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Rahul Gandhi to step up Maha efforts for party revival

In a bid to start planning for the crucial 2019 Assembly polls where 48 Lok Sabha seats and 288 assembly seats are up for grabs, newly-anointed Congress president Rahul Gandhi will soon convene a meeting with Maharashtra leaders and fast track the revival of the party organisation and increase its tally. To that end, Rahul has sent a missive to the state leaders that he will soon carry out his own ‘internal assessment’ to determine the party’s strengths and weaknesses and later take a call on striking a pre-poll alliance or seat adjustment with NCP and like-minded parties.Rahul’s initiative assumes importance in light of the fact that in the 2012 general elections, the party had been routed in the state and bagged just two LS seats in Nanded and Hingoli. It also managed only 42 seats in the state Assembly. In the subsequent local and civic body polls, Congress again failed to take on the mighty BJP effectively.Former minister Balasaheb Thorat, who headed the Congress party’s steering committee for Gujarat election, told DNA, “The state unit is quite serious about regaining power in Maharashtra and quite open to ally with NCP and other like-minded parties. However, state leaders are of the view that the Congress party should neither play second-fiddle to NCP nor should it blindly agree for a pre-poll alliance. Therefore, the state party unit expects to soon meet Congress president and work out the future course of action.”As far as NCP is concerned, state spokesman Nawab Malik said his party hopes the Congress will take a lead to form a broader anti-BJP alliance in the state. “Congress should not underestimate the presence of NCP and other parties in masses, and seriously consider this factor while forging an alliance,” he noted.

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EVM row: Samajwadi Party to hold talks with opposition parties next month

Deliberations will be held to chalk out a strategy for getting future elections conducted through ballot papers instead of EVMs, Chaudhary said, adding that invitations would be extended to the Congress, the BSP, the Left parties and the Aam Aadmi Party, among others. ”
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–><!–end of breadcrumbx–>EVM row: Samajwadi Party to hold talks with opposition parties next month EVM
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Thursday 28 December 2017 21:36 ISTMust readJaish-e-Mohammad’s ‘commander’ Noor Tantray killed in Pulwama wanted to join BJP in 2003 to eliminate top brassUP govt sends letter to Gorakhpur DM to withdraw 1995 case against Yogi Adityanath, 10 others<!–end of artlmustredbx–><!–end of articllftpbx–>Amidst the ongoing debate over Electronic Voting Machines, the Samajwadi Party has decided to hold a meeting to deliberate over the issue with opposition parties next month, a party spokesperson said today.The Samajwadi Party has decided to hold a meeting for deliberating over the issue in the second week of January, party spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary said.This is an attempt by the party to maintain the sanctity of the election process and revive the confidence of the people in the democratic system, he added.Deliberations will be held to chalk out a strategy for getting future elections conducted through ballot papers instead of EVMs, Chaudhary said, adding that invitations would be extended to the Congress, the BSP, the Left parties and the Aam Aadmi Party, among others.

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L-G Anil Baijal’s note on scheme ‘saddens’ Manish Sisodia

Continuing the attack on Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) Anil Baijal, Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said on Wednesday that he was “extremely saddened” after reading the noting of the L-G on doorstep delivery of services scheme.On Tuesday, Sisodia had alleged that the L-G rejected the proposal for 40 doorstep services in the national Capital. “I am unable to understand why the L-G has a problem with residents of Delhi getting delivery of services at their doorstep? The basic question that arises is that should a selected L-G have the power to reject a major decision of the elected government?” Sisodia asked on Wednesday.Among the 40 public services that were to be covered under the scheme in the first phase were caste certificates, income certificates, driving licences, duplicate driving licences, new water and sewer connections, handicap pension schemes, domicile certificates, delayed birth order, Lal Dora certificates, etc. Clarifying the doubts raised by the L-G, Sisodia said these services will put an end to the long queues in government offices. “There will be a 100 per cent feedback system to check corruption and quality of services. There is no fear of documents going missing as the executive will visit your place, scan the documents, and upload them then and there. This system will be super quick. The executive will visit your place on a phone call and provide the services,” he explained.The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government had planned to hire a private agency to implement the decision. According to the plan, mobile sahayaks (facilitators) will be hired through the agency, which would set up call centres.

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UP govt sends letter to Gorakhpur DM to withdraw 1995 case against Yogi Adityanath, 10 others

The Yogi Adityanath government on December 21 ordered the withdrawal of a 1995 case in which the chief minister, along with Shiv Pratap Shukla (now Minister of State for Finance at the Centre), Sheetal Pandey (BJP MLA from Sahajanwa) and 10others were booked for violating prohibitory orders.On December 20, the state government sent a letter to the District Magistrate, Gorakhpur, directing that an application be filed to withdraw the case before the court. The government order stated that based on a letter received from the District Magistrate on October 27 and after scrutinising facts of the case, it had been decided to withdraw the case. The letter mentioned the names of Yogi Adityanath, Shiv Pratap Shukla, Sheetal Pandey and ten others.The Chief Secretary Rajive Kumar has issued directions that all District Magistrates of the state withdraw cases under Sections 144 of the IPC 107 and 109 of the CrPC. The Chief Secretary has asked DMs to prepare a list of such cases in their respective districts and file appeals in designated courts in the light of the state government order.Besides Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, cases against Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, UPCC Chief Raj Babbar, Leader of Opposition Ram Gobind Chaudharay and several BJP, SP, BSP and Congress MPs, MLAs, leaders and workers would be dropped.A home department spokesperson said that the State government will also file an appeal in the Allahabad High Court requesting directions to the lower courts for withdrawal of cases against politicians in the light of Amendment into the Act.It is, however, a different matter that crime graph in UP is on the rise even after police tightening noose around hardcore criminals. It was due to this reason, the state government had introduced UPCOCA (UP Control of Organized Crime Act) which was passed by the UP Assembly but requires assent from the Upper House.During debate on UPCOCA, the Chief Minister had announced that his government has initiated a process to withdraw as many as 20,000 cases against politicians across party lines. He had stated that the move was aimed at reducing the pendency of cases in lower courts.“These cases were usually petty cases registered by the police against political leaders and workers for staging a dharna and holding demonstrations. They go on in lower courts for years and need to be closed,” he had stated in UP Assembly.The opposition has welcomed the state government’s decision. “We welcome the step but along with politicians, the state government should also withdraw cases against innocent people,” suggested Rajendra Chief Chowdhary Spokesperson, Samajwadi Party.The former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav had also withdrawn about 1800 cases against party leaders and workers during his tenure.

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No decision taken on Rahul Gandhi’s elevation to UPA President: Moily

Senior Congress leader M Veerappa Moily has said that no decision has been taken on whether Sonia Gandhi would continue to occupy the position of UPA chairperson or make way for new party president Rahul Gandhi.Moily acknowledged there are calls for her continuation in the position, but said Rahul Gandhi, who assumed charge as the Congress president earlier this month, is also capable of holding the post.”Rahul Gandhi is also capable,” the former Union minister told PTI yesterday.The decision on the UPA’s chairmanship has not yet been taken and “it is left to them (Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi),” he said.Ever since Sonia Gandhi stepped down as the Congress president, there was speculation whether Rahul Gandhi would assume charge of the UPA chairperson or she would continue in the position.Asked if it would “help” if Sonia Gandhi continued to be the UPA chairperson, Moily declined to comment and said, “Ultimately, it’s between them (Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi); they will have to take a call.”He said Sonia Gandhi has “managed the party very well” during her 19-year tenure as the Congress president, adding that “she has to continue to be active in providing advice and, while running the party by Rahulji, she has to be behind him always.”She should continue to be a part of the decision- making process and her “wise counsel” should always prevail on the Congress, the former chief minister of Karnataka said.On TMC leader Derek O’Brien’s statement that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has the “finest credentials” to take on the BJP in 2019, Moily said it’s not an “objective” assessment.He argued that ever since Sonia Gandhi became the party president and also the leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP), she has provided “best leadership” for the party and also the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).”Most of the coalition partners…Including the Left…TMC…Everybody joined. That kind of leadership should be holistic, comprehensive and it should be inspiring,” Moily said.”That kind of inspiring leadership in the country… inspiring coalition was done under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi,” he said.”Even now, she should continue to play that effective role. That’s why people say that she has to continue as the CLP leader, the chairman of the coordination committee and also the coalition (UPA),” he further said.On O’Brien’s remark that if the anti-BJP forces come together, they can defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2019 elections, Moily said it’s possible.”It has been proved. Even the TMC was a part of our (Congress-led UPA) government, the Left parties also supported…Even the SP, Mayawati supported us. There is a history. The anti-BJP forces always united under the inspiring and dynamic leadership of Sonia Gandhi,” he said.

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Vasundhara Raje government draws flak from ABVP

BJP government at Rajasthan was upheld as a major ‘challenge’ for student organisation, Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) as a proposal in this regard was floated at the state level conclave of the former at Jaipur.Associated with BJP’s ideological parent RSS, the ABVP is often considered as a student wing of the party. However, the proposal said at length of the widening gap between the two organisations at the state. A copy of the proposal has been received by DNA.The proposal on “Emerging Challenges In Rajasthan” presented by ‘prant mantri’ of Chittorgarh, Jitendra Singh held the state government anti-farmer, anti-tribal and even accused it of communal ‘appeasement’. It further went to call the government a failure on fronts of curbing corruption and implementation of sanitation campaign.“We have placed the proposal on basis of issues reported by workers and suggestions and amendments at it have been requested from participants at the conclave. After due deliberation the proposal will be decided upon tomorrow” said Rajesh Yadav, president Jaipur prant. It is also not for the first time that differences between ABVP and BJP government at state have come in open. The student organisation few months back had also entered a conflict regarding police action on their demonstration. However, such blatant criticism of the BJP government has been most unexpected from ABVP as BJP and the student organisation share RSS ideology.The proposal to be presented at the 53rd state conclave of ABVP has arrived as much an embarrassment of BJP. It also is further a concern for the party as the student organisation openly expresses its resentment with less than a year left for assembly elections at the state. These ABVP cadres join the youth wing of BJP the to garner support of young voters for the party. Deviation of ABVP is thus not much a welcome development for the party.ConflictThe student organisation few months back had also entered a conflict regarding police action on their demonstration. However, such blatant criticism of the BJP has been most unexpected from ABVP as BJP and the student organisation share RSS ideology. It is also not for the first time that differences between ABVP and BJP government at state have come in open.

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Use of Sri Lanka President Rajpaksa’s portrait by rival leads to tussle

The use of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s portrait by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party has led to a tussle with its rival faction which is claiming that the picture of a member of another party cannot be used for campaigning.The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) reportedly used the portrait of Rajapaksa for campaigning for the upcoming council elections.A senior minister representing the government from the SLFP said it is be illegal to use the image of Rajapaksa for campaigning as he is a member of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and not the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP).”They can’t use the image of a member of another party for campaigning,” the senior minister said.The Rajapaksa loyalists who are in the SLPP remain careful not to identify themselves officially with the SLPP as they run the risk of being removed by the SLFP for breach of party discipline by promoting interests of another party.Both factions, however, say that their common enemy is the United National Party (UNP) of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.The party was split with Rajapaksa loyalists who call themselves the Joint Opposition forming a new party SLPP.The SLFP’s mainstream is currently led by President Maithripala Sirisena. The two factions went separate ways after the failure of the unification talks in order to face the February 10 election for 341 local councils.Both factions accuse each other of trying illegally to use the image of Rajapaksa, the man who ended the war with the LTTE.”We object to the use of the former President’s image by the SLFP,” Ranjith Soysa, a Rajapaksa loyalist legislator said.The two factions would go into coalition arrangements after the elections to gain control of the councils.

