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West Bengal: 84% voter turnout recorded in Sabang Assembly by-poll

An estimated 84% voter turnout was recorded till 5 pm in today’s by-poll for Sabang Assembly constituency in West Bengal which ended with spats of violence at a number of booths. Opposition parties alleged that the violence was sponsored by the Trinamool Congress (TMC), while the ruling party leaders denied the allegations. Polling started at a very slow pace at 7 am with most of the 306 booths wearing a deserted look. It picked up as the day progressed with instances of violence being reportedfrom various polling booths. At booth numbers 161, 169 and 170 of Sabang block, BJP polling agents were reportedly chased away by TMC cadres. At Bishnupur Murarichowk area, people, belived to be from the TMC, were held and firearms were recovered from their possession.At Panpara Saliara School, it was alleged that Congress polling agents were not allowed to sit in the polling booth. The matter was resolved after Congress candidate Chiranjeeb Bhowmik intervened.At booth number 160 of Sindurda Primary School, it was alleged that TMC cadres had beaten up CPI(M) polling agent. BJP leader Ananda Maiti was allegedly abducted from Pingla’s Jolchowk. At Sabang III area’s booth 57, it was alleged that perfume was applied on the button corresponding to BJP symbol on the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM).Later in the evening, at booth 291 of Sabang’s Bishnupur Primary School it was alleged that attempt to loot EVMs was made. When the attempt was foiled, offenders allegedly pelted stones at the Central force guarding the polling station. At booth 44 of Sabang III Gram Panchayat area, a clash between TMC and BJP workers broke out.In the evening, BJP youth wing members put up a demonstration in front of the office of the Chief Electoral Officer in Central Kolkata, protesting against the violence allegedly unleashed by the TMC.Later, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said that TMC had resorted to violence as they had lost confidence on democracy. “Central force was there but they were not used and had been kept at rest. At Pingla and other bordering areas, the state police had only played the part of an audience while violence broke out. It was a pre-planned thing with political leaders and district police. Members of TMC’s bike brigade had been going around in the area creating an atmosphere of terror,” Ghosh said.Senior TMC leader and state panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee, however, refuted allegations saying that BJP was making excuses for their imminent loss. “Going by the poll trends they know that they cannot win at Sabang and that is why they are getting excuses ready to defend their loss later,” he told DNA.

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WB Mahila Morcha leader slams Mamata Banerjee over record

National president of the BJP Mahila Morcha, Vijaya Rahatkar on Wednesday criticised West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and stated that in spite of being a woman, her state tops the list in atrocities against women.”According to the recent report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), West Bengal is ahead in violence against women. Domestic violence is the highest here and it also leads in the number of acid attack cases. Of the 283 acid attacks last year, Bengal alone accounted for 76 cases and affected 83 victims. In spite of there being specific Supreme Court guidelines in terms of storage and sale of acids, it is flouted rampantly in West Bengal and the state government has failed to check it,” she said after a day-long meeting with the Bengal BJP women’s wing.She also said that Bengal heads the list of cases of human trafficking. “Bengal shares its border with countries like Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan because of which human trafficking is very high here. Of the 8132 cases nationwide last year, Bengal registered 3579 cases. The state has a woman Chief Minister and we expect her to be sensitive but we find the government here is insensitive,” she said.She also said that her instruction to the Bengal chapter was to put up a movement against this government.

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

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

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Mamata Banerjee to be new Opposition face, Hardik Patel new ally

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has made a bid to project herself to a more formidable role among the Opposition coalition. Trinamool Congress (TMC) spokesperson Derek O’Brien at Parliament on Wednesday said that Mamata has the best credentials to take on the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.”If we speak about the future of the Opposition, then Mamata di has the best credentials; she’s experienced, credible, and has integrity,” O’Brien said adding, “Bengal will play an important role in 2019.”O’Brien said that Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti leader Hardik Patel spoke to Mamata after Gujarat election results. He added that Jignesh Mevani also spoke to her. “We have been with these young leaders since the days of demonetisation. It’s just that we do not publicise these visits,” he said.Speaking to DNA, Patel said the TMC supremo had called him up on Tuesday to congratulate him for his work in the Gujarat assembly elections. In response, Patel said that he expressed the need for UPA to come back to power again in Lok Sabha polls 2019.”I also told her that all the opposition front should work together against BJP. I expressed my wish that may the alliance of opposition parties come to power in center again after Lok Sabha polls to be held in 2019,” Patel said.TMC leaders feel that with Sonia Gandhi stepping back, Mamata has the credibility to emerge as the tallest leader in the Opposition. In fact, in the dinner hosted by Congress leaders for Sonia Gandhi’s farewell on Sunday, three Opposition leaders were invited to share the table with congress president Rahul Gandhi, former PM Manmohan Singh and former vice-president Hamid Ansari. These leaders include TKS Elangovan on behalf of DMK’s MK Stalin, O’Brien on behalf of TMC, and D Raja on behalf of CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury.”Mamata ji called me up and praised for the agitation against the BJP government in Gujarat and different issues been raised addressing different class of people,” Patel said.In order to mobilise support for the OBC electorate, Hardik had been meeting Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. In fact, after he was let out of jail, he flew to Patna to meet Nitish. But with Nitish in the BJP camp, the Patidar leaders has been meeting the Congress leaders, apart from leaders in the Opposition.

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

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

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Winter Session: RS Chairman Venkaiah Naidu expresses displeasure over absence of ministers

Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu today expressed displeasure at ministers not making it to the House in time for laying the papers listed against their names.The provocation was apparently caused by the absence of ministers like Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Tourism Minister K J Alphons when their names were called by the Chair for laying of listed papers. “I would like to advise the Parliamentary Affairs Minister to see that Ministers who are supposed to lay papers on the Table of the House are in the House on time,” Naidu said. If some Ministers have other engagements, they should not list papers against their names, he said. “If they (ministers) have any problem, they should not give their names. It can be done subsequently. Please take note of it and convey it to the ministers,” the Chairman said.Pradhan’s name was on the top of the list of ministers who were to lay the papers relating to their ministries in the Upper House today. However, he was not present when his name was called to lay the papers such as copies of rules for payment of subsidies under Aadhaar Act and the annual reports of PSUs under his ministry including Indian Oil Corp, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum.Tourism Minister Alphons too was absent when his name was called to lay copies of annual reports of institutes under his ministry.Also readManmohan Singh-Pakistan remark: Nobody will apologise as incident did not happen in House, says Vice President NaiduWhile Alphons came in a few minutes after his name was called, Pradhan was absent even when his name was called the second time to present a statement regarding the status of implementation of recommendations contained in a standing committee report on ethanol blended petrol and bio-diesel policy. When Pradhan finally entered the House, Naidu called him to present the first set of papers, but he was not called to make his statement on a standing committee report relating to his ministry.

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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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Seat swap fails to pay off for most

For some big names who contested the recently concluded assembly polls, the gamble to fight from a seat other than their traditional one failed to pay off, pushing them to the losing side.The most high-octane contest was between Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Congress MLA Indranil Rajguru from Rajkot West constituency. Rajguru, the second richest candidate in the fray, with assets worth Rs 141 crore, had won from Rajkot East in 2012 but shifted to West in a bid to challenge Rupani. His bold move left him beaten by a margin of over 53,000 votes. Contesting against the CM, though, is likely to help his political profile.A shock result from the election was the defeat of senior Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil.After losing from the Bhavnagar Rural seat in 2012, Gohil had been elected to the assembly from Abdasa in Kutch in the 2014 by-election. This time, Gohil contested from Mandvi and was drubbed by BJP’s Virendrasinh Jadeja by over 9,000 votes.Senior BJP leader Ramanlal Vora was also among the candidates who contested from a different seat and lost. Vora had won from Idar (SC) seat in Sabarkantha five times in a row between 1995 and 2012. Wary of anti-incumbency, the BJP shifted him to Dasada (SC) seat in Surendranagar in this election. The move, however, failed to help him, as he lost by a little under 4,000 votes.Gujarati film actor Hitu Kanodiya, who the BJP fielded from Idar seat in Vora’s place, won by close to 15,000 votes. Kanodiya had contested unsuccessfully from Kadi (SC) seat in the 2012 elections.Former MLA Kanu Kalsaria, meanwhile, tried his luck from Mahuva in Bhavnagar this time but lost. He had won in 2007 from the same seat. In 2012, however, he had contested unsuccessfully from Gariadhar.Senior BJP leader Dileep Sanghani, who contested from Dhari seat in these elections, also lost. He had also contested unsuccessfully against Congress’s Paresh Dhanani in 2012 from Amreli, the seat he had won from in 2007.Bavku Undhad is another senior leader who contested from a different seat and ended up on the losing side. Undhad had won in 2012 from Lathi, but stood from Amreli in the recent elections. He was defeated by Congress’s Paresh Dhanani by a margin of over 12,000 votes.A few candidates, though, also managed to defy the trend.Ex-minister and MLA from Akota, Saurabh Patel, won from his traditional Botad seat in these elections. Former state BJP president RC Faldu won from Jamnagar South this time. In 2012, he had contested from Jamnagar Rural but had lost.THE EXCEPTIONSA few candidates managed to defy the trend. Among them is MLA from Akota, Saurabh Patel, who won from his traditional Botad seat, and former state BJP president RC Faldu

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Rajasthan adopting BJP’s Gujarat win formula

The state BJP is not only adopting Gujrat’s “Development Model” but also its “Organization model.” Due to the organizational structure of the party, BJP is winning consecutively in Gujarat. Now, the same organizational pattern is being readied in Rajasthan.In order to win the upcoming Lok Sabha and Assembly by elections and general elections, the state BJP has started preparing “Panna Pramukh” in Rajasthan on the lines of Gujarat.Firstly, “Panna Pramukh“ is being made in the constituencies which are heading for bypolls. After the by-elections, “Panna Pramukh” will be made across the state.Following the historic victory in Lok Sabha elections in 2014, the BJP has adopted Gujarat’s organizational model for organizational expansion and strengthening nationwide.In this connection, work was done to eliminate ward unit and build booth committee. The concept of booth committee has been in vogue in Gujarat for years. Booth committees have been formed in Rajasthan in the last three years. Following this, an important concept emerged as “Panna Pramukh”. The BJP’s national president Amit Shah appointed an in-charge (Panna Pramukh) for every page of the voting list in Gujarat. So that the BJP worker can reach every voter and the responsibility of the party worker is fixed. Due to this “Panna Pramukh” concept, the BJP has won Gujarat for the sixth consecutive time. In Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections, the concept of the “Panna Pramukh” was also adopted and the result is there for everyone to witnessRajasthan, whoch goes to poes in 2018 December is fast pulling up its socks and has also adopted this pattern.According to BJP officials, the first booth committee has now been formed at all the 49,000 polling booths across the state. After completion of this work, project “Panna Pramukh” has been initiated.Ajmer and Alwar Lok Sabha constituencies and in the Mandalgarh assembly constituency bypolls is knocking. As a result, the party has swiftly swung into action and initiated the Panna project here. State General Secretary (organization) Chandra Shekhar himself is monitoring the work.” There are 600 to 12000 voters (approx) in a polling booth. A “Panna Pramukh” will be fixed for a page of the voter list. There are about 60 voters on one page. A BJP worker will be in charge of each page consisting 60 voters.49,000 boothsFirstly, “Panna Pramukh“ is being made in the constituencies which are heading for bypolls. 1st booth panel has now been formed at all the 49k polling booths.

