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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 | If BJP wins, we will intensify our agitation: Hardik Patel

Even as exit polls predict an easy victory for the ruling BJP in Gujarat, the road to power might turn out to be anything but smooth for the party. Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel has now declared that if the BJP comes to power, the reservation agitation will continue with greater intensity. “We have not stopped the agitation. It will not be stopped until our goal is achieved. In the event the BJP comes to power, we renew the agitation for reservation with more vigour,” said Patel.”Goli maarna hai to maar de, mein jaan deene ko taiyaar hu,” said Hardik about his plan to agitate if BJP comes to power. He, however, also insisted that the Congress would win over 100 seats. “There is a lot of anger among the people against the BJP,” adding that the Congress formula was acceptable to him and the party would implement it when it came to power. “If the Congress fails to do so, we will continue the agitation against them too,” said Hardik.Even before the elections, Hardik held several rallies and meetings, urging the people to vote for Congress, stating that it was important to teach the BJP a lesson. Almost all his rallies were well attended, but it remains to be seen if his appeal to the voters worked or not.Additionally, he has also planned a Gujarat yatra in the coming days, where he will meet people and discuss their problems. He will also seek to fortify support for the reservation cause. “I will visit places I haven’t gone to and revisit places that I have already been to and meet people,” said Hardik. He said his plans will include rallies, otla panchayat (small meetings) roadshows, etc, all in an effort to widen his appeal beyond the Patidar community. In the meantime, in the run up to the 2017 election results, the leader is holding meetings in Gandhinagar to decide the future course of action.

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SC dismisses Teesta Setalvad’s plea to defreeze bank a/cs

The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed activists Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand’s petition challenging the October 2015 Gujarat High Court order that rejected their pleas to defreeze their personal bank accounts.The judgment pronounced by a bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justice AM Khanwilkar observed that authorities followed proper procedures in freezing the bank accounts in connection with a complaint filed by residents of the Gulbarg Society in Ahmedabad, Gujarat for misappropriation of funds.”Although both the sides have adverted to statement of accounts and vouchers to buttress their respective submissions, we do not deem it necessary, nor think it appropriate to analyse the same while considering the matter on hand which emanates from an application preferred by the appellants to de-freeze the stated bank accounts pending investigation of the case. Indisputably, the investigation is still in progress. The appellants will have to explain their position to the investigating agency and after investigation is complete, the matter can proceed further depending on the material gathered during the investigation,” the order authored by Justice Khanwilkar read.According to Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta representing Gujarat, the two Trusts — Sabrang Trust and Citizens for Peace and Justice (CPJ) — are run by the private appellants and others. All the accused persons were actively involved in collecting huge funds as donation in the name of providing legal assistance to the 2002 Gujarat Riot Victims. These donations, however, received by the two Trusts allegedly never reached the victims.Setalvad, through counsels senior advocate Kapil Sibal and advocate Aparna Bhat, submitted that the trust maintained proper accounts which are duly audited and there is no trace of any illegality committed in respect of receipt and expenditure.During the course of the hearing, the top court had also questioned the source of the funds after allegations of misappropriation surfaced. The top court had then reserved its verdict earlier in July.The complaint was filed by Firoz Khan Pathan, one of the residents of Gulberg society, alleging that the money raised to make a museum at Gulberg Society in the memory of 69 people killed in the 2002 Gujarat riots had not been utilised for the purpose.TWICE TRIEDSC bench observed that authorities followed proper procedure while freezing bank accounts. Gujarat HC had rejected their plea in 2015 as well.

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Gujarat elections 2017: Stars point at close contest, with an edge to BJP

The elections to the Legislative Assembly of Gujarat seems to be a close contest between BJP and Congress, with the ruling party having a slight edge, said a study by astrology portal Ganeshaspeaks.com. However, it also said that the results can throw up a surprise.Transits that favour BJP: The ruling Dasha period of Sun-Venus favours BJP. However, the last phase of Saade Sati and Dasha Chhidra indicate the BJP may suffer to an extent.Margin of victory may be narrow: The voting date charts favour BJP more. However, it indicates a neck and neck competition in many constituencies and the victory margin will be narrow.Transits that favour Congress: The ruling Dasha period of Jupiter-Venus and double transit impact are favourable to the Congress to make a comeback in Gujarat. However, Congress might suffer due to unfavourable effect of Venus.Rahu and Ketu may confuse voters, and results may be unpredictable: The transiting Moon in the Nakshatra ruled by Ketu and Rahu on voting dates indicate the confusion of voters. The voting pattern will be highly unpredictable and may bring unexpected results. It also indicates huge voting in favour of one party. Gujarat State foundation chart indicates the state is undergoing a transition phase.Polls may throw up surprises: The Sun-Saturn-Moon conjunction on the counting date also indicate a close contest between both parties. It is also to be noted that the entire election process for the Gujarat Assembly right from the date of announcement, first phase and second phase of voting and the date of results, the transiting Moon is under the influence of Rahu and Ketu ruled Nakshatra. Hence, the results of the forthcoming elections will have “a surprise element”. The results will either go heavily in favour of one party or it will be a very, very close mandate as per the vote share.Cosmic configurations indicate a win for BJP: Considering all the parameters, it seems BJP will win the contest and is likely to form the next government in Gujarat.

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Gujarat elections 2017: Day after polls, candidates get some family time

While many would have thought that a day after elections would be relaxation time for the candidates of both parties, campaigning day and night since past fifteen days, DNA speaks with candidates across constituencies to know how they unwind.For most BJP candidates, it was totally a family time, and for some, even the weekend was dedicated to family, for Congress it was completely opposite. Most candidates of Congress had different responsibilities given by their own party, they too, however, squeezed out some time for their loved ones.Bhupendra Patel, BJP, GhatlodiaFor the AUDA chairman contesting from Ghatlodia constituency, this was a much needed break. He said, “I met my workers after polling just to get a feel of how it was. It has been few weeks that I have not been able to spend time with my family. I have decided to spend the weekend with them.”Patel who was the election in-charge of former chief minister of Gujarat Anandiben Patel in 2012 election campaign has been carefully chosen by the BJP, to contest from a Patidar dominated Ghatlodia this time.Bhushan Bhatt, BJP, Jamalpur-Khadia”Now it is family time. My grand daughter from Netherlands is here and so my day is completely with her,” said Bhushan Bhatt of BJP contesting from Jamalpur-Khadia against Congress’s Imran Khedawala. He adds, “After elections, I met all my workers and understood their side of the story of phase 2 of elections.”A builder by profession, Bhatt has been a three-time municipal councillor from Khadia. He is the son of former speaker of Gujarat Assembly Ashok Bhatt who was an MLA here for 7 terms before he passed away in 2010.Hasmukh Patel, BJP, AmraiwadiFriday morning seemed like a Sunday for BJP’s Hasmukh Patel contesting from Amraiwadi constituency. He said, “Immediately after elections, my workers gathered at our karyalay on Thursday evening to share their experience and we ordered snacks and tea. Since the meeting lasted long, and due to tiredness of so many days, I woke up late on Friday. I will spend the day with my family.”Bharat Barot, BJP, DariapurFor Bharat Barot, the day started with a meeting related to counting that ended at 1pm after which he spent another few hours at his office, meeting his workers and understanding the scenario.He said, “After finishing meetings, I reached home around 4.30pm and had lunch. In evening, I will be meeting political friends for a holistic understanding.”When asked him about family time, he said, “My family also fights elections with me. My mother was also a councillor.”Bhatt is pitted against Congress sitting MLA Gyasuddin Shaikh who the 2012 Assembly election defeating the Barot by 2,621 votes. Bahot represented the constituency for five terms from 1990 to 2007 but it was taken away from him in 2012 assembly election.For CongressImran Khedawala, Congress, Jamalpur-KhadiaFor Imran Khedawala, a day after elections was well planned as he started his day meeting his party workers which was followed by a visit to VS hospital to distribute fruits. He said, “Since it was a Friday, I wanted to distribute fruits to poor patients in VS hospital. After reading namaz, I made various calls to my supporters and well wishers who helped me during elections which was followed by a visit to Jagannath temple with my Hindu friends.”Khedawala’s evening has been reserved for family and close relatives with a daawat. Khedawala belongs to Chhipa community that accounts for around 25,000 to 30,000 voters in Jamalpur-Khadia seat.Arvindbhai Chauhan, Congress, AmraiwadiChauhan’s day started with meeting his party workers first and then visiting the collector office. He said, “I spent the afternoon at the strong room at Polytechnic, checking the cameras, machines, etc. We are extremely concerned with the safety of the voting machines and in any case, we do not want any discrepancies. It is a kind of survey we are conducting and I am in-charge of the same. Evening has been kept reserved for my family and relatives.”Shweta Brambhatt, Congress, ManinagarThirty-five year old Shweta Brambhatt, who has a masters degree in Finance from London, had great plans to rejuvenate immediately after elections. Despite not keeping well since few days, Shweta kept her campaigning pitch high and had plans to visit Ambaji temple with her family. However, Friday entire day she spent her day in meetings and making reports. She said, “It has been an unexpected day for me. I had thought to take two days break to rejuvenate. Since I was not keeping well, I slept early on Thursday evening and woke up late. But had to go to GPCC for day long meeting and sorting reports. I had also planned to visit Ambaji temple but now it looks like only my mother will be able to go. I am tied up with work.”

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Gujarat elections 2017: Re-poll likely for 10 to 15 booths of three seats

There is a possibility of re-poll for 10 to 15 booths falling under Daskroi and Viramgam seats of Ahmedabad district and Vadgam seat of Banaskantha district. The Election Commission will consider the complaints received from different parties and will take the final call by Saturday morning. If considered, the re-polling will be held on Sunday.Sources in the government said, “A report has been sent to the Election Commission on the basis of complaints received by local authorities and the commission will take the due decision accordingly. There were several technical issues due to which the polls could not be held in 10 to 15 booths falling in these three constituencies.”In two to three booths, the arrow mark was reportedly seen in front of the name of Congress supported independent candidate Jignesh Mevani. The voters boycotted voting registering their complaint that this was done by someone to influence the voters, added the sources. The local authorities have been directed to investigate the issue and the recommendation of re-polls was received.On four or more booths each in Daskroi and Viramgam seats, the returning officer forgot to erase the data from mock poll data from EVMs or remove slips from VVPATs. Considering the issue, re-polling is likely in these booths.The same issue was reported during the first phase of polls and the commission decided to hold re-polls on six booths falling under Jamjodhpur, Umargam, Una and Nizar seats. The re-polls were held on Thursday and total 88.30 per cent voting was recorded for these six booths. The complaints were reported on booths of Ghunada and Manpar villages of Jamjodhpur, Chandod village of Umargam, Bandharda and Gangda villages of Una and Chorvad village of Nizar constituency.Counting will be held on Monday in Gujarat.

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Congress disrupts Rajya Sabha over PM Modi’s remark

Parliament’s Winter Session got off to a fiery start with frequent disruptions in the Rajya Sabha on Friday, as the Congress demanded an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his insinuation that his predecessor Manmohan Singh conspired with Pakistan to meddle in the Gujarat elections.The Opposition protested and raised slogans. There were three adjournments as Opposition leaders did not allow the proceedings to continue before the House was adjourned at 3 pm. The ruckus followed the Prime Minister’s comment earlier in the day that he hoped for a constructive debate in the Winter Session. The Lok Sabha was adjourned after obituaries.Modi had alleged during an election rally in Gujarat that some Pakistani leaders met Singh at a dinner hosted by Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar on December 6, suggesting they were hatching a conspiracy to influence the Assembly elections in the state.”This is not an ordinary allegation… against a former PM, Vice-President and Army chief,” Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said. He gave a notice under rule 267, seeking suspension of the listed business to discuss the issue.Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, presiding over his first full session after being appointed Vice-President, rejected the notice and asked the member to sit down. With more commotion, the House was adjourned.Naidu, known for his wit, did not hold himself back as there was continuous shouting by agitated members who also protested against the disqualification of JD (U) chief Sharad Yadav and Ali Anwar of the same party.”I don’t appreciate the conduct of coming to the Well. … There is a saying that all is well, not well. Try to understand this.”Amid the shouting, Naidu said there cannot be any discussion on the decision of the Chair. “There is no discussion on the ruling of the chairman. Please sit down.” “This is a political issue which you are raising, which you discuss outside the House.”When the House met again, Azad raised the issue amid uproar and it was adjourned again till 3 PM by Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien.Several Congress members, including Oscar Fernandes, Shamsher Singh Dullo, Renuka Chowdhury and Sanjay Singh, trooped into the Well of the House, shouting slogans.Kurien pleaded with members to take up the private members’ business but Samajwadi Party member Naresh Agarwal raised the issue of the Centre’s move to set up special courts for cases against MPs and MLAs, questioning the move.When Kurien said it was a decision of the Supreme Court, Agarwal said he had not criticised the top court but his questions were directed at the government.Congress leader Anand Sharma also got up and in support of Agarwal. Amid the chaos, Congress members once against tried to corner the government by shouting slogans demanding an apology from the Prime Minister.This is when the House was adjourned for the day.Private members’ bills including ‘The Educational Innovations Commission Bill 2017’ by Vinay Sahasrabuddhe and ‘The Prevention of Enforced Disappearance Bill 2017’ by V Vijayasai Reddy were introduced.