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Advantage JP Nadda? BJP meets today to decide Himachal Chief Minister

Prem Kumar Dhumal on Saturday night ruled himself out from the race for the post of Himachal Pradesh chief minister, a day before a meeting of BJP MLAs to elect their leader. Five-term MLA Jairam Thakur and Union minister J P Nadda are the frontrunners for the chief minister’s office.A lack of consensus among the newly elected MLAs had resulted in the two central observers — Union ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Narendra Singh Tomar — returning to Delhi from Shimla on Friday to hold fresh consultation with the central leadership.Although Thakur was seen a frontrunner for the job till recently, Nadda may emerge as the most acceptable candidate in this changed scenario, a BJP source said.”There is speculation in media that I am in race for the post of the chief minister. I had made it clear on the day of the result that I am not in any race,” Dhumal said.The statement of Mr Dhumal, a former chief minister who was the party’s candidate for the job again but suffered a shock defeat in the polls, that he was not in contention has come following a nudge from the BJP leadership, sources said.Supporters of Dhumal and Thakur had raised slogans as central observers met state leaders on Thursday. A meeting of BJP MLAs has been convened on Sunday and they would be addressed by the central observers, the party’s state unit chief Satpal Singh Satti said today in Shimla.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 leadership issue cropped up following the shocking defeat of Dhumal. He who was defeated from Sujanpur by Rajinder Rana of the Congress.Satti, who himself lost from Una, said that in spite of “unexpected results” in some constituencies the performance of the party was spectacular. The party ousted the Congress from power by winning 44 of the 68 seats in fray.

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AAP women’s wing meets L-G Anil Baijal

The action comes after the party had alleged on Friday that BJP leaders and the Delhi police were involved in the running and illegal confinement of women and girls in the ashram, in the name of religious preaching. The party said that despite receiving several complaints the police had not taken any action till date.”
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<!–end of artlbotbor–><!–end of artlsocl–>Written Bydna Correspondent <!–end of artlbotbor–>Sunday 24 December 2017 3:29 ISTMust readGirls in Rohini Ashram force fed intoxicants: DCW chiefMetro’s technical audit is good news for Blue Line<!–end of artlmustredbx–><!–end of articllftpbx–>The women’s wing of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) met the Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal expressing concern over the security of women in the national Capital in the backdrop of the alleged sexual assault of minor girls and women by self-styled godman Virendra Dev Dikshit in his ashram located in northwest Delhi’s Rohini and many other areas. The members urged the L-G to ask the concerned agencies to take swift action in the matter and rescue the inmates from all these ashrams spread across the city. They also urged Baijal to personally monitor the investigation in the case.The action comes after the party had alleged on Friday that BJP leaders and the Delhi police were involved in the running and illegal confinement of women and girls in the ashram, in the name of religious preaching. The party said that despite receiving several complaints the police had not taken any action till date.

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Ashok Chavan may get second term as MPCC chief

The Bombay High Court’s rejection of the Governor’s prosecution order in the Adarsh scam has brightened Ashok Chavan’s chances of getting yet another term as the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) supremo.The state unit has already completed the election process, authorising the party high command to decide Chavan’s fate. However, insiders in the party admit that the court order has come as a major slap on the BJP’s face which will have to rework its strategy to target Chavan.This apart, Chavan was instrumental in organising protests against the BJP-led government in November and December in six revenue divisions, where he travelled extensively. By and large, the party leaders say Chavan had brought factions together to take on the BJP on issues such as farmers plight, lapses in the implementation of crop loan waiver, deteriorating law and order and finances.Subsequently, the state Congress unit and the state Nationalist Congress Party jointly took out a march and organised a rally at Nagpur on the second day of the winter session on December 12 hinting at an alliance in the run-up to the next Assembly elections slated for 2019.Further, Chavan’s stock soared after Congress won 73 of 81 seats in the Nanded Municipal Corporation, where BJP had made it a prestige issue and cornered him in his home town.MPCC spokesman Ratnakar Mahajan told DNA,” Clearly, Chavan will now strive for the responsibility bestowed upon him with renewed vigour as the Bombay high court has set aside the Governor’s sanction to act against him in the Adarsh case. The party’s high command is expected to continue with him as the state unit president for another term.”Newly-anointed All India Congress Committee president Rahul Gandhi is soon expected to take a call in this regard.Already, the party high command has given a green signal to Chavan to organise a mass contact programme in all 288 Assembly constituencies across the state in January. Chavan had already begun preparations for the same.The party MPs, legislators, party office bearers will address public rallies, hold protest marches and reach out to voters at the booth level in a bid to further strengthen the party’s organisation to take on the BJP.Congress had won 42 Assembly seats and bagged only two seats in the 2014 elections. Thereafter, the party has been struggling to regain its stronghold and come second in successive elections held for civic and local bodies in the state.Past protestsAshok Chavan was instrumental in organising protests against the BJP-led government in November and December in six revenue divisions that he travelled.

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BJP reacts to ‘Lie Hard’ remark of Rahul Gandhi, says Congress President indulging in cheap barbs

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday accused Congress President Rahul Gandhi of indulging in cheap barbs and lowering political discourse in his bid to gain power.The attack from party spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao came after Gandhi fired a fresh salvo at the saffron party, saying if the BJP had a film franchise it would be called “Lie Hard”.”Rahul Gandhi, is this the low level of political discourse that you are capable of? To gain power by all means, would you indulge in such cheap barbs?” Rao asked in a tweet.He claimed that whatever Gandhi might say, his party would not return to power as people know its “corrupt face”.Also readRahul Gandhi offers prayers at Somnath temple in GujaratCongress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday mocked at BJP and said if the party had a film franchise it would be called “Lie Hard”.Meanwhile, Rahul visited Gujarat’s Somnath temple on Saturday ahead of a review meeting with newly-elected MLAs and party workers following Gujarat assembly election results.After his Somnath Temple visit on November 29, a controversy erupted after Rahul’s name along with senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel was allegedly mentioned as non-Hindus in the visitor book of the temple. (With inputs from ANI)

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Rahul Gandhi chairs first CWC meeting after being elected Congress President

Rahul Gandhi on Friday chaired the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting for the first time after being elected as the party chief earlier this month. Sonia Gandhi, who served as the party president for 19 years, arrived a little before Rahul for the meeting and was also felicitated by the CWC members. The CWC also paid their respects to former Union Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi who passed away last month. Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, senior party leaders Motilal Vora, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Janardan Dwivedi, Mallikarjun Kharge, Karan Singh, Anand Sharma, Mohsina Kidwai, Ambika Soni, CP Joshi, Kamal Nath, BK Hariprasad and Oscar Fernandes are also attending the meeting, along with party in- charges for various states.The agenda for the meeting was not officially disclosed but sources said that two heavyweights from Kerala – Shashi Tharoor and Oommen Chandy – are likely to be inducted in the party. Rahul Gandhi was elected unopposed as the Congress chief on December 11 and assumed the party’s reins on December 16.(With PTI inputs)

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Gujarat: Vijay Rupani to continue as chief minister, Nitin Patel named his deputy

Vijay Rupani will continue as Gujarat Chief Minister, while Nitin Patel has been named as deputy, it was announced on Friday.The announcement was made in a meeting conducted by elected BJP candidates following the party’s win in the Gujarat Assembly elections, under the chairmanship of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and BJP general secretary Saroj Pandey.Earlier, it was announced that Jaitley and Pandey, wouldl hold consultations with the MLAs before the new chief minister is announced.Though incumbent Vijay Rupani continues to be the favourite for the coveted job, there was speculation about his continuance given the BJP’s narrow victory in its bastion. The BJP has 99 seats in the 182-member Assembly, seven more than the 92 required for forming government but its lowest in a long time. The Congress and its pre-poll allies have 80 seats, with the main opposition party having 77.A party worker from Rajkot said on condition of anonymity, “We believe that Rupani only will be the CM but we are also hearing that other leaders are also under consideration. Let us see what happens but I am keeping my finger crossed for Rupani.”Also readRajkot eagerly awaits Vijay Rupani’s return as CMOn the other side, the Rajkot BJP is preparing for the grand celebration of victory of Rupani in city once he returns to hometown after the formality of oath taking. The leaders are also confident that Rupani only will become the CM of Gujarat.A BJP leader from Rajkot and very close friend of Rupani, Nitin Bhardwaj said, “I have no doubt that Vijay Rupani will be the CM of Gujarat again. Amit Shah had given clear indication during campaigning that Rupani will continue as CM. We are waiting for the announcement of his name as it is a formality only.”Also readTINA factor may help Vijay Rupani to stay on as Chief Minister”We had prepared a slogan during poll campaign here, Rajkot ka beta, Gujarat ka neta- meaning Rajkot’s son is to be leader of Gujarat. We will hold a grand celebration once his name is officially announced. We had celebrated for Narendra Modi, Anandiben Patel and Vijay Rupani when they came here after becoming the CM. We also offered grand welcome to Amit Shah when he came here after his appointment as BJP chief,” added Bhardwaj.BJP spokesperson Raju Dhruv said, “Rupani was in Gandhinagar as he is the CM and could not come to Rajkot due to regular courses, but we all celebrated his victory here in his absence. Once he comes again to Rajkot, we will celebrate it with more enthusiasm.”BJP chief Amit Shah had said during the campaign that the elections would be fought under Rupani. Since Modi was the face of the BJP in the keenly fought electoral battle, a last minute change cannot be completely ruled out, sources said. Many in the party wonder if the top leadership would go for somebody from the Patidar community, as the party prepares for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Though the Patidars have traditionally backed the BJP, a section led by young community leader Hardik Patel turned against the party over the quota issue.

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Sena flexes muscles, vows to go it alone in 2019 LS elections

Flexing its muscles after the BJP’s narrow margin of victory in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat, the Shiv Sena is planning to go solo in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.The Sena is testing the waters for contesting all 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra and is looking at roping in disgruntled BJP leaders and former allies like farmer leader and Hatkanangale MP Raju Shetti.“We are examining the possibility (fighting Lok Sabha elections after snapping alliance with BJP),” confirmed a senior Shiv Sena leader while speaking to DNA.He also added that the issue was likely to be discussed in the state executive of the party scheduled on January 22.Last week, Yuva Sena chief Aditya Thackeray created a flutter by stating that they would quit the BJP-led government next year and come to power on their own merit. Sources said the announcement may be made during the party’s annual Dusshera rally.“We have been working on this for some time. The Shiv Sena is strengthening the party organisation (in all Lok Sabha seats),” the Shiv Sena leader said.He claimed they could rope in disgruntled elements in the BJP and leaders of smaller parties like Shetti, who have broken his alliance with the BJP.The Sena functionary was however non-committal on whether the party would enter into an understanding or a tie-up with the NCP or the Congress, as had been done in some local body elections like the Thane Zilla Parishad and the council polls in Nandurbar to consolidate the anti-incumbency vote.Shiv Sena sources said while the party had a smaller stake in Delhi, the BJP would be hurt at the national level if they decided to go it alone in Maharashtra.The Sena is seen as the BJP’s only natural ally in the NDA due to the common agenda of Hindutva, but of late, their differences have only grown.EMBITTERED ALLIESLast week, Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray created a flutter by stating that the party would quit the BJP-led government. Sources said the announcement may be made during the party’s annual Dusshera rally. So far, however, the Shiv Sena is non-committal on whether it is considering a tie-up with the NCP or the Congress.

