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The year that saw rise of Congress and agitations

Looking back at 2017… One sees a politically eventful year, a year made up a series of events that have led to a mobilisation of various sections, especially the farmers and the Dalits. The discontent in these sections was successfully harnessed in the form of agitations that not only put the government’s problem solving skills to test but also created a situation wherein the agitators managed to get the upper hand as they entered into agreements with the government.The year that has passed has seen the Congress rise like the phoenix. The party that was reduced to redundancy in last elections has grown to be a force to be reckoned with. The opposition party has managed to catch the fancy of the rural population with its incessant raising of the farmers’ issues. It today has the distinction of being a state that is home to four of Rahul Gandhi’s close aides; CP Joshi, Bhanwar Jitendra Singh, Sachin Pilot and the newly added Ashok Gehlot.Congress also made its relevance felt nationally by striking emotional cord. The name for Rahul Gandhi as AICC president was proposed in Jaipur. It was projected as the logical action in the city where Rahul took charge as party vice-president.All through 2017 the die has been cast. It has laid the foundation for the years to come. The year that passes by has managed to fuel discontent to such a level that the run down to the assembly polls at the end of 2018 will be interspersed with protests and agitation.Discontent among the castes was on the rise all through the year. With no concerted effort to contain, it escalated and spread. The Gurjars, Jats and Meenas under Kirori; have an axe to grind with the present government. Rajputs and Brahmins have their own issues. This caste cauldron, while being a political irritant spells trouble for the social fabric too.As the year prepares to fade out, both BJP and Congress have decided to adopt the Gujarat model. The poll preparation will be on the lines adopted in Gujarat. Congress with its offensive campaign and the BJP plans to decentralise to the booth level to ensure each vote.

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Only 7% money allotted for Smart Cities spent: Rahul Gandhi’s year-end salvo at PM Modi and his supporters

Even before Prime Minister Narendra Modi could begin his monthly radio broadcast Mann Ki Baat on the New Year’s Eve, this time aimed at the youth between 18 to 25 years, Congress Vice President, Rahul Gandhi accused him of making empty promises.Taking a jibe at Modi supporters by calling them Bhakts, Rahul questioned the government’s failure to utilise the money allotted for the Smart Cities project and to roll out the infrastructure and create jobs which the Modi government promised two years back. “Dear Modi bhakts, of 9,860 crores for the Smart Cities only 7per cent has been used. China is out competing us while your master gives us empty slogans. Please watch this video and advise him to focus on what matters-job creation for India.” – Rahul tweeted with #BJPEmptyPromises posting along a YouTube video showing documentary on Chinese city, Shenzhen.The Smart City Mission was launched on June 25, 2015 with an aim to develop the basic infrastructure of chosen cities to world class level. The project involves delivering assured water and power supply, sanitation and solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport, seamless IT connectivity, e-governance and citizen participation. The development of Smart Cities was expected to generate lot of employment in multiple sectors but the slow take off of the scheme has not yielded the desired results.The YouTube video of ‘Shenzhen’, a city in China also known as ‘Silicon Valley of hardware’ shows how China by focussing on hardware innovation is taking over the technology market in India as well. Shenzhen has wide array of manufacturing industries and as a hardware hub where patents are not created to fight copycats and exert legal pressure, but are used for trades between companies to share information. The Chinese counterfeit consumergoods industry, which are known as ‘Shanzhai’ in China, has been a key for domestic skill and job creation.

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Vidya Balan: It has to be something like Ijaazat with Shah Rukh Khan
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Varun Dhawan buys a plush new apartment; girlfriend Natasha Dalal attends housewarming party
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15 killed, 14 injured in blast at funeral in Afghanistan’s Jalalabad

Islamic State claimed responsibility for that attack.”
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–><!–end of breadcrumbx–>15 killed, 14 injured in blast at funeral in Afghanistan’s Jalalabad Afghanistan
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Sunday 31 December 2017 17:16 ISTMust readEx-CJI TS Thakur says no to AAP’s Rajya Sabha offerKamala Mills fire: Know the story behind this picture<!–end of artlmustredbx–><!–end of articllftpbx–>At least 15 people were killed in a blast during a funeral in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad in Nangarhar Province on Sunday. Quoting Public Health Director Najibullah Kamawal, a local news agency, Pajhwok Afghan News, said that 15 people were killed and 14 injured due to a blast in the funeral prayer of former district governor of Haskamena district.There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the apparent attack, which comes days after at least 41 people were killed and more than 80 wounded in a suicide attack on a Shi’ite cultural centre in the capital Kabul on Thursday.Islamic State claimed responsibility for that attack.

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Vidya Balan: It has to be something like Ijaazat with Shah Rukh Khan
“Stop behaving like Aaradhya,” says Amitabh Bachchan to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Watch viral video!
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Looking forward-2018: A possible make or break year for Rahul Gandhi
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Looking forward-2018: A possible make or break year for Rahul Gandhi