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

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

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Supreme Court dismisses Teesta Setalvad’s plea for de-freezing of bank accounts

The Supreme Court today dismissed the pleas of activist Teesta Setalvad, her husband and her two NGOs challenging the Gujarat High Court order rejecting their pleas for de-freezing of their personal bank accounts.A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said the pleas are dismissed.Setalvad, her husband Javed Anand and their two NGOs — Sabrang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace — had challenged the October 7, 2015 verdict of the high court in the alleged misappropriation of funds received by their NGOs for Gujarat riot victims of 2002.The apex court had reserved its verdict on July 5 this year.Earlier the top court had questioned the source of money in the bank accounts of Setalvad and others which were frozen by the Ahmedabad Police in 2015 after the allegations of misappropriation had surfaced.One of the residents of Gulberg society, Firoz Khan Pathan, had filed a complaint against Setalvad and others alleging that money was raised to make a museum at Gulberg Society in the memory of 69 people killed in the 2002 Gujarat riots, but it had not been utilised for the purpose.The freezing of the accounts by Ahmedabad Police had come soon after its crime branch had started probing a case in which Setalvad and others were accused of embezzling Rs 1.51 crore collected to convert Gulbarg Society into a museum.The high court had upheld the verdict of a lower court in this regard observing that the probe was at a serious point in the alleged case of Gulbarg society fund embezzlement.In the embezzlement case lodged by the Gujarat Police, the couple had challenged the cancellation of bail in the apex court, while in the alleged FCRA violation case, CBI has challenged the anticipatory bail granted to them by the Bombay High Court. Both matters are pending before the apex court.

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Winter Session of Parliament begins, Congress seeks PM Modi’s apology over Pakistan remark

Day after the final phase of Gujarat Assembly Elections, the Winter Session of Parliament will begin today.The session will witness a stormy start with the Congress demanding apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his Pakistan remark.During an election rally in his home state, PM Modi had alleged that former PM Manmohan Singh and other senior members of Congress were colluding with Pakistan for Gujarat Assembly polls.Talking to reporters, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Friday said, “For the first time a Prime Minister has accused Former PM, former Vice President and diplomats of conspiring with Pakistan for Gujarat elections. PM must clarify in the Parliament.”Ahead of the session, PM Modi said that he expected a ‘fruitful session.” He also said that, “I hope for positive and innovative arguments.”Also readDay after Gujarat polls, Parliament’s Winter Session to begin todayOn Thursday also, after an all-party meeting, the Congress had demanded PM’s apology.Also readWinter Session: As Congress sulks over Pak allegations, PM seeks cooperation at all-party meet”Either the government should prove the claim or the Prime Minister must apologise… Nothing short of an apology will satisfy us,” Congress leader Anand Sharma had said.The BJP, however, has already rejected the demand. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in fact, termed the dinner at now-expelled Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s residence as a ‘political misadventure’.Interestingly, BJP president Amit Shah will make his Parliamentary debut in the Rajya Sabha during the Winter Session today.The Winter Session will provide a total of 14 sittings spread over a period of 21 days including four Private Members’ days. Further, 25 Bills are pending in the Lok Sabha, while 39 Bills are pending in the Rajya Sabha

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Apex court gives Parsi woman interim relief

A Parsi woman on Thursday won her right to enter the Tower of Silence despite marrying outside the religion after the Valsad Parsi Anjuman Trust filed an undertaking permitting Goolrukh Gupta and her sisters to enter the Tower of Silence to offer prayers and participate in rituals in the event a family member passes away.For the moment, the Trust has extended its permission strictly limited to the petitioner and her sisters and not for all Parsi women who have married outside the faith. However, Gupta has not lost faith. Reacting to the news, the 51-year-old Mumbai resident is hopeful that Parsi women from small towns who have married outside the faith will be accorded the same right she has won today.”This is merely an interim order,” Shiraz Patodia — one of Gupta’s sisters and the advocate in this matter said. “The fate of other Parsi women and their rights will be decided when the court will hear the matter in the entirety,” she added.Goolrukh Gupta married her husband Mahipal Gupta, a Marwadi, more than 25 years ago, however in all that time she never forgot her faith and hardly ever skipped the daily ritual of tying the sudreh and kusti. The daughter of a trustee from Valsad, Gupta had the liberty to follow her religion, despite marrying outside the faith. However, things changed when the trustees changed.However, 15 years ago when a trustee, who had just then taken over — sometime in 2002-2003, took the hardliners approach, he all but excommunicated Gupta. Since then, Gupta was not allowed to enter the agyari (fire temple), nor participate in any religious rituals henceforth.Gupta had then filed a petition in court which, over the years finally reached the corridors of the Gujarat High Court. In their judgment, a three-judge bench 2:1 held that a Parsi woman who marries outside her faith ceases to be a Parsi. Dissatisfied with the verdict, Goolrukh had then approached the Supreme Court, challenging the HC judgment.”The last time I entered the Tower of Silence in Valsad was in 2003 when my maternal uncle passed away, Gupta said. That was also the last time she entered the fire temple there to attend the four-day prayers held for him.Thursday’s victory brings hope and cheer to the tiny, dwindling Parsi community which is under the threat of extinction. Numbering less than 50,000 now, an urgency has crept in among them. While some have taken refuge in the literal teachings of the text, others believe that Parsis need to reach out into the beyond. After all, they all want to survive.Last week, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra had observed that a woman does not mortgage herself to a man by marrying him. She retains her identity, including her religious identity, even after she exercises her right to marry outside her community under the Special Marriage Act.The top court’s observation came when a five-judge bench was hearing Gupta’s matter.Couples from different faiths who wish to retain their individual religious identities may opt for a marriage under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, which ensures religious protection.Prima facie, the top court did not adhere to the principle of merger relied upon by the Gujarat High Court in denying Gupta the right to practice her faith.Representing Gupta, Senior Advocate Indira Jaising had sought the court’s indulgence to treat this case as an endorsement of inter-faith marriages. Those who marry outside their faith should be saddled with any disabilities, she added. Government data suggests that the Special Marriages Act is not used as often as it should be, she said.”The Tower of Silence is not a mutt or a citadel of a cult. It is a place to offer prayers to the dead. Can such a right of a woman be guillotined? It is part of her Constitutional identity,” CJI Misra had observed.The court’s decision favouring the Parsi woman’s right will create a paradigm shift for women within the minority community. Earlier this year, the top court recently ruled in favour of Muslim women by striking down instant triple talaq as unconstitutional.

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Gujarat Elections 2017 | Sabarkantha, Mehsana see highest voting, Dahod lowest

Sabarkantha and Mehsana districts saw the highest turnout of voters in the second phase of the Gujarat assembly elections on Thursday, official sources said. The overall turnout in 93 seats of the 14 districts that went to polls today, was recorded at 68.70%, about two percent higher than the 66.75% turnout in the first phase. Of the 2.23 crore registered voters, 1.54 crore exercised their right to vote, said officials.Voting figures released by the State’s Chief Electoral Officer show that Sabarkantha district, which comprises four seats, recorded 77% turnout, the highest among all districts. Out of 9.85 lakh eligible voters, 7.58 lakh exercised their right to vote.Mehsana, the epicentre of the Patidar reservation stir, saw 75% turnout. Being the hometown of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former chief minister Anandiben Patel, and deputy chief minister Nitin Patel, who contested from Mehsana assembly seat, Mehsana district is a battle of prestige for the BJP. Another north Gujarat district of Banaskantha saw the third highest turnout at 74%.Anand (73%), Vadodara (73%), Panchmahals (72%), Chhota Udepur (70%) and Kheda (70%) were the other five districts that saw more than 70% polling.Surprisingly, the tribal-dominated Dahod district recorded just 60% voting, the lowest among the 14 districts. The turnout was in sharp contrast to tribal-dominated districts of south Gujarat, each of which had recorded more than 70% voting in the first phase. In some of the pockets, the turnout was as high as 84% in the first phase.Ground reportOverall turnout in 93 seats of the 14 districts that went to polls today, was recorded at 68.70%, about two percent higher than the 66.75% turnout in the first phase. Anand (73%), Vadodara (73%), Panchmahals (72%), Chhota Udepur (70%) and Kheda (70%) were the other five districts that saw more than 70% polling.

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

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

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BJP exudes confidence after Exit Polls predict wins in Gujarat and Himachal, Congress says wait for D-Day

The BJP looks headed for facile victories in both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, exit polls by various media houses concluded unanimously after a rancorous campaign which saw sharp exchanges between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress’s president-elect Rahul Gandhi.Almost all exit polls predicted more than 100 seats for the BJP in Gujarat where the party has been ensconced in power for close to two decades now.In Himachal Pradesh, where the electorate has chosen the Congress and BJP alternately in Assembly elections, the exit polls projected a clear majority for the saffron party, unseating the Congress.Also readGujarat Elections 2017: Congress files anticipatory complaint with EC against PM Modi’s ‘roadshow’Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman claimed that the BJP was always confident of its victory and the exit polls have predicted the same.”We have been confident from the beginning that we will be able to work with the voters in Gujarat, we will be able to communicate with them. Our good work in the last several governments that we have had, has been repeatedly called by the voters themselves. We have more work to do towards development which is ‘sab ka sath, sab ka vikas’,” she said.Also readGujarat elections 2017: ‘Modi, Modi’ chants and 500-metre walk – When PM Narendra Modi stood in queue to cast his vote The minister, a former BJP spokesperson said, Gujarat was a state which was very conscious about development. It was aware of what was happening around the globe and would want to be aligned with international financial markets, she said.Also readAs Gujarat campaign progressed, we saw complete bankruptcy in BJP: Rahul Gandhi in Kerala Sitharaman said the state valued the importance of peace and harmony, and of good governance.”I think our plank that only development can bring in equality-based development has been acceptable for the people.And that s what exit polls show. We will wait for the 18th, we are confident we will make it,” she said.The Congress was, however, sceptical about the predictions, with party spokesperson Shobha Oza insisting exit polls have proved wrong in elections before, and claiming it will emerge victorious.”I don’t know how much you trust the exit polls. We have seen exit polls in Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Punjab. All of them proved to be wrong. So, how much can one trust the exit polls.”We will wait for the 18th for the real results. Let’s not take these exit polls too seriously. We have seen them go wrong in many states in the past,” Oza said, adding “definitely, we are winning in Gujarat.”Today’s Chanakya gave BJP 135 seats in Gujarat and predicted a measly 47 for the Congress, 14 less than the opposition party has in the current Assembly. It predicted a voteshare of 49 per cent for the BJP and 38 per cent for challenger Congress.A party or an alliance has to win at least 92 seats in the 182-member House to form government in Gujarat.In the 2012 Assembly polls, the BJP had won 115 seats, the Congress 61 and others six.The Times Now-VMR Exit poll predicted 113 seats for the BJP and 66 for the Congress, with the remaining going to others.The Republic-C Voter Exit Poll gave the BJP 108 seats and the Congress 74.The ABP-CSDS exit survey by ABP News predicted a BJP victory in 117 seats as against the Congress’s 64.The NDTV said the BJP was likely to clinch 112 seats and the Congress 70.A survey by India Today’s ‘Aaj Tak’ news channel also predicted that the BJP would retain power in the state, winning anywhere between 99 and 113 seats. Aaj Tak’s was the lone survey that said the BJP’s tally could slip under 100.It projected 62 to 82 seats for the Congress.India TV-VMR survey also forecast a BJP win, with the party likely to clinch anywhere between 108 and 118 seats. The Congress, it said, could win 61 to 71 seats.The survey said the BJP could garner 48 per cent of the votes polled, the Congress 41 and others 11 per cent.The News X Exit polls gave 110-120 seats to BJP and 65 to 75 seats to the Congress, leaving 2-4 seats for others, while the News Nation exit polls gave the BJP as many as 124-128 seats and the Congress between 52 to 56 seats and 1-3 for others.In Himachal Pradesh, the exit polls predicted the BJP’s return to power with a comfortable majority.Today’s Chanakya gave the BJP 55 seats and to the ruling Congress 13 seats, with the remaining to others. It also predicted a margin of plus/minus 7 seats.The Aaj Tak-Axis exit poll gave 47-55 seats to the saffron party, 13-20 to the Congress and 0-2 to others.The ABP News-CSDS exit poll predicted 38 seats for the BJP and 29 for the Congress, with one to others.Among other exit polls, the News X survey predicted 42-50 seats for the BJP and 18-24 for the Congress.Congress had returned to power in Himachal Pradesh in 2012 pocketing 36 seats, marginally more than the half-way mark, while the BJP secured 26. The others had bagged the remaining six.