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Blood young faces, boost BJP roots: PM Modi is ‘atal’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi turned emotional at the BJP’s continued electoral successes, fondly referred to his association with former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and called for strengthening the party at its roots. The PM pitched for young faces ahead of the 2019 general elections.Addressing the BJP parliamentary party here on Wednesday, he also urged leaders not to be affected by the Opposition’s “disinformation” campaign against the party, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said.Rahul Gandhi said on Tuesday that Gujarat’s election outcome was “a moral victory” for the Congress and “a massive jolt” for the BJP, and has “raised questions on Modi’s credibility”. The BJP won a sixth straight term in Gujarat on Monday, but got 16 seats less, compared to the 2012 Assembly electionsModi asserted that it was a big win for his party in his home state. No party in power at the Centre has done this well in elections across the country in over three years of tenure as the BJP has , he said, referring to the BJP’s winning streak in Assembly elections.”This is no mean achievement. We have won for the sixth time in a row and are spread in 19 states, a feat that even Congress could not achieve during Indira Gandhi’s peak when her party ruled in 18 states,” PM Modi reportedly told BJP parliamentarians.He exhorted them to start preparing for the 2019 polls by strengthening party’s base.Modi also referred to his association with party president Amit Shah, who was present at the meeting, and spoke about how he groomed Shah, 14 years younger to the Prime Minister, they said.In his address, Shah attacked the Congress over its claim of a moral victory in the Gujarat polls, saying it was a “laughable exercise” for the opposition party to see victory in defeat.BJP MPs who attended the meeting said, the PM traced the party’s journey from 2 seats in 1984 to the present and became emotional when he fondly recalled Vajpayee and said that had he been healthy, he would have been happy to see the party rise to such glorious heights.Modi remembered how Vajpayee congratulated him in person when the party did well in the 1998 Lok Sabha elections in Gujarat when he had joined the BJP from the the RSS and was not widely known in the party.The PM got emotional for a second time when he spoke about the faith the people of Gujarat have put in the party and him and increased its vote share to 50%.Giving his own example of travelling to eight states immediately after wrapping Gujarat campaign on December 12 and at the same time delivering responsibility as the PM, Modi asked the MPs to shirk off laid back attitude and work for the country and the party.”Hum yahan satta bhogney ke liye nahi aaye hain, balki desh ko aagey le jaane ke liye chuney gaye hain. Mein abhi 8 rajyon ka daura kareke aaya hun, agar aap mujhse aur kaam chahte hain to mujhe bataiye mein tayyar hun. (We have not come here to indulge in fruits of power but have come to serve the country and take it forward. I have just come back after visiting 8 states, if you want me to do work more, I’m ready to do it), the PM reportedly told BJP MPs.

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Uttar Pradesh government tables UPCOCA to curb crime; opposition cries foul

The Yogi Adityanath government on Wednesday tabled the Uttar Pradesh Control of Organized Crime Act (UPCOCA) in the Assembly amidst protest from opposition parties.After getting a nod from the cabinet, Chief Minister Yogi Aditanath said that the new act would help the state government in controlling organised crime in Uttar Pradesh. He urged opposition parties to help government get the Bill passed from both Houses of the State Legislature.With opposition members vehemently opposing UPCOCA, Samawadi Party announced that they will not allow this Bill to pass.Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav alleged that the BJP government introduced UPCOCA to settle scores with its political opponents. “Provisions of the new Act will be used to target political leaders. There are several laws to control crime effectively, there is no need to bring in another law to curb crime,” stated Akhilesh.BSP Supremo Mayawati has also opposed UPCOCA. “It will used against dalits, backwards and minorities. Anyone protesting against the BJP government will slapped with UPCOCA,” apprehended Mayawati. It is, however, another matter that she was the first to bring in UPCOCA when during her regime but had to drop after Samajwadi Party refused to support it.The new Bill was drafted on the lines of MCOCA. The new Bill recommends stringent action against organized crime including mafia gangs, illegal mining, land grabbing, kidnapping for ransom, supari killings etc.The Bill allows phone recordings as evidences and an accused can be kept under police custody for six months for interrogation. The period for filing chage sheet has also been doubled up to 180 days. Properties of accused would be attached and those earned through illegal means would be confiscated. It provides punishment of three years to capital punishment and a find of Rs 5 lakh to 25 lakh.A committee has been formed to review cases before slapping provisions of UPCOCA to check its misuse. Special Courts would be established to expedite speedy trials of accused.

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After Gujarat, Amit Shah turns focus on Bengal, to draw roadmap to strengthen BJP in state

After emerging victorious in the Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat Assembly elections, Central leadership of BJP has instructed to go all out in strengthening the party organisation in West Bengal.Sources said that on December 19, BJP national president Amit Shan had given such instruction in a meeting with party national secretary from Bengal and former state president Rahul Sinha.Shah had reportedly said that that state leaders needed to pay attention towards completion of party’s booth committee formation.In the meeting which was conducted late in the evening Shah had first taken stock about the party’s activities in Bengal.Later he said that along with the campaigns, meetings and rallies it should also be ensured that booth committees were paid due attention. The first task would be to build at least a 10-member booth committee in all the booths and later work on increasing the number.Sinha had also been instructed to mobilise all the party state frontal organisations and different cells. Sinha has also been handed over the task of seeing that more and more defection from different parties to BJP takes place as well as eminent personalities and intellectuals should also join the party.It was also found out that Shah wants to make the Gujarat and HP victory as the turning point for the West Bengal BJP ahead of the 2019 general elections and he would conduct a meeting with the state BJP leadership in January 2018 and draw up a roadmap. Shah is also likely to visit West Bengal next month.Sinha said that from the importance the Central leadership was paying to West Bengal it is clear how serious and focussed our leaders in Delhi are about Bengal.

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Paresh Dhanani ahead in race for CLP leader’s post

With most of Congress’s senior leaders biting the dust in the Gujarat assembly elections, Paresh Dhanani, who was elected as MLA for the third time, is seen as the front-runner for the post of Congress Legislature Party (CLP) in Gujarat. A couple of other MLAs are seen as Dhanani’s contenders but he is clearly ahead in the race.Dhanani is a Patidar, a community which strongly supported the Congress in the rural belt. What tilts the scale in his favour is that he comes from Saurashtra, a region where Congress nearly doubled its tally from 16 to 30. In fact, in Dhanani’s hometown Amreli, the Congress won all five seats. The firebrand leader is perceived to be close to newly elected Congress president Rahul Gandhi. “Paresh Dhanani’s appointment as CLP leader would be a good move to woo Patidars ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. He is also quite vocal and that would help in cornering the government during the assembly proceedings,” said party officials.Dhanani is seen as a giant killer, having defeated senior BJP leaders in each of his election victories. In 2002, he had defeated Parshottam Rupala, in 2012 Dileep Sanghani, and Bavku Undhad in the latest elections.Another potential contender as CLP leader is senior leader Mohansinh Rathwa, who was elected to the state assembly for a record 10th time. Rathwa was appointed leader of opposition after Shankersinh Vaghela quit the Congress in August. His elevation could be seen as an attempt to reach out to tribals, a community where the party’s support base has steadily eroded over the years.Shailesh Parmar, who was elected as MLA from Danilimda (SC) seat in Ahmedabad for the third straight time, is also seen as a potential contender as CLP leader. Parmar was appointed as the Congress’s chief whip in the assembly after Balvantsinh Rajput’s exit from the party in July.

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47 MLAs face criminal charges

A report by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) showed that 47, or 26 per cent, of the 182 MLAs who won in the 2017 Gujarat assembly elections have criminal cases against them. This number has dipped from the 2012 elections, when 57 MLAs had criminal cases against them, which was 31 per cent of the total number of legislators.However, the number of MLAs facing serious criminal charges such as murder, attempt to murder, dacoity and robbery is 33 this time, which is more than that compared to the 2012 election. his forms 18 per cent of the total 182 MLAs, compared to 24 MLAs (13 per cent) in 2012.The Gujarat Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) together analysed the self-sworn affidavits of the 182 winning candidates on the bases of criminal background, finances, education and gender. Their other findings are as follows.Out of 47 MLAs with criminal background who won this time,18 are of BJP, 25 of Congress, 1 of Bhartiya Tribal Party, 1 of NCP and 2 are Independents. Two MLAs, Maheshbhai Chottubhai Vasava of Bhartiya Tribal Party and Bhaveshbhai Babubhai of Congress, face cases related to murder.Six MLAs had cases related to attempt to murder and Ahir Bharwad Jethabhai Ghelabhai of BJP had a case related to rape against him.Financial backgroundOut of the 182 MLAs in the Gujarat assembly this time, 141 are crorepatis, while in 2012 elections, 134 were crorepatis. Out of 182 MLAs, the wealth of 33 is Rs 10 crore or above, and that of 23 is between Rs 5 crore and Rs 10 crore.Another 85 legislators have declared wealth between Rs 1 crore and Rs 5 crore, 37 have asserted it to be between Rs 20 lakh and Rs 1 crore , and four have sworn that it is less than Rs 20 lakh.If we look at the party-wise list of crorepati MLAs, BJP has 84 crorepati legislators of the total 99 who have won, while in Congress, 54 out of the 77 winning MLAs are crorepatis; two from Bhartiya Tribal Party and one from NCP declared assets valued over Rs 1 crore.The top three MLAs with high assets are BJP’s Saurabh Patel of Botad constituency, followed by the party’s Dhanjibhai Patel of Wadhwan constituency, and Congressman Jawahar Chavda of Manavadar constituency. The MLAs with the least assets are Jigneshkumar Natvarlal Mevani of Vadgam constituency and Arjunsinh Chauhan of Mehmedabad constituency.EducationOf the 182 MLAs, 96 have education qualifications ranging between Std V and Std XII, while only 69 are graduates and beyond. There are seven MLAs who have declared themselves as literates while one is unlettered.

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In rural Guj, Congress got more seats, but BJP got more votes

Congress may thump its back for the tough fight it put up against the ruling Bharatiya Janta Party in Gujarat, especially in the urban and semi-urban areas, but BJP is still a force to reckon in villages, small cities and towns. Data from the Election Commission of India suggests that the saffron party actually got 76,614 more votes than Congress and its allies put together in 134 seats that are predominantly rural.The 182-member Assembly has 134 seats that are either rural or semi-urban. Of these, BJP won 57, Congress won 71, its ally Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) won two, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) won one and Independents won three seats, of which Jignesh Mevani was supported by Congress.Congress and its allies got 74 seats in these areas, 17 more than BJP, however they got 98,90,064 votes in rural and semi-urban areas, while BJP got 99,66,660 votes. Congress got 95,71,855 votes, BTP got 2,22,694 votes, while Mevani bagged 95,497 votes.Data indicates that Congress won by thinner margins and BJP won by a wider margins.Dinesh Shukla, a former professor of Political Science at Gujarat University, attributes this phenomenon to BJP’s expertise in dividing opposition votes so votes that should have gone to Congress are shared by planted candidates. Notwithstanding this, the Ahmedabad-resident admits that BJP is a force to reckon with in rural and semi-urban areas, while it continues to monopolize purely urban seats. “But you have to consider that it managed to bag these seats after PM Narendra Modi’s relentless campaign,” added Shukla.In Shukla’s opinion, Congress’s lead holds lessons for BJP – that Modi magic is on a decline and Congress is on the road to resurgence in Gujarat. One also has to consider the rise of Rahul Gandhi, as fence voters may now be encouraged to vote to for Congress. Gujarat Congress spokesman Kailash Gadhvi said that Congress’s hold is stronger in rural areas as BJP’s victories are in seats that are more semi-urban than rural.It terms of votes-share within the party, Congress and allies got 77.53% of the total vote; BJP got 67.69%.While there was neck and neck competition for rural votes, there was a virtual monopoly in urban votes. BJP continued to have an iron hold with 47,57.767 votes, while Congress got 28,67,082 votes, about 40% less than BJP got.