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What the Gujaratj results mean for Congress and Rahul Gandhi

Even though Congress has lost elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the fight and spirit exhibited by the party has given its newly elected president Rahul Gandhi to live for another day. Commenting on the results, a senior Congress leader told DNA that campaigning in Gujarat has helped them to test raw nerves of PM Narendra Modi and imparted lessons on how to defeat him in his own game. “We had modest expectations in the state, where we have been out of power for 22 years. Don’t forget, it is also home state of Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. It was always a tough fight,” he said. The party hopes that the spirited fight in Gujarat will help the party to evolve strategies to retain Karnataka, and wrest Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan from the BJP before 2019 general elections. The party’s general secretary incharge of Gujarat Ashok Gehlot said the results were a “victory” for the party keeping in view the response Gandhi’s campaign got from the people. “The way the Congress campaigned and the way Rahul Gandhi did bus trips, we put up a very nice campaign. Whatever the results, the country will see this as the Congress’ victory,” he said.Since the Gujarat election was nothing but a perception-driven war of credibility and acceptability between Modi and Gandhi, the post poll narrative will focus on them. The Congress has succeeded wresting some 20 seats from the BJP in Gujarat. If one goes by the statistics of 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress has jumped from 33.4% popular votes to 43% plus. The BJP which secured 60.11% in 2014 has come down to 49.3%. With this statistics, the Congress has already announced Gandhi the winner who was able to contain the mass might of Modi and the mind power of Shah. But there are many within party who believe that remarks of Mani Shankar Aiyar against the PM, Kapil Sibal argument in the apex court on Ayodhya issue, pleading to put off the argument till 2019 general elections did cost the party in the second phase of polling.

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Parliament functions finally, but threat of Opposition disruption hangs

Opposition parties, which disrupted Parliament for two days, seeking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s apology for remarks against his predecessor Manmohan Singh, finally allowed government business on Tuesday, after back-to-back hectic parleys. But the sword of disruptions still hangs.Opposition leaders have decided not to disrupt Parliament till Friday, after Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu intervened on Tuesday, asking treasury and Opposition benches to sort out the issue outside the House.Among various proposals under consideration is also an idea that Modi and Singh could meet in the House to break the logjam. There are eight more sittings after Friday, from December 27 to 29 and from January 1 to 5, that may be hit if Opposition leaders resume protest next week.After Naidu’s directions, there was a series of meetings between Opposition leaders and members from the treasury benches.Earlier, Azad raised the issue of PM Modi’s insinuation against Singh, former Vice-President Hamid Ansari, former Foreign Minister Natwar Singh, a retired Army Chief and a former Foreign Secretary, during electioneering in Gujarat.On his concern that Singh’s “loyalty to the country has been questioned” and it was also a case of breach of (his) privilege since he is a member of the House, Naidu intervened to state “he is the most respected person” and he had already met him to express his concern.Naidu said he has read a note on what exactly was said by Modi, and that he has also read how Modi was abused during the electioneering. He said that it was better to keep in mind that the PM and the ex-PM both deserve respect.He also pulled up Congress members and made them return to their seats without another protest in the Well, saying Azad has aired his grievances and it has gone on record. He also pulled up BJP MPs led by party general secretary Bhupender Yadav, raising their voice, sternly telling them not to disturb when he was trying to search for a solution to allow the House to function.In the meetings outside the House, Opposition leaders made it clear to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley that the blockade would be resumed unless Modi regrets, clarifies and withdraws his insinuation.They however relented to an extent. “We understand the stature of the PM office. We will not insist on his apology. But he must clarify and regret,” said a top Opposition leader.Jaitley was conveyed the stand that in case no solution is found, the Opposition, which holds majority in the Rajya Sabha will be forced to protest. The Finance Minister, who is also Leader of the House, sought time to enable him to speak to Modi and get back to them.Temporary truceThe FM was told that if no solution is found, the Oppn, which holds majority in the RS, will be forced to protest Jaitley sought time to enable him to speak to Modi and get back to them

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PM visits Ockhi-affected Kanyakumari

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday met Cyclone Ockhi-affected fishermen and farmers in Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari district. He also chaired a a review meeting to take stock of the situation in the aftermath of the devastating natural disaster that left dead and several missing.After visiting cyclone-hit Lakshadweep in the morning, Modi reached Kanyakumari by an IAF helicopter from Thiruvananthapuram. Here, he was received by Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Minister Edappadi K.Palaniswami, his Deputy O Panneerselvam and other senior officials.After the state officials made a presentation on the impact of the cyclone on the district, Modi interacted with around 25 fishermen representatives from eight coastal villages of Kanyakumari district and six parish priests, who also handed him a memorandum with 12 demands. They included widening the search operation for missing fishermen in the deep sea, satellite phones for fishermen, establishment of a naval base with helipad in the district and reservation for fishermen youth in the coast guard and Navy. Fr Andrews Cosmos, the vicar of Thoothoor Forane parish, who participated in the interaction with the PM and said that Modi gave a patient ear to the affected fishermen.However, according to some of the victims, the Prime Minister did not give any concrete assurance and simply said: “I will look into it”. When one Rebisha of Chinnathurai fishing village broke down into tears, talking of the loss of four men in her family – father, brother and two brother-in-laws — Mr Modi assured her that he would look into it.Twenty days after the cyclone hit the coastal district, as many as 350 fishermen are still missing with the families hoping that they would return to the shore before the Christmas if they are alive.Modi’s visit has come days after Congress president Rahul Gandhi visited cyclone-hit Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Lakshadweep. After the meeting, Palanisami who had presented two separate memorandums, said that he has asked the Centre to declare Cyclone Ockhi as a national disaster and sought a Rs 9,300 crore relief package.”We have requested the Prime Minister to set up a permanent Coast Guard station along with a helipad in Kanyakumari district. We also demanded setting up of a fishing harbour with cold storage facilities and a communication centre to transmit messages of weather warning to the fishermen,” he said.HC STEPS INThe Madras High Court directed the Centre and TN government to inform it about the fate of 551 fishermen from Kanyakumari reported missing. Justices R Subbiah and A D Jagadish Chandra ordered the two governments to submit their replies by December 22. Petitioner Anto Lenin submitted that thousands of fishermen had ventured into the sea on November 29-30 from Kanyakumari district when the cyclone hit southern Tamil Nadu and Kerala coast.

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

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

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Election controversy clouds Winter Session of Parliament : BJP and Congress to spar over Pakistan dinner controversy

Senior Congress leaders on Tuesday demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi apologise for the insinuation he made involving former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when the latter attended a dinner party organized by veteran Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar that was also attended Pakistan’s former Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri.Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma, while speaking in the Rajya Sabha, said that the Congress wants Prime Minister to express regret and clarify the statement in the Parliament. “Prime Minister should undo what he has done. He should take back his words,” said Anand Sharma.The Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Gulam Nabi Azad, along with Sharma met Finance Minister Arun Jately and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar to discuss the matter. Highly placed sources in the government said that Prime Minister Modi is neither going to reply on this issue, although there is a small possibility that Finance Minister Arun Jately may respond on this issue on the floor of the house. BJP is also expected to be aggressive on the issue and may recall previous incidents of Narendra Modi being attacked by Congress leaders.Sources in the Congress said that proposition has been suggested to the Centre they are waiting for the government’s response. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to be in Lok Sabha on Wednesday and Rajya Sabha on Thursday. PM Modi had insinuated that Pakistan was trying to influence the assembly elections in Pakistan.The dinner organized by former Union Minister Mani Shankar Aiyyar was also attended by former Vice President Hamid Ansari, former Army Chief and many retired bureaucrats from the Indian side.

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Ahead of NSA-level talks, China says lessons should be learnt from Doklam stand-off

China today said that the Doklam stand-off posed a “major test” for the bilateral ties and lessons should be learnt from it to avoid a similar situation of its kind in the future.The comment came ahead of the 20th round of India-China border talks which are expected to be held this week in New Delhi between National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval and China’s State Councillor Yang Jiechi who are designated Special Representatives. Though the talks are scheduled for December 22, an official announcement has not been made yet from both sides.The two sides attach significance to this round of talks as it would be the first round of talks since the 73-day Doklam stand-off in the Sikkim section which ended on August 28. This Special Representative meeting is not only a high- level channel for the border issue discussion but also the platform for strategic communication,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing here today. This also allows the two sides to exchange views on the international and regional issues of major concern, she said.Also readIndian Army’s Doklam warning: Any mischief will get ‘nice and proper’ response “In 2017, China-India relations have maintained a good momentum generally but the Doklam incident posed a major test for the two countries. We should learn lessons from this incident to avoid any further conflict of this kind in the future,” Hua said. “We should follow our historical conventions on the border to uphold the tranquillity and peace in the border region as well as safeguard the larger picture of the India- China relations,” she said, adding that is in the best interest of both the countries. Asked about the Doklam stand-off’s impact on the talks, Hua said the issue also figured in the recent visit of Foreign Minister Wang Yi to New Delhi to take part in the foreign ministers’ meeting of Russia, India, China (RIC).On its sidelines, Wang also held talks with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj and President Ram Nath Kovind. Wang in his meeting with Indian counterpart also touched about the Doklam issue, Hua said. Besides attempting to resolve the vexed border dispute, the format of the India-China Special Representatives talks covered the whole gamut of relations between the two countries including political, strategic, economic and trade issues.The 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC) covers from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh. Of this, 220-km section falls in Sikkim. The two sides so far held 19 rounds of Special Representatives talks to resolve the dispute.Also readDoklam stand-off put severe pressure on bilateral ties: Chinese Foreign Minister tells Sushma SwarajOfficials say Wang’s visit, the first by a top Chinese official after the Doklam stand-off and the starting of second term of Chinese President Xi Jinping in October facilitated a more candid and frank talks between the two countries to tide over most contentious between the two countries beyond the diplomatic niceties. They said though a solution to the border dispute still eludes the two countries, a lot of headway has been made in the 19th round of talks in terms of working out mechanisms to restore peace and tranquillity along the border to resolve tensions out of the aggressive patrolling by troops.The Doklam stand-off began on June 16 over PLA’s plans to build a road in area claimed by Bhutan after the Indian troops intervened to stop it as it posed a security risk to Chicken Neck, the narrow corridor connecting India with its North- eastern states. India pointed Sino-Indian differences over the tri- junction between India, China and Bhutan in the Sikkim section which is yet to be settled. The stand-off ended on August 28 following mutual agreement between India and China. China, which earlier opened the Nathu La route for Indian pilgrims to visit Kailash and Manasarovar, has closed it after the Doklam stand-off and yet to open it.

