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Ministers wait for portfolios

Generally in Gujarat government, portfolio allocation is made soon after the swearing in and the Chief Minister calls for the Cabinet meeting the same evening. This time, however, it’s been two days since, but neither the Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has convened his first cabinet meeting, nor has he distributed ministries.While no one is saying it, it is believed that Rupani is waiting for an auspicious time for the portfolio allocation as there was bad omen just before the swearing in ceremony when a small accident occurred between Rupani and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s convoys. A BJP leader confirmed this, but requested anonymity.When asked why the allocation had not taken place yet, the deputy CM Nitin Patel said, “I do not know why. That is the prerogative of the Chief Minister. I assumed charge and started work soon after the swearing in. The cabinet members were also in Gandhinagar until the evening, but the cabinet meeting was not called.”When pressed for a reason, Patel speculated it could be because the PM and party chief Amit Shah were busy with Himachal Pradesh swearing in. “I believe it will happen soon after consultation with the party high command,” he said.The wait is however is too much to handle for the new ministers. “This is very suffocating as I do not know what portfolio I am going to get. There was no meeting and there is no message when it will be, so I left for my constituency where my supporters have organized for a felicitation programme. I will now return to Gandhinagar only next week,” said one minister.

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Jai Ram Thakur is BJP’s Chosen One in Himachal

The BJP chose low-profile Seraj MLA Jai Ram Thakur as Himachal Pradesh’s next Chief Minister. He will be sworn in as the 13th CM of the hill state at the historic Ridge Maidan on Wednesday, in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.The move also ends an old rivalry for the top post between upper and lower areas as Thakur comes from central Mandi district.Contrary to speculations that BJP’s central leadership may push Union Health Minister JP Nadda’s name in the wake of a bitter rift between former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal and Thakur’s lobby, not a single slogan was shouted during the meeting of newly elected MLAs that took place in the presence of central observers Nirmala Sitharaman and Narender Singh Tomar at Hotel Peterhoff on Sunday.Thakur’s name was proposed by Dhumal and he was elected unanimously as the new leader after being seconded by Nadda and another two-time CM Shanta Kumar.Thakur is considered to be a soft-spoken and a solid organisation man. It was his influence in Mandi that helped the BJP bag nine out of the 10 Assembly seats from the area.Thakur, who will turn 53 on January 6, belongs to the Rajput community which has a significant presence in the hill state.He has won his 5th consecutive Assembly election from Seraj, earlier known as Chachiot in Mandi district, defeating Chet Ram of the Congress.Mandi is second only to Kangra that sends 15 MLAs to the Vidhan Sabha.Thakur’s dominance in his constituency could be judged from the fact that despite the remoteness and difficult topography, 56 out of 58 panchayats in Seraj constituency were connected by road even as there was a Congress government in the state.”We will try to meet the expectations of the people of Himachal Pradesh. Our dream of a Congress-free Himachal Pradesh has been realised,” Thakur said in his first remarks after being elected as new CM.He was always called CM in the waiting even during the last tenure of Dhumal till 2012.But this time around, he emerged as a favourite for the top post after the defeat of BJP’s chief ministerial face Dhumal from Sujanpur.Thakur served as rural development and panchayati raj minister in the Dhumal government from 2010 to 2012.The BJP ousted the Congress from power by winning 44 out of the 68 seats.With Dhumal’s key men already having lost the election and Nadda’s name not eliciting any warm response, Thakur with the complete backing of Shanta Kumar clinched the deal.The BJP has named a Thakur face its CM candidate at a time when, after losing polls, Congress’ Virbhadra Singh seems to have played out his last political innings. Nadda was a Brahmin, which is the second dominant community in Himachal Pradesh after Rajputs.

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Himachal: Mandi wins the battle for CM after 54 years, Jai Ram Thakur to take oath on 27th Dec

The second largest district of Himachal Pradesh with ten assembly seat, it was after a 54- year wait that Mandi has won the battle for chief ministership.No legislator from Mandi, a district with cultural affinity with Kangra and Kullu and topographic similarities with Shimla and Sirmaur districts, has ever become chief minister. Congress leader Karam Singh won five assembly elections from Chachiot from 1952 to 1972 and was a strong contender for the post of chief minister in 1963 and 1967, but missed out and Dr Y S Parmar became the chief minister.Sukh Ram, whose son Anil Sharma is now a BJP legislator, was another senior Congress leader who was in contention for the top job in the state. He also never managed to become the chief minister. The BJP, this time put up a stunning show in the district, winning 9 of the 10 Assembly seats. The saffron party’s chief ministerial face P K Dhumal lost his own election leaving the field wide-open. Finally, it was again Chachiot, or Seraj after delimitation, that again came to the fore with its five-time MLA Jai Ram Thakur, who will now be sworn as the 14th chief minister of Himachal Pradesh on December 27. Also readThe Accidental CM: Meet Jai Ram Thakur, new Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh He will take oath in a star-studded ceremony attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah among others. The 52-year-old Thakur leader edged past party stalwarts in the race to the top office and will be the first leader from the politically-significant Mandi region to helm the hill state. Thanking the party leadership and workers after his election Thakur said that swearing in ceremony would take place on December 27.Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who along with Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman was appointed as a central observer by the BJP, announced that Thakur was chosen to be the next chief minister as thousands of party workers began celebrating.The Seraj MLA, a throughbred RSS man, emerged as the frontrunner for the top post after the shock defeat of BJP’s chief ministerial face Prem Kumar Dhumal in the state Assembly polls, the results of which were announced last week. A former chief minister, Dhumal, was still in the reckoning for the chief minister’s post till last night, when he opted out. Union minister J P Nadda was another top contender. Thakur, a former state unit chief and rural development and panchayati raj minister in a government headed by Dhumal, was elected the leader of the BJP legislature party today.The decision was taken at a meeting of BJP MLAs.His name was proposed by senior leaders Suresh Bhardwaj and Mahender Singh and seconded by others. “It is expected that Thakur will take oath as the state’s next CM on December 27 at a ceremony where Prime Minister Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah and a galaxy of top leaders would be present,” a source said. Thakur along with senior party leaders handed a letter staking his claim to form the government in Himachal Pradesh to Governor Acharya Devvrat who invited him to do so.The five time MLA will be the first chief minister from Mandi, the second largest district of the state. Himachal’s chief ministers and political leaders mostly belong to or hailed from Shimla, Kangra and Sirmour districts. Mandi has 10 Assembly seats, second only to Kangra’s 15. In this election, the BJP put up a stellar show in Mandi, winning 9 of the district’s 10 seats.Seen largely as a low-profile man, Thakur is from a farming family of Mandi. He did his post-graduation from Panjab University in Chandigarh and decided to join politics when he was in his 20s. Thakur contested on a BJP ticket in the 1993 Assembly polls. He lost, but went on to win in 1998 from the now delimited constituency of Chachiot (Seraj) and every Assembly election after that. A soft-spoken man, Thakur’s strength is that he is seen as a leader who has managed to straddle the party’s warring factions in the state.A lack of consensus among the newly elected MLAs had resulted in the two central observers — Union ministers Sitharaman and Tomar — returning to Delhi from Shimla yesterday to hold fresh consultation with the BJP central leadership. Earlier, the two-member team of central observers, which was in the state on December 21 and 22, had taken feedback from members of the state BJP’s core committee, MPs and some MLAs. The BJP ousted the Congress from power by winning 44 out of the 68 seats in the Assembly polls.

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Avalanche warning for several districts in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand

A medium danger to unlikely danger avalanche warning was issued on Thursday for some avalanche-prone districts of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. In a series of tweets, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said it has avalanche warning from the Chandigarh-based Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) for several districts in three states. The warning bulletin issued by SASE, valid from 5 pm December 21 to 5 pm December 22, has warned of avalanche for altitude above 3000 mtrs for Laddakh Division and for altitude above 2500 mtrs in other districts. Medium danger level warning (Level 3-Yellow) has been issued for following Ganderbal in Kashmir, the NDMA said. A low danger level warning (Level 2) has been issued for Kargil.Also readDeath toll in J&K avalanche up to 3; 2 still missing”Unlikely Danger level warning (Level 1) for following Distts- Jammu Division- Poonch, Rajouri, Reasi, Ramban, Doda, Kishtwar and Udhampur. Kashmir Division- Anantnag, Kulgam, Badgam, Baramulla , Kupwara and Bandipora. Laddakh Division- Leh. Himachal Pradesh- Chamba, Lahaul-Spiti, Kullu, Kinnaur and Shimla. Uttarakhand- Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Rudraprayag, Pithoragarh and Tihri Garhwal,” the NDMA said.Also readThree Army jawans missing after avalanche in KashmirEarlier, three soldiers were killed after they were swept by avalanche along the LoC in Kashmir on December 13. Their bodies were found a week later.

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Arun Jaitley, Saroj Pandey to be in Gujrat to decide on CM: Jitu Vaghani

Gujarat BJP president Jitu Vaghani said that observers appointed by BJP high command for the election of Gujarat CM will come to the state in a day or two. The BJP chief addressed a press conference at BJP headquarters Shri Kamalam on Wednesday. Vaghani also slammed Congress for celebrating their defeat.Vaghani said, “In very short time, our observers, Jaitley and Saroj Pandey, will come and the process of election of CM by calling a meeting of elected candidates of BJP. The procedure will be conducted very soon in day or two.”Taking potshot over Congress and Gujarat in-charge Ashok Gehlot, Vaghani said, “The Congress is celebrating for what? Their defeat in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. They are creating an uproar that they have got more seats in Gujarat, but they have lost and defeat is defeat. Why they are not talking on their leader Rahul Gandhi’s failure in Himachal Pradesh polls.””The Congress gave luring promises in their manifesto but they should understand that people of Gujarat are self-respecting and they cannot be enticed by hollow promises. We thank the voters who showed faith in BJP, PM Narendra Modi’s leadership and good governance in Gujarat under BJP’s rule for 22 years,” added Vaghani.Vaghani also said that Congress should not go overboard after Gujarat polls and should start daydreaming for Lok Sabha polls. He also added that Congress would not be able to win in Lok Sabha polls to be held in 2019 and next assembly polls of Gujarat to be held in 2022.Meanwhile, The Gujarat government’s cabinet passed the resolution to dissolve the 13th assembly and that was moved to Governor for his approval. The Governor also approved the same and the assembly issued the notification accordingly. Including Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani and other cabinet members, will submit their resignations to Governor on Thursday.