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TINA factor may help Vijay Rupani to stay on as Chief Minister

The BJP has said that Vijay Rupani will remain the Chief Minister, but some other names are also being whispered in the state’s power corridors, especially after the “below expectation” results. Observers attribute this to the TINA (There Is No Alternative) factor. The party is set to form government for a sixth straight term, but the celebration is muted as it got 16 seats less, compared to the 2012 Assembly elections, as the Congress improved its tally despite the loss. The names doing the rounds for the post of Gujarat CM are Union Minister and Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat, Smriti Irani, and her Cabinet colleague and Minister of State for Roads and Transport, Mansukh L Mandaviya.But dominant thinking is to continue with Rupani, at least for a year.The party does not need to change the CM,” a senior BJP leader said.The leader said party president Amit Shah has also said that Rupani would continue as Gujarat CM. “He is Shah’s close confidant, so he is likely to continue, unless the high command has some different ideas,” he said.The name of Patel leader Ranchodbhai Chanabhai Faldu is also doing the rounds. Gujarat BJP chief Jitu Vaghani did not comment on the issue.There is also a murmur in the Gujarat BJP that the party may not appoint a Deputy Chief Minister this time. Nitin Patel held the post in the last government. The party may now make him the Assembly Speaker.”Nitin Patel and Rupani did not share good relations and that is why the party may decide against appointing a Deputy CM. The party needs somebody to handle business in the Assembly. Patel can be the Speaker because of his long experience,” said another senior leader.”Former Speaker Ganpatsinh Vasava is also there but no other Scheduled Tribe leader has been elected who can become a Cabinet Minister. The party needs a senior Scheduled Caste MLA who can be in the government. The BJP high command can keep Vasava in the Cabinet and Patel could be the Speaker,” said the senior leader.The BJP’s Parliamentary Board meeting is likely to be held this weekend. The Board has deputed Maharashtra in-charge Saroj Pandey and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to discuss Gujarat’s leadership issue.No dy cm in guj?There is also a murmur in the Gujarat BJP that the party may not appoint a Deputy Chief Minister this time. Nitin Patel held the post in the last government.

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After saffron sweep in Assembly polls, Mamata trying to appease Hindus, alleges Bengal BJP

After BJP’s victory in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, Bengal unit of the party believes CM Mamata Banerjee is looking for an image correction. After a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday, state education minister Partha Chatterjee said that Rs 17 crore has been allotted for the renovation of 74 ghats centred around Dakshineswar and Belur.“The decision has been taken in today’s cabinet meeting. It is a message to those who had been spreading canards about our party,” he said. He also said that a total of 1220 new posts have been created including 460 in the Home and Hill Affairs department, 82 in the Health and Family Planning department and 42 in the Finance department.With the panchayat election next year and BJP getting a shot in the arm in the shape of the defection of former TMC Rajya Sabha member Mukul Roy to BJP, TMC leaders have been trying their best to give out the message that they are for inclusive development of the state, irrespective of the person’s faith. At the district level too it is being used as a tool. In Birbhum district of West Bengal, a Brahmin Sammelan will be conducted on January 8, 2018. District TMC president Anubrata Mondal told DNA that it was being done in accordance with a party circular. “About 15,000 brahmins across the district will gather. They will perform pujas and each of them will be given a Gita, a religious shawl and a photograph of Ramkrishna Paramhansa and Saradha Ma,” he said and denied that it had any political connotation. “We had done this earlier at a block level but going by the party’s instructions, this year I am doing it at a district level,” he said.Also readHow BJP’s victory in Gujarat and Himachal will impact Bengal political equationsBJP leaders, however, said that the Mamata Banerjee-led government was doing those out of fear that the party and the government was growing unpopular among the members of the majority community. “They had taken appeasement of the minority to such a level that members of the majority community was disturbed and sensing it, they have now turned to do some damage control but I don’t think these will work. I have also heard that ahead of panchayat polls the TMC will donate cows to people in the rural areas. I have have seen Mamata chant mantras full of mistakes on stage to show people that she is a Hindu,” said Rahul Sinha, BJP national secretary and former party state president. He alleged that Mamata had started the politics of division in Bengal and had she done politics on the basis of developmental work in the state, there would have been no question of appeasing members of any religion.

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Two arrested for ex-BJP MLA son’s murder; issue rocks UP Council

Two people were arrested on Tuesday for allegedly killing the 36-year-old son of a former BJP MLA from Domariyaganj, police said.The incident on Tuesday rocked the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council with the Samajwadi Party (SP) staging a walkout from the Council.Vaibhav Tiwari, the son of Prem Prakash Tiwari alias Gippy Tiwari, was shot dead outside Kasmanda apartment in Hazratanj area, barely 300 metres from the UP legislature building and the state BJP headquarters here on the night of December 16.The main accused, Suraj Shukla and Vikram Singh, who were absconding since then, were arrested by the city police on Tuesday, ADG (Law and Order) Anand Kumar said.Over the killing of the only son of the former MLA, the SP members raised concern over the “deteriorating” Law and Order situation in the state.Raising the issue during the Zero Hour, SP members including Naresh Uttam, Anand Bhadauria, Madhu Gupta, said the incident, which happened in a posh area of the city, reflected the situation in the state.Ahmed Hasan, the leader of the opposition, accused the government of turning a blind eye to the Law and Order.Responding to the opposition, UP Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma said, “Police is working very swiftly in this case.”Gippy Tiwari was BJP MLA from Domariyaganj in 1989, 1991 and 1993. Then in 2014 he went to the Samajwadi Party. In this year’s Assembly elections, however, he campaigned for the BJP.

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How Yogi Adityanath delivered the Hindu votes for BJP in South Gujarat

The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath played an important role in writing the script for the BJP retaining power for sixth time in a row in politically crucial Gujarat Assembly elections.After becoming CM, in just nine month Yogi Adityanath catapulted himself to top among the list of BJP star campaigners and earned a place in party’s top front-line leadership with his administrative and oratory skills.It was a part of the well-thought strategy of the BJP President Amit Shah to press Yogi Adityanath into campaigning, particularly in South Gujarat, to unite Hindu voters. The main aim was to woo UP and Bihar migrants population working and settled in Southern Gujarat industrial belt.Also read’What jolt? 19 states are now with us,’ BJP takes down Rahul Gandhi on Gujarat verdictThere are about 60 lakhs UP and Biharites who are working in this part of Gujarat. In many seats from Umagaon to Vadodara in South Gujarat, Hindi-speaking voters from UP and Bihar play an important and decisive role in deciding the fate of candidates.Also readGujarat Election Results: Congress may have lost, but the outcome will boost morale, says Ashok ChavanKnowing his image among the core BJP vase, Amit Shah had given a specific task to Adityanath to campaign aggressively in Southern Gujarat targeting voters from UP and Bihar to ensure victory of BJP candidates. Till 2012 polls, 70-75% votes from this region used to go to the Congress but Amit Shah’s strategy changed the equations in BJP’s favour. From November 26 to December 12, Yogi Adityanath made as many as eight whirlwind tour to Gujarat, mainly concentrating on the Southern Gujarat districts.Amidst his hectic campaigning back home in Uttar Pradesh for party candidates in crucial urban local bodies’ polls, Yogi Adityanath held rallies in as many as 29 districts in Gujarat where Hindi-speaking people from UP and Bihar are working and settled.Results show that Yogi Adityanat not only succeeded in countering the influence of Patidar movement but also JHA effect (Jignesh Mewani, Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakur) to help the party unite Hindus against their caste affiliations.Barring a few day meetings, most of his rallies, meetings and road shows were well attended in Assembly constituencies of Valsaad, Navsari, Surat, Pardi, Chikhli, Gandevi, Kabeelpur, Bhuj, Sukhpur, Mankuwa, Bidada, Mudara etc.“Party’s strategy for this part of Gujarat was viewed with success even before polling and results were out when gatherings at Yogi’s meetings swelled in numbers,” disclosed a senior BJP state leader who accompanied the Chief Minister during his Gujarat campaigning.For Yogi Adityanath, it was an opportunity to go up the ladder in the party leadership hierarchy. “He proved his political mettle in Gujarat elections beyond doubts,” pointed the party State General Secretary Vijay Pathak.The BJP’s victory in Gujarat has overnight enhanced the political stature of Yogi Adiyanath and bracketed him among top five leaders in the party central leadership. From BJP MP to UP Chief Minister to earning this distinction, it took only nine month to this firebrand Hindutva leader in achieving this rare feat.

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How BJP’s victory in Gujarat and Himachal will impact Bengal political equations

The BJP’s victory in the assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh has unsettled political equations in West Bengal and it was likely to have far-reaching consequences in politics of the state, say political leaders.Some leaders believe that the Mamata Banerjee-led party could tone down its shrillness in countering the saffron party whose win has given the BJP state leadership and cadres a strong footing to prepare ground for the next year’s panchayat polls.”The results would have a major impact in Bengal politics. It will kickstart a churn in state politics in days to come where BJP will be in an advantageous position,” BJP leader Mukul Roy said.Party sources said several TMC leaders were likely to join the BJP in the days to come and the ruling party would find it hard to keep its house in order.Roy, once the second-in-command of the TMC, joined the BJP last month.The West Bengal BJP leaders are also hopeful that the poll results would impact the Sabang assembly bypoll scheduled on December 21.Last night, the BJP took out a victory rally in Sabang to celebrate its success in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat where the party bagged 44 and 99 seats respectively.”Our next target is Bengal. And this victory for sure will galvanise the cadres at the grassroots level ahead of the Panchayat polls. We are confident that the people of Bengal want freedom from the misrule of this corrupt TMC government,” state BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said.The TMC, however, dismissed the BJP’s claims as baseless and devoid of any political logic.”The Gujarat poll results will not have any impact on Bengal politics. If you analyse the Gujarat results, you will see that the BJP’s Gujarat model of development has fallen flat as it faced a drubbing in rural areas,” TMC’s Rajya Sabha MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy told PTI.However, a section of the TMC leadership, who preferred anonymity, expressed apprehension that the BJP might use central agencies like the CBI and the ED to corner TMC leaders whose names have cropped up in corruption cases.Yesterday, a senior TMC MP told PTI that the party would coordinate with other parties, if need be, in opposing the BJP for its anti-people policies, but would not show resistance on issues that did not affect the common man.”We will play the role of a constructive opposition in Parliament. We will not become a second fiddle to the Congress in opposing the government on each and every issue,” he said.The Congress, which is hoping to cash in on the party’s improved performance in Gujarat, said the TMC’s change in stance in Parliament was an indication that the party was going soft on the BJP to save its own leaders.”The TMC is known for its double standards. It knows very well that most of its leaders might be arrested in corruption cases. So, they are trying to please the BJP by trying to maintain distance with Congress,” Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Abdul Mannan of the Congress said.

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Gujarat Elections 2017 | Congress is a strong opposition now

Congress may have lost, but it has a very strong mandate as the Opposition. Thus despite a loss, Congress has gained enormously in stature. Its vote share and the tally both have gone up in the state. For the first time since 1995, Congress gave a tough fight to BJP in PM’s home state.BJP had claimed it will win more than 150 seats, but the party has been limited to double digits, albeit one short of a century. This is a huge morale gain for the Congress.But, then there is so much that the party still needs to do. For instance, the party failed to cash in on 22 years of anti-incumbency and massive agitations against the government. Four of its stalwarts had to bite dust. As a result, the party has good numbers in the House, but doesn’t have a capable leader to lead the resistance in the legislature. Mohansinh Rathva was assigned the task in the outgoing Assembly, but failed to make an impact. The party may have to look beyond Rathva and the job could go to a young face like Paresh Dhanani whom Rahul Gandhi could trust as his close confidante. Increased tally also augurs well in terms of Rajya Sabha voting that took centre stage in August.Resurgence?Increased tally also augurs well in terms of Rajya Sabha voting that took centrestage in August.Congress failed to cash in on 22 years of anti-incumbency.