Indian politics in 2017 virtually followed the trajectory of the past couple of years. A predominately saffron domination interspersed by pockets of opposition resistance. But overall the polity has slowly shifted towards right with BJP slowly and steadily becoming the numero-uno force in India, with its government in 19 states of the country, either directly or in alliance. Yet, as we turn the chapter of another year, the opposition is hopeful of breaking the pattern, of putting up a real fight in 2019 general elections. Is it a misplaced bravado, just a delusion based on one-off Gujarat results? 2018 will provide strong clues in that direction. The elections to crucial battleground states of Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are lined up in the coming year. These states in total have 93 Lok Sabha seats and in 2014 BJP had won a staggering 79 of those seats. Hence these states are vital in the national perspective and 2018 would be a fair indicator if BJP can repeat its stupendous performance in the next general elections. Karnataka is only the major state which is currently under Congress control. Slated to go to polls in April, it is number 1 in Amit Shah’s priority as he looks to reclaim the state under saffron fold. Shah is spending New Year’s Eve in Karnataka and already the state unit has launched a spirited campaign to dislodge Siddaramaiah. And here is where Rahul Gandhi needs to act, and act fast. In Gujarat, we saw he did a commendable job in galvanising the rural discontent against BJP government for Congress. But he failed to sway the swing voters who finally made all the difference. PM Modi’s masterstroke of changing the narrative in the last phase saved BJP from blushes. Rahul Gandhi needs to be proactive in Karnataka from the word go. Congress morale is currently in high after an improved performance in Gujarat. But a reversal in Karnataka can again get them to square one. Also readLooking forward – 2018: Amit Malviya sees a positive disruption in social mediaFor Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, Rahul needs to fix the leadership issue. Congress needs a strong state leader to counter BJP’s aggressive onslaught and rock-solid organisation in each of these states. Empowering the younger generation is the only way out. In Madhya Pradesh, Congress is heavily divided into several factions. Each work on their own accord, without any central planning thus giving Shivraj Singh Chouhan a free pass. Can Rahul manage the senior leaders and give a free-hand to Jyotiraditya Scindia? It may determine the fate of Congress in the state. Mandsaur agitation showed the extent of farmer’s anger in MP. A charismatic leader may just tip the scale in Congress’ favour in this BJP stronghold. Similarly for Rajasthan, Sachin Pilot needs full backing of the High Command to oust Vasundhara Raje government, which has been plagued by many problems recently. Former CM Ashok Gehlot did a stellar job for the party in Gujarat. It will be up to Rahul to give him a respectable position without upsetting the current equation in Rajasthan and giving Pilot the full authority to run the campaign, like Captain Amarinder did in Punjab. Also read2017: A year of roller-coaster India-China relationshipIn Chhattisgarh, post the Ajit Jogi era, Congress has seen a bit of void in leadership talent. Here Rahul’s job is to scout for a leader who can take on the formidable Raman Singh. It’s not that winning these states is any guarantee to winning the General election. In 2003, BJP did commendably well in these states and then slumped to an unexpected loss in 2004. But for 132-year-old Congress gasping for life, state victories or even improved performance in some of the states will provide much needed fillip to its sagging fortunes. And more importantly, it will earn Rahul Gandhi much needed respect among his peers. That he is not merely a leader who is the President of Congress by dint of his surname, he actually has the mettle to challenge the Shah-Modi campaign. It will help Congress to get the opposition united in 2019. A BSP in UP or DMK in Tamil Nadu or even the Left, TMC may only be inclined to support Congress, if they think Rahul Gandhi has a realistic chance of becoming the next PM of India.That’s why 2018 is so politically important. A clean sheet for BJP in this year would mean Congress staring down the barrel before the 2019 LS Polls. It would significantly reduce Rahul’s legitimacy to stake claim as being the natural leader of the opposition camp. Many regional satraps will be more than willing to occupy that position. Hence 2018’s Congress fight with BJP will have the larger subtext of Rahul Gandhi establishing himself as first among the equals in the opposition camp. He has several tricky decisions to make, about how to counter BJP’s Hindutva agenda and countering their development message. Truly a tricky year in offing for the Janeu-dhari Brahmin which may make or break his political career.

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Vidya Balan: It has to be something like Ijaazat with Shah Rukh Khan
“Stop behaving like Aaradhya,” says Amitabh Bachchan to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Watch viral video!
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Aditya Chopra is one of the first ones to know about Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli’s Wedding!
Will Alia Bhatt say yes to Priyanka Chopra?
Salman Khan cheers up teary-eyed Katrina Kaif during ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ promotions
Not just Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli: Here are other B-Town beauties who bowled over cricketing stars

Maharashtra ATS arrests ex-SIMI member from Mumbai Airport

The ATS is probing the purpose of his visit to the country. ”
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Saturday 30 December 2017 23:28 ISTMust readEx-CJI TS Thakur says no to AAP’s Rajya Sabha offerKamala Mills fire: Know the story behind this picture<!–end of artlmustredbx–><!–end of articllftpbx–>The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on Saturday arrested a former member of the banned terror outfit Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) from the Mumbai International Airport.Based on a tip-off that a former SIMI member often visited India, the ATS arrested Sarjeel Sheikh.Sheikh (34) was an absconding accused in a case lodged at Kurla police station under section 10,13 UAPA r/w 143,144, 145,147,149,353 IPC r/w 135, 37 BP Act.He has been handed over to Kurla police for further action.The ATS is probing the purpose of his visit to the country.

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Vidya Balan: It has to be something like Ijaazat with Shah Rukh Khan
Here’s how “well-behaved” Shashi Kapoor was different from Raj Kapoor & Shammi Kapoor, writes Shobhaa De
Bigg Boss 11: Shilpa Shinde rebukes Akash Dadlani for touching her inappropriately
“Stop behaving like Aaradhya,” says Amitabh Bachchan to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Watch viral video!
Bigg Boss 11: Hiten Tejwani gets evicted from Salman Khan’s show
Telugu actor Vijay Sai found dead in his apartment; Did he commit suicide?
Varun Dhawan buys a plush new apartment; girlfriend Natasha Dalal attends housewarming party
STOP spreading rumours! Deepika Padukone-Ranveer Singh’s special gift for Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli REVEALED!
Aditya Chopra is one of the first ones to know about Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli’s Wedding!
Will Alia Bhatt say yes to Priyanka Chopra?
Salman Khan cheers up teary-eyed Katrina Kaif during ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ promotions
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We must save Constitution: Rahul Gandhi to party