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

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

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Assembly Elections 2017 results: BJP non-committal about CM nominees, top leaders to visit Guj and HP

Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare JP Nadda on Monday said that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and General Secreatary of the BJP Saroj Pandey would go as observers to Gujarat and discuss the party’s leadership in that state.“Similarly, Nirmala Sitharaman and Narendra Tomar will visit Himachal Pradesh and assess the situation there,” Nadda told news agency ANI.Earlier in the day, the BJP high command has called in Jairam Thakur to Delhi this evening. He’s likely to take over as Himachal Pradesh CM since the party’s CM candidate PK Dhumal and state chief Satpal Singh Satti have lost, say party sources.Dhumal, the original chief ministerial candidate, lost to Congress’ Rajinder Rana, said he had expected to win the seat in Sujanpur. He won 18,559 votes as opposed to Rana who won 21,492.“Personal loss is not of much importance. The gain that victory has brought to state BJP is important. Thankful to people of the state for voting for BJP. In politics, sometimes one wins, sometimes one loses. I was not expecting to lose, I will do an analysis,” Dhumal was quoted speaking to ANI.In Gujarat, the Congress won 80 seats, while the BJP won 99 in the 182-member Gujarat Assembly. 1.8% of the voters did a NOTA, while 32% of the voters – reportedly BJP supporters – did not turn up to cast their vote, saying that they would rather not vote than vote for the Congress.Also readGujarat Election Results: No matter who wins, when will a villager reap benefits of development?Cities like Ahmedabad, Surat and Rajkot which were major centers of protests by businessmen have voted for BJP as the party won most seats in these cities. BJP’s tally dropped marginally in these trader-dominated cities as Congress made some token inroads in urban areas but failed to make substantial gain in these BJP strongholds.The issue of GST cropped up in Gujarat, right from its rollout in July 2016. High rates of taxation and issues related to compliance caused anger in businessmen and tax practitioner communities.

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

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

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Stop trying to derail India from path of development: PM Modi’s top quotes after saffron sweep

PM Narendra Modi addressed the BJP workers in the party headquarters in New Delhi after it was clear that they have won both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. A visibly buoyant Modi expressed his delight after the massive victory in the two states. BJP swept Himachal Pradesh to come back to power and won with a smaller mandate to form government in Gujarat for the sixth time. Here are the major things PM Modi said after the twin win:1. Earlier Gujarat was riddled with caste considerations. BJP got rid of it and started a path of development. Also readGujarat Elections 2017: How GST tweak saved the day for BJP2. Some people have again started to play caste politics in the last few months. People have rejected it but they need to be cautious3. After 2014, there is hunger for development. Even if you do not like BJP, do not try to derail India from path of development. Also readGujarat Elections 2017: Akhilesh asks Rahul to build opposition unity ahead of 2019 polls4. Gujarat election result in historic. So many conspiracies were hatched, misinformation was spread5. Elections results show that the country is ready for reform, is looking towards parties that perform in a positive way and believes in transformation6. I bow down to people of Gujarat and Himachal, who chose the path of development.7. The results in Himachal Pradesh show that if you don’t do development and are embroiled in all wrong acts then after 5 years people will reject you.8. During UP elections it was said BJP would lose due to GST effect in urban areas, same was said in Gujarat elections and local body polls in Maharashtra.With ANI inputs

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

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

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Assembly elections 2017 results?: Nitish Kumar congratulates PM Modi, Amit Shah on Gujarat, Himachal victory

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah for winning the Assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.The Janata Dal (United) president also took a dig at the Congress, saying that while the party was aiming to defeat the BJP in Gujarat, it “ended up losing even in Himachal Pradesh”, where it was in power.”Congratulations to honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party for the victory in the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections. The Congress, which had claimed it would wrest power from the BJP in Gujarat, has ended up losing even Himachal Pradesh,” Kumar tweeted in Hindi.An official release issued here said the chief minister spoke to Modi and BJP president Amit Shah in the morning over phone and extended his greetings on the poll victory to them.Once considered a potential political rival of Modi, Kumar now maintains a cordial relationship with the prime minister, following the formation of a JD(U)-BJP coalition government in Bihar in July.The Grand Alliance, comprising the RJD, JD(U) and Congress, had come to power in Bihar after the 2015 Assembly polls. The anti-BJP coalition had, however, collapsed over corruption charges surfaced against the then deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav, the son of RJD chief Lalu Prasad.The reunion of the JD(U) and the BJP came four years after Kumar had severed ties with the saffron party in June, 2013 over the elevation of Modi as the NDA’s prime ministerial candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

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Assembly Elections 2017: Amit Shah hails BJP win in Gujarat, HP as ‘victory of development over dynasty and polarisation

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah on Monday hailed the party’s win in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections as a “victory of development over dynasty and polarisation.”Talking to reporters at the party headquarters in Delhi, Shah said, “We have once again emerged triumphant. I offer heartfelt gratitude to the people of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh that they gave us anther opportunity to serve them.”This is a victory of development over dynasty and polarisation, he said.Also readSensex cheers over BJP win in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh polls”The two-third lead in Himachal Pradesh shows that people there want to join Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the journey to development,” the BJP chief who arrived at the party office to a rousing welcome said.”We are confident that when we go into 2019 elections under the leadership of PM Modi we will once again get people’s support and Modi ji’s aim for the youth in 2022 will become a reality,” he added.

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Assembly elections 2017 results: Spectacular win for BJP, have proved PM Modi’s hard work, says Shivraj Singh Chouhan

The chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, on Monday expressed confidence on the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) sweeping Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections, adding this would be a spectacular victory for the party.While speaking to media here, Chouhan said, “This country will progress towards development only because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The spectacular victory in Gujarat and the way Himachal Pradesh has been snatched away from the Congress party has proved our the prime minister’s hard work and dedication for the country.””Not forgetting Amit Shah, who is another idol in the BJP we all look up to. I would also like to thank him for his loyalty and for being an inspiration in the party,” he added.Further thanking the people for their trust, Chouhan said, “I promise we will never fail on our endeavours and continue ‘vikas’ (development) of the state.”The Election Commission official trends for Gujarat polls show BJP winning on 10 seats and leading on 83 seats while Congress has won 7 seats and is leading on 69, at the time of filing this report.The BJP is also leading in Himachal Pradesh as it has won on 3 seats and leads on 40 seats, while Congress has won on one seat and is leading on 20.The counting of votes for 68 Assembly seats in Himachal Pradesh and 182 constituencies in Gujarat began on Monday morning.The hill state went to polls on November 9 while elections were held in two phases in Gujarat on November 9 and 14 respectively.

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Himachal Elections: BJP’s Prem Kumar Dhumal trailing; who will be Chief Minister?

The BJP looks set to wrest power from the Congress in Himachal Pradesh as it has won three seats and leading in 40 seats, however, the party’s Chief Minister candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal is staring at loss.The ruling party candidate Rajinder Rana is ahead of Dhumal with Congress leading in 21 seats.So far, Rana has received 21492 votes and with 18559 votes Dhumal is trailing.On November 1, just before the polls, Dhumal was unexpectedly announced as the chief ministerial candidate. The health minister, JP Nadda, emerged as a strong contender, initially, but it was Dhumal at the end.Prem Kumar Dhumal, popularly known as PK Dhumal, was born into a strict Brahmin family on April 10, 1944, in Samirpur Village of Hamirpur district.During his two stints as chief minister, the hill state saw significant infrastructure developments, particularly of roads. He also oversaw the development of new railway lines as well.This gave rise to Dhumal being called as the ‘sadak walla mukhyamantri’.Congress candidate Anirudh Singh won the Kasumpti seat by defeating BJP’s Vijay Jyoti by a margin of 9,397 votes. Also readAs trends paint clear picture of BJP’s victory in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, this is how party celebratesIn Lahaul and Spiti, Dr Ram Lal Markanda of BJP defeated Ravi Thakur of Congress by more than 1500 votes.Congress veteran and six-time Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his son Vikramaditya Singh are leading from Arki and Shimla (Rural) respectively.Since the past 24 years, Himachal Pradesh has had alternative governments between the BJP and the Congress.Main rivals BJP and Congress contested all the 68 seats at stake. The hill state witnessed a record 75.28% turnout.The Congress and the BJP had 36 and 26 seats respectively in the outgoing House.

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

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

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

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

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Election Results: Will form govt in both Himachal and Gujarat with clear majority, says Rajnath Singh

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday said that the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) will form the government in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat with a clear majority as the party took leads in both states.”Trends very clear, we will form the government in both states,” he said.The BJP is leading in over 100 seats while the Congress nominees are ahead in 70 seats, as per the latest trends.Also readGujarat Election Results 2017 LIVE: PM flashes victory sign as BJP tops trending gameChief Minister Vijay Rupani, who earlier trailed behind his Congress rival Indranil Rajyaguru after the counting of postal ballots, is now leading in Rajkot West seat.In the 2012 elections, the BJP had won 115 seats while the Congress emerged victorious on 61 seats.In Himachal Pradesh, the BJP has crossed the halfway mark and is ahead in 42 seats while the ruling Congress is leading in 23 seats.However, Congress veteran and six-time Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his son Vikramaditya Singh are leading from Arki and Shimla (Rural) respectively.Independents are leading in two constituencies while the CPI(M) is ahead in one.

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Gujarat: Counting of votes starts in India PM’s home state

Counting of votes in underway in Gujarat, which Narendra Modi’s party has governed for 22 years.

Himachal Pradesh Election Results 2017 LIVE: BJP takes early lead

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

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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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North India experience chilly weather; snowfall in J&K and Himachal, rain in Delhi

Northern India on Monday experienced drop in temperature as Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir were graced with the first snowfall of the season.Heavy snowfall was witnessed in the Leh region and moderate snowfall in the other regions. Leh continues to be the coldest recorded place in Jammu and Kashmir.Rains lashed several parts of the national capital on Monday, bringing the mercury down by several notches, even as the weatherman forecast similar conditions for Tuesday.The minimum temperature on Monday settled at 8.2 degrees Celsius, a notch below the normal, while the maximum temperature was recorded at 24.2 degrees Celsius, a notch above the season’s average.However, following the rains, the mercury fell down to 17 degrees Celsius at around 8 pm.The rains increased humidity levels which oscillated between 97 and 47 per cent.The MeT office has forecast overcast skies along with likelihood of very light rains and drizzle in some parts of the city.”The maximum and minimum temperatures are likely to hover at 23 and 10 degrees respectively tomorrow,” the weatherman said.Yesterday, the minimum temperature was recorded at 7.4 degrees Celsius while the maximum temperature settled at 27.2degrees Celsius.