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Gujarat Elections 2017 | Below-expectation results mar joy around sixth straight govt

During the BJP’s rule in Gujarat, its seats have been shrinking, but the tally never went below 100. The party will form government in Gujarat for the sixth consecutive term, but it showed no exuberance after the results were declared. Perhaps, these are the most shocking results for the BJP, in the home state of PM Narendra Modi and the party’s national president Amit Shah.Those who have seen the Modi era in Gujarat till 2014 would remember the scene at the party headquarter where winning candidates would be pouring in, and workers would be seen beating drums, doing Garba, chanting slogans for Modi, bursting crackers, continuously. The entire atmosphere would be coloured with saffron and ‘gulaal’.Visitors of Shri Kamalam, the BJP headquarters near Gandhinagar, were surprised to see the deserted look there. A couple of leaders were present, locked in their offices. A few workers from Gandhinagar reached there just to mark their presence and CM Vijay Rupani came to address a press conference. By 6 pm, Shri Kamalam was almost empty.During the press conference, Rupani said, “We accept the verdict of Gujarat and will try to live up to people’s expectations in the coming five years as people of the state have given us an opportunity to serve them. This is historic in India that a single party won for the sixth consecutive term. This shows people’s faith in Narendra Modi and development. The credit goes to our leader Amit Shah too for his guidance.” In fact, this is the time for the BJP to start reflecting on the reasons of the party’s performance in Gujarat. PM Narendra Modi addressed as many as 34 rallies travelling 10,000 km in Gujarat and held six major roadshows.Moreover, a range of leaders starting from Amit Shah, Union Ministers like Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and others were deployed to woo voters but the charishma of BJP leaders did not shine much this time as compared with past polls.Surprisingly, the PM and the entire cadre of the BJP diligently tried to play victim on the issues of Mani Shankar Aiyar calling Modi ‘neech’ and tossed issues connecting Congress leaders with Pakistan, but failed to earn sympathy from voters in desired numbers. Development was the core agenda of the BJP for the campaign but that became subsidiary and temple visits by Rahul Gandhi, Ram Mandir and Nehru-Gandhi family’s treatment to Gujarati leaders were reverberating in the skies of Gujarat during BJP leaders’ poll rallies in the state.BJP under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi and national president Amit Shah, the BJP aimed for more than 150 seats in Gujarat and could not cross 100 too. Sixth consecutive termVisitors of the BJP headquarters near Gandhinagar, were surprised to see the deserted look. A few workers from Gandhinagar reached there just to mark their presence.

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Gujarat elections 2017: BJP workers celebrate Modi, their ‘Tiger’

Even as votes were being counted to declare the Gujarat Assembly election verdict, workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) gathered in hordes as early as 9 am outside the party headquarters at 11, Ashoka Road on the chilly Monday morning.The party office bore life-size hoardings of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. As the day proceeded, the stretch from bungalow number 5 to 11 was strewn with flower petals, paper, placards, balloons and the remains of fire-crackers. Enthusiastic party workers expecting a win carried BJP flags and saffron caps and had their faces smeared with gulal (colour) as they shouted slogans such as “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” and “Modi Zindabad”.The celebrations also had a tinge of patriotism with Vande Mataram being played in the background. As the leads from various constituencies started coming in, party workers burst cartons of fire-crackers, often posing for the camera. A large number of party supporters, organised in different groups, danced to thumping dhol beats, raising slogans of “Ghar Ghar Modi”.“I have campaigned in Surat for three months without sleeping for days. The youth is with Modiji,” said Aakash Gupta, 24, a volunteer. Saffron supporters holding a life-size hoarding of Modi had it signed as “Ek Hai Tiger”.“I am a Modi Bhakt and I say it openly. Gujarat is what it is because of Modi. Congress must remember now that people have rejected them for indulging in appeasement and politics of caste,” said Sanjay Chauhan, a supporter. Hoping for a sweeping victory, Harpreet Singh, a Yuva Morcha member of the party’s Delhi wing, said, “We have ordered 1,000 kg boondi ladoo to make sure each supporter has the sweetmeats to enjoy the fruit of their labour of so many months.”

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Gujarat Elections 2017 | OBCs support Congress, but shun BJP caste card

The BJP always gave priority to the OBC vote-bank that constitutes 45 to 50 per cent of the total vote-bank in the state, but the party could not wrest more seats from the Congress in OBC dominates seats. There are a total of 71 seats in Gujarat in which OBC voters have a say, and the BJP managed to win only 30 of these seats while 41 went in favour of Congress. The BJP faced major losses in regions like North and Central Gujarat and the Saurashtra region. Party’s performance in South Gujarat and urban areas remained good; maximum number of seats were won from these region. Many of BJP’s big faces from the OBC community, like Shankar Chaudhary, Keshaji Chauhan, Ramsinh Rathwa, Hira Solanki, Jasha Barad, Govind Parmar, Mansinh Chauhan, emerged as big losers.Whereas Arjun Modhwadia, Meraman Goria, Dr Nitaben Rathod, Pravin Rathod, Gautam Chauhan, Udesinh Baria, Ashok Jirawala and other lost on Congress tickets.The BJP has been giving special attention to the OBC community ever since PM Narendra Modi came to power in the state as chief minister. He initiated several schemes for OBCs, especially for the fishing community in the Saurashtra and south Gujarat regions.

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Himachal Elections 2017 | Standing tall: The lone victor from the communist party

In the run-up to the Assembly polls in Himachal Pradesh, both the BJP and the Congress geared up for a tight wrestle. Helicopters were whizzing past the skies above, and hoardings on every bend invited people to cast their votes — either in favour of the lotus symbol or the hand.In the middle of all of this, an old Maruti 800 fitted with a loudspeaker would do the rounds everyday. It urged voters to cast their ballot in favour of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) instead. On Monday, as the results came out, the party made a comeback of sorts by winning Theog after a gap of 24 years by a margin of nearly 2,000 votes.Theog was held for eight terms by Vidya Stokes, whose application was rejected by the Election Commission after she failed to complete formalities and because the Congress had two candidates. The party fielded Deepak Rahour, known to be close to Rahul Gandhi, instead. The BJP candidate, veteran Rakesh Verma, lost by 1,983 votes.Around the town, in Theog and in nearby Shimla, the CPI (M)’s Rakesh Singha is fondly known as ‘comrade’. As part of the state’s CITU unit, Singha has stood against injustice meted out to the the society’s vulnerable — taxi unions, labour wagers, and also worked for the upliftment of Dalits in a state where untouchability is high.When news of the gruesome gang rape of a minor girl in Kotkhai spred, it was Singha and his supporters who demonstrated for over a week in Theog. Neelam Sarek of the BJP, who was part of the protesters that demanded a CBI probe into the case, said that he stirred the issue to ensure it gained momentum.“He was one of the first to have reached the girl’s house and mobilised the initial support,” says Sarek. Locals in Theog and neighbouring Kotkhai say that this had helped in the victory.After workers at the Wangtoo Karcham hydroelectric project in Kinnaur faced issues with wages, he stood for them and was even attacked for that. Sanjeev Thakur of Mountain Taxi Drivers says that any time the taxi unions needed him, Singha was there. For Singha, electoral issues are based on liberal policy.THE PREDECESSORTheog was held for eight terms by Vidya Stokes, whose application was rejected by the EC after she failed to complete formalities, and because the Congress had two candidates.

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Gujarat elections 2017: Pro-incumbency has helped us win Gujarat, says Jitendra Singh

Hailing the sixth successive victory of the BJP in Gujarat, Union Minister and top party leader, Jitendra Singh, said that the party has introduced the concept of “pro-incumbency” which has helped them win comfortably even after being in power in the state for 22 years.Amid victory celebrations at the party headquarters, Singh said that it is the BJP which has changed the definition of politics by introducing “pro-incumbency” as a factor. “Till this time, only anti-incumbency was known as a factor for winning or losing an election. But the BJP rule in Gujarat has established pro-incumbency as a major factor in winning peoples’ mandate,” said Singh, minister of state (MoS) in PMO.Hitting at its rival Congress, Singh said, in the history of Indian democracy, winning the state elections after 22 years of rule with a comfortable margin means that people, in particular the youth, have rejected the politics of caste, which the Congress party had been trying to base their campaign on.“The youth, which constitutes almost 40 per cent of the population, has forgotten the old baggage of caste. The Congress tried to make it a caste election, which did not work. We won on performance and delivery and not by visiting 28 temples like the Congress president,” said Singh. The Congress retained its traditional vote in pockets. However, its “negative” strategy of “intimidating” the Patidar community, failed on the ground, he said.

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

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

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

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

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Gujarat elections 2017: One rebel leader eats words, other remains defiant

After BJP’s victory in Gujarat assembly election, the party’s MP Sanjay Kakade, who had predicted BJP’s loss on Monday stated that he is happy that prediction has gone wrong. Giving credit of Gujarat victory solely to the prime minister Narendra Modi,” Kakade said, adding, “Modi is real hero and I am zero.”Kakade had predicted dismal performance of BJP in Gujarat elections. He had claimed that his team had carried out a survey in Gujarat and as per the outcome of the survey, the BJP would get enough number of seats to form government in the state.However, after the results were out on Monday, Kakade stated that he is happy for party’s win and gave credit to Modi. “There was an anti-incumbency factor in the state and I had said that in spite of negativity against the party in the state, if it still wins, the will be only because of Modi.”Meanwhile, Nana Patole, the MP who rebelled and quit the party said, “The BJP has miserably failed to achieve 150 plus target set by Amit Shah. This despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing over 34 poll rallies and the party pulling in chief ministers of BJP-ruled states, Union cabinet ministers and ministers from the state governments. The BJP’s performance has been a reality check for the party.”

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Gujarat elections 2017 | The victory in Gujarat is special: PM Modi

After leading his party to a sixth consecutive win in his home state of Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday reiterated that the Gujarat polls were fought on the issue of development and ascribed the imminent victory of the party “purely” to development.”The victory was purely achieved on the subject of development. It’s a truth that is giving a new direction to India’s politics, which the public of Gujarat has given its approval to,” Modi said in an address to ecstatic workers at the party headquarters in New Delhi.Giving, yet again, a personal touch to politics, he said: “Thirty years ago, the poison of caste spread so badly in Gujarat that it took workers like me 30 years to get rid of it.”The Prime Minister, who spoke before the final numbers were announced, termed the party’s imminent victory as “historic”. “In this day and age, for a party to keep winning for so long is an extraordinary achievement. In Gujarat, BJP won all the seats it contested in 1989 Lok Sabha polls. We won most of the seats we contested in 1990. In 1995, in 1998, in 2002, in 2007 and in 2012 we won. We won most seats in Lok Sabha polls too,” Modi said.Modi also took a jab at the Congress, saying “The country has a government which has no ulterior intentions.”On Twitter, where he is one of the most-followed politicians in the world, the Prime Minister wrote: “The victory in Gujarat is special. Starting from 1989, people of Gujarat have been blessing BJP in every Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha election. It is an honour to be serving Gujarat for so many years. We will continue to work for Gujarat’s growth.”In his victory speech, Modi also lauded Gujarat’s party workers for continuing developmental work in the state. “For me, Gujarat polls are a matter of double happiness, because after I left the state three years ago, my colleagues there continued the good work,” he added.”In last few months, there were attempts again to sow seeds of casteism, but people rejected it, I congratulate them, but people must be alert. So many conspiracies were hatched in Gujarat by Congress, misinformation was being spread. People cannot bear it if anyone makes fun of ‘vikas’ (development).”