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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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Winter Session: As Congress sulks over Pak allegations, PM seeks cooperation at all-party meet

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today sought the opposition’s cooperation for a constructive Winter Session of Parliament which starts tomorrow even as the Congress insisted on an apology from him for attacking his predecessor Manmohan Singh during the Gujarat poll campaign.Speaking at an all-party meeting on the session’s eve, Modi again pitched for simultaneous polls for the Lok Sabha and state assemblies saying that holding elections once in five years will boost development.Briefing reporters on Modi’s remarks, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the prime minister appealed to leaders of all political parties to help build a consensus on the matter.Modi has been pushing for simultaneous polls, saying an almost uninterrupted cycle of polls across the country hampers government works due to enforcement of model code of conduct and deployment of officials in elections.”He also sought their cooperation to make the session meaningful and constructive,” Kumar said.Also readGujarat Elections 2017: Congress files anticipatory complaint with EC against PM Modi’s ‘roadshow’Congress leaders raised the issue of Modi’s claim during a speech in Gujarat that Singh colluded with Pakistan to influence the state polls, and said they will raise it in Parliament. “We will raise the issue in Parliament. Either the government prove the claim or the prime minister apologise. Nothing short of an apology will satisfy us,” its leader Anand Sharma said.

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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: Congress files anticipatory complaint with EC against PM Modi’s ‘roadshow’

The chief electoral officer in Gujarat BB Swain said that the Congress party’s Gujarat unit had filed an anticipatory complaint with the EC against Narendra Modi’s roadshow in Ranip area of Sabarmati constituency.Modi is a voter registered in Sabarmati constituency and on the day of second phase polls, Modi held a roadshow in a car and on feet after casting his vote. Thousands of people had turned up to welcome Modi and Congress complained that PM tried to influence the voters by the roadshow.Swain said, “We received the complaint from Congress at around 11:55am and that was anticipatory complaint seeking actions to stop the road show. They had a doubt that PM could hold a road show when thousands of people turned up near the polling station where he was to cast his vote. We have issued order to District Election Officer(collector) in Ahmedabad to run a probe and we will also check the facts with Model Code of Conduct committee that keeps vigil on the spot. We will also assess the video footages.”Also readGujarat elections 2017: ‘Modi, Modi’ chants and 500-metre walk – When PM Narendra Modi stood in queue to cast his vote The Gujarat BJP in-charge Bhupendra Yadav, however, slammed Congress over the issue and said, “Congress is making foul cry on the issue as they have conceded to loss. There is no indication that Congress can make comeback in Gujarat and they also now knew that. This is the reason why they are creating ruckus on this issue. BJP is going to form a government in Gujarat with more than 150 seats in Gujarat assembly.”On the other side, the complaints of Bluetooth network traced near the polling stations also were received from many places across the areas where polls are going on. Incidents were reported at different polling stations in Ahmedabad, Kheda, Panchmahals, Patan, Mehsana and Banaskantha districts.Also readGujarat elections 2017 LIVE updates: Various incidents of clashes reported; row over PM’s ‘roadshow’ The election commission has directed the district election officers to investigate the issue with the technical experts of Bharat Electronics Limited.”We have asked our officials to run the probe and the reports from Ghatlodia constituency and Godhara have come. In both the cases, mobile device having promiscuous names were found in the range of polling station creating misunderstanding. We are waiting for other reports and will report to election commission about the incident,” Swain said.Also readGujarat elections 2017: Video shows BJP workers gifting sarees, ‘buying’ votesThe incident of Ghatlodia constituency in Ahmedabad and Godhra seat in Panchmahals were investigated by the election officers and technical experts. In the incident of Ghatlodia, mobile device of Intex company having model name ECO105 was found while in the case of Godhra, the mobile device of Lava company having model name ARC-05 was found.The EC also received two complaints of clashes in state and those were in Hasanpura village near Visnagar town of Mehsana district and in Savli town of Vadodara district. The CEO informed that in both the cases, the situation was brought under control by the security staff and it didn’t affect the poll process.

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After SC intervention, Parsi woman married outside community granted right to enter fire temple

Upon urging by the Supreme Court, Valsad Parsi community has decided to give entrance permission to a Parsi woman, who was barred from entering fire temples and Towers of Silence after marrying outside the community. This came after SC urged the Parsi community to take a more ‘progressive’ stance in this contentious issue. The woman, Goolrukh Gupta, had approached the Apex Court challenging an Ahmedabad High Court order.The five-judge Constitution bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra was hearing the case. According to reports, In 2012, the Gujarat High Court said that under the Special Marriage Act, she had ceased to be a Parsi and that her religion automatically changed to that of her husband. She, however, continued to practice as a Parsi and has challenged the High Court verdict on the grounds that the Special Marriage Act does not require either husband or wife to renounce their religion. Also readWoman doesn’t lose her religion of birth after inter-faith marriage: SCThe Supreme Court last week said the law does not sanction the concept of a woman’s religion getting merged with her husband’s faith after an inter- religion marriage. The bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, asked senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, representing the ‘Valsad Parsi Trust’, to take instruction and apprise it on December 14 as to whether it can allow Goolrokh M Gupta, a Parsi woman who had married a Hindu, to attend the last rites of her parents.Gupta has challenged the customary law, upheld by the Gujarat High Court in 2010, that a Parsi woman marrying a Hindu loses her religious rights in the Parsi community and hence, loses the right to visit the ‘Tower of Silence’ in the event of her father’s death to perform the last rites.”There is no law which says that a woman loses religious identity after marrying a man from another faith… Moreover, the Special Marriage Act is there and allows that two persons can marry and maintain their respective religious identities,” the bench said.Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for the woman, referred to the Common Law doctrine of merger of religion which says that the religion of a woman gets automatically merged with the faith of the husband after marriage.”Can we adopt the Common Law doctrine of merger of religion in India when it has not been followed in the country of its origin,” Jaising said, adding that the constitutional validity of the Common Law principle would also be required to be tested.”A man marries outside the community and is permitted to retain his religious identity and a woman is not allowed to marry outside and retain her religious identity. How can a woman be debarred…,” the bench said.Jaising said even if it was presumed that the doctrine of merger had the customary sanction, the customs will have to pass the test of constitutionality and no custom can be allowed to infringe the fundamental rights of a person.”My submission is that there is no such custom, and even if there is, it will be hit by the provisions of the Constitution”, she said.The bench said it was only the woman who can decide about her religious identity by exercising her right to choice. It said the presumption that a woman changes her religion according to the faith of her husband does not exist if the marriage has been solemnised under the Special Marriage Act.On October 9, the apex court had referred to to a five- judge constitution bench the legal question whether a Parsi woman loses her religious identity after marrying a man of different religion. The bench was hearing a plea filed by Gupta challenging the High Court judgement holding that a Parsi woman is deemed to have converted to Hinduism after she marries a Hindu man.The woman, in her appeal filed in 2012, said she had married a Hindu under the Special Marriage Act and should be allowed to retain her place in Parsi community. She had assailed the high court finding that a woman universally loses her paternal identity just because of her marriage with a man practising the Hindu religion. She had also sought the right to visit the ‘Tower of Silence’ in the event of her father’s death to perform last rites.The Tower is used for funerary purposes by the adherents of the Zoroastrian faith, in which the traditional practice for disposal of the dead involves the exposure of the corpse to the sun and vultures.The High Court had also held that she would be deemed to have acquired the religious status of her husband unless a declaration is made by a court for continuation of her Parsi status.The woman had approached the high court contending that even after her marriage with a Hindu man, she has continued to follow Zoroastrian religion and thus had the right to enjoy all privileges under the Parsi religion, including right to offer prayers at Agiari, a Parsi temple having the ‘holy fire’ and the ‘Tower of Silence’.She contended that her rights as a Parsi Zoroastrian cannot be denied on the ground that she has married a non- Parsi man. She had also argued that a male Parsi Zoroastrian continued to enjoy all rights available to a born Parsi, even if he is married to a non-Parsi Zoroastrian woman.

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India: Is Gujarat synonymous with development thanks to Modi?

As Gujarat votes, Reality Check looks at claims about its economic success by Narendra Modi’s ruling BJP.

As Gujarat votes for grand finale, Sabarmati waits for its star voter – PM Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in Sabarmati today, but not as an election campaigner but as a voter exercising his franchise.As Gujarat votes for the final phase of the Assembly elections today, Sabarmati’s Ranip locality is gearing up for its star voter.PM Modi, who earlier today, dedicated INS Kalvari at the Gateway of India in Mumbai is expected to reach Sabarmati somewhere around noon.Apart from the Prime Minister, other big names who cast their votes in the second phase were BJP President Amit Shah, senior party leader LK Advani, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.”(PM) Modiji will cast his vote at a poll booth in the Nishan High School in Ranip locality of Sabarmati. (LK) Advani will cast his vote at the Hindi School poll booth in Khanpur and (Arun) Jaitley at the Chimanbhai Institute in S G Highway,” a BJP release said.The second phase voting is underay in central and north Gujarat. Over 2 crore voters are cating their ballot to decide the fate of 851 candidates in the fray for 93 seats across 14 districts in the state.

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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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Gujarat elections 2017: PM Modi’s mother Heeraben casts her vote in Gandhinagar

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mother Heeraben cast her vote at a polling booth in Gandhinagar as the voting for the second phase of Gujarat Assembly elections began today.Former Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel has cast her vote in Ahmedabad’s Ghatlodia.BJP’s Bhupendra Patel is up against Congress’s Shashikant Patel on this seat.The voting will continue till 5 pm in more than 25,000 polling stations.In the second and final phase of elections today, 93 constituencies spread across 14 districts in north and central Gujarat are going to the polls.Also readGujarat Elections 2017 LIVE UPDATES: Polling for second phase underway, 7% turnout recorded till 9 amA total of 851 candidates are in the fray and over 2.22 lakh people will take part in the election to decide their fate.The security has been increased in various parts of the state in the wake of the polls.Also readGujarat Elections 2017 | In Behrampura, lack of parking near polling booths pushes people away from votingThe BJP has fielded 93 candidates for this phase, while Congress has fielded only 91.Prime Minister Modi, BJP Chief Amit Shah and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will also visit their constituencies to cast their votes.Also readGujarat elections 2017: Crimes on the rise ahead of Phase 2 in AhmedabadThe voter turnout in the first phase of the polls was 68 per cent.Meanwhile, repolling will be held tomorrow in two booths of Jamjodhpur constituency, two booths in Una, one in Nijjar, and one in Umargam.The results will be declared on December 18.In the 2012 assembly polls, the BJP won 115 seats, while the Congress bagged 61.

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Gujarat elections 2017: Kids cheer as several schools declare half-day

Schools in the city which will be converted into polling centres on Thursday, for phase 2 of Gujarat Assembly elections, declared a half-day holiday on Wednesday.As claimed by some school authorities, this year the preparations for the election day has been much stricter. Schools that operate in the noon were the ones which declared half day holiday.Dhimant Choksi, Administrator at Udgam School for Children, said, “This year, it seems that the preparations are on a larger scale. As against previous elections, when only local cops would come to our premise to get acquainted and do arrangements, this time, even CISF personnel are a part of security. Nearly 7-8 CISF people and 4-7 local cops have come to one centre”CN Vidyalaya too remained working only until noon as election officers apart from many Gujarati medium schools that run during the day. Nandini Rawal, executive director, Blind People’s Association, said, “For the first time, all centres will have wheelchair. This has only been done because of the Disabilities related Act which enforces access to all. While the government has arranged for wheelchairs.”