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18 injured in pile-up on Phagwara-Hoshiarpur road in Punjab

Eighteen persons were injured in a pile-up involving three vehicles on the Phagwara-Hoshiarpur road, police said today.A Sangrur-bound state transport bus coming from Mata Chintpurni shrine in Himachal Pradesh and a truck going towards Hoshiarpur were involved in a head-on collision near village Khurampur, 6 kms from here, yesterday evening.Another bus was also involved in the collision, they said.A heavy machine had to be pressed into service for removing the entangled vehicles and restoring traffic, which was disrupted for a while after the accident.Bus driver Rupinder Singh of Malerkotla, conductor Harpreet Singh of Lehragaga and truck driver Surinder Singh of Kapurthala were among the injured.They were admitted to a local hospital.The driver of another truck escaped unhurt.Bus passengers with serious injuries have been hospitalised.
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Yogi Adityanath


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Modi govt will continue on path of good governance: Piyush Goyal after Moody’s rating upgrade

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Buoyed by India’s rating upgrade by Moody’s, Railway and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal today said the government will stay on the path of good governance and focus on effective delivery to people.He said the rating upgrade, and improvement in ease of doing business ranking, culminate into bringing confidence into India growth story.The US-based Moody’s has upgraded India’s sovereign rating after a gap of 13 years to Baa2 with a stable outlook.The rating action implies India is investment grade with moderate credit risk, which is two notches above the junk grade.”Our dharma is to stay on path of good governance and effective delivery to people of India. Endorsements, rating upgrade, certification, surveys, election results are incidental. We are working for people of India and people have endorsed us,” Goyal said.He said the number of BJP-supported government went up from six in 2014, to 18 today. “By next month they will be 19.and we are fast transitioning to a corruption free and Congress free India in the years to come,” he said.Goyal said the election results in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat will be phenomenal.”In Himachal Pradesh, there are some people who are predicting as high as 58-60 seats for BJP. In Gujarat, people have seen the delivery of good governance for 22 years and I wouldn’t be at all hesitant to predict a 150 plus tally for BJP in Gujarat,” he said.Assembly elections in Gujarat are due next month.

Himachal records highest ever polling, BJP confident of reducing Congress to single digit

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Himachal Pradesh today recorded its highest polling in assembly elections with 74 per cent of voters exercising their franchise, the Election Commission said today.The figure was till 5 pm and the final polling percentage may be revised as final voting figures are yet to be tallied.Polling was still on in about 500 booths.The previous highest polling percentage of 73.5 was recorded in the 2012 assembly polls, Deputy Election Commissioner Sandeep Saxena said. In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, it was 64.45 per cent.At a press conference, Saxena said the elections were peaceful and no incident of violence was reported.A total of 11,283 VVPAT units were used in all polling booths of the 68 constituencies out of which 297 were replaced, Saxena said, adding this was well within the technical limits.The Congress is currently ruling the hill state and the BJP is eyeing to return to power after a gap of five years.In the outgoing 68-member assembly, the Congress and the BJP have 35 and 28 MLAs respectively. There are four Independent MLAs while one seat was vacant.The poll results will be announced on December 18. As the Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls ended today, the BJP expressed confidence of getting a huge majority, claiming that the tally of the incumbent Congress would be reduced to single digit in the 68-member House.In the outgoing assembly, the Congress and the BJP have 35 and 28 MLAs respectively besides four independents and one seat is vacant.”People have given their mandate. The five-year corrupt rule of Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh is going to end. We will get over 60 seats and the Congress tally will be confined to single digit. It will disappear from the state after results are announced,” BJP media head Anil Baluni said.The assembly poll results are scheduled to be announced on December 18.

EC clamps down on predictions by astrologers, tarot readers; says it’s a violation of code of conduct

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Predictions about election results by astrologers, tarot readers and others in media when there is a ban on broadcasting exit polls are a violation of law, the Election Commission today said.The EC’s advisory, which was re-issued ahead of elections in Himachal Pradesh tomorrow and in Gujarat in December, asked the media, both electronic and print, to “refrain” from airing and publishing such programmes in future elections during the prohibited period to ensure free, fair and transparent polls.The advisory was earlier issued on March 30 this year in which the poll watchdog pointed to Section 126 A of the Representation of the People Act .The provision states that “no person shall conduct any exit poll and publish or publicise by means of the print and electronic media or disseminate in any other manner, whatsoever, the result of any exit poll during such period as may be notified by the Election Commission….”The March advisory was issued keeping in mind the commission’s experience during the February elections to the assemblies of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur.”…It has been observed that some of the TV channels telecast certain programmes projecting the number of seats likely to be won by political parties. This was done during the period exit polls were prohibited…,” the advisory had said.It pointed out that in one of the channels, the panelists on the show, who were persons from different fields, had put forward the projected number of seats likely to be won by different parties in Uttar Pradesh.”The Commission is of the view that prediction of result of elections in any form or manner by way of predictions by astrologers, tarot readers, political analysts or by any person during the prohibited period is violation of the spirit of Section 126A…,” the Commission said.?The EC had yesterday said that exit poll results for Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat assembly elections cannot be made public before December 14 evening.

Ahead of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh polls, Facebook teams up with EC to encourage people to vote

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ahead of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly polls, social media giant Facebook today teamed up with the offices of chief electoral officers of the states to encourage people to participate in the upcoming state elections.As part of this collaboration, Facebook will promote a reminder in people’s ‘News Feed’ on three different polling days — November 9, December 9 and December 14 — to help educate people in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat on the upcoming state polls and encourage them to take part, a release said.”The reminder will help encourage participation in the upcoming state elections, and will be run in conjunction with the campaign run by the office of the Chief Electoral Officer of Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat to encourage people to vote,” it added.Nitin Saluja, Politics and Government Outreach Manager, Facebook India, South and Central Asia, said the collaboration will make it easier for the people of Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat to participate in their state elections.Himachal Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Pushpendra Rajput said the significance of reaching out to key audiences via social media platforms cannot be overemphasised.”With the kind of reach Facebook has, it has been our endeavour to utilise this medium as an effective tool for information dissemination and awareness creation,” he said.Gujarat’s CEO B B Swain said ?There is a two-way conversation happening where people share what they care about, and officials get honest, real-time feedback. …I am sure sending out polling day reminders in both the phases will result in a high participation by the community.”There are more than 212 million people who are active on Facebook in India.As per the release, around 37 million people generated over 312 million interactions during last five Indian state elections 2017.

Congress has left the battlefield, it is one-sided contest in Himachal Pradesh: PM Narendra Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Confident about the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sweeping the upcoming assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday termed the inching elections as a one-sided contest.While addressing a public rally in Himachal Pradesh’s Una Prime Minister Modi said, “I have never seen the enthusiasm that I am witnessing this time in HP during elections. It’s a one-sided contest. This is a clear indication that people want change,” the Prime Minister said. “People of Himachal Pradesh have decided to teach a lesson to the Congress in these elections. I will only regret one thing in these elections, that I am not having fun because Congress has left the battlefield,” he added.The Prime Minister also asserted that people of Himachal Pradesh now know that it is only the BJP which will work for their welfare.”People are now well aware of our government that works dedicatedly and a government that used make only statements. Newspaper publications are also tired of posting news about BJP only because nothing else is coming from the other side,” Prime Minister Modi said. Prime Minister Modi also took a dig at former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and said the latter refused to combat the menace of corruption.”Congress did not implement the benami assets law as they were well aware it would reveal all their wrongdoings. Few people who faced the heat of demonetisation are still complaining & planning to observe 8 November as black money day,” he said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday mocked at the Congress in an election rally in Himachal Pradesh’s Palampur saying “corruption is the only identity of the party”. Taking a jibe at Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh for undergoing probe in connection with a Disproportionate Assets case worth Rs 10 crore, the Prime Minister said, “Corruption is the only identity of Congress party. Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister from Congress is known for corruption.” The Prime Minister said the people of Himachal Pradesh will remember former chief ministers Prem Kumar Dhumal for his contribution in promoting tourism and Shanta Kumar for taking up the herculean task of laying water pipelines, but the Congress governance for corruption. “Welfare of people has never been a priority for the Congress party. People of Himachal Pradesh have decided to teach a lesson to those who have cheated them,” PM Modi said. Confident about the Bharatiya Janata Party’s victory in the upcoming assembly election, he said, “The Congress is going to mourn a lot in the coming week, but it is natural since they have nothing to do except mourning.”The polling in the state will be held on November 9 in a single phase and the results will be declared on December 18. Former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal has been declared as the CM candidate of BJP.