Congress president Rahul Gandhi presided over a function to mark the party’s foundation day for the first time, and used the occasion to accuse BJP of attacking the Constitution and using lies for political benefits.Without naming Union Minister Anant Kumar Hegde, Rahul said at Congrress’ 133rd foundation that BJP was resorting to deceit and lies directly as also “surreptitiously” to make a dent in the Constitution and remove its secular character. “It is our duty, duty of Congress, duty of every single Indian to defend the Constitution,” he said.The Congress president spoke of a “web of deceit” in the country, asserting that the BJP operates on the basic idea that a lie can be used for political benefit. “And this is the difference between us and them,” he said.”We might suffer, we might not do well, we might even lose, but we will not give up the truth, we will defend the truth,” Rahul said.”The central idea of the party was truth. We work with the truth, we fight for the truth,” he said. He said the Congress had many achievements to its credit, achieved with the help of Indian people. The party was ‘jointly responsible’ for bringing Independence to the country, he said.Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other leaders were present at the function.Rahul’s mother and former president Sonia Gandhi’s absence was conspicuous at the function. In a photograph tweeted by the verified handle of actor Riteish Deshmukh, 71-year-old Sonia was seen cycling and posing for a photograph in a resort in Goa.

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Vidya Balan: It has to be something like Ijaazat with Shah Rukh Khan
Bigg Boss 11: Shilpa Shinde rebukes Akash Dadlani for touching her inappropriately
Bigg Boss 11: Hiten Tejwani gets evicted from Salman Khan’s show
Here’s how “well-behaved” Shashi Kapoor was different from Raj Kapoor & Shammi Kapoor, writes Shobhaa De
“Stop behaving like Aaradhya,” says Amitabh Bachchan to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Watch viral video!
Telugu actor Vijay Sai found dead in his apartment; Did he commit suicide?
Varun Dhawan buys a plush new apartment; girlfriend Natasha Dalal attends housewarming party
Aditya Chopra is one of the first ones to know about Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli’s Wedding!
STOP spreading rumours! Deepika Padukone-Ranveer Singh’s special gift for Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli REVEALED!
Salman Khan cheers up teary-eyed Katrina Kaif during ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ promotions
Not just Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli: Here are other B-Town beauties who bowled over cricketing stars
SHOCKING! ‘Wonder Woman’ Gal Gadot’s fake porn video goes viral, here’s what happened

Rahul Gandhi to step up Maha efforts for party revival

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

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Vidya Balan: It has to be something like Ijaazat with Shah Rukh Khan
Bigg Boss 11: Shilpa Shinde rebukes Akash Dadlani for touching her inappropriately
Bigg Boss 11: Hiten Tejwani gets evicted from Salman Khan’s show
Here’s how “well-behaved” Shashi Kapoor was different from Raj Kapoor & Shammi Kapoor, writes Shobhaa De
“Stop behaving like Aaradhya,” says Amitabh Bachchan to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Watch viral video!
Telugu actor Vijay Sai found dead in his apartment; Did he commit suicide?
Varun Dhawan buys a plush new apartment; girlfriend Natasha Dalal attends housewarming party
Aditya Chopra is one of the first ones to know about Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli’s Wedding!
STOP spreading rumours! Deepika Padukone-Ranveer Singh’s special gift for Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli REVEALED!
Salman Khan cheers up teary-eyed Katrina Kaif during ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ promotions
Not just Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli: Here are other B-Town beauties who bowled over cricketing stars
SHOCKING! ‘Wonder Woman’ Gal Gadot’s fake porn video goes viral, here’s what happened

Sonia Gandhi holidays in Goa as son Rahul leads Congress in protests against govt

Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who earlier this month retired as the Congress President as her son Rahul took over, is vacationing in Goa and was seen riding a bicycle in the coastal city. A picture of the longest serving Congress President riding her bicycle and posing for photos with tourists was posted by actor Riteish Deshmukh.Some pictures of the Raebareli MP in Goa were also posted by news18.com. The report said that Sonia left for Goa on December 26 and is expected to be back in the first week of January.While Sonia is spending time in Goa, her son Rahul today led the party in celebrating Congress’ 133rd foundation day. He also participated in a protest by the Congress MPs in front of Gandhi statu inside Parliament premises over Union Minister Ananth Kumar Hegde’s comments on the Constitution.He took charge of the party from his mother on December 16. On December 15, a day before Rahul’s elevation, Sonia had said that “my role is to retire,” triggering speculation that she might quit active politics. The party, however, soon clarified that she was retiring from party, not politics.Her daughter Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra also announced that her mother would again contest from Raebareli Parliamentary constituency in Uttar Pradesh.Also readCongress Foundation Day | Constitution under threat, it’s our duty to defend it, says Rahul GandhiSonia, 71, took charge of the Congress party in 1998 and and served at the post for 19 years.

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Congress will lose Gujarat in 2022 even if Rahul Gandhi camps here: BJP

Gujarat BJP chief Jitu Vaghani today said even if Congress president Rahul Gandhi were to live in the state for the next five years, his party won’t be able to wrest the power.The Congress president had exuded confidence yesterday that after increasing the tally in the elections earlier this month, his party would come to power in Gujarat in the 2022 Assembly polls.”I want Rahul Gandhi to camp in Gujarat from today to ensure Congress’s victory in the 2022 Assembly polls. I am confident that even if he does that, the Congress will lose that election too, because the people of Gujarat know them well,” Vaghani said, speaking to reporters here.”It is my humble request to the Congress that it should shun its power-centric and caste-based politics. The Congress will never be able to defeat the BJP if it does not embrace positive politics,” Vaghani added.Gandhi held “introspection meetings” here yesterday to ascertain reasons for the party’s defeat in Gujarat.Also readThose who did not fight for Congress will face action: Rahul GandhiVaghani said the Congress will always end up doing introspection.”The Congress loses wherever Rahul goes for campaigning. It also lost in Himachal Pradesh. If its wants to do introspection on that defeat too, I am ready to provide them with a place if they can’t find one,” Vaghani said.Also readPM Narendra Modi’s Gujarat model debunked during polls, says Rahul Gandhi”The Congress will end up doing introspection only while people will keep on electing BJP to power,” the Gujarat BJP chief said.