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Watch-Pakistan never conspires: Farooq Abdullah rejects PM Modi’s charges

Without taking name of Congress’ leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, National Conference (NC) chief Farooq Abdullah said on Tuesday the grand-old party would have won Gujarat elections, had some of its leaders avoided using wrong words.”I do not want to take any names, but if some people wouldn’t have said certain wrong things then the Congress would have won in Gujarat,” Abdullah said, suggesting that Congress lost due to Aiyar’s ‘neech’ remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Also readGujarat Election Results: Congress may have lost, but the outcome will boost morale, says Ashok ChavanRegarding Himachal Pradesh’s result, the NC president said it was nothing new for the state as it was a regular pattern there. ” In Himachal Pradesh, one party unseats the other every five years, it is nothing new,” he told media before entering Parliament house to attend winter session.On being asked if a conspiracy to defeat Prime Minister Modi in elections was made in Pakistan, Abdullah said, “Pakistan never Conspires”. The BJP stood victorious in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections with 44 seats while the Congress pocketed 20 in the total 68 constituencies. In Gujarat, the BJP won the election for the 182-member assembly with a clear majority of 99 seats.

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Nearly 13% dip in number of Indians visiting US

The United States, once a favourite destination of Indians, has dropped from their priority list lately. The latest figures released by the US National Travel and Tourism Office has shown a drop of 12.9 per cent in the number Indians travelling to the US in the first six months (January to June). In the second quarter — between April and June — the drop was more significant at 18.3 per cent. Till June, as many as 5,53,177 Indians had visited the US in the year 2017 ranking 18th in the list. Out of top 18 countries, except South Korea, Germany, Canada all the rest have sown dip in visiting the US. Most significant dip is from Brazil, which has witnessed drop of 18.2 per cent.Brand USA’s president and CEO Chris Thompson said the significant policy changes made by India in the last one year might have impacted the numbers. “There are so many things that influence the intent or ability for people to travel. The demonetisation. The introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was also something that affects people’s ability or intent to travel,” Thompson said. He, however, refused to pinpoint the reason behind the dwindling numbers, but hoped that the “softness” be a short- term phenomenon.President Donald Trump is being seen as friendly by our Indian friends and visitors,” he said.”The only issue that we’ve had probably may have contributed to some of the softness is there was more demand for visas than we had the ability to process,” he said, adding that the issue has now been resolved.In 2016 there were 11.7 lakh travellers from India who visited the US contributing USD 13.6 million toward the US economy, which was a 14 per cent increase over the year prior.According to the latest projections by the Department of Commerce, the US expects an additional 814,000 visitors from India by 2021 as compared to the 2016 figures, Thompson said. “That will be a 72 per cent increase over 2016 number,” he said.Last January, Trump announced a special relaxation for low-risk Indian travellers to enable them a speedy entry into the country after landing. He granted India membership of the International Expedited Traveler Initiative (Global Entry Program), saying it would facilitate closer business and educational ties between the citizens of India and the US. The citizens of Switzerland and the United Kingdom are also part of the programme, which India joined.

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Gujarat Elections 2017 | Congress candidate wins in PM Modi’s own Vadnagar

Congress nominee Asha Patel won from Unjha constituency, which covers Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s hometown Vadnagar, by a margin of over 19,000 votes. Sitting BJP MLA Narayan Patel had previously defeated Asha by nearly 25,000 votes in 2012. While Patel polled 81,797 votes this time, her BJP rival got 62,268.The Congress rode on the Patidar wave. About 40 per cent Unjha’s population is from the Patidar community. One of the 14 men killed in the Patidar quota agitation two years ago, was from Unjha.Congress president Rahul Gandhi, the party’s star campaigner, had extensively campaigned in Unjha during his Navsarjan Yatra. On his visit to the region, Gandhi also prayed at the Umiya Mata temple, close to Vadnagar – where Modi was brought up. Weeks before the election process began in Gujarat where the BJP has been in power for the last 22 years, Modi inaugurated Umiya Dham Ashram in Haridwar for the pilgrims from the region visiting the Hindu holy city on the bank of the Ganges.

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Congress leaders take cold comfort in the ‘Fall of Modi’

As initial trends started showing, the Congress being ahead of the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) in both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly elections, the party headquarters at Akbar road was filled with excited supporters from across the country.However, as the day proceeded and the BJP inched closer to the victory, the celebratory mood turned somber with more media persons thronging the office premises. The party’s robust presence in the initial trends was applauded by the senior party leaders with the former president Sonia Gandhi visiting her son and the new party president Rahul Gandhi at his residence.Back at the Congress office, party workers kept on waiting for Rahul throughout the day. He, however, did not turn up and rather made his way to Parliament.Party leaders termed Gujarat election results as the “fall” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reign. “We have got more support this time if we compare it with 2014 Lok Sabha results when the BJP had won all the 26 seats,” said former All India Mahila Congress, President Shobha Ojha.

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Gujarat elections 2017: Hardik Patel’s magic works in Saurashtra, not on rural seats

Though Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel pooled crowd in his rallies, it seems it did not translated into the votes for Congress.The magic of the young Patidar’s nexus with the Congress, who was mired in controversy over his alleged ‘sex CDs’ that went viral in the run up to the Gujarat Assembly polls, however worked in rural areas, specially Saurashtra, results suggest. One of the factors can be the farmers issues in the region.Despite huge turnout during his roadshows in Surat, the crowd failed to translate into votes for the Congress. Though his campaigning suggests that if he continues to fight for his community, there is an opportunity for him to expand his political career. He has grown despite many hurdles.In Nikol in Ahmedabad, a Patidar-dominated constituency, he asked Patels during his rally to not vote for BJP. Here, BJP candidate Jagdish Panchal won with a margin of 24,880 votes.The ‘sex CDs’ too affected Hardik’s popularity among the veteran Patidars. Though he has often said that he will defeat BJP’s arrogance, he himself is being an arrogant leader. A few months back he had said that he will never join Congress. But ahead of polls, he met Congress president Rahul Gandhi to form an alliance.It seems after Keshubhai Patel, Patidars in Gujarat have a face in politics in the form of Hardik Patel. It won’t be a surprise if he contests Lok Sabha elections in 2019.’EVMS HACKED’Hardik gave controversial comments. A day before the results, he had tweeted alleging the BJP of hacking the EVM. He went to the extent of claiming that BJP hired 140 software engineers for the same. He created rucks over EVMs saying that BJP can win election in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh only by tampering EVMs in Gujarat.

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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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Gujarat Elections 2017 | Big gains for BJP where PM Modi campaigned

PM Narendra Modi travelled across 10,000 km in Gujarat during poll rallies for the Assembly elections. While speaking at these rallies, he played the victim card, bringing up the abusive terms used by Congress leaders to address him and the ill-treatment of Gujarat leaders by the Nehru-Gandhi family. He addressed people at 34 different places, covering all regions in the state. Out of these 34, BJP won in over 18 places, while Congress won over 16 seats – these includes urban areas such as Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot.Most rallies that the PM addressed had a crowd of near one lakh people. Modi would begin his speeches by listing the achievements of the BJP-led central and state governments, and would then raise issues attached to the sentiments of Gujarat.As polling dates drew close, Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar made the ‘neech’ statement, and PM again became the victim. After that, Congress came under constant attack. Congress leaders meeting Pakistani delegates was also turned into an issue.On the other hand, Rahul Gandhi’s meetings and public rallies were widely attended, but not all of them translated into votes for his party. Gandhi, who formally took over as Congress president two days before Gujarat election results were announced, campaigned extensively in the state. He undertook yatras in Saurashtra, north Gujarat, central Gujarat and south Gujarat.

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Gujarat Elections 2017 | Attacking PM Modi backfired for Congress: Anil Jain

What landed Gujarat once again in the BJP kitty?In Gujarat, it was clear that in the last election, Narendra Modi was the chief minister, but now he is the Prime Minister. It would be expected generally that after 22 years of rule, there would be anti-incumbency and people would want change, but these factors were mitigated and controlled by the incessant efforts of the Prime Minister and party chief Amit Shah. Our president reached out to the grassroots level of ‘panna pramukhs’ and booth-level workers ‘Shakti Kendras’. BJP has the best leadership and the mentality of development is reflected in the over 160 welfare and pro-poor schemes launched for the people. ‘Niyat, Niti and Neta’ (Positive approach, good policy and best leaders) took us to victory.What about Congress campaign?The Congress tried to make the elections about casteism and mislead the election in a negative direction. It also tried to steer the debate away from development. The Congress even took anti-social elements under its wings as their sole motive was that the elections not be fought over the development plank. Surprisingly, they began with setting aside development, saying ‘Vikas has gone mad’. This does not bode well for the future of Indian democracy.What worked against Congress?The three demons of dynasticism, casteism and appeasement politics — hallmarks of Congress’s DNA. Dynasty is the inherent and integral tradition of the Congress party. On the contrary, these demons were rooted out under the leadership of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.Have these polls been more of a Modi versus Congress rather than BJP?The PM knows the psyche of people of Gujarat and he has a unique connect with the Gujarati electorate. The vicious way in which Congress attacked him on a personal level, people of Gujarat took it as an affront and an attack on their own pride and identity. He has come to be identified with the pride of not just Gujarat, but that of the nation. Deriding him and disrespecting him backfired for the Congress.

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Gujarat Elections 2017 | Celebration muted at BJP HQs despite win

While the BJP is set to form the government for the sixth consecutive term, this is for the first time that the party’s total seat share has come down to double digits. The most shocking result came from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state and party’s national president Amit Shah.Poll celebrations during the Modi-era in the state, until 2014, were far granter in scale, with winners and party workers pouring in at the party headquarters, beating drums, playing garba, chanting Modi slogans and bursting crackers throughout the verdict day. The headquarters itself would be dressed in saffron colour and gulaal.However, this time around, visitors to Shri Kamalam, the BJP headquarters near Gandhinagar, were disappointed to see it relatively deserted. There were no leader being cheered by exhilerated supporters, and a few who arrived there were huddled behind closed doors. A few workers from Gandhinagar reached the spot to mark their presence and soon Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, too, arrived to address a press conference. The CM left, the crowd dispersed and for Shri Kamalam, the day came to an end by 6 pm.During the press conference, Rupani said, “We accept the verdict and will try to live up to Gujarat’s expectations in the coming five years, as the people have given us another opportunity to serve them.