Himachal Pradesh an uphill contest

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Snowfall has been delayed this year in Shimla by over a month. But what is keeping Himachal Pradesh’s capital city warm is a flurry of activities, both on the roads and in the skies, in a tightly-contested electoral wrestle. Helicopters are whizzing from one constituency to another, ferrying a crowd of political bigwigs, trying to pack in as many poll meetings as possible. Campaigning ends on November 7, two days before the state votes to elect its new Assembly and Chief Minister. There is a scramble to woo voters with rich promises — jobs to all households, tablets and Internet to students, interest-free loans to farmers, helplines to women, and pensions to the aged.At the centrally-located Rajiv Bhawan, leaders of the ruling Congress convene during the day for the odd press conference. A stone’s throw away, in a five-star hotel on the Mall road, BJP workers are busy making strategies. The traditional rivals have locked horns in all 68 constituencies. Amid all this, a small car makes its way through the winding roads every morning as the centuries-old picturesque town wakes up to its daily bustle. A young man spends the entire day, using a loudspeaker, fitted atop the car, to seek votes for the local CPM candidate.In the poll-bound Himalayan state, the contest is on the twin poll planks of corruption and development. Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh is mired in a disproportionate assets case. But his contender from the BJP, former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal, is also battling the party’s decision to field more than two dozen candidates with criminal cases.Poll movesTill the 1967 Assembly elections, the Congress had a monopoly here. After the merger of some of Punjab’s hill areas with Himachal in November 1966, the Congress could win only 34 out of the 60 seats the next year. A post-Emergency Janata wave demolished the Congress in 1977. But, since 1985, the Congress and the BJP have been returning to power alternately. The BJP is banking on the trend, among other elements, to stage a comeback. But a gamble by the party’s top brass to run the campaign riding on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity may not have paid off too well. The party decided to cash in on Modi’s tenure as in-charge of the state for six years, including 1998 when the BJP came to power with Dhumal at the helm for the first time.Surveys within the party and among voters pointed that the popular vote was with Dhumal. Union Health Minister JP Nadda seemed to have the approval of the top brass to lead the campaign. The tilting of the dominant Rajput vote, which constitutes 38 per cent of the state’s population, towards Virbhadra Singh led to a last-minute meeting of BJP chief Amit Shah with senior leaders to declare Dhumal as the CM candidate.The Congress, too, had its problems. CM Virbhadra and party president Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu were at loggerheads over ticket distribution. Virbhadra’s demands that he be made the campaign chief and his son be given a ticket from his home turf Shimla (Rural) were finally conceded by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi once it was clear that the septuagenarian CM had the electoral pull. Reality & rhetoricPotshots are hurled on either side faster than a scribe’s blink. Voters say that the real issues have made way for the rhetoric. Himachal Pradesh is reeling under a debt of over Rs 27,910 crore as per a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India report released this April. The public debt has steadily risen over the last few years — from Rs 19,511 crore in 2011-12 to Rs 27,910 crore in 2015-16. The state needs to pay back 62 per cent of this debt in the next seven years.Yet, neither the Congress manifesto nor the BJP’s vision document has a viable solution to offer. The Congress makes no mention of the debt. The BJP says that an advisory committee will be formed under the CM’s office to help him bring down the debt. Dhumal told DNA that while there’s “not much scope” at this point to steer the state from the debt, the BJP plans to generate an annual income of Rs 600 crore through hydel projects, and create 70,000 jobs to boost the state’s economy.Harnessing power As far as hydel projects go, environmental disasters and displacement of local people in their wake have hounded the government for a long time. Right in time for the elections, CM Virbhadra Singh announced that the state has the potential for 27,436 MW of power, and that it is currently harnessing only 10,351 MW. He announced that approval for over 167 projects in the next four years has been granted. With days left for the elections, he inaugurated two of them. The CM said that during his tenure, 31 projects harnessing 2,067 MW of power were commissioned that led to a revenue of Rs 3,345 crore. But, in 1993, when he was at the helm, Virbhadra announced that harnessing hydroelectricity potential will make Himachal India’s richest state — a target he was to achieve by 2010. But without a policy in place, deadlines were not met. A strong community opposition to displacement also stalled projects. While being silent on environmental degradation and displacement, Dhumal said that during his tenures, he decreased royalty to constructors to meet deadlines. “To check the delay of these projects, I announced that for every year they save on deadlines, I will waive off a per cent from the 12 per cent royalty the government charges,” he said.GST & DeMoCongress leader Anand Sharma said that the “hasty implementation” of the GST has taken away over 31 per cent of the jobs in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises sector. “It has been three years since PM Modi said that an import duty will be levied on apples, he hasn’t done anything yet,” he said. On the other hand, Dhumal said that the GST will help the GDP expand by as much as 1.5 to 2 per cent. Despite these claims, voters across the hills and valleys of the state have been vocal about the effects of demonetization and GST, and any discussion on the upcoming elections has been incomplete without them.Female voters At 49 per cent, the number of female voters in the state is one of the highest, and in over 12 constituencies, women outnumber men. This includes all five constituencies in Dhumal’s turf Hamirpur. In the 2012 manifesto, the BJP promised each family an induction cooker to woo female voters. Yet now, after the gruesome gangrape and murder of a minor girl in Kotkhai, and the botched up investigation that followed, women are demanding specifics, making safety a formidable poll issue. The BJP has promised a ‘Gudiya’ fund, on the lines of the Nirbhaya Fund — announced by the Centre in 2013 after massive protests against the 2012 gangrape and murder of a paramedical student in Delhi. The BJP has also promised a 24/7 helpline, apart from a safety app and a women’s police force. The Congress, on its part, has also promised a helpline and a safety app. Both parties are, however, silent on the intermittent network connectivity in rural areas. The BJP has been mounting pressure on the Congress since the CM’s Facebook page published the names of six men from influential families, and then took it down to say that six Nepali labourers were guilty of the crime.Every prominent BJP leader had made it a point to rake up the issue in poll meetings. Sharma said that the BJP has unduly exploited the issue. “Law and order in Himachal fares better than other states, and the crime statistics will prove that. On one hand, Modi calls Himachal Pradesh a ‘dev bhoomi’, and on the other, UP CM Yogi Adityanath is talking about law and order here despite his state’s notoriety for crime cases,” said Sharma. He pointed out to the Centre’s Nirbhaya Fund is lying unused.The BJP has fielded six female candidates, while the Congress has given tickets to three women, including Rajya Sabha member Viplov Thakur who is contesting from Dehra. In all, 19 female candidates are in the fray. There are a total of 338 candidates in the fray including 16 from the CPM and over 180 independents and a dozen Congress rebels. With the poll date, November 9, inching closer, the average Himachali voter has a plethora of poll promises to wade through to have the real issues addressed. Its effectiveness will be known on November 18 when the results are announced.

Himachal Pradesh Elections: Not here to ask you for BJP’s win, but to ask you for 3/4th majority, says PM Modi in Kangra

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a scathing attack against the Congress during the Himachal Pradesh election campaign today.“I have heard that Congress has lost the trust of it’s own leaders and is looking for rebels in other parties,” PM Modi said while addressing a rally in Kangra’s Rait.“I haven’t come here to ask you to make BJP win. I have come here to ask you to give it a 3/4th majority,” he added.Talking about the November 8 anniversary of the demonetization, he said, ‘They’re going to celebrate 8 November as black day and burn my effigies. They don’t know Modi is disciple of Sardar Patel and won’t be cowed down.’“People who were habitual looters and have had to return their loot today won’t let me be at peace. Even you know that,’ the Prime Minister said.

Himachal Pradesh Assembly Elections 2017: Congress has become laughing club, says PM Narendra Modi in Kangra

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi again raised the issue of corruption against Congress government and its leaders in Himachal Pradesh during a rally in Kangra district on Thursday. “Congress party has become a laughing club. The CM has a corruption case against him. He is out on a bail. And then, they come out with a manifesto saying there will be zero tolerance on corruption,” PM Modi said.”Himachal Pradesh needs to get rid of five ‘demons’ – mining mafia, forest mafia, drug mafia, tender mafia, transfer mafia,” Modi said. He even had a suggestion for the Congress when he commented: Congress must introspect why the entire country is turning away from the Congress leaders and their party.Asking people to vote for BJP, Prime Minister said: Parties and politicians who looted Himachal Pradesh – it’s time to bid them goodbye, on November 9.Banking on his days in Himachal Pradesh from 1998 till he was made Chief Minister of Gujarat, Modi said: “I have worked extensively in Himachal Pradesh, very familiar with all cities and know each and every street here”.Himachal Pradesh is set to go to polls on November 9.

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

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

PK Dhumal made BJP’s CM candidate in Himachal Pradesh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Putting months of speculation to rest, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday announced former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, 73, as the party’s CM candidate for the upcoming Assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh. Speaking at a rally in Pachhad, party president Amit Shah announced that the BJP will be led by Dhumal in the upcoming polls.”At every rally, CM Virbhadra Singh questions us that under whose leadership was the BJP contesting the elections. Yet, he remains silent on the charges of corruption and on the justice that evades Gudiya (minor girl who was raped and murdered in Kotkhai). BJP is fighting the elections under the leadership of PM Modi. But, if you want to know who will lead the BJP in Himachal Pradesh, then let me make it clear to everyone, including CM Virbhadra, that we will contest the elections under the leadership of PK Dhumal,” Shah said in the rally held in Pachhad on Tuesday, adding, “I will also tell you that Dhumal ji has been a former CM, and after December 18, he will become the CM of Himachal Pradesh.”Soon afterwards, PM Modi tweeted: “Dhumal ji is among our senior-most leaders with rich administrative experience in Himachal. He will once again make a wonderful CM (sic).” Speculations were rife within and outside the party on whether two-time CM Dhumal or HealthMinister JP Nadda will lead the party. It is understood that PM Modi’s proximity to Dhumal was instrumental in giving him an edge over Nadda. At a press conference in Shimla on Sunday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also hinted at an “experienced hand” to lead the party. It is learnt that the party leadership called Dhumal late on Monday night to inform him about the development.Speaking to DNA over the phone from Hamirpur, where he was campaigning, Dhumal said he respected the party decision. “I am grateful that the party has chosen me to lead the charge in the state. The Opposition has been questioning us over the matter for a long time, and it was making the party workers restless. I’m happy that all these speculations have now been laid to rest,” Dhumal said.The former CM, who is contesting the elections from Sujanpur, will be pitted against Congress leader Rajinder Singh Rana, who defeated several other candidates to win the party ticket.

EC puts brakes on rail timetable publicity, bars introduction of new trains for Himachal and Gujarat

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Election Commission has barred the railways from publicising its new timetables and introducing new trains for poll-bound Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.A letter received by the ministry from the EC last week states that while the railways can go ahead with publishing the new timetables — ‘Trains at a Glance’ — and making it operational as planned on November 1, “no publicity shall be made in this regard”. Railway sources had earlier said that as many as 700 trains could see alterations in the new schedules because of changes in departure/arrival timings, enhanced speed and various other adjustments made by the transport behemoth in an effort to cut down travel time of long-distance trains.Many express trains have been made superfast as a result of which train numbers have been changed, which could create confusion among passengers. As of now, the railways has not been able to publicise these particular changes to inform the public, the sources said. Each zonal railway is ready with its own timetable, but is wary of publicising them because of the EC letter, the sources said. The railways also has a slew of new trains that would benefit several states, officials said.According to the EC letter, no new trains in these two states can be introduced or formally inaugurated till the model code of conduct is in place. Himachal Pradesh goes to polls on November 9, while the Assembly polls in Gujarat will be held in two phases on December 9 and December 14. “If passengers are having problems, the railway ministry is free to write to us again and we will review the matter,” a senior EC functionary told PTI.

Himachal Pradesh: India’s first voter, who is now 100, gets a special vehicle to cast ballot

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He is 100-year-old now; finds it difficult to walk. So ahead of Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections the Kinnaur district administration has decided to provide a special vehicle to Shyam Saran Negi, the first voter of independent India.According to a Zee News report, Negi will be escorted to the polling booth where he is expected to receive a grand welcome. Following the voting procedure, Negi will also be dropped back home.According to his family, the 100-year-old has never missed his opportunity of casting votes.A retired school teacher Negi, became popular after Google created a video as part of its ‘Pledge to Vote’ campaign. The video went viral during 2014 Lok Sabha Elections.Shyam Saran Negi became the first voter of the country when elections were held for the first time in independent India. It was conducted on October 25, 1951, in Kinnaur in two phases.The Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections will be held on November 9. The counting of votes, however, will take place on December 18.The Model Code of Conduct came into force in Himachal Pradesh with immediate effect after the announcement.The term of the 68-member Himachal Pradesh Assembly comes to an end on January 7, 2018.