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First time in three decades, Himachal to get a fresh face

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will form the new Himachal Pradesh government, but minus its chief ministerial candidate, Prem Kumar Dhumal. This bitter-sweet victory for the BJP over long-time rival in the state, Congress, has ensured that for the first time in nearly three decades, a new face will emerge in the state, despite two party stalwarts — Shanta Kumar and Dhumal — still being around.For the record, Congress’ Rajinder Singh Rana has emerged as the giant killer by defeating his one-time political guru Dhumal from the Sujanpur constituency. Another tragedy that struck Dhumal was that it was he who played a crucial role in ensuring the consolidation of the dominant Thakur community in the Hamirpur region.The state has alternately elected Congress and BJP governments since 1985.In the last election in 2012, the Congress won 36 seats and the BJP 26, while six seats went to Independent candidates. While the Congress won’t accept that the corruption charges against CM Virbhadra Singh made a big difference, BJP’s own lack of confidence in any leader’s ability robbed them of quite a few seats.Dhumal’s supporter and state BJP chief Satpal Satti also lost his Una seat to Satpal Singh Razda of Congress. His close confidantes — Ravinder Ravi, Gulab Singh, and Randhir Sharma — also failed to win their respective constituencies.Dhumal, who moved from farming to teaching English and then to politics, was expected to become the CM for the third time. The Congress plank to counter the move with the criticism of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and demonetisation failed to make much impact on the voters, primarily because Himachal is an employee-dominated state.For all of the 68 Assembly seats, a total of 337 candidates were in the fray. Singh won his Arki seat without much of a threat and also ensured his son Vikramaditya Singh’s debut from Shimla (Rural).The prestigious Shimla (Urban) seat was once again won by BJP’s Suresh Bhardwaj, who defeated Singh-backed rebel Harish Janartha. While CPI (M) came in third, Congress’s own candidate Harbhajan Singh Bhajji stood a poor fourth. Anil Sharma, who resigned from the government and the ruling Congress and joined the BJP just before the polls, along with his father and former telecom minister Sukh Ram, retained his Mandi seat.The CPI (M) is celebrating the victory of Rakesh Singha from Theog, despite it being a Congress stronghold. It must be mentioned that Vidya Stokes has held this seat many times during her long political career.Behind the scenesThe Gudiya rape and murder case, which came to light in the run-up to the elections, remained a major factor behind the Congress’s defeat in the state. Singh’s government was defamed for its apparent effort to shied the culprits. Though the Congress managed to retain the Jubbal-Kotkhai seat with over 9,000 votes, where Rohit Thakur defeated BJP’s Narinder Bragta, the negative publicity helped the rival party gain a huge ground elsewhere in the state.Another factor that helped the BJP score big in this hilly state was the absence of any top Congress leader during the campaigning. In fact, none of the party’s top leaders camped or campaigned in the state, with even party president Rahul Gandhi paying just one visit to address a couple of election rallies.Himachal was left to Singh, despite knowing well that he was fighting with his back to the wall, following the corruption probe. Also, the last five years could well be termed as his worst-ever tenure as he had no achievements to count. His tenure saw the emergence of a few retired bureaucrats, on extension, from his erstwhile state Rampur Bushair, who ran it like a princely state.The BJP, on the other hand, left nothing to chance. Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed over half a dozen election rallies and all top leaders of the party, including BJP president Amit Shah, home minister Rajnath Singh, finance minister Arun Jaitley, and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, camped in the state for long periods.BJP, however, had nothing much to offer to the voters. The party counted Singh’s failures while Congress pointed at PM Narendra Modi’s three-and-a-half year of “misrule”.Finally, the anti-incumbency sentiment against the Singh government proved much stronger. The impact of demonetisation and the GST had little adverse impact in the state as compared to that in Gujarat.

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Gujarat Elections 2017: How BJP managed to minimise effect of GST and demonetization in urban pockets

Once again, it was the urban voter who stood rock solid behind Bharatiya Janata Party in Gujarat assembly polls, giving the party 42 out of 48 seats from cities.Observers attribute ‘There Is No Alternative’ (TINA) factor behind BJP’s continued hold in cities as Congress does not have proper organisation and credible faces that could convert the dissent into votes. BJP won 12 of 16 seats in Ahmedabad city, all 12 seats in Surat, all six seats in Vadodara, all three seats in Rajkot, two each in Bhavnagar and Jamanagar, and one each in Mehsana, Navsari and Gandhinagar.Experts say there is practically no political opposition to BJP in cities of Gujarat and voters have no way to go. This is exactly what had happened in the elections to urban local bodies, which BJP had swept in early 2016, said Prof Dinesh Shukla a former Professor of Political Science at Gujarat University. “This has reinforced the fact that BJP is predominantly an urban party. Congress does not have an organisation that can even remotely compare with that of BJP. Sewa Dal is not active. While RSS has cadre that reaches out to voters. Results are also an indication that demonetization and GST were not such big issues that seemed at one point of time,” said Shukla.Also readGujarat Elections 2017: Congress’ bitter-sweet defeat is story of missed opportunity BJP swept these seats, even as these areas are facing adverse effect of demonetization and GST, which has aggravated economic slowdown and stopped net job creation. Jayendra Tanna, President of Gujarat Traders’ Federation said that even the business community, which had suffered setbacks because of GST and demonetization, has voted for BJP and now the ball is in BJP’s court to ensure that interest of this section of society is taken care of. “Businessmen who had protested against the shortcoming and complicated compliance of GST, got swayed away by the cosmetic changes the government did in GST in the run up to the elections. They felt that the government is sensitive about their hardships. Now it is government’s turn to ensure that small businessmen do not suffer,” said Tanna.He feels that non-business community voted for BJP as it was influenced by the campaign of Prime Minister Narendra Modi rather than genuine issues that affect the masses. “These issues, that affect the masses on daily basis, were never debated during the campaign. They got swayed by a campaign that did not cater to their day-to-day requirements,” said Tanna.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Gujarat Election Results 2017 LIVE: Rajnath Singh takes a dig at Rahul Gandhi, says ‘sar mundwate hi ole pade’

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday took a direct dig at newly appointed Congress President Rahul Gandhi after the assembly elections verdict in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.”Won’t say anything now as he has recently been made party president, ‘sar mundwate hi ole pade’ (Abhi toh kuch nahi bolunga kyunki woh haal hi mein adhyaksh bane hain lekin),” Rajnath Singh told ANI.The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is all set to form a government in the state of Gujarat for the sixth time and wrest power from Congress in Himachal Pradesh.However, Rahul Gandhi on Monday said he is not disappointed with the party’s loss in the state assembly elections.According to ABP News, the Congress President reportedly made the statement while interacting with party MPs inside Parliament in New Delhi.Rahul Gandhi had personally spearheaded the Congress’ campaign in Gujarat, which is home to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah. He raised issues such as lack of jobs, Goods and Service Tax, and Demonetization. The Congress President, however, did not focus his energy on the Congress-ruled Himachal Pradesh.

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

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

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There are going to be new, exciting faces in Congress: Rahul Gandhi

Congress President Rahul Gandhi has said that major changes will be undertaken in Congress under his leadershipIn his first exclusive interview since taking over as Congress President, Rahul Gandhi told NH that he would help the party embark on a path of greater democratisation & bring in interesting facesNewly-elected Congress President Rahul Gandhi says that the party will undergo major changes under his leadership, with more exciting people being projected in key positions.In his first exclusive interview since taking over as party president, Rahul Gandhi told National Herald that he would help Congress embark on a path of greater democratisation and bring interesting and young faces within the party fold.The 47-year old leader also rubbishes BJP’s claims that his party fought the recently held Gujarat state elections of casteist lines, instead highlighting that Congress brought the OBC, Dalit and the Patidar communities together on a Congress platform.Edited excerpts from Rahul’s interaction with National Herald’s Editor-in-Chief Neelabh Mishra and Qaumi Awaz’s Editor-in-Chief Zafar Agha. DNA present excerpts.Neelabh Mishra: Congratulations to you on being elected as President of the Congress Party. Thank you for giving this interview, which is the first since your appointment as party head.Rahul Gandhi: Thank you very much.NM: So, where do you go from here, in the Congress party as well as for the country?RG: I liked very much Mr Manmohan Singh’s formulations today, which is the politics of hope versus the politics of fear, or you can say the politics of anger. The BJP has divided the society. And they have created a false animosity between our people. I think Congress party’s role is to create a bridge between our people, start a conversation, where we can once again start to say that we all are Indian. Not a particular class, caste or religion, but our first identity is that of an Indian. And after that, come all other identities. And that is something that the Congress ideology can do.Zafar Agha: The problem is that Congress’ ideology of secularism and harmony is itself threatened now. There is tremendous fear and insecurity among the people. Isn’t this a great challenge before the country and the Congress?RG: Yes, periodically — look at Indian history — this has happened. A sort of polarisation you saw in the 1990s as well. But I primarily think that this country stands together, and we believe very deeply in love and affection. This country does not believe in hatred. And of course there has also been a large organised defamation campaign against the Congress party, carried out by the BJP and the RSS. Very organised, systematic, against its leaders, against its workers, against its ideas, against its past. I really felt this in Gujarat, that certain myths have been created, which are just lies. I mean, in Gujarat, the myth is that Sardar Patel and Jawahar Lal Nehru didn’t get along. It’s a lie. Jawahar Lal Nehru and Sardar Patel were friends. They spent time in jail together. They disagreed on certain things, but they were friends, and Sardar Patel had strong views against the RSS. He had also banned the RSS.As I said in my talk in the US and also during my campaign speeches in Gujarat, there is a central problem that India is facing, which is, India is simply not producing enough jobs, for the number of youngsters of this country.ZA: People say that Congress is not ready organisationally to take on the challenge posed by the RSS-BJP combine. Do you feel this is a problem for Congress?RG: There is lot of work that Congress has to do. There are a large number of new people that we have to bring forward. There is tremendous talent in the Congress party that we have to utilise. But one has to realise that there is a systematic campaign against the Congress party, and we are going to show to the country, the true face of the Congress Party. You are going to see a change in the Congress party, you are going to see more of people who excite you, people about whom you can say that they are somebody very interesting who have been put there by the Congress party. We would like to be associated with decent persons.NM: Will the Congress democratize itself more?RG: That is certainly my intention. We have done a lot of work in the Youth Congress and NSUI, and very successful work at that. We would like to bring in as many new faces, young faces, exciting faces and dynamic faces (as we could). That’s not to say that people who are experienced or older should not have space.

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Assembly elections 2017: Headquarters empty but Congress confident

The Congress headquarters at 24 Akbar Road wore a somewhat deserted look on Sunday, while just a day before, it was bubbling with activity as Rahul Gandhi took over as the party’s new president. Most of the rooms were locked, with office-bearers and general secretaries preferring to make a beeline at the Tughlaq Road residence of the new president, who has been meeting delegations from across the country.A few members of the party’s media unit were seen overseeing the setting up of a giant TV screen to transmit results. Workers were still dismantling the huge tent that had been erected for the Saturday function. In the back lawns, some employees were playing cards while monkeys swarmed the premises to seek leftovers from the Saturday bash.DNA spoke to a number of leaders on the phone, who said that Rahul presided over a meeting in the morning to finalise preparations for the counting day.The media unit has put up a list of 69 spokespersons and panelists, who will be available to the media for reactions as the counting progresses.A worker at the canteen said no special preparations have been made for a victory. “As of now, no leader has told us anything. We will serve sweets to everybody but no special preparations are underway,” he said.The war room at 15 Gurudwara Rakabganj Road, under the supervision of actor-turned-politician Divya Ramya Spandana, has been augmented to show social media presence during the day.The unit is working closely with the party’s communication and research department. During the Gujarat polls, it was working overtime to ensure that Rahul’s campaign was captured well. A duty roaster was prepared according to his schedule, which had at least two social media team members present in advance. They worked as flying squads, making video clips, and clicking photographs to add dynamism to the election rally.Meanwhile, dismissing the exit poll results, Pramood Tiwari, a Congress leader from UP, said there was no question of the party sitting in opposition in either Gujarat or HP. “We are 200 per cent sure that we will form the government and not sit in the Opposition,” he said, putting up a brave face. He added that he himself visited the state and was sure that the exit polls would be proved wrong.

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SP, BSP were obstacles in UP’s development, charged for electricity without even providing it: Yogi Adityanath

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said on Sunday Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) acted as an obstacle in the development of the state.While addressing the inauguration ceremony of ‘Sobhagya Pradhanmantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana’ here, the Chief Minister said, “The previous governments, Samajwadi Party and BSP, were acting as obstacles in the development of Uttar Pradesh as they did not want the entire state to avail electricity. They are claiming that electricity has become expensive. They should be asked on what grounds were they charging people for electricity without even providing it in the first place.”He added no such similar situation would be experienced now.Also readYogi Cabinet approves UPCOCA to check organized crime”1.60 crore houses in Uttar Pradesh will be illuminated within one year. Camps will be set up in villages under the ‘Pradhan Mantri Saubhagya Bijli Har Ghar Yojana’ wherein free electricity connections are being given to the poor,” Adityanath said.Union Power Minister R K Singh, Unnao MP Sakshi Maharaj, state Energy and Power Minister Shrikant Sharma and Transport Minister Swatantra Dev Singh also attended the program.