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Prepare for 2019, Rahul Gandhi tells cadres

Prepare for the 2019 general elections, was the message Congress president Rahul Gandhi gave his party workers at a convention in Ahmedabad on Saturday. He told party men that if they work together, they can win people’s mandate.The convention was held after an internal review meeting of party office-bearers and newly elected MLAs in Gujarat. The reasons why Congress did not get majority in the House were discussed at the convention.Talking to party workers, Rahul talked about the challenges he faced during the recently concluded election.Rahul said the biggest challenge before him was to make party leaders and workers realise that the Congress can win in Gujarat. “I told everyone we can win. Seventy per cent of the message was well-received. Rest 30 per cent was not received. And you saw the results — the difference was only about 10 seats. The party now is confident,” he said.He alleged that the BJP has been using false propaganda to defame Congress leaders in Gujarat over the past 20 years. Rahul said he had to convince party leaders that if they think they can win, they will win.Gandhi advised his newly elected MLAs to take up issues faced by the masses, as the BJP government will continue to be of a few selected industrialists. “It is now your duty to protect the interest of the masses. This government will be of 8-10 industrialists. It will continue to forcibly acquire land from the people. It is now the Congress’s duty to protect the people. I will stand behind you,” he said.Rahul called upon the MLAs to be the party’s ambassadors and fight for the interest of the disadvantaged sections. “The fight has not ended. It will continue. We have to fight for the causes of farmers, youth, women,” he urged them.

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Congress Working Committee meet focuses on strategy to attract urban voters

Claiming that the party was regaining the trust of rural voters, the Congress Working Committee (CWC), which met under its new president Rahul Gandhi for the first time on Friday, called on building a strategy to entice urban voters.Sources said that during the discussion, leaders pointed out that the party was still to find devices to allure the aspiring middle class and urban voters to its fold in order to unseat the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA in the 2019 general elections.Insiders said the issue cropped up after former prime pinister Manmohan Singh’s intervention, who said that despite the hard work in Gujarat, the party lost the elections because it wasn’t able to connect with the urban voters. In urban areas of Gujarat, the BJP won 45 out of 53 seats. The Congress managed just 8 seats. This was in contrast to rural areas, where the Congress won 69 seats against BJP’s 60.According to the 2011 Census, 270 million Indians aged 16 and above live in urban areas, who also form the backbone of the aspiring youthful middle class.The former PM, who had campaigned in Gujarat’s Surat and some urban pockets while blaming the BJP for the note ban and a faulty tax reform, admitted that the Congress was not able to convince urban voters to switch sides. He said in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress was able to do well in urban areas against all predictions. He stressed that the party must introspect why it hasn’t been able to do well and how it should reconnect with the urban voters.In 2009, the Congress had won 34 of the 57 parliamentary seats in big metros and a majority of the 144 Lok Sabha seats in the country’s smaller cities and towns.Deviating from the ‘Shimla Sankalp’ of 2003, the Congress party’s brainstorming session at Jaipur in 2013 had suggested to focus on the youth, middle class, and women to expand the electoral base beyond Dalits, minorities, and tribals. But there were no matching announcements of schemes to address the new class, which was swayed by the BJP.The meeting participants were also reminded that the party’s youth wing had formed a five-member committee to study an alternate economic model. But since then, the issue was never debated within the party forums.During the discussions, it was also felt to dust out the document adopted at the Jaipur session, which soon went into oblivion after Rahul Gandhi took over as vice-president. The document had asked the party and the then UPA government to recognise the changing aspirations of the people, generate more jobs for the educated youth, and bring gender issues to the top of the political debate.”We have to recognise the new, changing India, an India increasingly peopled by a younger, more aspirational, more impatient, more demanding, and better educated generation,” the document stated.”This is a natural and welcome outcome of rapid economic and social change that has been brought about by the success of our programmes to educate, empower, and indeed unshackle the oppressed and the disadvantaged. Our youth is getting more assertive, it wants its voice to be heard,” the document stated.But with the voters largely fed up with the corruption in the government and the perception build around it, an outreach to growing middle class remained a pipe dream for the Congress.

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

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

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Rahul Gandhi chairs first CWC meeting after being elected Congress President

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

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

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

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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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BJP tears into ‘clueless’ Rahul Gandhi for attacking PM Modi despite wins

A day after Gujarat’s election results were announced, a fierce war of words broke out between the Congress and the BJP.Rahul Gandhi said on Tuesday that the outcome was “a moral victory” for the Congress and “a massive jolt” for the BJP, and has “raised questions on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s credibility”. The BJP won a sixth straight term, but got 16 seats less, compared to the 2012 Assembly elections. The saffron party ridiculed Rahul, saying he was “clueless on how to compete with Modi”, and that it was the Congress leader’s credibility that was at an all-time low.In a stinging response, two Union Ministers, Ananth Kumar and Prakash Javadekar, said Gandhi was probably trying to redefine the meaning of “setback”.”Frankly, Modi ji has a credibility problem. His party repeats whatever he says, but the nation is not listening to it. Gujarat polls showed it and it would be clearer in the times to come,” Rahul said outside Parliament, in his first interaction after the verdict came on Monday.Rahul said he learnt only in Gujarat that people actually do not accept the so-called “Modi model” of development as it is “a very good propaganda, very good PR (public relations) stunt, very good marketing” but the model is “khokhla” (hollow) from inside.Ananth Kumar said that PM Modi’s credibility was at its peak, not just in India but globally. He also reminded Rahul that the BJP was in power in 19 states. Kumar said the BJP’s vote share of 49.1 per cent in these polls is an improvement over the 47.9 per cent it achieved in 2012.Javadekar also said, “Yesterday (Monday) the BJP won Gujarat for the sixth consecutive time and also got the mandate in Himachal Pradesh. But today (Tuesday) a new definition has emerged as Rahul Gandhi described the results as a setback for the BJP.”He said that if Rahul thinks that it was a jolt for the BJP, then either “he is changing the definition of jolt or trying not to understand it”.”Those who were saying that development has gone mad, people gave them a severe jolt by reposing their faith in the BJP,” he said.The BJP leader said that since 2014, BJP has formed governments in Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Manipur, Assam, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. “While under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership they have lost since 2014,” he said.Javadekar further reminded Rahul that his party has not only been losing state elections, but was also defeated recently in civic polls in Rahul’s pocket borough Amethi.