BJP woos youth, women, farmers in Himachal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A ‘hoshiyar helpline’ to curb corruption and cartels in the state, a 24/7 helpline women’s security, a force of ex-servicemen to rein in the drug mafia, and inclusion of temples in the state’s religious tourism circuit are some of the key promises the BJP has made has made to the voters in Himachal Pradesh ahead of the Assembly elections.Unveiling the vision document of the party at a news conference here in the presence of former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal and Health Minister JP Nadda, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the present government’s lack of integrity has left the people of Himachal Pradesh hopeless.”There’s no integrity in the functioning of the government, and to hide its own flaws the state administration has been vindictive towards the opposition, adversely affecting the people of Himachal. At this time, the BJP is approaching the polls with the confidence that we will restore the faith of the people,” said Jaitley. “Himachal is a hill state with complexities of its own, including education, healthcare and employment. The vision document has focussed on all of these issues.”The party’s poll promises, in its trademark election strategy, has made made a list of the misses of the Congress state government, and has tried to address the anger of the people of Himachal on the two gruesome crime cases which had gripped the imagination of the people in the last two months — the rape and murder of a minor girl in Kotkhai and the murder of forest guard Hoshiyar Singh in a forest near Mandi.Among the promises in the manifesto, the BJP said the ‘hoshiyar helpline’ will be functional from the CM’s office, and it will spell an end to ‘mafia raj’. In addition to that, ‘Major Somnath Vahini’, a task-force of ex-servicemen named after the first Param Vir Chakra awardee Major Somnath Sharma, will be formed to check robberies and drug trade.Door-to-door cleanliness measures, clean streets and emergency ambulance services in remote areas are also part of the document, apart from job fairs in every district, jobs in grade-3 and grade-4 post on the basis of merit are also part of the promises. With an eye on the votes of the young population, BJP has also promised Wi-Fi services in government educational institutions and tablets and laptops with 1 terabyte data to college students.With the issue of women’s safety being one of the key poll issues in the aftermath of the Kotkhai rape and murder case two months ago, the party promises to bring in a 24/7 helpline service and bringing up women centres in all panchayats. To reach out to farmers and apple traders the party has promised better benefits and a university.For those in the tourist trade, the party promises to build ‘home-rests’ in villages, develop tourist stops and to include all the temples in the state within the tourism ministry’s religious circuit.While the BJP’s 2012 manifesto made promises of 10 lakh jobs, the present document makes no such promises. Instead, it talks of offering jobs on merit and holding job fairs. Jaitley, however, defended it saying that only economic development will bring in jobs.KEY PROMISES24-hour helpline in CM’s office for reporting crimes against women
Somnath Vahini, a task force of ex-servicemen to take on drug mafia and crime
Free ‘chardham’ pilgrimage programme for the elderly people
Transparency to be ushered in public life, BJP MLAs to publicly declare all their assets

FM releases Himachal manifesto, raises J&K

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday linked Jammu and Kashmir’s issues to Himachal Pradesh’s elections and hit out at the Congress, saying that its understanding of the problems in the troubled Valley was inadequate.Speaking at Shimla while releasing the party’s vision document, Jaitley questioned the understanding of former Home Minister P Chidambaram. “Lots of young men from Himachal Pradesh join the forces. If the Congress is asking for greater autonomy for Kashmir, it is looking at weakening the Constitutional relationship Kashmir shares with the country, while security forces work around the clock to ensure peace in the Valley. The hopes of a nation are attached to Kashmir,” he said.Asked whether the BJP has now given up on the issue of development in poll-bound states by raising other issues, Jaitley said that national security and unity will always be issues for the BJP. “These issues are linked to Himachal, the people of this state are very patriotic and have joined the forces in large numbers,” said the finance minister.Jaitley also said that the CM candidate of the party will be an experienced hand. Further, he defended the inclusion of Anil Singh into the party despite its insistence on a corruption-free government. Singh’s father Sukhram Singh Sukhu had been mired in several cases. “But there are no cases against Anil,” said Jaitley.Hitting out at the state government in Himachal, Jaitley said that the Congress’ rule in the last five years was a wasted opportunity. “The financial integrity of the government is in doldrums and there have been several scandals involving the top brass,” said the Finance Minister.He also spoke about the Goods and Services Tax Council’s decision to exempt businesses in hill states earning less than Rs 10 lakh per annum from the tax net. “Several hill states asked to be exempted from the Rs 20 lakh bracket as earnings in the Northeastern and hill states are low. While Jammu and Kashmir asked for a Rs 20 lakh bracket, Himachal Pradesh asked for the Rs 10 lakh bracket,” he said.He added that the Centre-state share is one of the highest in the country; it was 40% which went up by 50%. “(JP) Nadda being the Health Minister has helped Himachal in several ways. Connectivity is an issue here and in an unprecedented way, the transport ministry under (Nitin) Gadkari has ensured that schemes reach the people in the state,” he said.

Himachal Pradesh: BJP releases party vision document for the next five years

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday released the BJP’s vision document ahead of the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections, which will be held on November 9.Himachal Pradesh will be the second state, after Goa, with 100% VVPAT (paper trail of votes) coverage. The paper trail machines will be deployed along with EVMs in all the 7,521 polling stations, including 42 auxiliary polling stations at remote locations.Results for the elections will be declared on December 18 – the same day Gujarat election results would also be declared.

Himachal Elections 2017: Rahul Gandhi forms coordination committee; Adityanath to be major campaigner for BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Ahead of the Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi today formed a committee headed by veteran party leader Vidya Stokes to ensure better coordination among various leaders.The Committee has all top leaders from the state as its members, including chief minister Virbhadra Singh. Former Union Minister and senior Congress leader Anand Sharma and Pradesh Congress President Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu are also members of the panel.The Coordination Committee also has Rajya Sabha MP Viplove Thakur, senior state ministers G S Bali and Thakur Kaul Singh, besides AICC Secretary Asha Kumari, as its members. The panel has been formed to ensure proper coordination among leaders and to minimise dissensions within the party. It will also help ensure that the Congress party contests the November 9 Assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh as a united force and emerge victorious, a party leader said. The Congress has declared that it will contest the polls in the state under the leadership of Virbhadra Singh, who is also the chairman of the party’s campaign committee. Adityanath major campaigner for BJP: The BJP today claimed the Union government’s decision to demonetize high-value currency and implement the GST had no bearing on the party’s prospects in the Himachal Pradesh assembly polls scheduled on November 9.Elaborating the BJP’s campaign programme in which Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath would be a major campaigner, party leader J P Nadda said here that not declaring the party’s ministerial face in the state polls was a part of BJP’s strategy, which differs from state to state. “The BJP is heading for a landslide victory in the assembly polls as people are fed up with the corrupt Congress rule with the chief minister on bail leading the party,” he said, apparently referring to money laundering and disproportionate assets cases against Virbhadra Singh.Denying that the sudden demonetization of currency in November last year and the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) have backfired, the Union health minister said the steps have instead taken India economically forward. The problems linked with the steps were being resolved, he said. The Union minister sought to partially lay the blame on other political parties over its criticism by them on the GST.The GST was not Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s or the BJP’s decision alone, but also of other political parties and chief ministers represented on the GST Council, he said. Nadda said the Congress party was raising the issues to derive political advantage. He said Prime Minister Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah, Union ministers and several other leaders would campaign for the party.Modi is to visit the state on November 2, 4 and 6. He would address rallies at Rehan in Fatehpur and Dhaulakuan in Sirmaur on November 2, his programmes for November 4 and 6 were being finalised, he said. Uma Bharti and Gen. V K Singh would campaign for two- three days. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath would address rallies at Renuka, Arki and Karsog on October 29, and in Nalagarh, Nagrota and Dadasiba on October 30.Haryana and Uttarakhand chief ministers Manohar Lal Khattar and Trivendra Singh Rawat would also campaign. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley would release the party’s “Vision document” on October 29.

Gujarat election dates revealed by Indian Election Commission

The announcement came 13 days late, prompting criticism from opposition parties in India.

CEC Joti defends decision to hold elections in Himachal Pradesh earlier than Gujarat Assembly polls

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress has been spearheading the attack on the Election Commission for not announcing the dates for Gujarat Assembly election while announcing poll schedule for Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections. Congress leaders have been making a public statement accusing Election Commission of “working under pressure” of the Narendra Modi government. Chief Election Commissioner Achal Kumar Joti on Monday defended the decision of Election Commission to hold the election in Himachal Pradesh earlier that Gujarat. Achal Kumar Joti said multiple factors, including the weather, had come into play when deciding why to hold elections in Himachal Pradesh earlier than Gujarat.Snowfall could have disrupted pollsIn an exclusive interview to ANI, Joti said political parties and the state administration in Himachal Pradesh had requested the election commission to organise the polls before mid-November as there was a probability of snowfall in three districts of the hill state.”When we went to Himachal Pradesh, the state election commission there, political parties and the state administration had requested that on account of the likelihood of snowfall, three districts – Kinnaur, Lahaul Spiti and Chamba – are likely to experience snowfall. Therefore, a request made to conduct the elections in early November so that voters do not get affected and can cast their votes,” said Joti.Himachal and Gujarat not adjoining statesElection commissioner Joti said that that Himachal and Gujarat are not adjoining states. If multiple states go for polls, they are adjoining states. The EC has always made sure that the voting pattern of one state does not affect the voting pattern of another state, and that is why the counting period in Himachal Pradesh has been kept on 18th December 2017. We had stated that we would plan the election schedule in Gujarat in such a way that polling in Gujarat is over prior to Himachal result, so that the outcome of the result should not affect the voting in Gujarat,? Joti told ANI.The CEC, citing an office memorandum issued by Ministry of Law and Justice in 2001 and approved by the Supreme Court, said, “The commission shall announce the date of any election which shall be a date ordinarily not more than three weeks prior to the date on which the notification is likely to be issued in wake of elections. The day we make the announcement, the model code of conduct is applied from that day till the poll is over. So, if the states share the border, it should have been an issue, but with Gujarat, the situation is very different.”Restoration work in Gujarat after floodsFurther referring to the Gujarat floods, which claimed hundreds of lives and caused huge damage to infrastructure, the CEC averred that the state had to undergo restoration before elections could be organised.Government staff carrying out restoration workJoti also underlined the fact that the government staff which would carry out the restoration work is the same lot which would carry out services during the elections. And that once the announcement for the polls is made the government employees will have to leave the restoration work and perform election-related duties.In July, parts of Gujarat were ravaged by incessant rains and floods that claimed more than 200 lives. “At a time when restoration work is done, it involves a lot of government force. A total of 26443 employees of the state government will be given election duties. So the staff, which manages the restoration work will only be assigned the election duties as we don’t supply staff,” he said.”So, once the moral code of conduct is implemented these government employees will have to leave all the revamping and start performing their duties in connection with elections,” he added. (With ANI inputs)

In blow to Congress, Anil Sharma quits Virbhadra Singh’s cabinet, joins BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a blow to the Congress ahead of Assembly polls, Himachal Pradesh Rural Development minister Anil Sharma today quit the Virbhadra Singh government and joined the BJP.Sharma, son of former Union Communication Minister Sukh Ram, said, “I have quit the Himachal cabinet and joined the BJP today”.Sharma said he has been given a party ticket from Mandi.”I have been given BJP ticket from Mandi and the party has informed me about this, he said.Himachal Pradesh is slated to go to polls on November 9 and the development comes as a blow for Virbhadra Singh who was declared the party’s poll face last week.Sharma alleged that he and his father were being sidelined and ignored in the Congress party.He alleged that the AICC General Secretary had invited Sukh Ram to attend the rally of Rahul Gandhi in Mandi but when he reached the spot, he was asked not to attend the rally. Is Sukh Ram not a member of the Congress,” he asked.”I was not included in any of the committees for the assembly polls and when I asked about this from HPCC president, he said that my name was deleted at the higher level which hurt me and I decided to quit,” he said.The Mandi seat was represented by Sukh Ram from 1962 till November 1984, when he was elected to Lok Sabha and his prot g D.D.Thakur won the seat in 1985 while the BJP wrested the seat in 1990.In the 1993 Assembly poll, his son Anil Sharma won from Mandi but after Sukh Ram’s name surfaced in the Telecom scam, he was expelled from the Congress and formed Himachal Vikas Congress which entered into a post poll alliance with BJP and joined the government.While Sukh Ram won from Mandi, Anil Sharma was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1998.In the 2003 Assembly polls, Sukh Ram was the sole HVC member to win the election from Mandi but he joined the Congress ahead of the 2004 Lok Sabha polls.Anil Sharma again won from Mandi in 2007 and 2012 as a Congress candidate and is set to contest as a BJP candidate this time.