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UPA ministers ignored PM, reported to Rahul Gandhi: Piyush Goyal

Union Minister Piyush Goyal accused Rahul Gandhi of having scuttled developmental projects in Gujarat when Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister and the UPA was in power at the Centre.E-mails show that during the Congress-led UPA rule for a decade, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was not the first whip of the Cabinet, but it was Rahul, now president-elect of the Congress, who called the shots.In a second presser, within hours of the first on Wednesday, Goyal showed a series of e-mail correspondence between then Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan and Rahul’s political secretary, wherein the minister was found seeking and taking orders from the Gandhi scion.The e-mails also reveal that Natarajan was going behind Manmohan Singh’s back and was not just divulging privileged conversation with the PM to Rahul regarding developments in the ministry and the government, but was also seeking “guidance” from Rahul and his then Congress president mother Sonia Gandhi.Natarajan is also seen seeking time to meet Rahul’s aides.(Email exchange between Rahul Gandhi & Jayanthi Natarajan)Incidentally, Rahul was just a party functionary with no formal role in the government, but he is seen directing a minister on issues of national importance.It goes on to show that the first family of the Congress was in power rather than Manmohan Singh.In an e-mail, Natarajan tells Rahul how she was opposed to the introduction of GM Crops. She also informs in a complaining tone: “However, I have just received a call from the Prime Minister, where although I tried to convince him, he has specifically overruled me…” Also, she briefed Sonia Gandhi on this issue and claims to have sent a note by hand.Goyal cited another e-mail in which “Rahul Gandhi opposed Nirma project and instructed Natarajan to not give environmental clearance. He was willing to kill jobs in Gujarat to undermine and to hurt development agenda of Narendra Modi,” he said.In an e-mail, Rahul instructs Natarajan to not “dilute Nirma” as “Nirma is high priority, especially for Gujarat – no dilution must be allowed”.”A Home grown company was being killed by the petty politics of Rahul Gandhi,” Goyal said. Natarajan presents clarification on this issue, promising to “work tirelessly” to “justify confidence which CP and Rahul have placed” in her.Later, in yet another mail, Kanishka Singh, Rahul’s aide, “reminds” Natarajan that the case was coming up before the SC on December 9 and that “MoEF can move towards closure report”. Natarajan replies that she had already denied clearance to reject the Nirma project and that she had informed Rahul of this by e-mail.Similarly, the then minister admits to briefing Rahul on confidential instructions between her and then PM Manmohan Singh, seeking once more “urgent guidance” on Lavasa from Rahul. She discusses options and asks the Congress leader to be told about this and guidance be given to “proceed further”.In an e-mail, Rahul is seen inquiring about road projects in Amethi and Raebareli when none existed. “Knowledge of Rahul Gandhi was such that he did not know that there was no proposal on Amethi- Rae Bareilly Highway, but he was instructing Jayanthi Natarajan to clear it.”Nevertheless, Natarajan gives a detailed picture on the said file in less than two hours of receiving the e-mail. Also, she promises to immediately clear any proposal when received.In addition, she makes a promise regarding a file pertaining to “a Lucknow to Sultanpur road, which goes via Barabanki and Amethi/National Highway 56”: “I will see that the file is cleared before the end of the month.”

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Election Commission notice to Rahul Gandhi on poll code breach

A day before the final phase of polling in Gujarat, the Election Commission cracked the whip on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and certain television channels that aired his interviews even after the end of campaigning.The BJP and the Congress traded charges against each other for trying to influence the voters in the mandatory no-campaign period.Within hours of the filing of three complaints by the BJP, the EC served a showcase notice to Rahul on Wednesday and ordered FIR against certain Gujarati television channels.The EC asked Rahul to explain by December 18 why he violated the poll code of no campaign within 48 hours of the conclusion of the final day of polling.The EC also instructed the Gujarat Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) to stop the display of such matter in districts going to the polls on December 14. Following the EC’s step, the Congress reacted sharply and called it partisan. The party demanded from the EC that an FIR be filed against BJP leaders. At the EC’s doorstep, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala described it as an attempt to strangle the press.”In 2014 Mr Modi had given a television interview just a day before the polling, and on the day of polling, he had even displayed the BJP symbol, but EC did not act then. On December 8, a day before the first phase, the BJP finance minister released the manifesto but EC did not issue a show cause,” he said.In his first interview, Rahul said the “BJP is not scared of him but of the voice of Gujarat.””In the last three months, I have just raised the voice of Gujarat. They are not scared of me. They are scared of the voice of Gujarat. This election is not about Rahul Gandhi or Narendra Modi. This is about the voice of Gujarat,” Rahul told TV channels.He also accused the BJP of distorting his image by putting huge money.”There was no (image) makeover. BJP workers used money to distort the reality of Rahul Gandhi… a lot of money was put into this,” said Rahul.Reacting to the BJP’s oft-repeated line that Rahul is BJP’s biggest ally as he makes it win wherever he goes, he termed Prime Minister Narednra Modi his biggest help.The second phase of Gujarat is today, on December 14.Hitting out, Cabinet Minister Piyush Goyal said, “Congress is so scared and Rahul Gandhi is desperate to save his face. That is why he violated the Model Code of Conduct and gave interviews. We don’t think such interviews are allowed in the 48 hours prior to polls. We have never given such interviews.”He also claimed that the undercurrent which Rahul said was present in Gujarat, will work against the Congress, and the BJP will win over 150 seats in the 182-seat Assembly.In a strong retort, the Congress alleged that the BJP was threatening journalists in Gujarat for airing Rahul’s interview and urged the EC to take notice of it.Surjewala claimed that some journalists were receiving threats from high-level state BJP functionaries who were telling mediapersons that they would be jailed for violating the poll code.

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Bank NPAs biggest scam during UPA regime: PM Narendra Modi

On the eve of the second and final phase of polling in Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly defended his government’s economic policies — including GST — and launched a scathing attack on the previous UPA regime, saying rising bank NPAs were the biggest scam of its time.Modi alleged that banks were pressured to give loans worth thousands of crores of rupees to select industrialists, in a scam bigger than 2G, coal and Commonwealth Games. “The biggest scam of UPA government is related to business in banks. In a way, the hard-earned money of people was looted through industrialists,” he said. He also assured people that their bank deposits are safe, amid worries over a “bail-in” provision in the proposed Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill that actually “seeks to strengthen the banking system.”Speaking at a FICCI event on Wednesday, he said the objective behind GST was not to increase revenue but to connect traders with the formal system. BJP has been grappling with traders’ protesters in Gujarat over the new tax rolled out in July.The PM said it was the demand of Indian industries that GST should be implemented, and urged the trade body to spread awareness about the key economic reform.”Measures like GST do not get a solid footing all of a sudden. We are trying to change a system which has been there for 70 years. Our effort is that maximum traders register,” he said.”This was not brought because the government had to earn more tax. The more formal the system becomes, the more benefit will accrue to the poor. Traders will have more ease and they will be able get bank credit more easily,” the PM said. GST will reduce logistics costs, thereby enhancing competitiveness of businesses, he said.The PM said the hopes and aspirations of people are to rid the country of internal problems like corruption, and black money. Political parties and industry chambers should keep in mind the country’s requirements and feelings of people, and work accordingly, the PM said.Attacking “those who are making much noise on NPAs nowadays”, the PM said that this is the “biggest liability” handed over to this government by the “economists” in the previous regime.The PM made repeated references to the work done by his government. He said that 87 important reforms in key sectors, including defence, finance and food processing, have been taken up in the last three years. He said that fuel inflation has dropped in rural areas after more than 3 crore women were given free cooking gas connections under the Ujjwala scheme, while over Rs 4 lakh crore guarantee-less loans were given to about 9.75 lakh youth for business, leading to 3 crore new entrepreneurs being created since the launch of the Mudra scheme.He rued that rumours are being spread about the FRDI Bill, while the government is working to protect the interests of account holders.

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Man held for making hoax call to NIA

According to sources, the central agency informed Maharashtra ATS and Shaikh was detained and handed over to Gamdevi police who are probing the matter. During the investigation, it revealed that he made the call to trap his business partner who had enmity with him. A case has been registered.”

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<!–end of artlbotbor–><!–end of artlsocl–>Written Bydna Correspondent <!–end of artlbotbor–>Thursday 14 December 2017 1:25 ISTMust readMy husband was sleeping, says wife of ‘molester’Crammed planes a global norm; experts say focus on etiquette<!–end of artlmustredbx–><!–end of articllftpbx–>The Gamdevi police have registered a case against a 35-year-old man for allegedly making a hoax call to National Investigation Agency and Prime Minister’s office about the chemical attack in Gujarat during the election.According to the police, the NIA had received a call from an unknown person claiming that there would be a chemical attack in Gujarat during the election. Following the call, the central agency and other police authorities had begun the investigation and they found nothing suspicious and that the call was a hoax. The agency traced the call to Mira Road and identified the caller as Irshad Shaikh from Mira Road. A case was then lodged at the Gamdevi police station on Tuesday. According to sources, the central agency informed Maharashtra ATS and Shaikh was detained and handed over to Gamdevi police who are probing the matter. During the investigation, it revealed that he made the call to trap his business partner who had enmity with him. A case has been registered.

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Watch: Pained by falsehood and canards spread by PM Modi, says Manmohan; Amit Shah hits back

Manmohan Singh today stepped up his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the eve of the final phase of the Gujarat polls, releasing a video message where the former premier accused him of spreading “falsehood and canards” to score political points.The sharply-worded message, which was virtually a repeat of his written statement released on Monday, provoked an equally strong backlash from the BJP, which questioned Singh’s silence when “monumental loot” was taking place under his watch. The usually reticent Singh’s video was in response to Modi’s remarks insinuating that the former prime minister had colluded with Pakistan to influence the elections in Gujarat where the BJP and Congeress are locked in a contest, many say, is too close to call.”Fearing imminent defeat in Gujarat, desperation of Prime Minister to hurl every abuse and latch on to every straw is palpable,” Singh said in the message released to TV stations. Singh’s second salvo in three days was apparently aimed at ensuring there was no let up in the heat on the BJP ahead of tomorrow’s polling in 93 constituencies of Gujarat. The remaining 89 seats voted in the first phase on December 9.Results will be known on December 18.Also readBJP accuses Gandhi family of meddling in UPA govt decisions, says Rahul instructed minister to stall project in GujaratNot ready to cede any ground to the political rival, the BJP mounted a spirited counteroffensive, with its president Amit Shah questioning why he was “angry” now after being silent when “monumental loot” was taking place during his stint as prime minister. “We are seeing a very angry Manmohan Singh ji these days. We just want to ask him whether he was so angry when monumental loot and plunder was happening under his watch? The nation missed his anger then!” Shah tweeted.Also readParliament attack anniversary: Modi, Manmohan Singh shake hands after row over ‘Pak meddling’ allegationsShah asked why Singh was not angry and anguished when Modi was called Maut Ka Saudagar’ (merchant of death) or ‘neech’. The raucous campaign, marked by fiesty and often acrimonious speeches where Modi and Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi locked horns repeatedly, ended yesterday.”I am deeply pained and anguished by the falsehood and canards being spread to score political points in a lost cause by none less than Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he said and demanded an apology. Singh and Modi ran into each other earlier today at an event to pay homage to the victims of the 2001 Parliament attack, and greeted each other briefly. Singh urged the prime minister to show “maturity and gravitas, as expected of the high office he holds, instead of concentrating his energy solely on scoring “erroneously conceived brownie points”.”I sincerely hope that he will apologize to the nation for his ill thought transgression to restore the dignity of the office he occupies,” he said. Strongly rejecting the “innuendos and falsehoods” made by Modi, Singh said he did not discuss Gujarat elections with anyone else at the dinner hosted by Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, as alleged by Modi, and nor was the Gujarat issue raised by anyone else present at the dinner.”The discussion was confined to Indo-Pakistan relations.It is wrong and unfair to question nationalism of journalists, diplomats and public servants present at the dinner,” he said. Singh also asserted that Modi “is setting a dangerous precedent by his insatiable desire to tarnish every constitutional office, including that of a former prime minister and Army Chief”, and described it as sad and regrettable. Pointing out that Modi had gone to Pakistan uninvited after the terrorist attacks in Udhampur and Gurdaspur, Singh said, “Let him also tell the country the reason for inviting the infamous ISI of Pakistan to our strategic Air Base in Pathankot to investigate a terror attack that emanated from Pakistan.”Shah took on Singh over Rahul Gandhi publicly tearing a copy of an ordinance cleared by his Cabinet. “Where was his concern for the dignity of the Prime Minister s office when a Congress MP tore the ordinance in public,” Shah asked.