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Gujarat ki goonj Rajasthan mein..

Gujarat touches 6 districts in Rajasthan. But it’s poll results will have impact on the entire state. A slim win in Modi’s bastion has sent warning bells ringing for BJP in Rajasthan. As the Raje government enters into the fifth year, Congress, post ‘moral victory’ in Gujarat, will go all out to oust the ruling party.Raje, on the other hand, has a tough task to counter anti incumbency factor while setting off on last minute development work for the public. Her immediate challenge is to win three byelections – one for assembly and the other two for parliament- which would disturb the tempo of Congress after its fighting performance in Gujarat.“If she is able to register wins in these elections, Congress will lose the edge which it has got after Gujarat elections. Also, it will send a message to high command that Raje holds the key for BJP in Rajasthan,” said a senior BJP leader.After facing tough fight in Gujarat, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah may change their strategy in coming state polls. They are said to keep complete control over ticket distribution in elections.“Now the duo may consider feedback of chief ministers and party chiefs of respective states in assembly elections lined up in 2018. This imminent flexibility may work well for BJP,” he said.For Congress, it is the golden chance to revive its fortune. The growing confidence and stature of Rahul Gandhi will imbibe confidence in his close aide Sachin Pilot also. After Ashok Gehlot proving his mettle in Gujarat elections, it is now up to Pilot to outsmart the strategies of the former chief minister, which foxed BJP in Gujarat.“Gujarat victory is morale booster for Congress, but Pilot will be under pressure. He is yet to showcase his leadership capabilities. With Gehlot winning crucial brownie points from Congress President, victory in by elections is the least Pilot needs to prove his point,” said a Congress leader.

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Gujarat Elections 2017 | Congress is a strong opposition now

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

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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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BJP flared up emotions, misused state machinery: Ashok Gehlot

Congress’s state in-charge for Gujarat, Ashok Gehlot speaks to DNA’s Amrita Madhukalya about his party’s campaign and expectations. The former Rajasthan CM feels that the BJP’s use of the Gujarat state machinery played its role.Now that the results are out, how do they compare with the party’s expectations?The campaign that the BJP ran in Gujarat was never based on any issues, while our politics was based on real issues. Rahul ji spoke to farmers about better wages, about jobs to the youth, to the fishermen and to the Adivasis for inclusive development. Our manifesto drew from these experiences. The BJP released a manifesto just a day before the first phase of voting commenced. We’ve done our best for the people of Gujarat, and we are in a position to claim a moral victory.Was there any room for change in the Congress’s campaign?Our campaign drew from months of intensive research and experiences with different sections of the society. But, if you compare it with the BJP’s campaign, their simple pitch was to project Narendra Modi as a Gujarati man. Modi’s pleas to the people were: ‘I am a Gujarati’, ‘they have insulted me’ and ‘please vote for Gujarat asmita (pride)’. The BJP have simply flared up emotions. To add to that, they had more than 20 ministers and over 80 to 90 MPs sitting there. This was a clear misuse of state machinery. They raised no issues, and they had no replies to our questions. We raised the issue of the botched up Rafale deal and of the corruption linked to the party president’s son.Do you think the Congress covered some lost ground since 2012?See, Narendra Modi was then the CM, today he’s the PM. That has a huge role to play. He ensured that he was there in the state during the campaign. And yet, they have lost about 15 seats and a vote share of 16 per cent. The Congress has clearly made the dent it wanted to make.Rahul Gandhi took charge of the Congress just after the Gujarat campaign was over. Was that a calculated move?The Congress, no doubt, needs to look inward. Rahul ji took charge formally recently, but he has been at the forefront for a while. Every party worker and leader in Gujarat worked selflessly and they deserve applause for their efforts.

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Rahul Gandhi lauds party’s performance, claims decency its strength

Accepting the people’s verdict in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, Congress President Rahul Gandhi struck a conciliatory note and lauded party workers for putting up a fight with “dignity and courage”.Though it lost, in what can be considered a moral victory, the party has managed to rake in 80 seats, the maximum since it last held power in the state in 1995.”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’s greatest strength is its decency and courage,” he said on Twitter.He said that 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,” he said.Party communication department chief Randeep Surjewala took a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra asking him “not to dream of Congress Mukta” India and took potshots at BNP, saying Rahul has pushed the BJP in the trap of 99, an allusion to the 99 seats that the BJP looked set to win. In Hindi, it translates into getting trapped in a vicious cycle that never end.