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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: Congress sweeps holy towns; wins 10 of 14 seats

The BJP emerged the winner in the battle for Gujarat, winning 99 of the 182 assembly seats on offer, but the Congress had a clear upper hand as far as assembly seats, which are home to famous temples, are concerned. In fact, the Congress won more than twice such seats as compared with the BJP.While the BJP retained Dwarka, Jetpur (home to Khodaldham temple) and Halol (home to Pavagadh) seats, the Congress swept the other holy towns such as Somnath, Becharaji, among others.In Somnath, Congress candidate Vimal Chudasama defeated minister and BJP nominee Jasha Barad by a margin of 20,000 votes. It was at the historic Somnath temple in Somnath that the controversy over Congress president Rahul Gandhi being listed as a non-Hindu in a register had erupted.In Junagadh, which is home to Girnar, senior BJP MLA Mahendra Mashru suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Congress candidate Bhikhabhai Joshi. Joshi won with a little over 6,000 votes.The Congress also came up trumps in Thasra, where the famous Dakor temple is situated. The party’s candidate Kanti Parmar defeated Amul chairman and six-time MLA Ramsinh Parmar by over 7,000 votes.Becharaji, home to the Bechraji Mata temple, saw former home minister and BJP MLA Rajnikant Patel losing to Congress’s Bharat Thakor with a margin of over 12,000 votes.In Chotila, Congress’s Rutvik Makwana defeated BJP’s Zinabhai Dervaliya by a margin of over 22,000 votes. Makwana got 77,992 votes, as against 55,305 for Dervaliya.The Congress also won from the tribal reserved seat of Vansda in south Gujarat, where the Unai Mata temple is located. Anant Patel, the Congress candidate, won against Ganpat Mahla of BJP by over 18,000 votes.Danta (ST) seat in Banaskantha, home to the Ambaji temple, saw sitting MLA and Congress candidate Kanti Kharadi defeating BJP’s Malji Kodarvi by a margin of close to 25,000 votes. Incidentally, prime minister Narendra Modi had offered prayers at Ambaji temple on the last day of campaigning.Unjha constituency in Mehsana, where the Umiya Mata temple is situated, saw five-time BJP MLA Narayan Patel biting the dust against Congress’s Dr Asha Patel. Narayan Patel lost with a margin of 19,500 votes.BJP also had to face reverses in Abdasa seat, where the famous Ashapura temple is situated. Congress’s Pradhyumansinh Jadeja defeated BJP’s Chhabil Patel by a margin of over 12,000 votes.In Jamjodhpur, home to Umiya Mata temple in Sidsar, Congress’s Chirag Kalariya beat minister Chiman Sapariya with a margin of 2,500 votes.The BJP won four seats where famous temples are situated.Minister Jayesh Radadiya won from Jetpur seat, which is home to Khodaldham temple at Kagvad, by defeating Congress’s Ravi Ambaliya with a margin of over 25,000 votesIn Dwarka, sitting MLA and BJP candidate Pabubha Manek won by defeating Congress’s Meraman Ahir by over 5,700 votes.Minister Jaydrathsinh Parmar also emerged the winner from Halol seat, where the famous Pavagadh temple is located. Parmar defeated Congress’s Udesinh Baria by over 57,000 votes.BJP snatched Palitana seat from Congress in the polls. The party’s candidate Bhikha Baraiya defeated sitting MLA and Congress’s Pravin Rathod by over 14,200 votes from the holy town.

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Assembly elections 2017 result: BJP suffers defeat in PM Narendra Modi’s home district

The Unjha constituency, under which Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s hometown Vadnagar falls, on Monday slipped out of the BJP’s hands with the Congress winning the north Gujarat seat.Congress’ Ashaben Patel wrested the seat, falling in the Patidar-dominated Mehsana district, from BJP’s five-term MLA Narayanbhai Patel.Mehsana was the epicentre of the Patidar agitation, which flared up in 2015.BJP was trying to contain the damage in Unjha by playing up the fact that its local candidate heads the Umiya Dham Temple, which is revered by the Patel community, but it clearly came a cropper.Ashaben defeated Narayanbhai by a margin of 19,529 votes. She bagged 81,797 votes as against the BJP candidate’s 62,268 votes.The 79-year-old BJP veteran had defeated Ashaben, 40, in the 2012 assembly election, winning the seat by a margin of over 24,000 votes.Out of the total 2.12 lakh voters of Unjha, over 77,000 are Patidars, while around 50,000 belong to the Thakor community.Both Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi had held poll rallies in Vadnagar.Overall, in the Mehsana district, BJP won five of the seven seats, with two going to the Congress.Apart from Unjha, Congress bagged the Becharaji constituency while the Mahesana city, Kheralu, Visnagar, Kadi and Vijapur seats went to the BJP.

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Assembly Elections 2017: Poll results expose hollowness of Gujarat model of development, says Akhilesh Yadav

Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav on Monday said the outcome of the Gujarat Assembly election had exposed the hollowness of the “model of development” in that state.”It (Gujarat development model) is a fraud on the people and aimed at misleading the voters,” Yadav said in an official statement here.He said the BJP was expecting 150 seats but the results have proved that the people of that state did not endorse the Gujarat model of development though the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi went all out to ensure the party’s success.The SP had fielded candidates from five Assembly seats in Gujarat, all of whom lost the polls.The party chief said the Congress should take all secular parties along to usher in change in the 2019 Lok Sabha election as regional parties and regional issues would have a role to play in the next general elections.”The BJP speaks of ‘sabka sath, sabka vikas’ but when we try to give justice to all sections of the society, the same BJP calls it appeasement,” Yadav said.”We can build a strong Bharat only by taking all the people and sections along,” said the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister, adding that the country could not progress when farmers were distressed and the youth was unemployed.

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From PM Narendra Modi to Jignesh Mevani: Who said what after BJP’s narrow Gujarat win

The Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP is all set to come back to power for the sixth consecutive time after a lower margin victory in Gujarat assembly elections.BJP crossed 92 seats it requires for a majority in the 182 assembly constituencies in Gujarat.Soon after the results were announced, political leaders from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to young Patidar leader Hardik Patel have come forward expressing their views on their win or loss.Soon after the results were announced, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday took to Twitter to hailed the massive victory as ‘Jeeta Vikas, Jeeta Gujarat’.”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,” said PM Modi 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.For Congress, it was yet another major loss for them and newly elected President Rahul Gandhi on Monday accepted the loss and thanked his party workers for fighting ‘anger with dignity’.The Congress party accepts the verdict of the people and congratulates the new governments in both states. I thank the people of Gujarat and Himachal with all my heart for the love they showed me,” Gandhi tweeted.”My Congress brothers and sisters, you have made me very proud. You are different than those you fought because you fought anger with dignity. You have demonstrated to everyone that the Congress’ greatest strength is its decency and courage,” he added.BJP chief Amit Shah hailed the party’s win as “victory of development over dynasty and polarisation”.”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,” said Amit Shah”This is a victory of development over dynasty and polarisation,” he added.Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh took a direct dig at newly appointed Congress President Rahul Gandhi after the assembly elections verdict.”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.Union minister Smriti Irani on Monday said the victory is “of every booth worker’s hard work and the people who trusted development”.”It is a matter of happiness for us, this is the victory of development. It is the victory of every booth worker’s hard work and the people who trusted development,” said Irani.When Smriti Irani was asked about Congress giving a tough fight in Gujarat she was quick to reply and said, “jo jeeta wohi sikander”.While Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said that the election results reflect “people’s unshakeable faith in the agenda of development and classless society”.”I would like to give credit for this victory to the people of Gujarat and I also give assurance that in the coming five years, BJP will work towards what the people of the state wants,” Rupani said.”The party’s vote share has increased and despite the tally of seat share leaning in favour of the Congress, the BJP maintained a lead of over 8 percent. The Assembly elections showed people’s unshakable faith in the agenda of development, caste-less and classless society,” he added.However, young Patidar leader Hardik Patel on Monday alleged that the BJP(BJP) has won Gujarat Assembly elections only because of money and EVM tampering. “There has been tampering in EVMs in Surat,Rajkot and Ahmedabad, hence the gap is very less wherever tampering happened. EVMs are hackable,” Patel was quoted as talking to the reporters.Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, who won the Vadgam constituency, said will raise the voice of Gujarat’s discriminated sections in the assembly. “I express my gratitude to the people of Vadgam for all their support. Now I will raise the voice of Gujarat’s discriminated sections in the assembly,” Mevani said after his win.Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said that it was a lesson for those who indulged in “divisive and caste politics” to reject the Gujarat Model of development.”The election results of one state will not have an effect on the election of another state. The issues will be different. Whatever may the Gujarat poll results be, it will have no impact on Karnataka,” Adityanath told reporters at Yadgir in the northern parts of the state.However, the results of the Gujarat assembly elections result did not go down well with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The TMC chief on Monday attacked BJP saying it was a moral defeat for the Hindutva-party the people of the state have “belled the cat for 2019″.”It is a temporary and face-saving win, but it shows a moral defeat for BJP. Gujarat voted against atrocities, anxiety and injustice caused to the common people. Gujarat belled the cat for 2019,” Banerjee tweeted.Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah for winning the Assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.”Congratulations to honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party for the victory in the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections. The Congress, which had claimed it would wrest power from the BJP in Gujarat, has ended up losing even Himachal Pradesh,” Kumar tweeted in Hindi.Goa Chief Minister Manohhar Parrikar said the newly-elected Congress President “scored zero in his opening innings.” “In his opening innings he scored zero” Parrikar said. Earlier on Monday, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said the results of the Gujarat Assembly polls would not have any impact on the Assembly election in the state, which is due early next year.”The election results of one state will not have an effect on the election of another state. The issues will be different. Whatever may the Gujarat poll results be, it will have no impact on Karnataka,” he told reporters at Yadgir in the northern parts of the state.Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav on Monday took to Twitter to mock BJP’s victory in Gujarat.”BJP getting limited to double-digit in Gujarat is the beginning of the end for the party. It is the result of neglect of the villages, poor and rural people. This is the BJP’s so-called victory,” Akhilesh tweeted.Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said: “I think it’s clear in Gujarat: the BJP has won but the Congress has not lost.”