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Congress says it has won local body elections in Lakshadweep

Congress on Sunday said it has won the local body elections in Lakshadweep, securing majority of seats in the district panchayat and village dweep panchayats.However, independent confirmation of the win was not available.Congress leader and former MP M Hamdulla Sayeed said the party has secured victory in most of the seats in the district panchayat.While Congress won 14 of 26 seats in the district panchayat, NCP secured victory in 12 seats, he said.Chairpersons of 10 village panchayats are also members of the district panchayats.Congress emerged victorious in six out of the 10 village dweep panchayats, securing a total of 20 seats in 37-member district panchayat.”We have made a come back in the elections. It is a morale boosting victory for the party”, Sayeed told PTI.NCP leader and Lok Sabha MP Muhammed Faizal said his party would work hard to meet the expectations of the people.Over 50,000 voters had cast their votes in the December 14 elections,marred by devastation wrecked by cyclone Ockhi.Both Faizal and Sayeed had campaigned extensively in the polls.

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

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

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AIADMK battles war within; actors eye political vacuum in Tamil Nadu

2017 was politically tumultuous for Tamil Nadu keeping the ruling AIADMK busy in setting its house in order as it faced storm after storm post-Jayalalithaa and the year also saw cinema veterans Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan hinting at entering public life.’Resort politics’ came to dominate the headlines even as a new dispensation under Chief Minister K Palaniswami took over following a rebellion by his predecessor O Panneerselvam against V K Sasikala in February.In winds of change, T T V Dhinakaran, who was initially appointed AIADMK deputy chief by his aunt Sasikala, was now struggling to stay afloat with dwindling legislators’ support and the challenge of a unified AIADMK.Sensing the vacuum, Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan dropped adequate hints of a political plunge, keeping alive a tradition of cinema stars graduating to politics.Former chief ministers — the late C N Annadurai, M G Ramachandran (MGR) and Jayalalithaa — besides other actors like S S Rajendran, Sarath Kumar and D Napolean have forayed into politics for successful careers.According to Rajinikant, the “system is rotten” as he asked his fans to “prepare for a war”.Haasan, in particular, went ballistic against the ruling AIADMK on corruption, throwing regular barbs against the government, with the ministers criticising him. A self- declared rationalist, he courted controversy when he hit out at what he called Hindu extremism.Ailing DMK chief M Karunanidhi, now in his 90s, too is not a novice to Tamil Nadu filmdom, having been a successful script-writer.The demise of Jayalalithaa in December last year found its echo during the entire 2017, with the state government constituting a one-man commission to inquire into the circumstances and situation leading to her hospitalisation in September 22 and death on December 5, 2016.The internal churning in the ruling AIADMK dominated the headlines, starting in February.What seemed to have been a smooth ascension to power for Sasikala came a cropper with Panneerselvam throwing a spanner in the works.Having elected the AIADMK chief last December, the decks were cleared for elevation of Jayalalithaa’s close confidante as chief minister, when Sasikala was elected AIADMK’s Legislature Party leader on February 5.However, the then chief minister Panneerselvam had misgivings.Jayalalithaa’s ‘Man Friday’ and now deputy chief minister Panneerselvam made a sensational claim two days later that he was forced to make way for Sasikala’s elevation.He sat on meditation at the memorial of Jayalalithaa in Marina beach, sowing the first seeds of a revolt against Sasikala.Panneerselvam’s rebellion virtually set the cat among the pigeons, as an otherwise tight knit and disciplined AIADMK saw the first split in its ranks, decades after the death of its founder, MGR, in 1987.The party was then divided between Jayalalithaa and V N Janaki, MGR’s widow, before the former united it and brought it under the ‘two leaves’ symbol.With an imminent trust vote staring at her party, Sasikala lodged her MLAs at a resort at nearby Koovathur for days together in February, earning the label ‘resort politics’.Sasikala herself made repeated trips to keep the morale of her legislators high.In the meantime, she also met then governor Ch Vidysagar Rao and staked claim to form the government.However, the Supreme Court, which had reserved judgement in the Rs 66.66 crore disproportionate assets cases in which Jayalalithaa was the main accused, convicted Sasikala, dashing her hopes of leading the state.The apex court awarded her a four-year jail term, which she is currently serving in Bengaluru.As a parting shot, Sasikala brought back her relatives Dhinakaran and S Venkatesh into AIADMK, making Dhinakaran her deputy and in-charge of affairs.The two were among Sasikala’s relatives who were expelled by Jayalalithaa in 2011.Then Sasikala loyalist Palaniswami was elected Legislature Party leader, becoming the second chief minister of the state in less than two months after Panneerselvam, who took over following the demise of Jayalalithaa in December 2016.Meanwhile, the two camps led by Panneerselvam and the chief minister continued to face-off, even as the ruling faction fielded Dhinakaran in the April 12 bypoll to RK Nagar, earlier held by Jayalalithaa, which was later cancelled.The Election Commission rescinded the poll following complaints of money power.However, things soon took an unexpected turn when Palaniswami revolted against Dhinakaran, with a section of the state cabinet announcing sidelining the former MP.Panneerselvam and Palaniswami merged their respective factions after many rounds of talks in August, a move that further agitated the Dhinakaran camp.The very next day, 19 MLAs supporting the beleaguered leader revolted against the chief minister, later prompting their disqualification as legislators by Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal. One MLA later switched over to the ruling camp.The patch-up between Panneerselvam and Palaniswami saw the former becoming deputy chief minister in the government.Later, a general council of the unified AIADMK sacked Sasikala as interim general secretary and annulled all appointments made by her, effectively targeting Dhinakaran.The camp got a shot in its arm when the Election Commission awarded the ‘two leaves’ symbol to it.Now, Dhinakaran is fighting the December 21 bypoll to RK Nagar as an independent.

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Gujarat elections 2017: Stakes high in Guj’s top 4 cities

To continue its winning streak in Gujarat and retain power in the recently concluded state Assembly elections for a fifth consecutive time, the BJP will have to clinch four major cities —Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Surat. Of the 37 seats across these cities, in the 2012 polls, BJP had won 34 seats. However, if the Congress is able to make inroads in these cities, it can upset BJP’s apple-cart.In Ahmedabad, traditionally, whichever party has taken the lead has gone on to form the government. In 1985, when Congress had last formed the government in Gujarat, it had won 10 of the 12 seats in Ahmedabad. At the time, Ashok Bhatt of BJP had won Khadia while Babubhai Vasanwala for Janata Party had won Ellis Bridge and the rest had been taken by Congress. Since then, Congress has never taken the city, nor state. In the 1990 polls, it bagged only two Muslim-dominated seats of Shaher Kotda and Jamalpur. Narhari Amin and Babubhai Vasanwala from Janta Dal won the Sabarmati and Ellisbridge seats respectively, while BJP bagged the rest. Ultimately, the Chimanbhai Patel-led Janata Dal won 70, while BJP won 67 seats and a JD-BJP coalition government was formed. However, since then, it has been BJP all the way, with Congress winning only the Muslim-dominated seats. It the outgoing Assembly, it only had two MLAs from the city.Now, poll watchers say that the Congress can add about two seats to its existing tally of two seats. The party though feels that it has a legitimate shot in six constituencies, mainly because of the Patidar agitation. Local factors like relative strength of candidates, demonetization and GST will also play a role. Party spokesman Kailash Gadhvi sees Congress victory in Danilimda, Jamalpur-Khadia, Shahpur, Thakkarbapanagar, Nicol and Vejalpur. “Demonetization and GST has hurt small businessmen and masses. Urban areas suffer from high cost of education and health services. There is high degree of joblessness affecting the youth. All these factors are now in our favour,” Gadhvi told DNA.Meanwhile in Surat, also a BJP bastion, the party currently holds all the seats. Economic slowdown aggravated by demonetization and GST has put a spanner in its loyal votebank of small traders and manufacturers. When GST was implemented, the city was at the forefront in its opposition in June and July this year. At the time, the party had to send a central team of tax officials to placate the businessmen. In the run up to the voting, Union ministers Arun Jaitley, Smriti Irani, Nirmala Sitharaman and Purushottam Rupala began an outreach to meet local leaders. Therefore, poll watchers feel the Congress might be able to spring a surprise in Varachha Road, Kamrej and Surat – North.Additionally, though BJP had won all the six city seats in Vadodara in 2012, the Congress is optimistic about winning there. In Rajkot, the BJP holds two of the three seats, but Congress just might flip the equation and gain a lead this year.

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Gandhi succeeds Gandhi

Formally taking over the mantle of the 132-year-old Indian National Congress, the country’s oldest party, Rahul Gandhi, 47, gave a pep talk to party workers on Saturday, telling Congress cadres to stand up to “regressive” BJP and accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “taking India back to medieval times”.Launching a direct attack on Modi, he said: “Congress took India to the 21st century, but today the PM is taking us back to the medieval times, where you hear and see killings, hate, and fires everyday. Nobody else seems to have a voice except him.”Accusing the BJP of promoting hate and violence, he said: ” These regressive forces win not because they deserve to but because they are powerful and misuse that power.”Claiming that Congress was different from BJP, he said that his party, known as the ‘grand old party’, so far, will now become the ‘grand old new party’.The new party president, the sixth member of the Nehru-Gandhi family to lead the political outfit, has taken charge from his mother at a time when the party is facing one of its worst crises, with the BJP occupying the centrestage of national politics and getting increasingly robust in states.At a time when the Congress has left a trail of defeats in a series of state polls, starting with its worst ever debacle in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Rahul underlined the need for party workers to connect with the people. He said he wanted the Congress to become an “instrument for dialogue between Indian people from all corners, religions, ethnicities, ages, genders, and for our dialogue to always be led by love and affection”.The Congress president, who has often accused the ruling BJP of doing ‘politics of polarisation’, also advised party workers to eschew negativity.He also said that while the BJP wanted to wipe the Congress from the country’s political map, the Congress considered BJP members its brothers and sisters. “They want an India free of Congress, they want to erase us but the Congress’s inclusion and respect for all Indians extends even to the BJP. We do not fight hate with hate. They crush voice, we allow the most vulnerable to sing. They defame, we respect and defend. They might control the structures of power, the machinery of silence and fear, but we in the Congress, we are the bastion of the people. It is in this service that my idealism, your idealism, and our hope for politics always rests,” he said.Rahul, who had at the time of his elevation as party vice-president in 2013 recalled his mother Sonia Gandhi telling him that “power is poison”, on Saturday told party workers that “like many Indians across the country, I am an idealist”.Gandhi’s elevation, which had been the anvil ever since Sonia Gandhi underwent a surgery in the US in 2011, marks a generational shift in the party that is battling uncertainties both within and without, mainly in the form of onslaughts of its bitter rival, BJP.Speaking to party workers for the first time as the president, Rahul said he entered politics 13 years ago because of his “profound belief in this country”.”When I joined politics as a 34 year old, I came into this world having watched the generation before me fight the structures of oppression, the structures whose very fuel is lies and silence. When I entered politics 13 years ago, I wished to be a part of the awakening that would transform India at home, by ensuring dignity for all its people, and in the world, where we would step into a role that resonated globally,” he said.He further said that the party must never back down when under attack from the BJP. He urged the workers to stand up to them and that “their anger and hatred makes all of us stronger”.The function, in which returning officers Mullappally Ramachandran and Bhubaneswar Kalita gave Rahul the certificate of winning the election, also saw the presence of former PM Manmohan Singh, Motilal Vora, Janardan Dwivedi, and Madhusudan Mistry on the dais. While handing him over the certificate, Ramachandran reminded Rahul that the office he was going to occupy was once occupied by a “galaxy of stalwarts”, including Mahatma Gandhi, his own great-grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru, Sarojini Naidu, Subhash Chandra Bose, Madan Mohan Malviya etc.Meanwhile, as old and seasoned leaders fear that the generational shift might trickle down to key posts as Rahul gets down to forming his own team over the next few months, sources close to Rahul told DNA that he will strike a balance, to draw on the experience of the party’s “old guard” in advisory roles.