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Gujarat Elections 2017 | Down 16 seats in vote of caution; bags Himachal

In the end, it was left to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to deliver, once again, Gujarat. Facing its toughest electoral contest in over 22 years, the BJP fell back on its most-trusted mascot to help it cross the finishing line in the state.The Narendra Modi-led BJP bucked strong anti-incumbency to retain Gujarat, while at the same time displacing the Congress in Himachal Pradesh.With Monday’s results, the BJP is now in power in 19 states while the Congress remains at the helm in only four — Punjab, Karnataka, Mizoram and Meghalaya.The BJP won its sixth straight Assembly election in Gujarat — but with its lowest tally ever — helped in no small measure by Modi’s 34 rallies. While the Congress’s vote share went up from 38 per cent in 2012 to over 41.5 per cent, BJP’s vote share also increased from 47.85 per cent to 49 per cent. However, when compared to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when the party swept all 26 seats, the BJP’s vote-share fell by almost 11 per cent, from 60 per cent to 49.In the hill-state of Himachal Pradesh, the BJP won 44, up 18 seats from 2012, to dethrone the Congress, which came down to just 21 seats, down 15 from its 2012 tally, in the 68-member House.However, in a shock for the BJP, its chief ministerial candidate Prem Kumar Dhumal lost to his erstwhile aide Rajinder Rana from the Sujanpur constituency. Outgoing chief minister Virbhadra Singh, however, won from Arki while his son Vikramaditya Singh also won.However, while the Saffron party leaders suggested that victory and not size of the win matters, knowing Modi and his style of functioning, political observers expect some tough decisions in the offing.For Modi understands well that the next general election is only about a year away and nothing can be left to chance.A loss of 16 seats — the party’s tally went down from 115 to 99 in a House of 182, while Congress won 77 seats — BJP leaders say will certainly lead to intense soul-searching and pointed questions from the prime minister.”Election results show the country is ready for reforms,” PM Modi said while addressing party leaders and workers at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi on Monday evening.The Sensex couldn’t agree with him more. After counting of votes began at 8 am at 37 centres, Sensex crashed by over 800 points in early trades as initial trends showed that the two parties were neck-and-neck. However, it soon recovered as it became more or less clear that the BJP would emerge as the winner. For the opposition Congress, which went for broke under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi (who was anointed party president after the campaigning had ended), the results point at two things: First, there are signs of revival but that revival could be a long, tough road ahead. Second, every time it can’t fall back on the likes of Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakor to put up a decent fight against the BJP.Counting of votes came with its own share of twists and turns. At one point, the BJP was leading in 108 seats, but the eventual tally was 99.A quick analysis of the results shows that different regions of the state voted differently. While suffering heavy reverses in Saurashtra, the BJP managed to hold on to Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, and Rajkot, winning 33 out of 37 seats on offer. The Congress improved its tally in Ahmedabad city from two to four, but failed to open its account in three of Gujarat’s largest cities.The BJP improved its tally in north and central Gujarat, the two regions where Congress had won 44 out of 93 seats in 2012. This time, the BJP increased its numbers in the two regions to 53 seats, while its tally in south Gujarat dipped from 28 to 25 seats. The rallies by Patidar reservation leader Hardik Patel hurt the BJP in rural areas, but failed to deliver any gains to Congress in urban seats. In Morbi, Gir Somnath and Amreli, the party could not win a single seat.Incidentally, the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which had led to huge protests in Surat, Rajkot and other places, and was repeatedly raised by Rahul Gandhi in his campaign speeches, didn’t seem to have yielded any major electoral gains for the party.

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What the verdicts mean…

The early jitters in the stock market on Monday morning showed how nervous investors were. The markets were confident of a BJP victory, thanks to the exit polls, but when early counting trends showed the party neck-and-neck with Congress, the Sensex tanked more than 800 points. Later, as counting progressed, it recovered.
Despite taking tough measures such as demonetisation and the brouhaha over GST rollout, the government has managed to keep voters under its wings. Now it can stick to its policy trajectory, with reforms and fiscal consolidation topping the agenda.

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<!–end of artlbotbor–><!–end of artlsocl–>Written Bydna Correspondent <!–end of artlbotbor–>Tuesday 19 December 2017 1:30 ISTMust read’FRDI Bill will take away people’s bank deposits’: Mamata writes to Jaitley for immediate withdrawalForget sharing your data with banks, in Goa you need to share Aadhaar for paid sex<!–end of artlmustredbx–><!–end of articllftpbx–>For IndiaThe issue of quota could be back in the political discourse with the Congress’s promise of reservation to Patidars having helped it to consolidate in Patel belts of Gujarat. In order to consolidate its Hindu vote-bank, the BJP’s call for Ram temple will reach a crescendo before 2019 elections. The Hindutva message will be pushed further and deeper. Reacting to Rahul Gandhi reworking his party’s strategy from minority outreach to soft Hindutva, the BJP will scale up Hindutva, along with issues like the ‘Triple Talaq’ in the run-up to 2019. This also means that despite being in office for three years, the Modi government is yet to suffer any substantial anti-incumbency wave. It can breathe easy in 2019 when it faces the next general elections. Trading community’s woes will now get more attention, especially after the results in the Saurashtra region, the diamond hub. The message is, reform with caution. Also, the middle class needs to be kept in mind. The echo of Monday’s results will be heard far beyond the boundaries of the two states and will impact upcoming elections in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. For GujaratGujarat has given one message loud and clear: The voter cannot be taken for granted. BJP got simple majority, but that’s about it. Congress has gained but doesn’t get to rule the state. Were it not for PM Modi, the BJP would have come close to experiencing defeat. Gujarat trusts Modi, but wants the party to work on unresolved issues. Congress could not encash 22 years of anti-incumbency, dissent over GST and Patidar support. Rahul fought gallantly, but will need the rank and file to convert narrow defeats into victory. It must now fight hard on people’s issues. For Himachal PradeshAn end of the road for BJP stalwarts Shanta Kumar and Prem Kumar Dhumal. While Shanta Kumar was already out of the race, the defeat of two-time CM Dhumal and BJP state president Satpal Singh Satti has sent shock waves through the party. With the last-minute decision of declaring Dhumal as its chief ministerial candidate backfiring, the BJP will now think of projecting leaders with a stronger grassroots connect in future Assembly polls. For modi-shah & the bjpThe iron grip of PM Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah on the party will continue. Modi remains the principal vote-catcher of the BJP, while Shah remains the ‘Shah’ of strategy. There will be more centralisation of power within the BJP. The loss of over a dozen seats will act as a wake-up call for the duo. They will now have to re-assess the impact of hard reforms measures on the rural electorate (results in rural Gujarat being a pointer). For Rahul & CongMonday’s results can boost opposition morale in the run-up to the crucial seven state elections in 2018 and the general elections in 2019. Unlike in Gujarat, the Congress state leaderships in Rajasthan and Karnataka are popular. A stronger Congress can also become the nucleus around which all other non-BJP regional parties can gather. Congress has recorded its best performance in Gujarat and this will definitely be a moral booster. It has taken away some 16 seats from the BJP in Gujarat — the credit for which should go to party president Rahul Gandhi. For Hardik & PatidarsDuring the campaign, Hardik Patel was confident that the Patidars would back him, and, therefore, Congress would defeat BJP. That hasn’t happened. He has said that the agitation will be more intense if BJP wins; but he must now introspect as the Patidars in urban areas haven’t voted for Congress, and those in rural areas voted against BJP because they suffered an agrarian crisis. With BJP back in power, Patidars may not get the reservation quota. For Economy & ReformsThe early jitters in the stock market on Monday morning showed how nervous investors were. The markets were confident of a BJP victory, thanks to the exit polls, but when early counting trends showed the party neck-and-neck with Congress, the Sensex tanked more than 800 points. Later, as counting progressed, it recovered. Despite taking tough measures such as demonetisation and the brouhaha over GST rollout, the government has managed to keep voters under its wings. Now it can stick to its policy trajectory, with reforms and fiscal consolidation topping the agenda.