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Vasundhara Raje hails BJP’s victory, credits Modi-Shah for clean sweep

Congratulating Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah for winning the Assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje today said there was no alternative to the party in the country.Raje said it was the victory of Modi’s leadership and Shah’s organisational skills.”The people of Gujarat have once again voted for development. They once again reposed faith in the BJP leadership. It shows there is no alternative to the BJP in the country. “Results in Himachal Pradesh have proved that the country is moving ahead to become Congress-free,” Raje said in a statement.Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee chief Sachin Pilot said the BJP made tall claims of winning 150 seats in Gujarat. Rahul Gandhi s leadership was accepted by the people of Gujarat, he said.The BJP inched towards a record sixth straight victory in Gujarat assembly polls, and was set to evict the Congress in Himachal Pradesh, tightening the party’s grip over the country’s politics with general elections only 18 months away.Also readGujarat Elections 2017: Akhilesh asks Rahul to build opposition unity ahead of 2019 pollsThe Gujarat results proved to be a seesaw, with BJP and Congress running neck and neck in the morning trends. At midday, BJP pulled ahead, but by 5 p.m. it apeared that although the party will emerge victorious it will be with a slim majority. “I assure (people of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh) that we will leave no stone unturned in furthering the development journey of these states and serve the people tirelessly,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet.According to Election Commission tally at 5 p.m., the BJP had won 70 seats and was leading in 29 for a possible total of 99 in the 182-member Gujarat assembly. At the start of the campaign, the BJP had said it was aiming for 150 seats. In the outgoing assembly it had 115 seats. The Congress won 62 and was leading in 15 for a possible total of 77, compared to 61 previously.Also readGujarat Elections 2017: It is a face-saving win but moral defeat for BJP in Gujarat, says Mamata BanerjeeCongress President Rahul Gandhi virtually conceded defeat, saying the party “accepts the verdict of the people and congratulates the new governments in both states.” He thanked his party members for fighting “anger with dignity.” The BJP called the results a vote for development pushed by Modi, who was the tireless star campaigner in both states.The Congress took solace in the fact that it bettered its tally in Gujarat, the home turf of Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah.Shah expressed satisfaction with the result, saying that the party’s vote share in Gujarat had gone up to 49.10% from 47.85% in 2012. The Congress vote share was 41.5% in Gujarat, compared to 38.93% in 2012 was 38.93%.

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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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Gujarat Elections 2017: It is a face-saving win but moral defeat for BJP in Gujarat, says Mamata Banerjee

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said it was a moral defeat for the BJP in Gujarat and the people of the state have “belled the cat for 2019”.Congratulating the people of Gujarat for their “very balanced verdict at this hour”, Banerjee said it was a face- saving win for the ruling party.”It is a temporary and face-saving win, but it shows a moral defeat for BJP. Gujarat voted against atrocities, anxiety and injustice caused to the common people. Gujarat belled the cat for 2019,” Banerjee tweeted.The TMC chief had recently hailed Congress president Rahul Gandhi for “putting the BJP on the backfoot”.

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Gujarat Elections 2017: Results won’t have any bearing on Karnataka polls, says Siddaramaiah

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah today said the results of the Gujarat Assembly polls would not have any impact on the Assembly election in the state, which is due early next year.”The election results of one state will not have an effect on the election of another state. The issues will be different. Whatever may the Gujarat poll results be, it will have no impact on Karnataka,” he told reporters at Yadgir in the northern parts of the state.The Congress leader also claimed that by ensuring the party’s victory in the Assembly polls, Karnataka would give the “first gift” to newly-appointed Congress president Rahul Gandhi for his leadership.Also readAssembly Elections 2017: Gujarat, HP results lesson to parties indulging in caste-politics and dynasty, says Amit ShahClaiming that there was no anti-incumbency against his government, Siddaramaiah said if it was there, the Congress would have got to know about it in the Nanjangud and Gundlupet bypolls, which the party won by big margins.”I am sure that in 2018, we will come back to power hundred per cent,” he added.Also readGujarat Elections 2017: Rahul’s campaign reminded us of Indira Gandhi, ‘moral win’ for Congress, says Ashok GehlotThe Congress has already announced that Siddaramaiah will be its face in the Karnataka Assembly polls.Expressing doubts about the BJP’s performance in Gujarat, despite anti-incumbency and a strong undercurrent against it, the chief minister said the poll results lent credence to the doubts regarding the electronic voting machines (EVMs).Raising apprehensions that the EVMs could be tampered with, Siddaramaiah had recently demanded the use of ballot papers in the next Assembly polls in the state.Suggesting that in Himachal Pradesh, the BJP was expected to win because of the anti-incumbency factor against the Congress, he pointed out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah were from Gujarat and claimed that the duo had taken the Gujarat election as a “prestige issue”.He also acknowledged that the strategy of Modi and Shah of using the “Gujarati pride” card had effectively worked in the saffron party’s favour.Though there was an undercurrent and a strong anti- incumbency factor against the Gujarat government, Modi had asked for votes pointing out that he was from the state, Siddaramaiah said, adding, “Most probably, this worked.” Noting that the trends of the results showed an improved performance of the Congress, the chief minister gave the credit for that to Rahul Gandhi.”I feel, in Gujarat, we have won despite losing. The people have shown their support to Rahul Gandhi’s leadership,” he said.Pointing at Modi and Shah’s Gujarati origin and the fact that the BJP was in power both in Gujarat and at the Centre as factors behind the saffron party’s performance, the Congress leader accused it of polarising the voters by systematically playing the communal card.”They (BJP) are playing it in Karnataka also by triggering communal tensions with an intention to polarise the voters. But it will not happen here,” he said.The BJP is headed for a record sixth straight victory in the Gujarat Assembly polls today. The party is also set to evict the Congress from Himachal Pradesh.

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Gujarat Elections 2017: Rahul’s campaign reminded us of Indira Gandhi, ‘moral win’ for Congress, says Ashok Gehlot

Expressing satisfaction over the “moral win” in Gujarat Assembly elections, Congress leader Ashok Gehlot on Monday said the party, under the leadership of its president Rahul Gandhi, ran a very good campaign in the state. “Congress had a very good campaign in Gujarat, Rahul ji’s campaign reminded us of Indira ji,” Gehlot, who was the Congress election in-charge for Gujarat, said. The former Rajasthan Chief Minister said it was a win for Rahul’s issue based campaign. Also readAssembly Elections 2017: Amit Shah hails BJP win in Gujarat, HP as ‘victory of development over dynasty and polarisation”Whatever the results, it was moral win for Congress. It was a win for Rahul ji’s issue based campaign. BJP in home state of Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi ji and (BJP President) Amit Shah ji is struggling to cross even 100,” Gehlot said. As per the official trends provided by the Election Commission at 4:12 pm, the BJP has already bagged 66 seats while it is leading on 33 others. Congress has won in 57 Assembly constituencies while its candidates are leading on 20 other seats.Also read5 reasons why BJP managed to win Gujarat for consecutive 6th timeCongress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that the Congress and its allies are poised to win 84 seats. He counted two independents”Two Independents who won support Congress and so does the NCP. So the Congress+ tally right now is 84 and BJP is 98-99,” Surjewala said.

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Assembly Elections 2017: Manohar Parrikar takes a dig at Rahul Gandhi, says ‘he scored zero in his opening innings’

Taking a dig at Rahul Gandhi over the impending defeat in the Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, Goa Chief Minister Manohhar Parrikar on Monday said the newly-elected Congress President “scored zero in his opening innings.” “In his opening innings he scored zero” Parrikar said. He was commenting on the results in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh where the poll trends are hugely in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). According to official trends of the Election Commission at 2:42 pm, the BJP has 28 seats and leading on 70 others in Gujarat. The Congress, on the other hand, has won 21 and is leading 57 other seats. The BJP has ruled the state for the last 22 years. In Himachal Pradesh, the BJP has won 5 seats while leading in 39 other constituencies. The Congress, which ruled the state for 5 years, has won one seat and is leading on 18 seats.

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Assembly elections 2017 results: Not disappointed with results, says Rahul Gandhi in Parliament

Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Monday said that he was not disappointed with the verdict in both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.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.Earlier, Union Minister Smriti Irani said, ” Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar.” On Monday, ​I&B Minister hailed BJP’s win, “It’s a matter of happiness for us, this is the victory of development.”She continued, “Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. It is a victory of every booth worker’s hard work and the people who trusted development.”Also readHimachal Elections: BJP’s Prem Kumar Dhumal trailing; who will be chief minister?BJP MP Madhya Pradesh unit president Nandkumar Singh Chauhan said the workers are excited by the increase in the party in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly elections. “Anti-incumbency is not working there. The prime minister’s popularity is intact. Amit Shah’s strategy has worked,” BJP vice president Shyam Jaju said.BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya also said, “There is nothing to worry. We will form government in Gujarat with comfortable majority.”Also readGujarat Election Results 2017 LIVE: Good news for Congress as Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani wins in VadgamHome Minister Rajnath Singh, too, had expressed confidence in BJP. “Will form Government in both Himachal and Gujarat with a clear majority,” he told news agency ANI. Singh later took a dig at Rahul Gandhi, says ‘sar mundwate hi ole pade’

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Congress to raise ‘Pakistan interference’ remark in Parliament

Congress sources said on Monday that they would raise ‘Pakistan-interference-in-Gujarat-polls’ remark in both houses of Parliament, as the Winter Session resumes after the weekend.During the last phase of electioneering in Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, quoting media reports, on December 10, said former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Vice-President Hamid Ansari, former Army General Deepak Kapoor had secretly discussed Gujarat elections with ex-Pakistani diplomats at Mani Shankar Aiyar’s residence in Delhi.The allegation has sparked a political furore.Congress, since then, has been demanding an apology from the prime minister.Last week, on the first day of the session, senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad raised the issue in Rajya Sabha.

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Gujarat Election Results 2017 LIVE: ‘Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar,’ Union Minister Smriti Irani tells Congress

After a mid-morning scare, it seems the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is all set to form a government in the state of Gujarat for the sixth time. The party may be slightly shaken by the fact that these elections have been more uncomfortable than it may have expected – with Congress making significant gains from the 61 seats it won in 2012 and run the BJP close.But Union Minister Smriti Irani said, ” Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar.” On Monday, ​I&B Minister hailed BJP’s win, “It’s a matter of happiness for us, this is the victory of development.”She continued, “Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. It is a victory of every booth worker’s hard work and the people who trusted development.”BJP MP Madhya Pradesh unit president Nandkumar Singh Chauhan said the workers are excited by the increase in the party in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly elections. “Anti-incumbency is not working there. The prime minister’s popularity is intact. Amit Shah’s strategy has worked,” BJP vice president Shyam Jaju said.BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya also said, “There is nothing to worry. We will form government in Gujarat with comfortable majority.”

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BJP set to form govt in Gujarat with ‘comfortable majority’, party says PM Modi’s popularity intact

The BJP today said the poll trends in its favour indicated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity was intact in his home state Gujarat and it was on its way to form government with a “comfortable majority”.BJP leaders said their party would “retain” power notwithstanding the opposition and the aggressive campaign by the Congress, particularly its new president Rahul Gandhi.It attributed the favourable trends to its Gujarat development model as the anti-incumbency factor had “failed”.Also readWatch: PM Modi flashes victory sign as BJP gets unassailable lead in GujaratThe saffron party, however, said it will analyse the trends in detail later.”We have set a record in the history of the BJP by winning six consecutive polls: four assembly and two general elections.Also readGujarat Election 2017: As BJP gets back in business, Adani Group gains after initial loss”Anti-incumbency is not working there. The prime minister’s popularity is intact. Amit Shah’s strategy has worked,” BJP vice-president Shyam Jaju said.BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya seconded Jaju.”There is nothing to worry. We will form a government in Gujarat with comfortable majority,” Vijayvargiya added.According to trends available on the Election Commission’s website, the BJP was leading in 101 of the 182 assembly segments in Gujarat. The Congress was leading in 74 constituencies.