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BJP accuses Gandhi family of meddling in UPA govt decisions, says Rahul instructed minister to stall project in Gujarat

Hours ahead of voting for the second phase of Gujarat Assembly elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday accused the first family of Congress of interfering in governmental decisions during the UPA tenure and stalling development projects in the poll-bound state. Citing e-mail exchanges between former Environment Minister Jayanti Natarajan and Rahul Gandhi, Union Minister Piyush Goyal accused the Congress president-elect of meddling in government decisions. Goyal said Rahul Gandhi stalled the Nirma project in Gujarat by instructing Natarajan to not give environmental clearance to it.”We have accessed e-mail in which Jayanti Natarajan when UPA minister was even willing to go home to meet personal secretary of Rahul Gandhi. This was how people not a part of government interfered in governance during the UPA?” asked Goyal.”In UPA, how projects were stalled and environment ministry was used is evident in the email. Rahul Gandhi opposed Nirma project and instructed Jayanti Natarajan to not give environmental clearance. He was willing to kill jobs in Gujarat to undermine and to hurt development agenda of Narendra Modi,” Goyal added.The minister also attacked former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, calling him a “mere titular head” who was controlled by the mother-son duo of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.”Email exchanges between Rahul Gandhi and Jayanthi Natarajan show that all decisions were directly taken by the family and PM Manmohan Singh was just a titular head. Knowledge of Rahul Gandhi was such that he did not know that there was no proposal on Amethi-Rae Bareilly Highway, but he was instructing Jayanthi Natarajan to clear it,” he said. The charges by the BJP, which is trying to retain power in Gujarat, comes on the eve of the final phase of Gujarat Assembly elections. While the voting for 89 seats of Saurashtra and South Gujarat regions took place on Saturday, tomorrow’s polling will take place on 93 seats spread across 14 districts in north and central Gujarat. The counting of votes for all 182 seats will be taken up on December 18. (With inputs from ANI) Watch: Congress official emails: “Non-state players” ran the government and overruled Manmohan Singh

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Gujarat Elections 2017 Phase 2 : Can PM Modi’s late aggression save BJP’s day in North and Central Gujarat?

One fatal gaffe. Another clandestine meeting. All it took for the discourse in Gujarat elections to change completely. For the last two months, Congress has been the aggressor. From lack of Patidar quota, to distress in automobile hub in Sanand, from lack of post-flood relief to alleged Dalit atrocities, Congress was pounding on the questions and BJP already reeling from two decades of anti-incumbency was woefully short of answer. But all that changed with PM Modi raking the issue of Pak allegedly trying to make Ahmed Patel the CM and also using the neech-aadmi jibe to hilt. It certainly changed the mood and discourse of the campaign, despite all efforts of Congress. Will it work on the ground? It will be only known on 18th, but if it does, BJP should certainly be benefited in Central Gujarat. There are 40 seats in play in the districts of Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Anand, Kheda, Panchmahal, Dahod and Chhota Udaipur. BJP won 22 of the 40 seats last time around. But its seats have tapered since 2002, when the party did incredibly well after communal polarisation. Central Gujarat has been a traditional pocketborough of Congress but this time, several factors are against them. With Shanker Sinh Vaghela staying away, Congress is missing a real big face. Another high-profile exit from Congress is of Amul chairman Ramsinh Parmar. The BJP with its current stranglehold in milk dairy unions is looking to make major headways in Anand and Kheda. It’s sitting pretty to do well in Vadodara. Hardik Patel’s PAAS hasn’t really made much inroads in Central Gujarat and is likely to be a minor factor. Congress has been the traditional beneficiary of tribal votes in Gujarat. However, BJP with help of RSS and VHP has made powerful efforts to reach out to them. The tribal vote may well be the decisive factor in districts like Panchmahal, Dahod and Chhota Udaipur. (Rahul Gandhi in Anand-PTI)While Central Gujarat equation lies in a delicate balance, it is completely a riot in North Gujarat, with multiple factors at play. Mehsana is the epicentre of Patel agitation, from where it spread to the entire state like a volcano. Incidentally, it is the home district of PM Modi. Hence it is a battle of titans in Mehsana. Leading BJP’s charge there is none other than state Deputy CM Nitin Patel. But he has his work cut out with Hardik Patel’s soaring popularity among the youth. Even though Patel is barred from entering the district, his rallies in neighbouring Patan have made BJP anxious. 53 seats are there in six North Gujarat districts of Banaskantha, Patan, Sabarkantha, Mehsana, Gandhinagar and Aravalli. BJP won 32 out of 53 last time around and virtually swept in 2014 general elections. But the party is almost reconciled to some losses in North Gujarat with Hardik Patel effect extremely pronounced. But what may stop a complete rout for BJP is some self-goals from Congress and its allies. Alpesh Thakor’s poor seat selection has given BJP some lease of life. In total, there are 23 seats in North Gujarat where Thakor community has significant clout. (Hardik Patel campaigning in Ahmedabad- PTI)Thakor and Patels are the most influential caste groups in North Gujarat. BJP is hoping to split the Patel vote and also to prop-up other prominent social groups in some seats. It is repeat of the UP experiment by Amit Shah and in tune with it, party has given tickets to Kolis, Prajapatis etc. Tribal vote is key in North too, with they being a key player in 13 seats. With nearly 13 rebels in fray, Congress runs the risk of losing out in close seats. Also the ghost of Congress MLAs going away from Banaskantha during peak floods is haunting them. Congress ally Jignesh Mevani hasn’t exactly got the momentum he hoped for. Mevani allegedly taking donation from under-scanner PFI has only added to his headache. Rahul Gandhi though has aggressively campaigned, trying to mock the Gujarat model at a time when the state’s industrial juggernaut is showing some signs of slowdown. (PM Modi supporters thronging in large numbers-PTI)Whether Hardik’s ground game can match BJP’s potent organisation may well be the deciding factor in North Gujarat. But what may be the biggest factor in this election is still the master orator NaMo. Can Gujaratis afford to ignore his emotional appeal of giving a befitting reply to those who ‘insult’ him. Will emotion trump over hard-logic and ground situation. We will know soon.

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

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

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

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

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NGC gears up: Solar energy of ‘Thar’ to illuminate Gujarat & Punjab

Solar energy of the sandy areas of Jodhpur and Bikaner divisions will illuminate many villages of Punjab and Gujarat. National Grid Corporation has geared up and accelerated the work of laying the main line of 8000 KV for green energy corridor i.e. electronics corridor for solar energy production. It has also set a target to complete this work by August 2018. At present, the production of Jodhpur and Bikaner was not fully utilised at the local level. Now it is preparing to connect Moga of Punjab and Banaskantha of Gujarat.According to the plan, these corridors will link Jodhpur, Bikaner, Ajmer, Chittorgarh, Nagaur, etc, districts to Moga of Punjab and Banaskantha of Gujarat. Four substations have already been prepared for this. When it will be ready, the solar energy that will be created in Jodhpur and Bikaner, which produces the highest solar energy, will start illuminating entire northern India. It is worth mentioning that in the case of energy, 740 kV Bhakra power is the largest power line in the state whereas this is going to be 8 thousand kV line.Alok Dubey, Deputy General Manager, National Power Grid Corporation said that the project aims to be completed by August 2018. After this, investors in the Green Energy Corridor are expected to plant power plants from the state.The main line will be started from Banaskantha of Gujarat, which will reach Chittorgarh, Ajmer, Nagaur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Hanumangarh in Rajasthan and Moga of Punjab. Five GSS at Banaskantha, Jodhpur, Ajmer, Bikaner, and Moga are being made for this. GSS of Badla Solar Plant in Phalodi area of ​​Jodhpur district and GSS will be set up at the place of mines in Jamsar of Bikaner. At present, GSS of Jodhpur and Bikaner are producing the highest solar energy but 3 percent of it goes in power theft. After a corridor, this problem will not happen and people will get the full power here.THE MASTER PLANAccording to the plan, these corridors will link Jodhpur, Bikaner, Ajmer, Chittorgarh, Nagaur, etc, districts to Moga of Punjab and Banaskantha of Gujarat. Four substations have already been prepared for this. When it will be ready, the solar energy that will be created in Jodhpur and Bikaner, which produces the highest solar energy, will start illuminating. The main line will be started from Banaskantha, which will reach Chittorgarh, Ajmer, Nagaur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Hanumangarh in Rajasthan and Moga of Punjab. Five GSS at Banaskantha, Jodhpur, Ajmer, Bikaner, and Moga are being made for this.

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Ashok Gehlot game for the third generation Gandhi

This is the third generation of Gandhi family, Ashok Gehlot is working with. Since Indira Gandhi days when he was hand picked and made deputy union minister for tourism and civil aviation, he has been a true loyalist. His proximity with Rajiv Gandhi and then Sonia Gandhi is well known in political circle. And now his new found chemistry with Rahul Gandhi is creating waves. If Gujarat has come within the striking distance for Congress, credit goes to the dual efforts of Rahul and Gehlot. While Gehlot puts in his more than 4-decade rich political acumen in force, Rahul with his sheer boldness and untiring campaigning made it tough for PM Modi and his team.Gehlot, who was not considered a natural ally for Rahul Gandhi, has become his shadow.“He has virtually taken up number two position after Rahul in the party. It was quite evident when he was seen instructing senior leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and others during poll campaign in Gujarat,” said a senior Congressman.The miraculous revival of dead Congress in Gujarat has made Gehlot a national leader from a regional satrap. Now the party looks upto him for a larger role. A role which can bring back Congress in the 2019 elections.Senior party leaders have started speculating his future role even before results of Gujarat elections. Some say that he may play the role to Rahul what Ahmad Patel played to Sonia except the fund raising part as Gehlot is not comfortable in generating money for the party. Gehlot is the discovery of Gujarat elections for Congress. The way he brokered alliances Congress with youth power of Hardin Patel, Jignesh Mewani and Alpesh Thakore, he emerged as true ‘Chanakya’ of Congress.“Now Gehlot has overgrown for state politics. In Rajasthan elections also, Gehlot may have a say in ticket distribution and overall strategy but chances have brighten for Sachin to Pilot the elections,” said a senior party leader.The situation suits well to Vasundhara Raje also. She considers Gehlot as more fierce opponent than Pilot.“Pilot is aggressive and well placed to give a tough fight to BJP. Since Pilot has not been able to register any major victory against BJP during Raje’s rule, she is more comfortable contesting against him,” said a BJP leader.

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Gujarat elections 2017: Seaplanes for aam janta haven’t moved past MoU stage as yet

Amdavadis were treated to the sight of Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking off in a seaplane from Sabarmati riverfront to Dharoi Dam to offer prayers at Ambaji temple on Tuesday, the last day of campaigning before the second phase. This has given Amdavadis hope of travelling by a seaplane themselves in the near future, but little do they know that though a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) regarding this connectivity was signed at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit this year, nothing concrete has happened after that.DNA had reported in January that to boost aviation, the government had planned seaplane connectivity — wherever there is a water body — across Gujarat.An MoU was signed between Gujarat State Aviation Infrastructure Company Ltd (GUJSAIL) and Supreme Airlines to promote this new mode of transport. Speaking to DNA, Captain Akash Agarwal, vice-president, Supreme Airlines, had said, “We will start operations by April this year from the Sabarmati riverfront, and thereafter connect various other destinations. Aviation enthusiasts can enjoy joy rides or use it to commute to tourist spots surrounded by water. We will invest Rs 40 crore. As of now, we operate in Rajasthan.”However, since there has been no talks this since then. Sources in aviation sector say the tendering process for seaplane connectivity is yet to be undertaken. “The MoU was signed with Supreme Airlines, which presently operates between Ahmedabad and Jodhpur,” says a source. “Perhaps they are looking for land and will begin the tendering process after that. As of now, nothing has happened on that front.”Speaking about PM’s seaplane, highly-placed sources said, “The entire arrangement was made by the Centre in partnership with SpiceJet. The central government intends to implement seaplane connectivity across the country. A demonstration was conducted recently in Mumbai and today (on Tuesday), there was another demonstration.””To implement amphibian planes,” informed another source, “firstly, a jetty is required, and then the necessary infrastructure. Once these are in place, various permissions will have to be sought.”TWITTER JIBEFormer J&K CM Omar Abdullah questioned the PM’s protocol on Twitter. “How is it that the security guidelines were relaxed for this flight? No Z+ protectee is allowed to fly in a single engine aircraft.”