Gujarat Assembly Elections 2017: Congress accuses EC of delaying poll dates announcement to ‘suit fake Santa Claus Narendra Modi’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress attacked Election Commission of India on Thursday for not announcing the dates of Gujarat Assembly elections with Himachal Pradesh. Congress Media Cell Chairman told DNA that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting Gujarat on 16th October and alleged that major announcement could be made to woo the voters. Congress alleged that it looks as if the Election Commission came under pressure and failed to announce the dates for Gujarat where Congress is pitted against BJP which is reeling under the Patidar crisis.Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said, “PM Modi does not want to go to Gujarat as a campaigner. He wants to go there as a fake Santa Claus because promises could not be delivered there in past 22 years. The onus lies on the Election Commission to ensure a level playing field. BJP government has put pressure on EC to defer dates to suit its political ends.”Though Election Commission maintains that the reason the dates are not being announced because they were requested by the Gujarat government not to announce the dates as relief work was being carried out in six to seven districts of Gujarat and with the announcement of dates, code of conduct would come into effect hampering the relief work. Congress on the other hand feels that Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s campaign in Gujarat has had a desired result and it is for this reason BJP wants to announce sops first before going into the election mode.During 2013, assembly elections were declared on a single date, unlike this time where Election Commission only said that polling in Gujarat will take place before 18th of December. As per Election Commission’s announcement, polling in Himachal Pradesh will take place on 9th of December and counting will take place on 18th of December.

Himachal Pradesh Elections: Voting on 9th November, counting on 18th December

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Election Commission on Thursday announced election schedule for Himachal Pradesh state election. Himachal will be voting on 9th November. The election results will be declared on 18th December. The notification for polling will be issued on 16th October and final date of filing nomination is on 23rd October. With announcement of dates, model code of conduct has been enforced in Himachal Pradesh. EC didn’t announce the dates for Gujarat elections but said that polling process in the state will take place before 18th December. CEC Jyoti said that schedule for Gujarat elections will be announced soon, and model code of conduct will be enforced after that. There are 7521 polling booths in Himachal Pradesh. As far as practicable, polling stations are being made disabled friendly, so that they can exercise their franchise. EC said that voter assembly booths will be set up in all centres. VVPAT machines will also be there along with EVMs. Height of voting compartments are being increased to enhance secrecy of voting. There will be 136 special all-women managed polling centres in Himachal Pradesh, two in each constituencies. All critical events will be videographed, said Chief Election Commissioner AK Jyoti. CRPF will be deployed for area domination, route marches in vulnerable areas. Bulk SMSes & voice messages on phone shall also be in purview of election advertisements, said CEC. There will be micro-observers to check the polling process and will be in touch with general observers. Braille photo voter slips will be provided for visually challenged voters. While the term of the 182-member Gujarat Assembly ends on January 22, the term of the 68-member HP Assembly ends on January 7. BJP is currently in power in Gujarat, while Congress rules Himachal Pradesh. Political experts believe, along with local factors, voting preference may be influenced by Central government’s big-ticket steps like GST and demonetization.

Top Congress leadership on bail, says PM Modi in poll-bound Himachal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>argeting the Congress leadership on corruption, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday alleged that the party was unable to replace graft accused Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh as the top brass itself was on “bail”, an apparent reference to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi in the National Herald case.Kicking off the BJP’s campaign for the Assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh due later this year, he said it was now for the people to decide whether they should bring the Congress back to power in the state.”The entire family of the chief minister is facing corruption charges and is on bail. When I asked some Congress leaders why the chief minister is not being replaced, they replied how could the party act against him when the AICC president and the yuvraj are on bail,” Modi said at a BJP rally .Virbhadra Singh and his wife, son and daughter are facing disproportionate assets case and money laundering charges.Sharply reacting to the prime minister’s remarks, Singh said it was unfortunate that a new era of “political vendetta” had begun in the country.Talking to reporters, the chief minister alleged that Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was responsible for the “baseless cases” against him.Asserting that no case of corruption has surfaced after the NDA government came to power at the Centre, Modi said that till 2014, newspapers were full of reports about scams, be it Coalgate or 2G scam, and asked the people of the state to “throw out the government on bail”.He also said the state chapter of the BJP will fulfill the dreams of the people if voted power and provide a clean and efficient government.Modi told the rally that his government delivered on the promise made to the ex-servicemen on ‘One Rank, One Pension’ scheme and it was an indication of the Centre’s commitment to the Indian Army.He said nearly Rs 8,500 crore have been distributed under the scheme that had been stuck for nearly 40 years.Referring to the surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) in September last year, he said the operation conducted by the Indian Army in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir increased the pride of every youth.The prime minister said the NDA government believes in development and at present 13 major projects involving an investment of Rs 15,000 crore are under implementation to accelerate economic activity and generate employment in Himachal Pradesh, he said.Polls for the 68-member Himachal Assembly are scheduled later this year.Modi earlier laid the foundation of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Kothipura in Bilaspur and IIIT in Haroli in Una and dedicated a steel processing plant at Kandrori in Kangra district online from the Water Sports Complex on the banks of Gobind Sagar Dam.

Narendra Modi’s Bilaspur visit: Himachal is being run by ‘zamaanati sarkar’, PM takes dig at CM Virbhadra Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday took yet another dig at Congress and this time it is not party vice president Rahul Gandhi.“Congress ke log milne aaye. Maine kaha CM ka parviaar zamanat pe hai, badalte kyun nahi? Unhone kaha kaise, puri party hi zamanat pe hai (Members of Congress came to me. I asked CM’s family is on bail so why don’t you change? They replied saying our whole party is out on bail),” PM Modi said while addressing a rally in Himachal Pradesh.”Himachal Pradesh mein in dinon zamanati sarkar chal rahi ha (Himachal Pardesh is being run by a government out on bail),” he said in an indirect dig at Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh.Singh is facing a CBI probe in Rs 10-crore disproportionate assets case.Earlier, a day before PM’s arrival, the Himachal chief minister has slammed PM Modi for ‘failed decisions’. “Modi‘s graph is falling fast and many of his decisions, whether it is demonetization or GST, have badly hit the common man and also the business community,” Singh said on Monday.“Today, the PM is facing stiff opposition in Gujarat itself and his graph is fast declining. The GST issue has confused the common man and the business community in particular. BJP leaders of the country believe that the Prime Minister is all in all, ‘forgetting’ that former finance minister Yashwant Sinha has blamed Modi government for derailing the economy,” he added.The prime minister, who is in the state to launch new projects, laid the foundation stone for the Rs 1350 crore AIIMS project in Bilaspur. He said that the new AIIMS campus will boost employment opportunities in the region besides providing medical help. “We’re making a campus where over 3000 people will work together. This is also bringing employment opportunities,” PM Modi said.“This AIIMS has not only come as lifeline for the people of Himachal but also a boost to the tourism sector here,” he added.The 750-bed hospital is to be built at a cost of about Rs 1350 crore and will, in addition to healthcare, provide medical education at the under-graduate and post-graduate level, besides nursing, according to a PMO statement.PM Modi had also laid the foundation stone of Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) at Una and a steel processing plant, Steel Processing Unit of Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL), at Khandrori in Kangra district through video conference from Bilaspur. “IIIT does not just mean setting up of a college. It is a stepping stone towards a more modern Himachal,” PM Modi said.He said that there are 13 development projects in Himachal Pradesh for which Central Govt will invest Rs 15,000 Crore.PM Modi also stressed on Pradhan Mantri Saubhagya Yojna, the scheme under which it aims to provide electricity to every household.“Road and electricity can change the fate of Himachal. If there is non-stop power supply in the state, tourists would want to stay here. The more they stay, the more they will spend,” “Out of around 25 crore families, there are at least 4 crore families who do not have electricity in their homes. Don’t these people deserve electricity,” he asked the audience present at his rally. “These four crore families would get free power connection after which they can pay for the prepaid connection like they do for their mobile phones,” PM Modi added.

Ahead of 2017 Himachal elections, CM Virbhadra Singh says democracy is disappearing from political parties

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh said that the concept of democracy was fast disappearing in all political parties and called for elections to party posts to be held in a democratic manner.Singh said he was elected president of the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) four times, and only once was he nominated to the post two months before the last polls.”Today, the true concept of democracy was diminishing in all parties. I believe elections to various posts, even at the block-level should be held in a democratic manner. All the members should be elected, and not be nominated,” he said.Addressing a public meeting at Nerwa in Chopal area of Shimla, he slammed independent MLA from Chopal Balbir Verma, accusing him of betraying the people of his constituency.”It is unfortunate that the sitting MLA from Chopal could not digest the development of the area and betrayed the people of his constituency by joining hands with the BJP,” he said.Singh claimed that after the 2012 assembly polls, Verma, who won as an independent candidate in the polls, requested him to make him an associate member of the Congress party.But Verma later claimed credit for Chopal’s development and blamed him for ignoring the area, Singh said.He said he believed in the overall development of the state and does not play politics in the name of region, caste or religion.The chief minister later inaugurated a Rs 4.73-crore industrial training institute at Nerwa and laid the foundation stone of projects worth Rs 78 crore in Chopal constituency.Singh told reporters that former Congress MLA Subhash Manglet would be his choice from Congress party to contest from Chopal constituency in the state polls due later this year.