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I am contesting assembly polls to prevent BJP coming to power: Siddaramaiah

Indicating that the 2018 assembly polls could “most likely” be his last election, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah today said that he is contesting to stop the BJP from coming back to power.”Most likely the forthcoming assembly election will be the last election for me,” Siddaramaiah told reporters at Raichur in north Karnataka.However, Siddaramaiah maintained that he would remain active in politics, but not contest assembly polls.Earlier during the 2013 assembly polls, Siddaramaiah had said that it was his last election.Conceding that he had during the 2013 polls stated it would be his last election, the Chief Minister said he was contesting to stop BJP from getting back to power.”Looking at elections and the political system,I had felt it is enough, but looking at communal politics by BJP, I felt I should stand for election. Also, the high command said that I should contest,” he said.”I have the responsibility to see to that BJP does not come back to power, so I’m contesting,” he added.The Congress has announced Siddaramaiah would be the party’s face during the 2018 Assembly polls, and is yet to decide on the Chief Ministerial candidate.Stating that he would contest from Chamundeshwari constituency in Mysuru district, Siddaramaiah said there are 20 constituencies other than that or Varuna from where he could contest and win.”Chamundeshwari is the constituency that gave me political strength and rebirth, so I felt I should end from there,” he said.Making his debut in the Assembly in 1983,Siddaramaiah got elected from Chamundeshwari on a Lok Dal Party ticket. He has won from the constituency five times and seen defeat twice.Siddaramaiah represents Varuna in Mysuru after it came into existence in 2008 following the reorganisation of constituencies.Speculations are rife that the chief minister is keen on fielding his son Yatindra from Varuna.

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PDP’s alliance with BJP now a durable one, says J&K Finance Minister Drabu

Jammu and Kashmir Finance Minister Haseeb Ahmed Drabu claimed that the alliance between the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which no one thought would last a week, has now turned into a durable one.Speaking at the “India Ideas Conclave 2017” in Goa, Drabu said, “It is true that it is a very fragile and contentious alliance. As Mufti saab (former JK CM Mufti Mohammad Sayeed) used to say, it is the North Pole and South Pole coming together. But with some degree of maturity displayed by either side, it is really working towards the developmental of Jammu and Kashmir.”Speaking about the alliance, Drabu said that right on day one itself the alliance had issues.”But Mufti saab was a confident leader all his life. When he started in the 1960s, the Congress and any party from the rest of country was looked down upon. He (Mufti) ensured through consistent hard work that the Congress becomes an acceptable part of life,” the minister said.Drabu said that when the PDP was contemplating to form an alliance with the BJP, people were asking the party (PDP) why it was not working with the Congress.The minister said that the alliance with the BJP was a “bold decision” taken by Mufti.”We had contested elections on an anti-BJP plank and yet we decided to have alliance with them (BJP). I happened to work very closely with him at that particular time,” he said.”All of us told him that it is suicidal and that we won’t be able to step out of the house, we will get lynched,” Drabu recalled telling the former chief minister.”He (Mufti) stuck to it. He said the people of India have voted for the BJP. He said that he was not engaging with the party (BJP), he was engaging with the people of India,” Drabu recounted.Drabu added that Mufti Mohammad Sayeed brought back the whole concept of civil society into the decision and went ahead and formed the government with the BJP.Drabu called the alliance a “huge experiment” and said it actually displays certain leadership quality to set in motion a process to create a framework to resolve the most contagious issues in the state.

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

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

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Sonia Gandhi and the unexpected rise and stunning fall of Congress

Sonia Gandhi, who today handed over the reins of the Congress to her son, Rahul Gandhi, was once seen as an unlikely heir to the Gandhi political legacy, but crowned her innings by becoming the longest serving president of India’s grand old party.Her exit was as subdued as her entry was spirited.”I am going to retire,” the 71-year-old Member of Parliament told reporters yesterday, sending party leaders into a tizzy and hastening to explain that she was not quitting politics. But Indira Gandhi’s daughter-in-law is known to spring surprises. If her successor was often described as the reluctant heir of the family, she was even more loath to take up a political role.Legend has it that when Congress leaders pressed Rajiv Gandhi to occupy the prime minister’s chair after the assassination of his mother Indira Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi begged him not to, fearful about her family’s safety. Seven years later, when he was killed, she turned away when party leaders urged her to lead the Congress. Also readPM taking us back to medieval times, says Congress President Rahul Gandhi It was another seven years later, when the party was in tatters at the Centre and in power only in four states, that she agreed to pick up the reins of the party. She was persuaded to do so after senior leaders left the Congress and set up their own regional outfits. When the Congress was in shambles, Sonia Gandhi — described by sections of the media as the most powerful woman in India — steered it to victory in 2004, ousting the NDA.That wasn’t all. When it appeared that she would occupy the highest office in South Block, she told the surprised media that she had chosen Manmohan Singh as the prime minister of the United Progressive Alliance government.Also readHimanta Biswa Sarma congratulates Rahul’s elevation; says will continue to have political contests with himToday, party leaders look back at her presidency with pride, hailing unity and strength as the hallmarks of her record breaking 19-year tenure. Sonia Gandhi took a back seat after several rounds of illness recently, for which she had be hospitalised. Also readSonia Gandhi’s emotional message to party as Rahul Gandhi becomes Congress chiefShe exits active Congress politics on a high note and as one of the tallest leaders of the party in recent years. Sonia Gandhi’s sharpest weapon was her silence. She spoke little, and seldom in public, but wielded enormous power in the Congress. In cotton saris that reminded old-timers of her mother- in-law, she has over the years addressed public rallies in her accented Hindi, suitably blunting the opposition BJP’s campaign against her Italian roots.Under her stewardship, the Congress led the Centre for two terms from 2004 to 2014 and returned to power in a host of states. The then party president achieved this by successfully stitching electoral alliance with like-minded parties. UPA-1 and UPA II were fine examples of Sonia Gandhi’s ability to bring non-BJP forces together. Her prediction of the Congress returning at the Centre on its own, made at the party’s Pachmarhi conference, never came true though. That said, Gandhi braved tremendous odds to earn her place in Indian politics, as she conquered the limitations of language and her foreign origin to win the hearts of people. Born to Italian parents in Lusiana, Vicenza (Italy), on December 9, 1946, Gandhi met Rajiv Gandhi in England where she was studying. The young language student and the son of then Indian prime minister were married 1968. Contemporary history recalls how she cradled her mother- in-law’s body after she was gunned down by her bodyguards, and later tried to persuade her husband not to take up the prime minister’s post. After Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination in May, 1991, she shunned active politics, but after repeated cajoling by Congress leaders took the primary membership of Congress in 1997. Amid consequent widespread demands from rank and file to lead a shaky party, she entered public life in 1998, a move that was widely and loudly welcomed in the party. She was first elected as an MP from Amethi in 1999, following which she became the Leader of the Opposition in the Lower House. She later shifted to Rae Bareli to accommodate her son in Amethi.In 2004, she led the electoral campaign of her party which secured the largest number of seats and formed a coalition government. When she nominated Singh as the prime minister, her standing went up by several notches. Her supporters called it an act of sacrifice while some saw it as a political masterstroke.Gandhi, however, continued to wield power in the party as the chairperson of the UPA and the leader of the Congress party in Parliament, leading its strategy inside and outside the Houses. She also introduced the concept of National Advisory Council (NAC), a forum that made periodic recommendations to the government and often dubbed as a “dual power centre” by the opposition. As its chairperson, Gandhi took up issues related to environment, gender, empowerment of the disadvantaged and right to information. At a personal level, Sonia Gandhi has authored two books on her husband, Rajiv and Rajiv’s World, and has edited two volumes of letters exchanged between Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi. Her other interests include reading, Indian art — contemporary, classical as well as tribal — handlooms and handicrafts and music. She has a diploma in conservation of oil paintings from the National Museum in New Delhi. While she may find time to pursue her passions now, her son is set for tough times with the Congress at a historic electoral low in its entire history. In power only in five states now, and facing difficult elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the Congress, everyone agrees, is facing its worst existential crisis ever. Congress leaders feel that she will continue to play the role of a mentor to the party for times to come. She may also continue as the chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary party and the UPA alliance. As a Congress leader says, “Even now, Rahul Gandhi is bound to consult his mother on every important party related decision he takes.”

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

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

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

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

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More than 80K MCD students dropped out

As many as 85,412 students dropped out from the schools run by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led Delhi government and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Municipal Corporations of Delhi (MCDs) during the academic year 2016-17, a report released by NGO Praja Foundation stated on Thursday.”The estimated drop out percentage in schools run by the North MCD is 6.1 percent, South MCD is 6 percent and state government schools is 3.4 percent,” the report titled ‘State of Public (School) Education in Delhi-2017’ said. The East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC), however, has not provided any information on the number of dropouts in their schools.On average, from the three Municipal Corporations, in the last three years (2014-15 to 2016-17), the EDMC has witnessed the maximum dropout followed by North Delhi Municipal Corporation.”Number of drop outs from state government schools has been increasing in the past three years (2014-15 to 2016-17),” the report stated.The data has been compiled on the basis of RTIs received from 640 schools of MCD and 749 schools of state government.SCHOOL-STUDENT RATIO

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‘Alarming’ transition rate in Delhi govt, MCD schools

Almost half of the students studying in Delhi government schools did not move to the secondary level through examinations between 2015-17, while in primary and middle classes, they were promoted irrespective of their learning levels, states a report released by an NGO on Thursday.“The transition rate of students in state government schools from Class 9 to 10 at 56.95 percent whereas it is 98.55 percent from Class 7th to 8th for the academic year 2015-16 to 2016-17,” says the report titled ‘State of Public (School) Education in Delhi-2017’ which has been compiled by NGO Praja Foundation on the basis of information collected by RTIs and Surveys.Calling the transition rate “alarming”, the report said, “It clearly shows that students were promoted irrespective of the learning levels in the earlier years and the teachers either were ‘callous’ in their approach or the monitoring of RTE norms was not stringent.”Under Right to Education (RTE) 2009, it is mandatory to promote students to higher classes every year till Class VIII. The policy was instituted to check the high number of dropouts, but gradually experts cited it as a reason for high failure and drop-outs in Classes IX and X.“44 percent of the students enrolled in Class 9 in 2013-14 could not reach Class 12 in 2016-17. Similarly, 43 percent did not go to Class 10 in 2016-17 from Class 9,” the report said.However, adviser to the Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia Atishi Marlena said that the transition rate in state government schools have increased after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government came in power.“The failure rate in Class IX was constantly high because of no detention policy until last year as the AAP government has been taking constant efforts to help students,” she said.The report further highlighted the drop in enrollment numbers both in schools run by the AAP-led Delhi government and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Municipal Corporations of Delhi (MCDs), with highest drop of 30 percent being reported in class I, between 2010 to 2017.“Enrollment in class I has gone down from 1,92820 in 2010-11 to 1,35,491 in 2016-17 in MCD and state government schools,” it stated.While Delhi government officials held “deteriorating state” of MCD schools, responsible for the drop in enrollment in class I, officials at the civic bodies cited “insufficient resources” as the reason behind this. “Primary education in Delhi is under the MCDs and the condition of their schools are really bad. Why would anyone prefer to send their children in these schools,” Marlena said.Besides, the overall drop in enrollment was reportedly 7 percent from 2013-14 to 2016-17 in these schools. “Total enrollment fell down by 1,76743 students, including 93,444 MCD students and 83,299 state government students, from 2013-14 to 2016-17,” the Praja report said.Meanwhile, the report also revealed that 85 percent students from Municipal schools and 74 percent from state government schools are taking private tuitions “It shows that the parents are not satisfied with the quality of education being offered in these schools,” it added.

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