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Gujarat Elections 2017 | How BJP made inroads into Central Gujarat voters

Central Gujarat, once a Congress’ fort, is slipping from its hands gradually. The lower voting in Saurashtra has worried the ruling party and it now plans to compensate a part of its loss from central region of the state.It is dominated by the Patel and Thakor (OBC) communities and both are going edge to edge having socio political importance in this region considering Kheda, Anand and some part of Vadodara districts, whereas tribal communities are big in number in Dahod, Panchmahals and Chhota Udepur districts.In 2007 Assembly polls, the region excluding Vadodara city’s three seats had 41 seats of which Congress got 22 seats and alliance party NCP got two seats, while BJP got 16 seats and one went to independent candidate.After new delimitation, 35 seats excluding Vadodara’s five urban seats were formed and first polls were held in 2012. BJP won 16 seats and an independent came in support to the party, while Congress and NCP alliance got 18 seats with Congress’s 17 seats. This indicates that BJP gained in this region.Looking at caste equations, 10 seats in central Gujarat are reserved for ST candidate and tribal voters have remained Congress supporters as seven candidates of party won here while BJP got three seats in 2012 polls. Senior Congress leaders like Sonia Gandhi and former PM Manmohan Singh have kept visiting the area in the past to keep the vote bank intact.The young leader of BJP and in-charge of this tribal belt in Dahod and Panchmahals district, Amit Thaker, said, “The situation in Dahod and Panchmahals is in favour of BJP this time. Local party workers have done a meticulous work here to swing the votes towards BJP. Former CM Modi has done a lot for this region.”The party is also claiming recovery in Kheda and Anand districts where Patel and OBC dominate. Hardik Patel led reservation agitation and Alpesh Thakor’s movement here had little impact but locals have high regard for local leaders of their community and would vote for them.Kheda MP Devusinh Chauhan said, “After 2007, BJP has emerged as popular party in these two districts. We started with local government bodies where BJP came to power. MLAs like Ramsinh Parmar and Mansinh Chahuan are senior leaders of Congress who defected to the BJP and now will help us get more seats in Central Gujarat.”Congress, however, has been trying to save its fort and pitch government’s failure. The party does not agree that defection of two senior leaders would affect its prospects.The vice-president of GPCC, Maulin Vaishnav, said, “No other factor matters as our president Bharatsinh Solanki belongs to this region. People from Central Gujarat love Congress and our leaders have good reputation here. We have been focusing over BJP government’s failure in last 22 years. I foresee a great performance by Congress in Central Gujarat this time.”The land of AmulThe White Revolution began in form of Amul Dairy, a cooperative milk producing society, from this region. It is also the native of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and former CM of Gujarat, Madhavsinh Solanki, who had floated KHAM theory to finish dominance of upper class communities including Patel by uniting Kshatriya, Harijan(SC), Adivasi(ST) and Muslim communities.

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Centre calls for all-party meet

The Centre has called for an all-party meeting on Thursday, a day ahead of the beginning of the Winter Session of the Parliament. The meet, called for by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar, will be held at the Parliament Library in order to prepare a roadmap for the Session, which ends on January 5.Kumar had asked for the cooperation from across parties, specially from the Opposition, so that the session could carry on uninterrupted. The Centre has come under increasing attacks from the Opposition after the Winter Session of the Parliament was delayed because of the Gujarat polls.There are several significant bills that are up for this session. These include the bill on triple talaq and another on the constitutional status to the backward class commission.The Opposition, on the other hand, is convening its own members on the same day at the Parliament office of its senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad. The Congress is likely to send senior members including Anand Sharma, Mallikarjun Kharge, apart from Azad to the meet.

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Gujarat Elections 2017 | How Patidars can turn the tide this elections

Everything does not seem hunky dory in the BJP camp as Gujarat moves close to the second crucial phase of polls for 93 seats on December 14. Ground reports of overwhelming consolidation of Patidars in the first phase of polls in which 89 seats are up for grabs in South and Western Gujarat have left the BJP worried, sources said.Party sources said if consolidation of Patidar votes, who constitute about 12-13% of Gujarat’s population, against BJP continues in the second phase, it can alter results at least on 47 seats if not more, most of which had been won by the BJP in 2012 Assembly elections. A sizeable consolidation of Patidar votes against BJP can have impact on 65 to 70 seats.”The predictions of a massive BJP sweep can overturn if the Patidars have consolidated and voted against us, as the ground reports suggests,” said a district level BJP leader.The dip of 4.6% in the voting this year also may not augur well for the BJP as it observers in Gujarat say it could be because of disenchantment among BJP voters who chose not to come out to vote.The report of a think tank that works for the BJP also suggests a sizeable shift in voting pattern in the first phase, sources said. Although it has given the BJP 51 out of 89 seats in the first phase, it also signals significant gain for the Congress that had won only 16 of these seats in 2012 elections. BJP had won about 67 of these seats.Many observers in Gujarat are attributing the sudden sting in PM Narendra Modi’s attack against Congress to this factor.”Unexpected and extraordinary situations need similar responses. It is only natural and perhaps the only possible way to arrest the slide,” said a trader in Surat who is very close to the RSS.Modi’s allegations of Pakistan meddling in the Gujarat elections and dragging former PM Manmohan Singh into the controversy to annoint Ahmed Patel as Gujarat CM indicate one such extraordinary response, he said.He conceded that the predicament of traders in Surat and other places even if they are close to RSS is that they want the BJP to form the government but with wafer thin majority and strong opposition, it can be reined in from taking steps detrimental to the business.But there is caveat to these assumptions which is the relentless final blitz by PM Modi. Past elections have seen Modi turning the tide with his oratory skills and emerging winner in the final analysis.”A lot depends on how the people of Gujarat take Modi’s message in the final lap,” said a BJP leader.How Cong gainedThe report of a think tank that works for the BJP also suggests a sizeable shift in voting pattern in the first phase, sources said. Although it has given the BJP 51 out of 89 seats in the first phase, it also signals significant gain for the Congress that had won only 16 of these seats in 2012 elections. BJP had won about 67 of these seats.

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Gujarat Elections 2017 | PM Modi’s words on former PM unacceptable: Rahul Gandhi

Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi continued his attack on the BJP reiterating that he would not use bad language against the Prime Minister despite provocation.On the issue of Modi’s allegations about Pakistan and Mani Shankar Aiyar’s statement, Rahul said, “He spoke about Modiji who is also the PM and such things will not be tolerated. We have taken action against him. But, what Modiji talked about Manmohan Singh is also unacceptable. Singh is the former PM of India,” said Gandhi.He said that though Modi says a lot of bad things about him, he will not use bad language for the Prime Minister.On why he had been touring several temples, Rahul said he often visits temple. “The BJP may like you to believe that I only visited them in Gujarat. I even visited Kedarnath, is it in Gujarat? Usually we have political meetings but this time we had political yatra and all those places that had a temple I visited them. I prayed for a better future for Gujarat and its youth,” said Gandhi.It should be noted that Gandhi visited the Jagannath temple in Ahmedabad prior to the press conference, one of the many he has been visiting during his tour of the state. He also retierated that a Congress government would work for everyone and not just 10 to 15 rich people. Gujarat Congress president Bharat Solanki reiterated that the party would win 55 seats in the first phase of elections held on December 9. 89 constituencies went to polls in the first phase.Rahul meets martyr Tadvi’s daughterRahul Gandhi on Tuesday met Rupal Tadvi, the daughter of martyr Ashok Tadvi, before flying off to Delhi. Rupal shot into limelight after a video of her being dragged from CM Vijay Rupani’s public meeting in Kevadia Colony went viral. Rupal wanted to meet the CM to demand for the land that was promised to them after her father’s death. Gandhi had also tweeted about the incident and the Gujarat government swung into action.

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Unava stands testimony to communal harmony

As the campaign wrapped up for the second and last phase of polls in Gujarat, Khadim of Mira Datar Saiiyed, Altafmiya spoke about the warmth that Muslims and local Patidars exchanged even today, notwithstanding the scars of 2002 post Godhra riots, which saw Muslims from Unjha deserting homes and settling here.In the Prime Minister Narendra Modi versus Rahul Gandhi blitgkreig campaign Modi, Mandir and Mandal dominated the poll discourse in Gujarat, but the Muslim factor got pushed into the background in the one of most keenly contested elections.But amid the polarised campaign in Gujarat, a shrine of Hazrat Sayyad Ali Mira Datar located in Unava, 80 km away from Ahmedabad, stands testimony of the communal harmony.The shrine in a fort like structure near river Pushpavati, falls in Prime Minister Modi’s hometown Mehsana. Modi’s native village Vadnagar falls in Unjha constituency, of which Unava is a part.The Muslim population in Unava is around 7,000, outnumbered by Hindus, who are 30,000 in number. They include Patidars, the OBCs, Thakors. Around 2,000 Muslims had migrated to Unava from areas like Patan, Mehsana, Unjha and Shivpur and their properties are still here.”The influential Patidars living there have asked the Muslims to come back. After some time maybe,” says Haaji Abdul Islam.He discusses with gusto, the impact that the GST could make on poll results but insists there is no communal tension in the area now. “Our farms are close to each other. After 2002, there were no communal riots here. The Patels come to our rescue when we need to get some work done from the government. They are influential and helpful,” says Fazoo Mian.He also recalls that Gujarat Chief Minister Chimanbhai Patel had represented the Unjha Assembly seat in 1985 and in 1990, had got a water tank constructed in the name of Datar Baba.The community, though mostly inclined to vote for Congress, wants to move beyond 2002 riots, talking of its good relationship with neigbouring Hindus.A youth Aftab says, “2002 riots is an old issue. Most of the doctors have their residences and clinics in Patidar areas. So if somebody from our family falls sick, we go there even at midnightThere are nine doors of pure silver including “Jannati Darwaja” to enter the dargah. It is believed that whoever is “possesed by evils, gets cured if he or she comes to dargah with devotion. It was due to his miraculous powers of healing that the honorific of Meera Datar was added to Sayyad Ali. The fortlike structure in which the dargah is located once had a flour grinding mill called ‘Daadi Maa Ki Chakki”, which was later removed and a gumbad was constructed in its place. Those who visit the shine believe that if anyone possessed of an evil spirit takes seven round of the gumbad, his evil spirit is gone. The devotees believe that a visit at the shrine can free oneself form black magic, unknown mysterious diseases, incurable physical and psychiatric problems.In 2012, the state government, an NGO named Altruist and the trustees of the dargah had joined hands to help the mentally ill, who visit the shrine in hope of relief.The faith healers at the dargah, who called themselves ‘Mujawars’ says they are descendants of Saiyad Ali.Since Hindus also visit the shrines in large numbers, apart from 70 rooms for guests in dargah compound, there are four guest houses for Hindus and specially for Jain Hindus.In Unjha, BJP has fielded octogenarian Narayanbhai Lalludas Patel, who has won the seat consecutively for last five term while Congress has fielded Ashaben Patel.As the contest promises to be a keen one this time with Patidars inclined towards Congress, both Muslims and Patels, who in 2002 were on the cross roads, seems standing together as far as their political preferences are concerned.”Patels are always with BJP. But Modi government has implemented GST. After that there is some anger against the government among Patidar businessmen. Let us see what happens this time,” says Fazoo Mian.