In-fighting afflicts state Congress ahead of Himachal Pradesh polls

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Congress is facing an uphill task in poll-bound Himachal Pradesh, with infighting and anti-incumbency emerging as the key challenges to its electoral prospects.Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has been demanding the removal of HPCC chief Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu and a worried central leadership of Congress is busy placating its old warhorse who has steered the party in the hill state for several decades.Just when it seemed a solution was in sight, with Virbhadra getting a long-awaited audience with Congress president Sonia Gandhi last week, the AICC’s general secretary for Himachal Pradesh, Sushilkumar Shinde, ruled out Sukhu’s removal.”There will be no change in party leadership,” Shinde told reporters in Chamba where he is on a four-day tour to meet district level leaders.The Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls are due later this year.Virbhadra has maintained that he will neither contest the polls nor lead the campaign with Sukhu heading the Himachal unit.He had earlier threatened to quit politics and told party MLAs in a recent meeting that he would not be able to work with Sukhu and withdraw from elections if the latter continues in his post.With Shinde taking a hard public stand, it remains to be seen how the chief minister will respond.Earlier this week, Virbhadra skipped a key meeting convened by Rahul Gandhi in the national capital after he came to know that the party vice president was not inclined to replace Sukhu.According to sources, the Congress wanted a “compromise formula” to placate Singh and bring him on board. The leadership feels it is too late in the day to replace Sukhu.The Himachal Pradesh chief has survived with the support of Rahul Gandhi so far, though it is learnt that Sonia is not averse to changing him.During the last assembly elections, Singh had gotten the then HPCC chief Kaul Singh Thakur replaced. The latter had quit of his own accord in the party’s interest after Virbhadra similarly threatened to quit in case Thakur continues.This time though, Sukhu is not inclined to step down, party insiders say.Caught in a conundrum, Congress leaders say if Virbhadra remains adamant, the party is not left with much of a choice for viable alternatives in in election-bound Himachal.Sukhu, when asked about factionalism, said he didn’t have issues with the CM and was working towards the party’s interests.”I have no issue with anyone. I have no tussle with anybody. I am a loyal party worker and am working honestly among the people for strengthening the party,” he told PTI.He said the responsibility and accountability of the organisation lies with him and he has worked towards that.The chief minister however recently told a Congress Legislature Party meeting in Himachal Pradesh that he would not continue to be “humiliated” and go to the hustings “under” anyone’s charge.The party is looking to avoid a repeat of the situation withs its Gujarat state unit when its CLP leader Shankarsinh Vaghela quit just ahead of elections. Vaghela had been with the party for over two decades and was followed out of the exit by a few party MLAs.

Yamuna cleaning: NGT slaps Rs 50,000 fine on Centre and Delhi govt for not submitting status report

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Green Tribunal has slapped a fine of Rs 50,000 each on the Environment Ministry (MoEF) and the Delhi government for not submitting a status report on rejuvenation and restoration of the Yamuna river.A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar passed the order after counsels of the MoEF and the Delhi government failed to appear before it and no report was placed on record. “Nobody is present on behalf of NCT Delhi and Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and no status report has been filed by them. Our order dated August 8, 2017 was peremptory. Let both these pay Rs 50,000 as cost. List this matter for compliance within one week,” the bench said.The matter will be heard next on August 29. The tribunal had earlier asked Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and the Central Pollution Control Board to submit a detailed report on rejuvenation and restoration of the Yamuna in three weeks, saying pollution in the river was of serious concern as it was highly contaminated by industrial effluents and sewage. It had also directed the pollution control boards of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh to jointly conduct a study on water quality and flow of the Yamuna at the point where it enters Haryana, and submit a list of industries located in the catchment area of the river.The tribunal had earlier banned open defecation and dumping of waste on the floodplains of the Yamuna and announced an environment compensation or penalty of Rs 5,000 for those who violated the order. It had also constituted a committee headed by the Delhi Jal Board CEO to oversee the execution of work pertaining to the cleaning of the river and asked it to submit reports at regular intervals. The green panel had said almost 67 per cent of the pollution reaching the Yamuna would be treated by two sewage treatment plants (STP) located at Delhi Gate and Najafgarh in the first phase of the ‘Maili se Nirmal Yamuna Revitalisation Project 2017’. The NGT was hearing a plea on the monitoring of implementation of the project.

SC stays NGT order directing closure of Kasauli-based hotel

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court today stayed a National Green Tribunal order on closure of a hotel at Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh and directed that power supply to the establishment should not be disconnected. The apex court had on July 11 stayed another NGT order directing demolition of temporary structures of some hotels with a rider that the alleged unauthorised constructions would not be utilised. A bench of Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta stayed the tribunal’s order till the pendency of appeals and directed that the power supply to Kasauli Regency and Kasauli Inn should not be snapped. Appearing for the hotel, advocates Shyam Divan and Sumeer Sodhi said the tribunal had erred by ordering closure of the establishment. They said the hotel had seven and 10 rooms in two wings and in their case, they had an statutory consent to operate. The NGT in its order had directed demolition of the temporary structure of Kasauli Regency and had imposed hefty fines on several hotels including Bird’s View Resort, Chelsea Resorts, Hotel Pine View, Narayani Guest House, Hotel Nilgiri, Hotel Divsikha and AAA Guest House for causing irretrievable damage to the ecology, polluting the environment and raising unauthorised constructions. The bench listed the matter for further hearing on August 23. The Society for Preservation of Kasauli and its Environs (SPOKE), an NGO, had last week opposed the appeal of the hotel seeking a stay on the NGT order and claimed that the picturesque Himachal Pradesh town was “getting finished” due to unauthorised construction. On the plea of the NGO, the NGT had ordered demolition and closure of several hotels and resorts which were extended illegally without requisite approvals. The apex court had earlier observed that norms were not followed in the construction of some resorts and hotels in Kasauli.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Mandi landslide: Dalai Lama expresses sympathy over loss of

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tibetan spiritual leader The Dalai Lama expressed his sympathies over the loss of lives due to a massive landslide in Mandi district where two buses were buried, killing 48 people. The Nobel laureate also assured that he would make a donation from the Dalai Lama Trust to the Chief Minister s Relief Fund. In a letter written to the Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh he said, “I am deeply saddened to learn that a massive landslide swept away vehicles, including public buses, on the Pathankot-Mandi Highway near Mandi on Saturday night resulting in the tragic death and injury of many people.” “I would like to offer my condolences to those families who have lost loved ones and to others affected by this catastrophe,” he said. The Dalai Lama said that Himachal Pradesh has been his home for over 57 years, and he naturally felt an affinity for its people. “Natural disasters like this are difficult to predict and consequently difficult to take precautions against. However, I wonder if the introduction of warning procedures at the first signs of trouble might help prevent the recurrence of such events in the future,” he said. On Saturday, two Himachal roadway buses were hit by a massive landslide triggered by a cloudburst on the Mandi- Pathankot National Highway, leaving at least 48 people dead and several others injured.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

HP CM warns Congress workers against anti-party activities

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh today warned Congress leaders against “back- stabbing” in the state assembly polls and said that anti-party activities will not be tolerated. The chief minister was speaking at a meeting held under the chairmanship of Congress general secretary and former Union minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, who is also the state in- charge for party affairs. “I need not name such Congress men who are working as agents of the BJP and their identity is already known to the public,” Singh said in Dharamshala . The chief minister said that he “loved” the people working for the Congress and in the interests of the state, and not those who harmed the interests of the party and exploited it for their petty selfish interests. Reiterating that the Congress would return to power in Himachal Pradesh with a thumping majority, Singh accused the BJP of creating divisions in the state on the basis of regionalism, communalism, caste and creed. The state has made rapid progress under various Congress governments and the state has emerged as a “education hub and the fruit bowl” of the country, he said. A large number of educational institutions had been opened, including 51 degree colleges, Singh said. The progress and development made in other sectors like health, transport, agriculture, industry, tourism, power sector, irrigation and public health is evident, the chief minister claimed. Shinde praised Singh and said that the state had made overall rapid and sustainable progress under his tenures. He said that the Congress would win with a thumping majority and the BJP would not be seen anywhere in the fray. State Congress chief Sukhvinder Sukhu said that history would be repeated as the Congress was again going to form government in the state.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Floods ravage many parts, over 100 dead

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Weather and water continued to wreak havoc across the country, with at least 100 deaths reported. Besides, as many as 22 lakh people are being feared displaced in Uttarakhand, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Jammu and Kashmir, and Tripura.In Assam, the death toll has gone up to 20, over 1.83 lakh people have taken shelter in over 400 relief camps, while the world famous Kaziranga national park has been submerged. The second wave of floods within a span of 15 days in Assam has caused major damage to the infrastructure. Flood water has damaged roads, bridges, embankments, and huge crop areas. Several rivers, including the Brahmaputra, are flowing above the danger level.In Uttarakhand, at least 22 people are feared killed in a landslide following a cloudburst in the remote area of Dharchula in Pithoragarh district. As many as five bodies have been recovered while 15 people, including Armymen, have been reported missing with only remote chances of survival. According to latest reports, four people were rescued from the debris at Mangti Nala.Besides, some Army vehicles and mules have also been swept away in flash floods.Heavy and incessant rainfall continued to lash the Indo-Nepal Border for the third day, swelling all major rivers, tributaries, and seasonal nallahs in areas monitored by the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB). In all, 117 of the 629 Border Outposts established on Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan Borders have been severely affected.Also, Indus river crossed the danger mark in Leh in J&K, submerging several villages. The Air Force station in Leh was also flooded.According to reports, at least 41 persons, including women and children, have been killed in Bihar. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar took stock of the situation on Monday and called for a meeting of state officials. Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Kumar about the flood situation and assured him of support from the Centre. The PM tweeted: “My thoughts are with all those affected by floods in parts of Bihar.”In the last two days, over one million people have been affected in the worst-hit districts of Kishanganj, Araria, Purnea, and Katihar. The 23 teams of National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) have rescued a total of 6,062 people in Bihar till now and the operations are still on.The situation remained grim in Arunachal Pradesh as well. Incessant rain disrupted communication at many places in the state. In Dibang valley, two people were reported to have been killed. In Anjaw, food crisis loomed large as the main road connecting the district through Lohit was blocked due to recurring landslides triggered by heavy rainfall. In West Siang district, flash floods have destroyed standing crop and inundated large areas of agricultural land. Landslides have also blocked the NH 415 connecting Itangar with Bandedewa.In Meghalaya, incessant rainfall for the last few days has wreaked havoc in the capital city of Shillong and other parts of the East Khasi Hills district. The Railway Board has decided to cancel all incoming trains from various parts of the country towards the NE Region.In Himachal Pradesh, 48 bodies have been retrieved from the debris after a massive land slide triggered on the Manali-Pathankot National Highway in Kotrupi area of Mandi district on Saturday midnight. One of the state transport corporation buses was shattered into several pieces and there is possibility that some bodies might be under the debris.

