Congress put pressure on it. Rahul said in Anand, ” We raised questions about Manifesto & BJP hastily prepared it behind closed doors. Congress asked for it so Arun Jaitley released it.” He said that not releasing the manifesto so far showed BJP’s arrogance. Rahul claimed that BJP thinks “they’re going to govern here for 100 years”, hence had no intention on publishing its manifesto. On Friday, Union Finance Minister released BJP’s vision document for Gujarat and said that the main focus is that the growth process shouldn’t be hampered. But before that Rahul Gandhi went hammer and tongs demanding why BJP is yet to release its manifesto. “The campaign in half of Gujarat has already ended. Polling will be held shortly. But the BJP has not announced its manifesto yet. The BJP has not told you what it will do for you in the next five years,” Gandhi said. “Modi-ji used to say that the BJP will rule in Gujarat for the next hundred years. But he is not saying a single word about the future of Gujarat at his rallies. “Instead, Modi-ji talks about Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and so many global issues. This election is not about Modi or (Rahul) Gandhi…It’s about THE people of Gujarat,” he said.Also readGujarat Election 2017: BJP releases its manifesto; attacks Congress for making ‘false promises'”The BJP is ruling here for the last 22 years. Now you have an opportunity to elect a government which would focus on you. People want to know what the BJP or Congress would do for them. While the BJP has not declared its manifesto, we held extensive dialogue with THE people and prepared our manifesto accordingly,” Rahul Gandhi said in a meeting before BJP’s manifesto was released. Also readGujarat Elections 2017 | A storm is brewing as Congress will win the elections, says Rahul GandhiAll key demands of tribal communities, such as implementation of Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, filling up vacant posts reserved for STs, scholarships for tribal students and better compensation for land acquisition, have been included in the Congress manifesto, Gandhi said. Voting for 89 seats of Saurashtra and south Gujarat will be held tomorrow, while that for 93 seats of north and central Gujarat, including Chhota Udepur, wILL he held on December 14. Campaigning for the first phase ended yesterday.With PTI inputs

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Gujarat High Court reserves order on DGP appointment till Dec12

The Gujarat High Court on Thursday reserved an order on a PIL filed by former IPS officer Rahul Sharma demanding a full-time and regular director general of police (DGP) in Gujarat.The order was reserved till December 12.The court reserved the order after the Election Commission submitted that it had got three names from the state government for appointment as in-charge DGP. It further submitted that the appointment of the new in-charge DGP was done on basis of these names.Meanwhile, the government had submitted that the process of appointing DGP is a long one and that a new DGP will be appointed once a new government is formed. It should be noted that the government had earlier submitted that it cannot make an appointment of a regular DGP at this juncture.The state does not have a fulltime DGP since April 15, 2016, when PP Pandey was given the charge of the post. Sharma had argued that the government was not appointing a regular DGP despite having six officers in the rank.WHAT PLEA SAIDFormer IPS officer Rahul Sharma had argued that the government was not appointing a regular DGP despite having six officers in the rank.
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Gujarat Elections 2017 | Keep tainted officers away, Congress tells EC