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Gujarat elections 2017: It will be a close fight, say Mumbai Gujaratis

As campaigning came to an end in Gujarat, Gujaratis in Mumbai said that permutations were running in all directions. While it was a prestige issue for the BJP, it was next to do or die for the Congress, said most Gujaratis who live in large numbers in in Mumbai and have always felt a direct connect for the state.A large part of both Maharashtra and Gujarat have been part of the Bombay presidency before the states were formed. Though a number of Gujaratis stayed and have voting rights here, the connect with their native place exists to date.”This time it is going to be tough,” said Ramesh Shah, a Kutchi who runs a ration shop in Dhobi Talao area. Shah had just come back to his shop after lunch, in which he saw Hardik Patel’s rally. Patel is the emerging face of the Patidar agitation, a community to which Sardar Patel belonged and played a decisive role in Gujarat. “Though my area has already voted, what I hear when I speak to my relatives is that it is a tough battle this time around,” said Shah.He is not the only one. After series of protests, a feeling that it will not be as easy has percolated in the community which has for the past 20 years voted BJP for power. “A fraction of voters may be divided but BJP is going to win,” said Hemant Joshi, a Chartered Accountant by profession who lives in Vile Parle.A follower of Swaminarayan sect which has openly thanked the BJP, Joshi’s relatives are in Ahmedabad. He added, “People are not going to take what Mani Shankar and others have said. They have insulted people. People have seen development and will vote accordingly.”Demonitization and GST are behind them now.”Both were needed,” said Lalit Jain, an owner of a utensil shop. On GST, which many from his industry had alleged stalled business, Jain said, “That is behind people now. A number of them feel Modi is the leader.”However, these are the very reasons that have put off some like Rajendra Dharod, a businessman. “Last year, the election centered around vikas (development). This time, both parties are not talking about it,” said Dharod who lives in Thane.

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First bundle of TOT’s equity IRR seen at 12-13%: Crisil

The equity Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of the first bundle of highways being auctioned under the Toll-Operate-Transfer (TOT) model would range between 12% and 13%, a Crisil Research’s report has said.The IRR has been arrived on the basis of National Highways Authority of India’s (NHAI) initial estimated concession value.The first TOT bundle has nine operational highway projects in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Gujarat.Of the nine projects, six are from Andhra Pradesh (National Highway 5) and balance three in Gujarat (National Highways 8A and 8B). The ones in the southern state are – Siddhantham-Gunduglanu (71.95-kms), Diwancheruvu-Siddhantham (49.04-km), Annavaram- Diwancheruvu (70.98-km), Ankapalli-Annavaram (88.53-km), Icchapuram-Narasannapeta (96.70-km) and Puintola-Icchapuram (64.40-km). The three projects from the western state are – Bamanbore-Garamore (71.94-km), Garamore-Samakhiyali (51.46-km) and Porbandar-Jetpur (115.64-km).The government is likely to earn a minimum of Rs 6,258 crore from the 680.64-km of highways having a concession period of 30 years.Under TOT model, an upfront payment will be paid to NHAI against awarding operation and maintenance rights to the private company.“A cluster of manufacturing industries and ports in Vishakhapatnam, Kakinada, Kandla and Mundra are expected to be the drivers of transportation demand. The economic corridor in the east coast is also expected to improve traffic potential in Andhra Pradesh,” read Crisil’s report released on Tuesday.“But the highway stretches in Gujarat are more attractive than those in Andhra Pradesh because of the presence of industrial clusters and consumption centres in the periphery,” said Prasad Koparkar, Senior Director of Crisil Research.However, the report adds that the key risks to the bundle are the impact of Goods and Services Tax and alternate routes. Crisil’s director Binaifer Jehani said, “The four-laning of Gundugolanu-Kovur Road in Andhra Pradesh would divert considerable freight traffic from Gundugolanu to Diwancheruvu.”The risk factors includes latent defects and severe economic slowdown, which are difficult to anticipate, can increase the maintenance cost and substantially reduce traffic.Bid for awarding first TOT contract is scheduled to open on January 10.

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Gujarat Elections 2017: On last day of campaign, PM Modi makes a splash with seaplane ride

Prime Minister Narendra Modi ended the campaign for the second phase of Gujarat assembly polls in style today as he took a seaplane ride from the Sabarmati River in Ahmedabad to Dharoi Dam in north Gujarat and returned after offering prayers at the famous Ambaji Temple.He boarded the single-engine seaplane from near the Sardar Bridge connecting the old city with Ahmedabad West and flew to Dharoi Dam in Mehsana district.Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani claimed this was the first time a seaplane landed on a water body in the country.A special floating platform was constructed on the river to facilitate the prime minister board the plane.The plane took off from the Sardar Bridge-end amid chants of “Modi-Modi” from BJP workers and city-dwellers, who flocked to the Sabarmati riverfront.After his plane landed on the water of Dharoi dam, the prime minister proceeded to the Ambaji Temple in Banaskantha district via road.Watch: Quest Kodiak aircraft, the seaplane taken by PM Modi from Sabarmati riverFrom Dharoi dam site, he reached the temple by road after covering a distance of around 50km. He was greeted by the people of Ambaji town during a roadshow that stretched from the outskirts of the temple town till near the shrine.A large number of locals lined up on both sides of the road leading to the famous shrine to have a glimpse of Modi, who reciprocated by waving at them.At the temple, Modi performed ‘puja’ of Goddess Amba Mata and took blessings from priests. He spent almost 15 minutes at the temple.From the temple, he arrived at the Dharoi dam site and boarded the seaplane for a return journey to the Sabarmati River.A large number of common people and BJP workers gathered on the Sabarmati riverfront to greet the prime minister upon his arrival.Yesterday, Modi told an election rally that for the first time in the history of the country a seaplane would land on the Sabarmati river.”I will go to Ambaji in the seaplane after landing in Dharoi dam and come back,” he said.He said the BJP had planned a roadshow today in Ahmedabad. “However, the administration didn’t give permission (for the event). As I had time, I decided to go to Ambaji in the seaplane,” Modi said.”We cannot have airports everywhere, so our government has planned to have these seaplanes,” he said.Rupani yesterday said this would for the first time in the country’s history that a seaplane would land on a water body and that would be the Sabarmati river.The campaigning for the second and final phase of voting which will take place on December 14, covering the remaining 93 assembly seats, ended this evening.The first phase of polling, covering 89 seats, took place on December 9. The results will be declared on December 18. Gujarat has a 182-member assembly.

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

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

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Gujarat elections 2017: Alpesh Thakor says PM Modi became fair after eating mushroom, Twitter reacts hilariously

Today is the last day of campaign for the Gujarat elections. And in the heat and dust of election, we have seen several political leaders making rather outrageous statements. But as they say the best (or rather the worst) was saved for the last. Prominent OBC leader and Congress candidate Alpesh Thakor on Tuesday levelled a bizarre allegation against PM Modi. He said that PM’s complexion has turned fair after eating mushrooms imported from Taiwan, each of which cost Rs 80,000. “Someone told me that you can’t eat what Modi ji eats, because it’s not a food for the poor,” Thakor said during an election rally. He further said, ” “One mushroom costs Rs 80,000, and he eats five mushrooms a day. That is why I wonder how he turned so fair. He was as dark as me,” Thakor added.”The Prime Minister who eats mushrooms worth Rs 1.20 crore in a month, you can imagine how many crores of money his workers must be eating up,” said the OBC leader. Also readAlpesh Thakor gamble may cost Cong N GujaratBut soon mushroom started to trend on Twitter and people started making jokes about Thakor. Also readGujarat elections 2017 | Jolt to Alpesh Thakor as key aide joins BJP

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

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

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Gujarat assembly elections: Politics in India has become ugly, I want to change it, says Rahul Gandhi

Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi on Monday said that he aims to raise the bar of the country’s political discourse. Speaking to reporters at a press conference in Ahmedabad, Gandhi said, “Personally, I want to change the political discourse of the country; it has become very ugly and nasty.” “The prime minister may call me names and he may use wrong language to refer to me, but like I said, I will never do that. I respect the position of the prime minister,” said Gandhi. Gandhi also said that his first job as the party’s president to strengthen its organisational structure and that he was quite confident that the Congress is winning the Assembly elections in Gujarat. “As party president, my priority will be to strengthen the party and you will see that in Gujarat,” he said. Also readGujarat assembly elections: PM Narendra Modi takes off in seaplane from Sabarmati riverHe then trained his gun on PM Modi flying a seaplane on the Sabarmati. “The PM wants to fly in a plane and give a miss to the real issues in Gujarat; these are just distractions. In Gujarat, the development has been one-sided and only a handful few has benefitted. I’ve asked him several questions for which he has no answer: Are there teachers in all the schools or not, are the doctors in all the hospitals or not, are there lapses in the Rafale deal or not. He chooses not to answer,” Gandhi said.

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Gujarat Elections 2017: MLAs’ assets rise by as much as 13 times in five years

Assets of Gujarat MLAs have gone up sharply in the last five years, including more than 13 times in the case of one and over 12 times in the case of another, an analysis by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Gujarat Election Watch (GEW) shows.The NGOs analysed the poll affidavits of 121 sitting MLAs, who are re-contesting in the ongoing assembly elections.”The average assets of these 121 MLAs from various parties, including independents, were at Rs7.56 crore in 2012. The average assets as per the 2017 election affidavits have gone up to Rs10.54 crore, which is an increase of Rs2.98 crore or 39% in five years,” ADR and GEW said in the analysis.The average assets of 81 re-contesting BJP MLAs increased by 57% from Rs6.82 crore to Rs10.70 crore. Similarly, average assets of 37 Congress MLAs went up by 14% from Rs8.88 crore to Rs10.12 crore, while that of two NCP MLAs rose by 3% from Rs15.61 crore to Rs16.04 crore.Strongman Chhotu Vasava, who is contesting on Bhartiya Tribal Party symbol, saw his assets decline 17% from Rs2.70 crore to Rs2.24 crore, as per his election affidavits.Saurabh Patel on topFormer finance and energy minister Saurabh Patel saw the highest rise in his assets in absolute terms. In 2012, the BJP MLA had declared assets worth Rs56.60 crore, which have gone up to Rs123.78 crore in these elections – an increase of 119%.He is followed by BJP MLA from Dwarka, Pabubha Manek, whose assets have gone up from Rs31.86 crore to Rs88.42 crore, a rise of 178%.The assets of Dinesh Patel, BJP MLA from Padra seat in Vadodara, increased by 56% from Rs39.41 crore as per the 2012 poll affidavit to Rs61.30 crore in 2017.First-time MLA sees 1,348% riseAs far as percentage rise is concerned, Manisha Vakil, BJP MLA from Vadodara City seat, saw the highest rise. In 2012, her maiden election as MLA, she had declared assets of Rs7.12 lakh, which have surged 1,348% to Rs1.03 crore.BJP MLA from Fatepura (ST) seat Ramesh Katara’s assets have surged by 1,205% from Rs6 lakh in 2012 to Rs78.32 lakh in 2017, according to his election affidavits.Minister Ganpat Vasava, who is seeking a fourth term from Mangrol (ST) seat saw his assets jump by more than four times since the last elections. From Rs60.15 lakh in 2012, he declared assets of Rs3.11 crore in 2017.The analysis reveals that three sitting MLAs, Amit Chaudhary (BJP: Mansa seat), Sangita Patil (BJP: Limbayat) and Gendal Damor (Congress: Santrampur ST), saw their assets rise by over 300%.There are six other re-contesting MLAs whose assets saw an increase of more than 200% since 2012, and 14 others whose assets rose by over 100%.The analysis reveals that 76 other re-contesting MLAs saw their assets rise by up to 100%. However, 21 others also saw their assets decline since 2012.

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Farm sector in distress under BJP government: Rohit Shukla

Members of the Lokshahi Bachavo Abhiyan on Monday alleged that the condition of agriculture and farmers under the BJP government in Gujarat is in a dismay.Talking to mediapersons, Abhiyan member and an economist Rohit Shukla claimed that though agriculture and its ancillary fields are the largest employment generating sector in Gujarat, the farmers’ condition is pathetic as the government is focussed on industrialisation. “The average monthly income of the farming family is Rs6,426 only. On one hand, input cost is increasing and agricultural products are fetching lower prices and on the other hand the Minimum Support Price (MSP) is not enough to meet the cost. The Swaminathan Committee had suggested minimum support price should be based on input cost plus 50 percent amount,” he said.Citing an example he alleged that the present government is anti-farmer. “If a farmer is having his field near an irrigation canal and if the water level increases in the well on the field, the farmer is liable to pay water charges of irrigation, even if he/she has not drawn water from the canal,” he said.Taking it further, economist Hemant Shah alleged that 55% population is dependent on agriculture and ancillary sectors. “A farmer’s family earning is meagre Rs6,426 per month and out of that too, income from agriculture is just Rs3,078, rest comes from animal husbandry and labour activity. Farm loan scheme announced by the state government is an eyewash,” he said.Social activist Mahesh lambasted the government alleging that it has failed to take the Narmada or any other irrigation scheme’s water to the farms.