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Gujarat elections 2017: Decoding BJP’s disappointing performance in rural areas

Rural and agrarian distress was reflected in the results of legislative assembly in Gujarat on Monday as voters punished the ruling BJP, giving its rival Congress more than 50 percent of seats in rural and semi-urban areas of the state. This is in clear contrast with the voting pattern in the cities, where voters continued to repose their faith in the BJP. Congress’ performance was the most impressive in Saurashtra region where it swept districts of Amreli, Morbi, Gir Somnath and Surendranagar.The results show that the Patidar agitation also affected BJP’s vote share in Saurashtra than other parts of the state.Rural areas didn’t get swayed by emotional issues and stuck to real issues.Also readGujarat Elections 2017: Congress’ bitter-sweet defeat is story of missed opportunity In the 182-member legislative assembly of Gujarat, as many as 134 seats come from rural and semi-urban seats. Congress won 71 of them, followed by the BJP’s 57 while two went to Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP), one to Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and three to independents, one of which is Congress-backed Scheduled Caste (SC) leader Jignesh Mevani. Chhotubhai Vasava-led BTP had entered into a poll pact with the Congress.Also readGujarat Election Results: No matter who wins, when will a villager reap benefits of development?Dinesh Shukla, former Professor of Political Science said the results were a reflection of the results of District Panchayats and Taluka Panchayats almost two years ago. He also attributed the result to the hard work done by Rahul Gandhi and three young men of Gujarat, namely Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani. Also readGujarat Elections 2017: How GST tweak saved the day for BJP“Rahul Gandhi’s emergence as a credible political leader is a welcome aspect of Gujarat elections. His down to earth nature has impressed the masses. Congress’ gains is the result of effort put in by him, Hardik, Alpesh and Jignesh,” said Shukla. He said that the rural distress coupled with lack of efforts by the government to resolve the problems made farmers vote against the BJP. Sagar Rabari, secretary of Khedut Samaj – Gujarat attributed the anti-establishment voting in rural areas to the persistent neglect of agriculture and farmers during the BJP rule, particularly after 2001. “The key problems of farmers are low prices of their produce. Most often farmers do not even recover the input costs. They get electricity only at night, do not get adequate water for irrigation. They are at a constant mercy of market forces, they are vulnerable and the government is not able to protect them. They obviously voted against BJP,” said Rabari.He complimented rural voters, who are relatively less educated compared to their urban peers but voted on the basis of real issues, while urban voters ‘blindly supported BJP’. He also said that while Patidar agitation was effective in Saurashtra, it was less effective in other parts of the state.

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Gujarat Elections 2017: Congress’ bitter-sweet defeat is story of missed opportunity