The Gujarat Congress on Wednesday submitted a memorandum to the Election Commission seeking removal of tainted officers in Gujarat government from poll related procedures. It demanded that IPS officials Abhay Chudasama, Rajkumar Pandian and Surat collector MS Patel should be kept away from poll related duties.The delegation led by AICC general secretary Dipak Babariya reached the office of CEO BB Swain in Gandhinagar and submitted the mmorandum. Babariya said, “Names of Chudasama and Pandian were involved in fake encounter cases of Shorabuddin Sheikh and murder of his wife Kaushar bi. They have tainted background and their names were involved in serious criminal case of murder. So we have requested the Election Commission to keep them away from poll duties.””When Pandian was Porbandar SP he had a confrontation with Congress leader and candidate from Porbandar Arjun Modhwadia. He is the range IG there now and could act against Modhwadia for old rivalry. The Surat collector MS Patel who is also a district election officer is inclined towards BJP and had used bad words for our president Sonia Gandhi. In that case, he may influence the poll procedures on seats falling in Surat district that could be against the democratic system,” added Babariya.Abhay Chudasama is the Inspector General (IG) in Vadodara Range, while Pandian is IG in Porbandar region. MS Patel, Surat collector was believed to contest the polls as BJP candidate from Unjha constituency in Mehsana district, however, BJP gave the ticket to sitting MLA Naranbhai Patel.The Congress delegation also demanded that VVPAT chit counting at 10% of total booths should be taken under consideration in place of random selection of one booth in each of 182 constituencies. The Congress also complained that the district election officer in Kutch did not allow checking of 50% of total VVPAT and EVMs in Rapar constituency.
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Gujarat High Court issues notice to EC

Arjun Khatariya, Congress candidate in the Gondal assembly constituency, has alleged that he is unable to find polling agents in about 15 villages due to the muscle power of BJP and its former MLA. In a petition before the High Court, Khatariya claimed his opponent BJP candidate Geetaba’s husband Jayrajsinh Jadeja’s criminal history is keeping his polling agents away. He has prayed the HC to direct the ElectionCommission to allow him appoint polling agents from other villages.After hearing his primary submissions, the third division bench of justice Akil Kureshi and justice AY Kogje on Wednesday, has issued notice to the Election Commission asking it to file reply by Thursday, when the matter is kept for further hearing.Khatariya has also alleged that another person named Aniruddhsinh Jadeja, who too has long criminal history, is out on parole in election days, despite Supreme Court orders on the subject and he was roaming freely in his constituency spreading fear among his voters. He requested for the court to seek report if he was genuinely out on parole. He further sought deployment of paramilitary forces in all sensitive areas and installing of CCTV cameras.
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Actor Vishal meets CEO over nomination

A day after his nomination as an independent candidate for the December 21 RK Nagar bypoll was rejected, actor Vishal Krishna on Wednesday complained to the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Rajesh Lakhoni. Vishal sought a reversal of the decision by the Returning Officer (RO) of RK Nagar Assembly Constituency who rejected his papers after accepting it initially.In a written complaint submitted to the CEO, the actor detailed on Tuesday’s events that led to the ultimate rejection of his nomination papers. “People know what happened yesterday. They know how a rejected application was reconsidered before being rejected again. I have submitted a complaint to him (Lakhoni) on all that happened,” Vishal told reporters at the Secretariat after the meeting.Interestingly, the actor has wrongly addressed the complaint to the Tamil Nadu State Election Commission who is the authority to hold local body polls instead of the CEO.On Tuesday, the RO’s office saw a dramatic situation when RO K Velusamy rejected Vishal’s nomination, prompting the actor to stage a dharna. Vishal had later claimed his nomination was accepted, and ‘thanked’ the EC for the same. However, the RO, late in the night, said Vishal’s nomination was rejected after a summary enquiry.The actor also sought to raise the matter with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind’s office through their twitter handles. He also said that he planned to meet Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit to lodge a ‘complaint’.Chief Minister Edapadi K Palanisami, while addressing his party workers in RK Nagar, denied any role of his party in the rejection of the actor’s nomination. He said that the election authorities would not have rejected the nomination if the papers found to be in order.
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RK Nagar bypoll: Actor Vishal, Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa Jayakumar out of race as EC rejects their nomination