Three killed in cloudburst during Kailash Mansarovar yatra

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Four soldiers and three civilians have gone missing after a cloudburst hits the Mangta Nala region of Uttarakhand on Monday. Three bodies have also been recovered in Malpa. Kailash Mansarovar Yatra has been halted due to the floods and landslide caused by the cloudburst on the route. Two bridges were damaged in Mangti and one in Simkhola districts of Uttarakhand. Water level of the river Kali has been continuously rising and reached the danger level. On Sunday, at least 46 people died in a tragic incident in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh, where more than 150 meters of road collapsed. Many houses, two buses and a number of vehicles were buried in the debris. A spokesman of the government said that 46 bodies were recovered in the rescue operation throughout the day and five injured were saved in this incident in Himachal.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Landslide: HP CM visits site, govt announces Rs 5 lakh relief

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh today reached the site where eight passengers were killed after two buses were hit by a landslide in Kotrupi, to take stock of relief operations. According to an official release, the state government has announced an ex gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased. The chief minister also met the victims’ families, assured all possible to them and announced that the government would bear expenses of treatment of injured passengers, said DPRO, Shimla. Two state roadway buses were hit by a massive landslide last night triggered by a cloudburst on the Mandi-Pathankot National Highway, leaving eight passengers dead while the fate of 22 others was not immediately known. Himachal Pradesh Transport minister G S Bali said the toll could climb to 50. Meanwhile, the Mandi district administration has closed the Mandi-Aut section of the Chandigarh-Manali highway. In a notification, the district administration has advised people to take the Mandi-Kullu route via Kalota. Also the Jogindernagar-Mandi section of the Pathankot- Mandi National highway has been closed.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

HP: Prisoners get remission in sentences ahead of I-Day

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Himachal Pradesh government has given remission in the sentences of 495 prisoners ahead of Independence Day, an official said today. Four of them would walk free on August 15, he said. Prisoners serving sentences of 10 years or more have been given three months remission and those with five to 10 years would get two months remission, the Director General of Police-Prisons Somesh Goyal said. Those with three to five years would get two months remission and prisoner’s with one to three years would get 40 days remission. Those with less than one year sentence would get 30 days remission, he said.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

MP launches campaign to free HP from drug menace

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>MP from Hamirpur Anurag Thakur today announced the launch of the ‘Haarega Nasha, Jeetega Himachal’ campaign, a movement to free the state from the menace of drugs. The Quit India Movement began for a free India and today is the beginning of a quit drugs movement in the state, he said. The MP claimed that the drug menace was engulfing the youth of the state at a fast pace and there was a dire need to curb this menace. The ‘Haarega Nasha, Jeetega Himachal’ aims at engaging the youth in order to address this serious concern and create widespread awareness about the ill-effects of drugs, he said. Likewise, the campaign will educate and encourage them about why they must prevent the use of drugs and discourage people around them too, Thakur said. “The initiative will empower the youth by entrusting them with the task of building a new Himachal Pradesh. In order to do so, the youth will be appointed as the champions of the campaign,” the MP said.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

AAP’s national ambitions take a backseat;to ‘regroup’ in Delhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The year 2017 was to be a crucial one for the AAP. It had pinned its hopes on a win in Punjab but with its poor performance in the state, the party has now decided not to contest Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. A senior Aam Aadmi Party leader, who did not wish to be quoted, said the party was focusing on “regrouping” in Delhi, its home turf. The leader cited “lack of adequate organisational strength” in the state. The party was currently convincing a section of state leaders about the move, who were in favour of contesting the polls, before making the decision official. In June, the state leaders had appraised the leadership of the organisational strength, but there was an ambivalence on contesting the polls. The Political Affairs Committee (PAC), the AAP’s top decision-making body, would soon take a call, making an official decision on this. The party has also decided not to contest polls in Himachal Pradesh. Incidentally, the AAP was to contest 2012 polls in the hill state, but later decided to make its political debut from Delhi a year later. Gujarat was also the state where the AAP and its chief Arvind Kejriwal had invested a lot of political capital keeping in mind the 2017 assembly polls scheduled by the end of the year. From picking on contentious issues for a new entrant in the state politics — the simmering discontent within the Patidar community, the agrarian crisis and the “atrocities” on Dalits and making frequent trips to the state — the script now seems to have gone haywire. By mid-2016, the AAP had chalked out its plan to go national in a big way. A win in Punjab was paramount to give its national ambitions a fillip. However, the party realised that it was lacking traction in the coastal state. Banking on ten-years of anti-incumbency, the “misrule” of the Badals and factionalism in the Congress, the party pulled out all stops to ensure a victory in the state. However, the results were unexpected for the party. To make things worse, the Punjab polls and a massive win of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh had a cascading effect on the polls in Delhi. The AAP won 20 seats in Punjab and could not open an account in Goa. It was handed over a humiliating defeat in an assembly by-poll and crucial MCD elections, with its bastion coming under threat. Since then, several major changes have taken place within the party with Delhi getting a new convener in form of Labour Minister Gopal Rai.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Wet spell continues, likely to intensify from tomorrow

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Moderate rain activity was witnessed in parts of the country today even as weathermen warned of “extremely heavy” showers in the northeastern region and “heavy” precipitation in the north tomorrow. Light to moderate rainfall was recorded in Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Bihar. The wet spell is likely to intensify tomorrow, with the MeT office predicting “extremely heavy” rains in Assam, where around 84 people have so far been killed in 29 flood-hit districts, and Meghalaya. It said “heavy to very heavy rains” are expected over Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and east Rajasthan. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the country is expected to receive normal rainfall in the second half of the monsoon season. According to it, rainfall over the country during the remaining two months of the monsoon season (August and September) is likely to be 100 per cent of the Long Period Average (LPA) with a model error of plus or minus 8 per cent. Rainfall between 94-104 per cent of the LPA is considered “normal”, it said. August is expected to witness 99 per cent of the LPA, the weatherman said. The MET, however, recorded an overall deficiency of minus 3 per cent from June 1 to August 7 following which several parts of the country are witnessing drought-like conditions, especially in the southern peninsula. On the other hand, states like Gujarat, Rajasthan and several parts of the northeast have witnessed floods. Rains lashed a few parts of Haryana and Punjab. Chandigarh, the common capital of the two states, also recorded light showers. The Ranjit Sagar Dam area gauged 190 mm of rains, Balachaur 70 mm, Anandpur Sahib and Mukerian 50 mm each, Nawanshahr 20 mm and Ropar 30 mm. A local MeT office report from West Bengal said southern districts of the state will continue to receive light to moderate rain till August 11. Heavy precipitation is likely from August 12. Heavy rains lashed several places in the mid and lower hills in Himachal Pradesh, which has been battling with monsoon-induced landslides. Nainadevi recorded 140 mm of rain, Bangana 104 mm, Sujanpur Tira 98 mm, Nagrotasurian 95 mm, Nadaun 85 mm, Dehragopipur 84 mm, Guler 78 mm, Mehre 74 mm, Berthin 66 mm, Una 62 mm, Kheri 57 mm, Bharari 56 mm, Bijahi and Ghumarwin 54 mm, Pandoh 51 mm and Gohar 45 mm. Moderate rainfall activity was reported in Bihar. Patna received 5.9 mm of rain, Gaya 7.7 mm, Bhagalpur and Purnea 0.7 mm and 2.9 mm of precipitation. Muggy weather conditions prevailed in the national capital for most part of the day though the weather turned pleasant towards the evening as light rains provided relief to Delhiites. The city received 29.6 mm of rainfall till 8.30 am. The humidity levels oscillated between 98 and 63 per cent. Meanwhile, the Odisha government has set up an expert committee to ascertain the reason for high incidence of lightning in the state. At least 257 people have been killed in lightning strikes in the state so far this year.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Arrogant BJP showing desperation for single Rajya Sabha seat, says Ahmed Patel

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking exclusively with DNA, Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s Political Secretary Ahmed Patel said that Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) is using money power and central investigative agencies to win one Rajya Sabha seat.“It is arrogance of power. BJP cannot digest power and for this reason it is using everything under the sun to defeat me,” Patel said.The Congress leader also said that his election should not be linked to Sonia Gandhi as he is not contesting the elections as Sonia Gandhi’s secretary but as a Congress candidate.”My election has been made a matter of prestige but will only end up boosting the morale of the Congress,” Patel said“BJP thinks that by creating pressure like this they will win Gujarat. Instead of demoralising us, it has united the leaders in the state,” he added.When asked if the current political instability could have been avoided by ensuring that Shanker Sinh Vaghela didn’t leave the Party, Patel said, “We offered him everything except PCC seat. In fact, a day before filing the nomination, I offered him my seat. He even declined that.”When questioned why his election has become a matter of honour for the BJP top brass, Patel stated that only BJP President Amit Shah can answer this. He also said that they will not allow BJP to demoralise Congress before the assembly elections.Both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh are slated for polls in December of 2017. Congress is in power in Himachal Pradesh but Gujarat, which once looked ripe for taking by the Congress has completely been overturned by the aggression BJP has shown during Rajya Sabha polls.From past two years, Hardik Patel has emerged as a new actor in the state because of Patidar agitation, and mishandling of it also led to removal of then chief minister Anandiben Patel.Congress has cried foul after Income Tax department conducted raids on the premise of the Congress Karnataka minister Shivkumar on whose property Gujarat MLAS have been staying after they were rushed out of the home state fearing they might get poached.Ahmed Patel is four time Rajya Sabha member from Gujarat and he was nominated record 5th time to contest the elections by Congress which generally doesn’t give more than 4 terms of Rajya Sabha to any member.

Fresh flashpoint: Chinese soldiers transgress in ‘demilitarised zone’ in Barahoti of Uttarakhand

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chinese soldiers transgressed into Indian territory twice this month in the Barahoti sector of Uttarakhand but the incidents were downplayed by Indian officials today, saying these should not be given “undue importance”.Around 15-20 personnel of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) came 800 metres inside Indian territory in Chamoli district on the morning of July 25, officials said. The incident took place just a day before National Security Adviser Ajit Doval left for Beijing to attend a meeting of NSAs of BRICS. It also comes amid the ongoing standoff between the armies of the two countries in Dokalam at the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction. The first transgression took place on July 15 and the other on July 25. In both instances Chinese soldiers numbering about 15-20 came into Indian territory, stayed there for a while and left, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) sources told PTI in Dehradun.On July 25, the PLA troops entered into the Indian territory and even threatened the shepherds grazing cattle in the Barahoti area during their two hours stay, officials in the know said on the condition of anonymity. The Chinese troops left after the Indian side protested. However, official sources said incidents of similar nature have happened in the past but are normally sorted out locally and should not be given undue importance. They said transgressions occur due to differing perceptions of Line of Actual Control (LAC) by the two sides.
ALSO READ Amid Sikkim stand-off, Chinese troops transgress into Barahoti in Uttarakhand”Soldiers of the Chinese army come into our area and leave after staying there for a while. It has been happening for decades. Though we can’t call it routine it is not so unusual movement either,” said a senior ITBP official on the condition of anonymity. In July last year also, Chinese troops had transgressed into Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. Barahoti, an 80 sq km sloping pasture about 140 km from the Uttarakhand capital Dehradun, is one of three border posts in what is known the ‘middle sector’, comprising Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.It is a “demilitarised zone” where Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) jawans are not allowed to take their weapons, officials said. In 1958, India and China listed Barahoti as a disputed area where neither side would send their troops. In the 1962 war, the PLA did not enter the middle sector and focused on the western (Ladakh) and eastern (Arunachal Pradesh) sectors.After the war, ITBP jawans would patrol the area with weapons in a non-combative manner — with the barrel of the gun facing down. During negotiations on resolving the border dispute, the Indian side unilaterally agreed in June 2000 that ITBP troops would not carry arms in three posts, Barahoti and Kauril and Shipki in Himachal Pradesh. ITBP men go patrolling in civil dress and the Barahoti pasture sees Indian shepherds from border villages tending their sheep and people from Tibet bringing their yaks for grazing.

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