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

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

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Watch: PM Modi flashes victory sign as BJP gets unassailable lead in Gujarat

As the trends show BJP getting solid lead in Gujarat Assembly Elections results, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was seen jubilantly flashing victory sign outside Parliament.The stakes are high as the BJP looks for straight fifth victory in the Prime Minister’s home state.Though the initial trends showed a tough fight between the Congress and the BJP, the post-11 am leads show BJP topping the game.Top BJP leaders have already started reacting to the trends with many showing confidence in forming government both in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.”We will form government in both Himachal and Gujarat with clear majority,” Union Hom Minister Rajnath Singh said as election leads started trickling in.”The result is as per our expectations. BJP is leading in both the states. BJP will form a government with clear majority in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh,” the Home Minister added.The elections for 182-seat Assembly were held on December 9 and 14, after an acrimonious campaign, which was dominated by a face-off between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi.In the 2012 elections, the BJP had won 115 seats while the Congress emerged victorious on 61 seats.The BJP has been in power in the state since 1995, winning consecutive elections in the home state of Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah.

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Gujarat elections 2017: Before counting, rumours float in Gujarat online space

An ‘official’ government order purportedly signed by one K L Parmar, Deputy Election Commissioner, stated that internet will be banned in Gujarat on counting day. Another letter, purportedly from BJP state president Jitu Vaghani to its national president Amit Shah, states that the BJP is losing Gujarat. Another letter allegedly by Gujarat Congress chief Bharat Solanki to Rahul Gandhi admits the party will face a terrible defeat in Gujarat It’s the eve of counting of votes in Gujarat Assembly polls and all sorts of ‘stories’ are floating in the air…errr WhatsApp.They range from issues as serious as the internet being banned on the counting day to the one like BJP booking the Sardar Patel stadium for its swearing-in ceremony.One of those canards that really took the goat of the officials — the Internet ban rumour.As the ‘order’ bears an official looking seal and even forged signature in the name of deputy Election Commissioner K L Parmar, he filed an FIR, seeking the origin of the rumour, with the cyber cell of the Ahmedabad Crime Branch.The ‘letter’ says several EVMs were hacked during the two phases of the Gujarat polls. These machines, with microchips inside, were connected to some of the satellite towers of telecommunication companies. “The EC has therefore ordered these companies to stop beaming internet on December 18 between 8 am and 6 pm,” it reads.Rajdeep Zala, Additional DCP of Crime branch, said they had started an investigation. Zala also said the police have lodged a case against unidentified person/s.”We believe the forged letter was circulated to create chaos in social media and could create a law and order situation in the state,” he started.As if this was not enough, Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti leader Hardik Patel tweeted that a team of 140 engineers from an Ahmedabad-based company was ready to hack over 5,000 EVMs via ‘source code’. He even named assembly seats where the attempt was made.FAKE RESIGNATIONVaghani was not the only one to have been affected by the fake letter virus. A ‘resignation letter’ of Congress state president Bharatsinh Solanki was also making rounds on social media after ticket distribution in which he was said to have been unhappy over tickets to Alpesh Thakor and his men. In the fake letter that went viral, Solanki was quoted as saying that the Congress will lose heavily because of this decision.‘LETTER’ STIRS UP ROWA ‘letter’ that went viral was purportedly from state BJP president Jitu Vaghani to party’s national president Amit Shah, saying Vaghani allegedly wrote that the party was losing badly.

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Rohit Jigyasu first Indian to be elected to ICOMOS board

The newly elected board of International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), which includes an Indian on the board of members for the first time, held its first meeting in Delhi recently. ICOMOS Triennial General Assembly was hosted by Indian National Committee of ICOMOS (ICOMOS India) in Delhi from December 11-15, followed by meetings on December 16-17.Headquartered in Paris, France, ICOMOS organised its 19th Triennial General Assembly in Delhi and the theme of the assembly was ‘Heritage and Democracy’. This event of heritage professionals from around the world was held for the first time in India and third time in Asia. It was attended by nearly 900 professionals from more than 80 countries.During the assembly, elections of the new ICOMOS board were also held. Dr Rohit Jigyasu, conservation and risk management professional and president of ICOMOS India was elected as the Vice-President of ICOMOS. He is the first Indian to get elected to the bureau of ICOMOS. Toshiyoko Kono from Japan has been elected as the President.This year’s General Assembly elected 20 members of the board by a secret ballot for a term of three years. The members then elected a president, a secretary geICOMOS Triennial General Assembly was hosted by Indian National Committee of ICOMOS (ICOMOS India) in Delhi from December 11-15, followed by meetings on December 16-17neral, a treasurer, and five vice- presidents.India supported the ICOMOS India initiative and hosted the General Assembly through the engagement of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Ministry of Culture, the Archaeological Survey of India, and Wild Life Institute of India. Regional states, such as the government of Jammu and Kashmir, Odisha and Bihar too supported the initiative.”It is a great honour to be selected as the vice-president. It is very important to bring Indian perspective to world heritage. I will do my best to do the same,” said Jigyasu.Dr Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State (Independent charge) for Culture and Tourism and Civil Aviation, gave a concluding speech at the session and emphasised on the importance of protecting and managing living heritage through engagement of communities.WHAT IS ICOMOS?ICOMOS is an association that works for the conservation and protection of cultural heritage around the world and offers advice to UNESCO on world heritage sites.

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Gujarat elections 2017: BJP, Congress undecided on CM face

While several exit polls are predicting a clear victory for BJP in the Gujarat Assembly elections, not many are betting on who will be the next CM. There are many who believe that there may be a change of guard even if the BJP comes back to power. The race is also wide open in case the Congress pulls off a surprise win.Rupani was a surprise pick as CM after Anandiben Patel’s abrupt resignation last year. Rupani has done fairly well, and his tenure has largely been controversy-free, but in spite of the party showing faith in him, it is not certain that he will be leading the government once the results are announced.”If BJP wins more than 150 seats, it would mean that Patel community has strongly supported the party. In such a situation, the party is likely to install a Patel leader as the CM. This would tip the scale in favour of someone like (deputy CM) Nitin Patel or Bhikhubhai Dalsania, another non-controversial leader,” said a BJP leader requesting anonymity.Some others see Union minister Mansukh Mandaviya, who too is a Patel, as one of the contenders.CM Vijay Rupani’s comments in an exclusive interview with DNA before the elections that he would be happy with the role assigned to him also sparked off speculations. “I never expected any position. I have been saying since the day I was appointed CM that I am here to play a 20-20 match. Our high command will take a call on the issue,” Rupani had said.However, what could work in Rupani’s favour is that he remains grounded, and his tenure has been free of controversies.”Our national president Amit Shah has repeatedly said that Vijay Rupani will be CM and Nitin Patel deputy CM. The BJP has absolute clarity on this,” BJP’s Gujarat in-charge Bhupender Yadav, said.In case the Congress wins, a host of party leaders would be in the race for the CM’s post.Gujarat Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki is seen as a contender for the post even though he did not contest in the elections. The fact that he had served as Union minister in the UPA government, and comes from a political family, hands him the advantage.Senior Congress leader and son of former CM Chimanbhai Patel, Siddharth Patel, who contested from Dabhoi seat, is also seen as a potential candidate for the top post. He is a Patidar, and if Congress wins, it would be to a great extent to support from the Patidar community.Two-term MLA Paresh Dhanani, who too belongs to the Patidar community, and one of the vocal critics of BJP government, could be a pick for CM if the party wins.Senior MLA Shaktisinh Gohil, who had served as minister in an earlier Congress government in the state, too seen by many as a potential chief ministerial candidate. He is the Congress’s national spokesperson, and had served as leader of opposition.

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Gujarat elections 2017: BJP upbeat, gears up for ‘twin wins’

Silently, but diligently, the BJP’s election machinery rolled on a chilly Sunday, with party spokespersons huddled at the headquarters at 11 Ashoka Road, just a day before the fate of its candidates in Guajarat and Himachal Pradesh was to be revealed.As exit polls give the BJP a decisive edge in Gujarat, the mood was upbeat with BJP general secretary in-charge for Gujarat, Bhupendra Yadav, and Information and Broadcasting minister Smriti Irani, who is a Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat, briefing the spokespersons.According to sources in the party, nearly 30 party workers met at the party office to discuss and finalise the media communication strategy for Monday. They included leaders such as Dalit face of BJP, Bizay Sonkar Shastri, former Union minister Shahnawaz Hussain, the suave Samajwadi Party-turned-BJP leader Gaurav Bhatia, and Zafar Islam.Yadav oversaw communcation management, BJP’s media in-charge Anil Baluni and his deputy Sanjay Mayukh helped.”This meeting is nothing special. We are here only to decide the media strategy for Monday, as it would be a long day. We are deciding the shifts in which the spokespersons would be present here to interact with the media,” a senior BJP leader said.As the results start trickling in from 8 am, most of the party members would be present at the headquarters by 7 am. In the event of a victory, celebrations have been planned, including sweet distribution and cracker bursting.Meanwhile, an eye-catching poster of Congress president Rahul Gandhi was seen hanging right opposite the saffron party’s central office, ostensibly put up by the Youth Congress. The poster had Rahul waving his hand, with the message: “Lead For The India”.

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Assembly elections 2017: Gujarat decides, India watches

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

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Cyclone Ockhi: Rahul Gandhi writes to PM Modi, seeks special package for Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep

Newly-elected Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare a comprehensive special financial package for Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep to undertake rehabilitation and provide financial assistance to families of fishermen who lost their lives in Cyclone Ockhi late last month. In a letter to the Prime Minister, Rahul Gandhi also asked for putting in place adequate measures for strengthening the weather update system and advance cyclone warning communication mechanism in the coastal areas. The opposition leader also pointed out the need to construct seawalls and groynes in the vulnerable sea coasts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.Rahul also asked PM Modi to visit the affected regions. Mr Gandhi had visited some places hit by the Cyclone Ochki in Kerala and Tamil Nadu on December 14.The cyclone hit the coast of Kerala and neighbouring Tamil Nadu on November 30, causing widespread damage besides leaving several fishermen stranded and missing. Cyclone Okchi has claimed over 65 lives, most of them fishermen.