The Election Commission on Tuesday rejected the nominations of Tamil actor Vishal and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa Jayakumar for the RK Nagar by-election. Deepa’s nomination was rejected by the poll body after several discrepancies were found in her form, ANI reported. The nomination of Vishal was also rejected. No reason was given for the rejection of his papers. Vishal, the president of Tamil Nadu Film Producers Council, had filed his nomination as an independent candidate for R K Nagar Assembly in Chennai on Monday. “I want to be the people’s representative to do good for them and fulfill all their requests and wishes,” he said after filling his nomination.Also readJayalalithaa death anniversary: Scores of people pay tribute to their ‘Amma’The nominations for the bypoll in Radhakrishnan Nagar Assembly constituency, necessitated by the death of Jayalalithaa, who was the sitting MLA, last year began on November 27, with December 4 being the last date. Scrutiny of nominations is taking place on December 5 and the last date for withdrawal of nominations will be on December 7. Polling will take place on December 21 and counting of votes and declaration of results will take place on December 24. Also readRK Nagar bypoll: No interim relief from Madras HC to Dhinakaran faction for using ‘hat’ symbol Sidelined AIADMK leader TTV Dhinakaran, who lost the battle for the party’s ‘two leaves’ symbol when the Election Commission awarded it to the camp led by Chief Minister K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam, has also filed his papers.AIADMK presidium chairman and party’s nominee E Madhusudhanan and DMK’s M Maruthuganesh have also filed their nominations with election officials here for the bypoll.
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Rahul Gandhi only valid candidate in fray for Congress President post, says Returning Officer

Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday took one step forward towards the formal process of being elevated as the Congress President. Returning Officer M Ramachandran after scrutiny of nomination papers have declared that the Gandhi scion is the lone valid candidate left in the fray. Infact he was the only one who had filed nomination for the post on Monday. The formal ratification that the process has gone through without any glitch was confirmed by the Returning Officer. On Monday, amidst much fanfare, Rahul filed papers at the Congress’s 24 Akbar Road headquarters in New Delhi. The party sought to project the election as democratic to counter the BJP’s charges of dynastic politics. The Congress had missed many deadlines and the Election Commission had asked it to conclude the election process by December 31. Sonia was the first to nominate her son. She signed the papers at her next door home. As many as 89 nominations were filed, all of them in favour of Rahul, signed by 890 delegates representing 30 state Congress units. Celebrations for Rahul’s coronation have been kept for December 28 to coincide it with the party’s foundation day. Also readHistory will judge Rahul Gandhi as ‘failed dynast’, says Himanta BiswaRahul first met former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former President Pranab Mukherjee to seek their blessings and then went to the party office where he hugged senior party leaders Sheila Dikshit and Mohsina Kidwai. The party said that two more exercises — scrutiny of nominations on December 5 and withdrawal of nominations on December 11 – were still to be done. But Rahul’s elevation is a mere formality. The 47-year-old has been the Congress’s vice-president for almost five years. Sonia has been the party’s longest serving president. She has been leading the Congress for 19 years since 1998.
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Gujarat Elections 2017: Policemen make a beeline to exercise their franchise

Special arrangement has been made by the Election Commission to ensure that police personnel are able to cast their votes.On Monday, senior police officials, State Reserve Police staff and others were seen standing in a queue to cast their vote for the Assembly polls.On the first day of voting, around 3,500 cops visited the the police headquarters in Shahibaug to vote for 2017 Assembly elections.Cops can cast their votes here from December 4 to 6, between 9 am and 6 pm. Around 13,500 cops ranging from senior officers to constable level are expected to participate. As many as 10,500 are from Ahmedabad City police department, while 2,000 are from Ahmedabad Rural police.Many of the rural police personnel were sent back by the authorities and were asked to come back on Tuesday, as voting for rural police department will start from Tuesday.At the headquarters in Shahibaug, 21 special booths have been made in which the voting happens. Within the two days, the remaining 10,000 police staff voting will be done.BOOTH FOR COPSCops can cast their votes here from December 4 to 6, between 9 am and 6 pm. Many of the rural police personnel were sent back by the authorities, as voting for rural police department will start from Tuesday.
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A year after Jayalalithaa’s death, AIADMK suffers without a strong leader