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

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

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For 18 years, did not feel like resting: PM Narendra Modi in Nadiad

Continuing his tirade against the Congress, PM Narendra Modi on Monday said in Nadiad that unlike Congress, he does not have anyone to think of other than the country.”I am sitting in Delhi since 3.5 years and after I came, I saw that they had emptied the ‘Tijori’. They would just work on how to get work of their relatives done, and then, if time and money is left, they would think about the country. Do I have to collect money for anyone or am I worried for anyone? I do not have anyone except you. You have seen me as a CM for 14 years and as a PM for 3.5 years. There is not even a single day that I felt like resting.”He said, “They have issues with me, Morarji Desai, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, but why against development. Those who have cycle, don’t they wish to have a scooter. Doesn’t a tenant wish to have a house, is this not development?”In their speeches, Congress alleged that there are no good hospitals or roads in Gujarat. I want to ask them, “Have you opened a hospital that I shut down? Did you constructed roads and I made potholes on them?”He said, “My friends in Congress say that Modi works for industrialists. 30 crore poor had never seen doors of the bank under the reign of those who ran votebank in the name of poor. And today, those 30 crore poor have opened bank accounts. While the rich flaunt their debit cards at various places, to empower the poor, we have given debit cards to 22 crore people. Is this not ‘Vikas’?” Reminding people of presence of Congress, he added, “The Congress went out from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, Manipur, Arunachal, Sikkim, Goa, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, MP, Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand, UP, Uttarakhand and J&K.” He told crowd, “I will only be happy if lotus blooms in each and every booth. Ready to take responsibility?”

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PM Modi congratulates Rahul Gandhi for becoming Congress President, wishes him a fruitful tenure

On Monday, PM Modi put aside political bitterness and rivalry to congratulate Rahul Gandhi on his elevation as Congress President. He wrote on Twitter: “I congratulate Rahul Ji on his election as Congress President. My best wishes for a fruitful tenure. @OfficeOfRG.”Rahul Gandhi has been elected unopposed as Congress president, party’s central election authority head Mullappally Ramachandran announced here today. Rahul Gandhi will collect the certificate formally declaring his ascension to the post on December 16, he told reporters here.Also readGujarat elections 2017: Rahul Gandhi visits Dakor temple, continues attack on NaMoThe 47-year-old scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family was the lone candidate in the fray.Also readGujarat elections 2017 | Final leg: PM Modi, Rahul Gandhi in Gujarat todayRahul Gandhi succeeds his mother Sonia Gandhi, who remained in the post for 19 years.The CEA received a total of 89 nomination papers proposing Rahul Gandhi’s name for the top post. All the nomination papers were found to be valid, Ramachandran said.Also readGujarat elections 2017 | I am still your own Narendrabhai: PM Modi”Since the withdrawal of date/time is over and as there is only one candidate (Rahul), as per Article XVII (d) of the Constitution of Indian National Congress, I hereby declare Shri Rahul Gandhi elected as president of the Indian National Congress,” Ramachandran said.Rahul Gandhi became the vice-president of the party in January 2013.

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Facing imminent defeat in Gujarat, PM Modi spreading falsehood and canards: Manmohan Singh

Former PM Manmohan Singh has issued a strong statement rebutting PM Narendra Modi’s accusation that Gujarat elections was discussed in a meeting held in Mani Shankar Aiyar’s home where ex-Pak Foreign Minister was present. Manmohan Singh in a statement has denied that Gujarat polls was discussed in their meeting. He said that he is ‘deeply pained’ by ‘falsehood and canard’ done for winning election. Manmohan Singh says that PM Modi is ‘setting a dangerous precedent by his insatiable desire to tarnish every constitutional office’. Continuing his attack, Manmohan Singh says that the Congress party doesn’t need any lesson in nationalism from BJP. He reminded PM Modi the instance about landing in Pakistan uninvited and also questioned why ISI officials were allowed to enter Pathankot terror base. Also readNothing more than Indo-Pak relations were discussed at Aiyar’s residence: Ex-Army Chief rejects PM’s allegationEx- PM said that his track record for last five decades in public life is for everyone to see and he categorically rejects ‘innuendos and falsehoods’. Manmohan Singh in his statement also enclosed names of dignitaries present in the meeting and said none of them could be accused of anti-national activity.The ex- PM signed off the statement hoping PM Modi will apologise to the nation for levelling false allegation and will try to show maturity and gravitas expected of the high office. Also readWhy did Manmohan Singh not show courage to order surgical strikes post 26/11 attack: PM ModiHere is the full statement:Earlier, the Congress party came down heavily upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi for alleging that Pakistan was meddling in the Gujarat assembly polls and supporting Congress leader Ahmed Patel to have him elevated as the chief minister of the state.Dubbing Prime Minister Modi’s statement as ‘irresponsible’ and ‘outrageous’, Congress leader Anand Sharma demanded an apology from him. “Ex-Pakistan Foreign Minister was here to attend a wedding. There was a dinner organised for him in which there were former diplomats, former army chief among other dignitaries. Does the prime minister think they were all conspiring with Pakistan? This is reprehensible. It’s expected of the prime minister to use a language which is equivalent to his post. He should retract his statement and should apologise to maintain the decorum of his post,”Sharma said.He further said that Prime Minister Modi’s remarks show that the BJP has realised it was going to lose the Gujarat elections.”The Prime Minister has said Congress is conspiring with Pakistan for Gujarat elections. Its outrageous. This is just an attempt to polarise ahead of second phase of voting in Gujarat polls.This also shows their desperation and that BJP’s loss is now certain,” he added.Yesterday, while addressing a rally in Gujarat’s Banaskantha, Prime Minister Modi alleged that former Pakistan Army director general Arshad Rafique was helping Patel to become the Gujarat chief minister. “Former Pakistan Army director general Arshad Rafique was backing and willing to help make Ahmed Patel the chief minister,” he said. The prime minister had also questioned suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and former vice-president Hamid Ansari’s meeting with the Pakistan High Commissioner.Meanwhile, Pakistan Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal has asked India to stop dragging Pakistan into its electoral debate. With agency inputs

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It’s official! Rahul Gandhi is Congress boss now

It’s official now! Rahul Gandhi has been elected as the president of the Congres party on Monday. The 47-year-old was elected as the boss of the Grand Old Part of India unoppsed, Congress leader Mullappally Ramachandran was quoted as saying by the news agency ANI.Addressing the media at party headquarters, Ramachandran said, “89 nomination proposals were received,all were valid.Since there was only one candidate.I hereby declare Rahul Gandhi elected as the president of Indian National Congress.”The Gandhi scion will assume the office on December 16. The event will mark a generational shift in the Grand Old Party of India when Sonia Gandhi, the longest-serving Congress president, would formally hand over the baton to her son.The announcement of Rahul Gandhi’s elevation came on the last date of withdrawal of nomination for the election of the Congress president which is a one horse race.DNA had reported on December 4 that the big announcement would be made on December 11.On December 28, which happens to be the Foundation Day of the Congress, Rahul Gandhi is likely to take over from his mother Sonia Gandhi.Among those who proposed Rahul Gandhi’s name in the first set of nomination papers were Sonia Gandhi, Motilal Vora, Ahmed Patel, Mohsina Kidwai, Kamal Nath, Ashok Gehlot, Mukul Wasnik, Sheila Dikshit, Tarun Gogoi and Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanaswamy.Party leaders Manmohan Singh, Oscar Fernandes, P Chidambaram, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Anand Sharma, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and his Meghalaya counterpart Mukul Sangma proposed his name in the second set of nomination papers.Rahul Gandhi’s era begins at a time when the Congress has lost most of its political power. The Congress has been losing state after state since the 2014 Lok Sabha election with the exception of Punjab.Rahul Gandhi’s elevation would come just two days ahead of the counting of votes for the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly poll.A sure-footed Rahul Gandhi powered a spirited campaign for the Congress in Gujarat, and a win in the election, which many analysts say could be dead heat between the two parties, would come as a massive boost for him.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.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”.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.

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Poll war: Congress can’t win Gujarat polls using Pakistan as pawn, says Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi

Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Monday said that the Congress cannot win the Gujarat Assembly elections using Pakistan as a pawn.The union minister told ANI, “Congress ko samajhna chahiye ke jis Pakistani political patang ko woh Gujarat mein udane ki koshish kar rahi hai, Gujarat ke log Bharat ke manjhe se aise patang ko kaatna jante hai. (Congress should understand and stop dragging the political agenda of Pakistan in Gujarat as people of the state will downplay it their nationalism). “”The people of Gujarat will give the Congress an appropriate answer for dragging Pakistan,” said Naqvi.On Sunday, while addressing a rally in Gujarat’s Banaskantha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had alleged that former Pakistan Army director general Arshad Rafique helped Congress leader Ahmed Patel to become the chief minister of Gujarat.”Former Pakistan Army director general Arshad Rafique was backing and willing to help make Ahmed Patel the chief minister,” he said.Also readDay after PM Narendra Modi’s ‘poll-meddling’ allegations, Pakistan says stop dragging us in your election debatesThe prime minister had also questioned suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s meeting with the Pakistan High Commissioner.In the meantime, Pakistan Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal has asked India to stop dragging Pakistan into its electoral debate.

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Gujarat Elections 2017 | PM Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi, Hardik Patel denied roadshow permission by Ahmedabad Police

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi and influential Patidaar leader Hardik Patel have been denied permission for their roadshows by the Ahmedabad Police.<!– /11440465/DNA_Mobile_Article_300x250_BTF_1 –>Police Commissioner AK Singh on Monday refused to give permission to the political bigwigs as he felt that its would be difficult for the cops to manage traffic during the roadshows.The cops also saw it as a law and order issue.The roadshows were part of the election campaign for the second and the last phase of the Gujarat Assembly Elections.

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Why did Manmohan Singh not show courage to order surgical strikes post 26/11 attack: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing a public rally, asked his predecessor Manmohan Singh why did he not show the courage to order a surgical strike post the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, despite the readiness of the Army.He said after the Mumbai attacks, the Air Force had approached the then prime minister Singh with a plan for surgical strikes, but the government did not show the courage to order it.”Under whose advice did he (Singh) do so,” Modi asked the gathering at the Navlakhi compound here.”Someone who served at a high position in the Air Force has said that after 26/11, they went to the then prime minister with a plan for surgical strikes. Sadly, the then government did not show the courage to do that,” Modi said and cited the example of his government’s action in the aftermath of the Uri terror attack in September last year.Also readCongress doesn’t believe Army about surgical strikes, celebrates release of Haifz Saeed: PM Modi”My government, in the aftermath of the Uri attack by Pakistan, had launched a surgical strike inside the borders of Pakistan, targeting several terror camps and launchpads. The strikes came as a surprise for the Pakistanis who were caught unaware. While the maximum damage was inflicted on their side, the Indian soldiers came back without any casualties,” he added.Modi also questioned Congress leaders, including its vice president Rahul Gandhi, for raising doubts over the surgical strikes.”Are such secret matters to be discussed in public?” he asked, saying this was the difference between the NDA government and the UPA government.Modi said the reason behind his vacating the Vadodara Lok Sabha seat in 2014 was for blossoming the “lotus” in Uttar Pradesh and replicating the Gujarat model of development in that state.After winning two Lok Sabha seats from Vadodara and Varanasi in the 2014 general election, Modi had retained the Varanasi seat.Also readGujarat elections 2017 | Final leg: PM Modi, Rahul Gandhi in Gujarat todayHe thanked the people of Vadodara for allowing him to resign from here.The prime minister also justified demonetisation, saying it was aimed at unearthing black money and preventing the parallel economy.He said the government had since succeeded in unearthing a “hawala” racket in Jammu and Kashmir which led to the arrest of many leaders who were advocating support for terrorism in the state.Congress leaders were not happy with demonetisation as it was a source of their income and even after a year since the note ban, they had kept the issue alive, he said.The prime minister also wondered how a “secret meeting” between Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar and the former Pakistani high commissioner and other leaders from that country could take place without the knowledge of the Government of India.Modi said when he was the chief minister of Gujarat, he used to take permission from the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government at the Centre before holding a meeting with a foreign dignitary.Also readIndians unhappy with PM Narendra Modi’s approach to Pakistan, but back his stance on Kashmir: Pew Survey

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