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It was organised booth capturing: Sukhbir Singh Badal fumes after Congress sweeps Punjab civic polls

On Sunday, after the Congress won a thumping victory in the Punjab civic polls, SAD’s Sukhbhir Singh Badal alleged booth capturing and hit out at the EC and state government. He said: “It was organised booth capturing. We told EC that they are not letting our candidates file nominations. 20% candidates weren’t able to file nominations, some nominations were rejected & some candidates were arrested but state EC did nothing.” He added: “Our candidates & polling agents were thrown out of booths, media persons were beaten & booth was captured at every place. For the 1st time, state EC & govt became one & captured EVMs. We are going to High Court against this criminal conspiracy.”Also readYou can’t get a better result: Captain Amarinder ecstatic after Congress sweeps Punjab civic pollsOn the other hand, Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh was ecstatic after Congress’ impressive performance in Punjab Civic Polls. He said: “Election results have been very good, we are very pleased. You can’t get a better result than this. Out of three corporations, we have swept polls and won all of them.”He added: “In Patiala, out of 60 seats, 56 results are declared, won those 56. Similarly, in Jalandhar, out of 80, 77 are declared and 63 we have won. In Amritsar, out of 85, 61 have been declared, 45 we have won.”He also tweeted: Congress won 66 wards in Jalandhar Municipal Corporation, BJP 8, SAD 4, Independent 2. Congress also bagged 56 out of 60 in Patiala and four results awaited. Congress clinched 69 out of 85 wards, BJP 6, SAD 6, Independent 4 in Amritsar Municipal Corporation Election.“This is the first victory that Rahul Gandhi has tasted as Congress President, third victory in our Captain’s turban,” Navjot Singh Sidhu said.

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Leaders at NDA meet seek all India judicial service

Some leaders of the BJP-led NDA have pitched for an all India judicial service on the lines of the civil services and sought a discussion on the matter in Parliament.The issue, which involves the demand for reservation in the judiciary for Dalits and backward classes, was raised in the meeting of top NDA leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, on Friday, the first day of the Winter Session, highly-placed sources said.A senior BJP leader told PTI that the matter was raised in the meeting by some members, who sought a discussion on the issue in Parliament.They said there should be all India judicial service like the Indian Administrative Service or the Indian Police Service, he said on the condition of anonymity.The sources, however, declined to name the leaders who raised the issue at the meeting.A large section of politicians, especially those drawn from disadvantaged classes, has been vocal over the issue, citing minuscule presence of these communities, especially Dalits and STs, in the higher judiciary.The matter was in the limelight recently after President Ram Nath Kovind expressed his concern at a public event over “unacceptably low” presence of women, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes in the higher judiciary.Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha had demanded recently that gates of higher judiciary be opened for women and disadvantaged classes, claiming that most high court and Supreme Court judges have come from 250-300 families.”Not only for Dalits and backward castes, the door is closed even for people from general castes. Members of over 250-300 families have been becoming judges in high courts and the Supreme Court since Independence. Doors are closed for all others. They must be opened,” he had said at a public meeting to mark the death anniversary of B R Ambedkar.Dalit members of Parliament have long been raising the issue and saying that an all India judicial service will pave the way for reservation for the traditionally deprived sections of society in higher judiciary.

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Madhya Pradesh: 18-year-old arrested for allegedly setting fire to car belonging to priests

An eighteen-year-old was arrested on Saturday in MP’s Satna for allegedly setting fire to a car belonging to priests who were accused of forced conversion by Bajrang Dal, reported NDTV. The incident allegedly took place on Thursday. A Catholic priest and 40 others were detained in Satna, Madhya Pradesh for alleged forced conversion, who also filed a complaint that their vehicles were set ablaze by Bajrang Dal workers, reports ANI.One local alleged that the Catholic priest had asked them to take holy dips in the pond and ‘embrace Christianity’.Also readMadhya Pradesh: Carol singers’ car set on fire in SatnaTOI reported that 32 Christmas ‘carol singers’ were detained by police in Satna. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), said the group comprised seminarians and two priests form St Ephrem’s Theological College in Satna, and were detained while conducting routine carol singing program for Christmas.The TOI report states that when eight other priests, went to the police station to enquire, they too were held and one of their cars was set on fire outside the station.Also readBJP Mumbai President Ashish Shelar gets slammed on Twitter for promoting Christmas musical eventThe police said detention followed claims by one Dharmendra Dohar who alleged he was being forced to ‘embrace Christianity’.Earlier, Sub-inspector Mohinee Sharma of Civil Lines police station said a case has been registered against unidentified people for burning the vehicle, but denied claim about members of the Catholic community been assaulted during the incident. “They (members of the Catholic group) may have been manhandled outside the police station premises. If they come to us with a complaint that they were beaten up, we will surely book the accused,” the police officer had said. Also readWill follow my mind, Amruta Fadnavis to trolls who criticised her for attending Christmas-themed eventFather M. Rony, social work director of Satna diocese, told PTI that some young men stormed the venue of a pre- Christmas function at Bhoomkar village, 15 km from the district headquarters, around 9 last night and created a ruckus, alleging that religious conversion was going on there.The function was organised by Syro-Malabar Church of Northern India for children. After police got information, they came to the spot and took 32 Catholic brothers (trainee priests) and two priests to the Civil Lines police station, Fr Rony said.With inputs from agencies

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Gujarat Elections 2017: All eyes on Modi’s home state as stage set for counting tomorrow

Counting of votes will be held tomorrow for the Gujarat Assembly polls, considered a prestige battle for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his home state and a litmus test for new Congress president Rahul Gandhi.While the BJP is seeking a sixth straight term in office, the Congress is aiming to stage a comeback in power after being in the opposition for over two decades.The results are expected to have a bearing on the 2019 parliamentary polls also as Modi had come to power in 2014, based on the Gujarat ‘model of development’.The much-awaited results of the keenly fought elections will be announced tomorrow when the counting of votes will be held at 37 centres across the state’s 33 districts, amidst tight security.The voting was held following an acrimonious campaign, where both the main political parties indulged in no-holds- barred attacks on each others.Modi led the campaign for the BJP, while Rahul Gandhi was the pivot of the Congress’ electioneering.During the campaign, Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah trained guns on the Congress on issues like Ram Temple, alleged Pakistani interference in the Gujarat polls and (suspended Congress leader) Mani Shankar Aiyar’s remarks.Gandhi persistently attacked Modi and the BJP for “not talking about the future of Gujarat” and skipping key issues being faced by the people of the state.The Congress also stitched about a broad social coalition with prominent Patidar, OBC, and Dalit leaders – Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jigesh Mevani – in its bid to unseat the BJP in power for over two decades.Patel led a long agitation of his community for reservation, while Thakor led an counter protest against inclusion of Patidars in the OBC reservation list. Mevani raised his voice against Dalit atrocities.The influential Patidar community, which accounts for around 12 per cent of the state’s population, could prove to be the ‘X factor’ in the polls in which Patel pledged support to the Congress and appealed to people to “uproot the BJP” this time.As the campaign was nearing its end, “Vikas” (development) took a back seat, and caste and religious issues received prominence.The two main rival parties also tried to counter each other on social media, as the Congress and its supporters launched the campaign “Vikas Gando Thayo Che” (development has gone crazy), while the BJP launched a counter drive of “I am development, I am Gujarat”.An average 68.41 per cent polling was recorded in the two-phase Assembly elections in Gujarat.According to the final figures released by the Election Commission, the voter turnout in the second phase of balloting on December 14, for 93 seats of North and Central Gujarat, stood at 69.99 per cent.In the first phase of polls held on December 9 for 89 seats in Saurasthra, Kutch and South Gujarat, 66.75 per cent voting was recorded.The total voter turnout this time has seen a dip of 2.91 per cent, as compared to the 2012 polls when 71.32 per cent polling was registered.In terms of numbers, of the total 4.35 crore registered voters, 2.97 crore exercised their right to franchise in the elections held on December 9 and 14.According to the EC data, the tribal-dominated Narmada district witnessed the highest voter turnout of 79.15 per cent, while Devbhumi-Dwarka of Saurashtra region recorded the lowest at 59.39 per cent.The districts which recorded a high turnout are Tapi (78.56 per cent), Banaskantha (75.15) and Sabarkantha (74.97).The districts which saw a low turnout are Amreli (61.29), Bhavnagar (61.56) and Porbandar (61.86).Out of the total 33 districts, 15 recorded over 70 per cent polling, while 17 others clocked between 60 per cent and 70 per cent.Only Devbhumi Dwarka district registered polling below 60 per cent.

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Don’t celebrate Christmas where Hindu students are majority: Hindu outfit warns Aligarh schools

The Hindu Jagaran Manch in Uttar Pradesh, which is affiliated with Yogi Adityanath’s Hindu Yuva Vahini, has warned Christian schools in Aligarh to not celebrate the festival where there are students with Hindu majority, WION has reported.A media report quoted the president of Hindu Jagran Manch, Sonu Savita as saying that the students are being asked to bring toys, gifts and celebrate Christmas. The group claims that the Christians lure Hindu students and converts them.Claiming that such kind of activities can affect the mentality of Hindu students the group said it will talk to the parents and request them to oppose the activities.The state secretary of Hindu Jagaran March has warned the schools of dire consequence in case they fail to follow their directives.

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We depend on Rahul to sustain hope: Manmohan Singh

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday launched a scathing attack on the BJP and said the Congress now depends on Rahul Gandhi as its president in a time of “disturbing trends”.”Rahulji is taking over as the president of the party at a time when there are certain disturbing trends noticeable in our polity. As a distinguished academic pointed out a few days ago, there are dangers that the ‘politics of fear’ will take over from the politics of hope,” he said. “Rahulji, we depend upon you to transform and sustain politics of hope,” Singh said.He started his speech by saying, “I recall a letter that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru wrote to Indiraji. He said that in the matters of the state, one should not be sentimental but should be full of sentiment.”He said that Rahul’s elevation was a “unique day” in the history of Congress.Singh further thanked Sonia Gandhi for providing “powerful leadership”. “We salute Soniaji for uniting the leadership, something that she has been doing for the last 19 years,” he said.

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Maha govt reconstitutes advisory committee under Human Organ Transplantation Act

The Maharashtra government on Saturday reconstituted a 10-member advisory committee headed by the health secretary, under the Human Organ Transplantation Act, 1994. The committee will have a two-year term till December 2019.The committee comprises, among others, the leading liver transplant surgeon Dr GB Davar, GS Medical College urology department chief Dr Sujata Patwardhan, Zonal Transplant Coordination Centre secretary Dr Surendrakumar Mathur, Sneha Foundation representative Dr Armeda Fernandes, Disha Foundation representative Shailesh Shetty, Association for Organ Transplantation president Dr Alan Almeida and cardiology specialist Dr Anvay Mulay as special invitee.The formation of the advisory committee was necessitated as the term of the previous committee appointed on December 31, 2014 was completed on December 31, 2016. The advisory committee is expected to play a major role to advise the state government on the strict implementation of Act and thereby promote organ transplantation, donation and distribution across the state.Dr Davar, who has been associated with organ transplantation for over two decades, told DNA,” Today we are getting voluntary donors due to public awareness. The government can increase further participation of medical colleges and non-transplant organ retrieval centres so that the organs of brain-dead patients can be useful to save more and more lives.”Dr Mathur said that Maharashtra has been pioneer in organ transplantation and donation as it was the first state to issue notification way back in 1999 and subsequently set up state level federation for organ transplantation and the Zonal Transplant Coordination Centre at Mumbai. At the all India level the per million population organ donation rate is 0.5, but it is 1.5 in Maharashtra and 2.31 in Mumbai division, which is next to Tamil Nadu’s 2.50.”Number of donors is steadily increasing. There were 132 donors at the state level in the calendar year 2016 and the number will increase by end of December 2017. A little push is required to increase the number. The advisory committee will can advise the state government with regard to increasing the participation of medical colleges and other hospitals with ICU facility,” Dr Mathur said.Dr Patwardhan hoped that the advisory committee can give a necessary push for organ transplantation and donation by suggesting changes in the Act, rules and procedures.What it doesThe formation of the advisory committee was necessitated as the term of the previous committee appointed on December 31, 2014 was completed on December 31, 2016. The committee is expected to advise the state government on the implementation of Act and promote organ transplantation.