One year after the death of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, AIADMK and its state government are yet to overcome the political vacuum caused by her sudden demise.On Tuesday, the first death anniversary of Jayalalithaa would be observed in the state which has plunged into political instability because of her failure to name a successor for her in the party as well as in the government.After her death, the ruling AIADMK has witnessed splits and mergers in the last one year. Tamil Nadu also saw two Chief Ministers – O Panneerselvam and Edappadi K Palanisami – since her death.Jayalalithaa’s aide VK Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dhinakaran are sidelined from the ruling party. AIADMK is also the only party to have its symbol frozen by the Election Commission of India twice and also to get back it. The Palanisami and Panneerselvam led unified AIADMK might have succeeded in getting back the party’s symbol but the symbol alone would not help succeed in the elections in absence of a strong leader in the stature of MGR and Jayalalithaa. However, the AIADMK government is constantly facing the flak of the opposition parties led by resurgent DMK which is accusing the ruling party succumbing to the pressure of the BJP government at the centre.”Before the French revolution, France King Louis XV told his successor that “after me the deluge”. An exactly same thing happened in Tamil Nadu after Jayalalithaa’s death. It is a deluge. It is a disaster as far as politics is concerned. She was a colossal figure in the state politics. When she was removed, there was such a vacuum that Tamil Nadu is yet to overcome the political vacuum and instability caused by her death,” Prof Bernard D’Sami, a political analyst and professor of History at Loyola College, Chennai told DNA.In a way, he also blamed Jayalalithaa for the present crisis faced by the AIADMK and its government. Jayalalithaa who was known for running the party and the government with iron hand often changing the party office bearers and the Cabinet Ministers to ensure that no one ever raised to the level to question her. “It is a lesson for everyone. A good leader has to prepare a second line of leaders but she has not done it. That is the reason for the political crisis in Tamil Nadu,” said Prof Bernard.The succession battle is not something new in the AIADMK. When AIADMK founder and former Chief Minister M G Ramachandran died, the AIADMK split into two factions with his wife Janaki and Jayalalithaa bothclaiming his political legacy. “Jayalalithaa who was groomed by MGR as a political heir. She was made a Rajya Sabha member and also appointed as party’s propaganda secretary. She proved herself in the stateassembly election and took the reins of the party,” he said.A senior AIADMK leader who doesn’t want to be named said that AIADMK would survive if both EPS and OPS works together without any ego.”Already the leaders of two groups are fighting against each other. It is not going to help anyone but the DMK,” he said.The AIADMK which has won all the elections since 2011 would be tested in the December 21 bye-election to the RK Nagar Assembly constituency which was twice represented by Jayalalithaa. “RK Nagar election is areferendum for the AIADMK since it was a seat held by Jayalalithaa. The election results will tell whether the people are going to accept the AIADMK as they have accepted Jayalalithaa. If they win, they will survive. If they are going to lose, the party will not survive at all,” said another political observer.
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Scion walks into waiting throne

Rahul Gandhi is set to be Congress president in place of his mother Sonia Gandhi as he filed his nomination for the post and the deadline for doing so expectedly ended on Monday without any challenger emerging.This concludes a year-long organisational election process and heralds a generational shift in the leadership of the 132-year-old party.Rahul filed papers at the Congress’s 24 Akbar Road headquarters here. The party sought to project the election as democratic to counter the BJP’s charges of dynastic politics.The Congress had missed many deadlines and the Election Commission had asked it to conclude the election process by December 31.Sonia was the first to nominate her son. She signed the papers at her next door home. As many as 89 nominations were filed, all of them in favour of Rahul, signed by 890 delegates representing 30 state Congress units.Celebrations for Rahul’s coronation have been kept for December 28 to coincide it with the party’s foundation day.Rahul first met former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former President Pranab Mukherjee to seek their blessings and then went to the party office where he hugged senior party leaders Sheila Dikshit and Mohsina Kidwai.The party said that two more exercises — scrutiny of nominations on December 5 and withdrawal of nominations on December 11 – were still to be done. But Rahul’s elevation is a mere formality.The 47-year-old has been the Congress’s vice-president for almost five years. Sonia has been the party’s longest serving president. She has been leading the Congress for 19 years since 1998.Since early morning, almost all prominent Congress leaders had assembled at the party headquarters. Rahul held meetings with office bearers. Insiders said that he sat alone for 30 minutes before filing nominations.At about 11:04 am, the time selected by soothsayers as auspicious, he walked into a hall where nominations were to be filed.As per the party constitution, every nomination requires 10 elected delegates as proposers and seconders. The recently concluded organisational polls have elected 7,500 delegates, each representing a block from all over the country.While Akbar Road was jam-packed with party workers and leaders, the message from Rahul’s office was to keep celebrations sombre. Party office bearers were seen asking Youth Congress activists not to burn fire crackers.”Rahul ji has been the darling of the Congress… Rahul Gandhi will carry on the great traditions of the Congress party,” the normally taciturn Manmohan Singh told reporters.”We are very happy that Rahul Gandhi ji has filed his nomination… I am confident that Rahul will turn out a very successful leader. And under his leadership, the Congress will regain power,” Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, said.
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‘Promotion without performance’: Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi ‘congratulates’ Rahul Gandhi

Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Monday ‘congratulated’ Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on filing nomination for the post of the party chief and called it a ‘promotion without performance’.”I congratulate Rahul Gandhi for his promotion without performance, can only be possible in a feudal setup,” Naqvi said taking a dig at RahulRahul Gandhi on Monday filed his nomination papers for the party’s chief post.The 47-year-old Gandhi scion is likely to emerge as the lone candidate in the fray and decks have been cleared for his election as the Congress president, succeeding his mother Sonia Gandhi, who has held the post for 19 years in a row now.Today is the last date for filing nominations.Also readRahul Gandhi files nomination for Congress President, party dismisses allegations of dynastic politics No one else filed papers till Sunday, according to Mullapally Ramachandran, the chairman of the party’s Central Election Authority.Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh are among the proposers for the candidature of Rahul Gandhi for the party chief’s post.Also readNo democracy in Cong, says PM Modi on Rahul Gandhi electionThe last date for withdrawal of candidature is December 11, and the poll, if necessary, will be held on December 16 and the counting will take place on December 19.
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Gujarat elections 2017: 2L voters added in a month, total 5.35 cr

The number of voters, who are eligible to vote in the upcoming state assembly elections, has touched 4.35 crore with addition of over 2 lakh votes in the last one month.Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti told mediapersons that number of voters in Gujarat was 4.35 crore as of November 16, including 2.26 crore males, 2.08 crore females, and 702 who have registered as third gender.The number of voters was 4.33 crore when electoral rolls were published in September. However, a special drive was launched from October 9-25 which has led to more voters being added.State’s Chief Electoral Officer BB Swain told DNA that about 90,000 male and 1.20 lakh female voters were added to voters’ list during the latest revision.”We have added over 17 lakh voters in calendar year 2017, which is an all-time high. The previous highest was in 2014 when 15.6 lakh voters were added,” said Swain.Earlier, the Commission met political parties and took note of their suggestions for holding free and fair elections. It reviewed work of district magistrates, SPs, police commissioners, among others, and discussed issues with chief secretary, DGP and other senior bureaucrats.”The Commission is committed to maintain purity of elections and to deliver free, fair and transparent elections. We have directed the Election Machinery to be fearless, unbiased, neutral and independent,” said Joti.Liquor worth Rs22 cr seized While cash of only Rs1.94 crore has been seized since announcement of elections, liquor seizure stands at Rs21.91 crore. Almost 38 kg gold, bullion, silver and jewellery worth Rs8.17 crore have also been seized.Joti also said that all necessary arrangements for voter facilitation at polling stations have been completed. Drinking water, toilet and power facilities are available at each polling station.
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