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BJP rakes up Madhu Koda’s sentencing to target Rahul Gandhi on his first day as Congress President

The BJP today dubbed the Congress as a “corrupt thought process” as it shrugged off Rahul Gandhi’s elevation as its president, saying its working style and “corrupt ways” remained the same.BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra launched a sharp attack on the Congress after Gandhi attacked the ruling party soon after replacing her mother Sonia Gandhi as its president.Patra cited the sentencing of former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda, who was supported by the Congress, in a corruption case to hit out at the party, claiming it would remain corrupt despite the change in leadership.He said it was an irony that despite the Congress not being in power for four years, corruption cases were still tumbling out and people jailed for corruption they did when it was in power.”This speaks volumes about the thought process, the working nature of Congress party. So a new president or an old president, the working style of Congress party, the corrupt ways of Congress party still remain the same,” he told reporters.He said when the Congress talks about a change in leadership, the country is seeing how during its 10-year rule, corruption of ten to fourteen lakh crore rupees took place under their very nose.”Congress is not an ancient thought process as claimed by a few, rather Congress is a corrupt thought process and that has been proved by the judicial process today,” Patra added.After assuming the leadership of the party, Rahul Gandhi accused the BJP of spreading hatred and alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was taking India back to medieval times.Also readRahul Gandhi is captain of a ‘sinking ship’: Union Minister Babul Supriyo”The BJP is spreading hatred and communalism… they break, while we unite. They ignite fire, we douse it,” Gandhi said.Asked about the ‘Aag laga ke’ (ignite fire) comment, Patra said this is “not a decent way” to react.”Elections are won not because of riots on streets, not because ‘sadak pe aag laga ke’. Elections are won because the mantra of reform, transform and perform works in the country under the able leadership of Narendra Modi,” he said.Also readPM taking us back to medieval times, says Congress President Rahul Gandhi He went on to add that elections are won as people compare how during the UPA days, the direct benefit transfer (DBT) was not there and the money could not reach the pockets of poor man.”Today because of DBT, what the poor man deserves, reaches his pocket. Elections are won by giving LPG cylinders to the last man standing in the queue, when electricity reaches every village.”So my simple request is we should not demean the basic nature of democracy in the country. Democracy is vibrant in the country because development is taking place as never before,” he added.Patra said that today is an important day as Madhu Koda, who was the chief minister of Jharkhand with the support of Congress party, has been sentenced to three years in jail because of his involvement in the coal scam.Also readHimanta Biswa Sarma congratulates Rahul’s elevation; says will continue to have political contests with him”We all know that Madhu Koda was an Independent MLA, but because of the fact that the government was formed with the outside support of the Congress party, the government then was almost a Congress government run by10 Janpath, 24 Akbar Road by the help of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Ahmed Patel,” he said.

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‘I can’t speak’: Sonia Gandhi sees red after fireworks interrupt her last speech as Congress president

Sonia Gandhi, who led the Congress part for 19 years, on Saturday passed the baton to his son Rahul. During her emotional farewell speech, the outgoing Congress president was interrupted by noise erupting from incessant fireworks as party workers celebrated Rahul’s elevation outside the 24, Akbar Road headquarters. “Today I am addressing you for the last time as Congress president. A new era, new leadership before you,” Sonia Gandhi said. But she stopped as loud crackers outside the party office drowned her voice. “I can’t speak,” she said, turning to the dais where senior leaders of the party were seated. Also readPM taking us back to medieval times, says Congress President Rahul Gandhi Signalling to the workers to bring down the noise, she said, “I have to shout because of this.” An announcement failed to deter the workers and they continued with the crackers. She resumed after a few minutes even as the noise continued.Congratulating Rahul on his elevation, she said personal attacks on her son have made him fearless and voiced confidence that the young leadership will infuse new vigour in the party.Also readSonia Gandhi and the unexpected rise and stunning fall of CongressEarlier, Rahul Gandhi was handed over certificate of election as Congress president.Sonia Gandhi, who headed the 132-year-old Congress for the last 19 years, also thanked party leaders and workers for the support she received during her tenure as its chief.Sonia, who has been unwell over the past few year and had virtually handed over the charge of the party to Rahul, said she was proud of her son’s endurance and determination.”Rahul is my son and I don’t feel it is appropriate that I praise him but I will definitely say that since childhood he had faced the agony inflicted by violence.”In his political life, he faced vicious personal attacks which have made him more fearless. I am proud of his endurance and determination. I am fully confident that he will lead the party with courage and dedication,” she said.(With PTI inputs)

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Congress prez Rahul Gandhi pays tribute to martyrs of 1971 war

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday paid homage to the Indian soldiers, who had made the supreme sacrifice in the 1971 war with Pakistan, on the occasion of Vijay Diwas.”On VijayDiwas, we salute the indomitable spirit and sacrifice of the martyrs of 1971 War. “Let each one of us remember the unfathomable valour of our soldiers, who defend India’s freedom every day,” he wrote on Twitter. Vijay Diwas is commemorated on this day every year to mark India’s victory over Pakistan in the war, which had led to the creation of Bangladesh.Also readPM taking us back to medieval times, says Congress President Rahul Gandhi Over 90,000 Pakistani soldiers had surrendered before the Indian Army in the 1971 war.

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My mother will continue to contest from Rae Bareli, not me: Priyanka Gandhi virtually rules out Sonia’s retirement

Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra today put to rest the speculation over her contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Rae Bareli, saying her mother Sonia Gandhi would again be in the fray from the Parliamentary constituency in Uttar Pradesh.Rae Bareli is currently represented in the Lok Sabha by outgoing Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who passed on the mantle of the top party post to her son Rahul Gandhi today.There is a speculation in the media over Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra assuming an active role in politics to assist her brother, Rahul Gandhi.The speculation arose after Sonia Gandhi indicated her “retirement” yesterday.The Congress had, however, clarified that Sonia Gandhi was only retiring as the Congress president and not from active politics.Also readHimanta Biswa Sarma congratulates Rahul’s elevation; says will continue to have political contests with him”There is no question of me contesting (the 2019 polls)…My mother will contest from there (Rae Bareli),” Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra said after Rahul Gandhi assumed charge as Congress president at an event at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters here.She also lauded her mother, calling her the “bravest” woman for overcoming huge difficulties during her record 19- year tenure as the Congress chief.Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi (from Amethi) are the only two Congress representatives from Uttar Pradesh in the current Lok Sabha. Also readPM taking us back to medieval times, says Congress President Rahul Gandhi Soon after taking charge as the Congress president, Rahul Gandhi today launched a frontal attack on the BJP, accusing it of spreading hatred and alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was taking India back to medieval times.Gandhi said the BJP is “fighting for itself”, while the Congress is “fighting for everyone” in the country.Also readRahul Gandhi is captain of a ‘sinking ship’: Union Minister Babul SupriyoThe Congress chief said he wanted the party to be an instrument of dialogue with people from all corners of the country, “all religions, all ethnicities, all ages and gender and for our dialogue to be led by love and affection”.He lamented that politics “was being used today to crush the people and not lift them up”.”The BJP is spreading hatred and communalism… They break, while we unite. They ignite fire, we douse it,” Gandhi said.”The Congress took India into 21st century, while the prime minister today is taking us backwards to medieval past when people are butchered because of who they are, beaten for what they believe and killed for what they eat,” he alleged.”This ugly violence shames us in the world,” he said in his first address to party men after taking over as the Congress president.47-year-old Rahul Gandhi took charge of the Congress in the presence of his mother and outgoing president Sonia Gandhi, sister Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra, her husband Robert Vadra, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and other senior party leaders.Reaching out to the youth, he said as “it is stated that the Congress is a grand old party we will make it a grand old and young party… We will fight all hatred with love.”Rahul Gandhi said the Congress party is like a family to him and vowed to take it forward.

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Sonia Gandhi’s emotional message to party as Rahul Gandhi becomes Congress chief

Rahul Gandhi on Saturday took over as Congress president by succeeding his mother Sonia Gandhi. It was a proud movement for the mother Sonia Gandhi who said: “Rahul is my son, so I do not think for me to praise him is right but I would say that since childhood he had to bear the brunt of the violence. After joining politics he had to face blatant personal attacks, that have made him a stronger person”. Rahul Gandhi, 47, was officially declared party president in a ceremony held at the party’s 24 Akbar Road headquarters here on Saturday.Sonia was open about the electoral drubbings Congress has faced in the recent years. “We have lost many elections, but we are not going to be bowed down. We are fighting for the spirit of the nation and we will never back out from our commitment,” Sonia said while addressing the party workers and supporters. Sonia said that since 2014 Congress has been playing the role of opposition. “The challenge that we face today, is the biggest one, our constitutional values are being attacked,” she said.Also readLive updates: In his first speech as Congress president, Rahul Gandhi attacks PM Modi Talking about the vacuum left in her life after the death of her husband Rajiv Gandhi, she shared her feeling with the party workers and said: “Indira JI passed away, after which Rajiv Ji also passed away, my support was taken away from me and it took me a long while to come to terms with it”.Sonia talked about her relationship with former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and how that relationship helped her brave the battles of life. ” Indira ji accepted me as her daughter, and I learned a lot about Indian culture from her. I learned about those principles upon which the foundation of our country was laid,” she said. Also readHimanta Biswa Sarma congratulates Rahul’s elevation; says will continue to have political contests with himIn 1984, Indira ji was assassinated and I felt I had lost my mother and that incident changed my life forever, said Sonia Gandhi.Also readSonia Gandhi ‘retires’ as Rahul Gandhi takes the reins todaySonia Gandhi, who headed the 132-year-old Congress for the last 19 years, also thanked party leaders and workers for the support she received during her tenure as its chief.Rahul was given the certificate of Congress president by Mullappally Ramachandran, the chairman of the party’s central election authority, who oversaw the organisational polls.The 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 the party office. Sonia headed the party for 19 years since 1998.

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