If anyone in 2014 had predicted that Congress would end up only 8 short of majority in 2017 Assembly elections in Gujarat, they would have been dismissed as delusional or a sycophant. Congress was completely swept away by Modi wave in his home state, drawing a blank out of 26 seats. It was just ahead in 17 assembly segments with BJP’s towering lead in 165 segments. Another low point for Congress was the Rajya Sabha polls in August, where there was deluge of defections from the Congress ranks ending with epic midnight joust and Ahmed Patel winning by the skin of his teeth. At that time,Congress looked down and pretty much out with most top leaders jumping off the sinking ship. Yet, the party has come up with its strongest performance in well over two decades, breathing dangerously down BJP’s neck and nearly causing a political earthquake. Also readGujarat Election Results: No matter who wins, when will a villager reap benefits of development?Yet, the Congress can hardly afford to be happy because very rarely the stars would be so fortuitously aligned for them. The double disaster of demonetization and recently GST meant BJP’s core trader vote base was against it. The saffron party for the last three years has grappled in the dark looking for a good replacement of Modi for CM’s post. While Anandiben Patel failed to contain the Patel agitation, Vijay Rupani, too, has done precious little to create an independent narrative. The Patel agitation and the Una lynching meant a chink in BJP’s vote bank and resurgence of caste as a currency in electoral battle of Gujarat after two decades. As luck would have it in Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani, Congress found three caste leaders who were product of the social churn and ready to trade their guns against BJP. All they needed was an efficient general, who could strategise and pre-empt Amit Shah and Narendra Modi’s every step. Also readBJP MP who predicted party’s loss in Gujarat eats humble pie; says PM hero, he is zeroSadly for Congress, they had no one to tap the winds of anti-incumbency blowing past the Sabarmati. Hardik Patel tried his best considering it’s his first brush with electoral politics. But his magic was mostly limited to Saurashtra, where BJP ended up losing 13 seats. But in other areas and especially in big cities it paled compared to Modi’s appeal. Rahul Gandhi is a changed politician, much nuanced and steady in his approach, with a distinct connect with the electorates. Yet he didn’t have the chops to upsurge Modi’s party in his own backyard. Probably, if the party had started their campaign a little ahead, spoke more of what they have to offer, instead of only banking on anti-incumbency, the result would have been completely different. Rahul took jibe at BJP for late publication of manifesto, but Congress’ own document was released just a week before that. How many farmers knew about their promise to waive loans in 10 days? About schemes promised for women, minority and backward groups? Nearly 84 lakh voters didn’t exercise their franchise in 2017, compared to 2012. 5 lakh voted NOTA. It’s not a stretch to believe, most if voted would have gone against BJP, considering the general shrinking nature of their mandate. Somehow the Congress couldn’t reach them. Biggest Gujarat Congress state leaders lost their polls, indicating they are well past their sale date. But precious little has been done by Congress high-command to breathe fresh blood in the Congress state leadership. It finally proved costly for them. Gujarat in a way broke the recent trend of winner takes all in big states. It was tanatalisingly close and more of an election which the Congress lost, than BJP won. Yes, PM Modi managed to change the discourse with his Pakistan conspiracy theory and hyping the Mani Shankar gaffe. But it only shows that there were sufficient number of undecided voters at that late stage of campaign, who gave their vote to lotus to save BJP blushes in Central and South Gujarat. The bad news for Congress it will rarely get such sitter in platter in the rest of 2018. Mesta death has already vitiated the political climate in Karnataka, the next big state to go to polls. Congress faces an uphill task in BJP bastions of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and MP, slated to vote later in 2018. The good news is that in Karnataka, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the party has good leaders in Siddaramaiah, Sachin Pilot, and Jyotiraditya Scindia respectively to chaperon the campaign. Rahul Gandhi can give the nitro boost, but he doesn’t have the charisma to win the grand old party a win on his own. So he needs to understand his limitations and harvest a group of satellite leaders who can amplify his mantra in the poll-bound states.Another Rahul recently said about how one needs to learn to fail well. Dravid said that failure can only be a pillar of success, if one learns the lesson from it. The pillars of Congress resurgence from a force down in the dumps to a worthy challenger to BJP can start with this defeat. As it went to the lion’s den and gave it a fright of life. Will Rahul Gandhi go into snooze mode now or start planning for next campaign again, after postmortem of Gujarat? That may well be the difference between future wins and losses.

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

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

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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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Assembly Elections 2017: You fought with dignity, you made me proud, says Rahul Gandhi after twin loss

The Congress accepts the people’s verdict in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, party president Rahul Gandhi said today and thanked his party workers for fighting “anger with dignity” in the polls.He also expressed gratitude to the people of the two states for the love they showered on him. “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.Also readAssembly elections 2017 results: People rejected caste politics for Gujarat Model of development, says Yogi AdityanathFrom the results and trends available till now, the Congress won 73 seats in the 182-member Gujarat Assembly, while the BJP was victorious in 82 seats. The Congress was leading in nine other constituencies. The BJP was ahead in 18 other seats.In Himachal Pradesh, BJP has won 23 seats, 10 more than that of the Congress. The saffron party was ahead in 21 seats, while the Congress was leading in eight other segments.The state has a 68-member Assembly.

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

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

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Assembly elections 2017 results: 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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Assembly Elections 2017: Congress leader Ashok Gehlot says results depict victory for Rahul Gandhi’s campaign

As the BJP appears to be on its way to retain power in Gujarat, senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot today said he saw the results as a “victory” for the party due to the response its chief Rahul Gandhi’s campaign got from the people.Gehlot, the Congress election in-charge for Gujarat, said Gandhi ran a nice campaign in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Trends from 181 seats in the state, gave the BJP a lead in over a 107 seats while the Congress was following with 65.The simple majority mark in the 182-member Assembly is 92. The Congress, however, appears to be on its way to improve its 2012 tally.”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,” Gehlot said.”Through the campaigning and manifesto, we have been successful in reflecting the feelings of the people of Gujarat and we believe we have been successful in that,” he said.To a question, Gehlot said the saffron party tried to turn the direction of the campaign by raising the ‘son of the soil’ issue. “The BJP tried to turn the campaign in another direction by its ‘son of the soil’ comments and saying that he (Modi) is a prime minister from Gujarat. We have given a very nice message to the people of Gujarat,” he said.He said it is not the culture of the Congress to make such comments.”Rahulji (Gandhi) had said that Congress people will not make such commments against the prime minister. The manner in which the prime minister made comments against Manmohan Singhji, Soniaji and Rahulji, we did not want to respond to them in the same language,” he said.

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

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

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

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

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A dialogue with JC: Hapless Cong prays for a miracle as BJP set to wrest power in Guj and Himachal

Will results of Exit Polls be proved right in Himachal and Gujarat?The Exit Poll results of Himachal are 100% right. BJP is getting absolute majority there…Dhumal will be the chief minister and Modi-Amit Shah will also be present there…there is a tried trend in Himachal …it’s 5-year term for Virbhadra, 5 year for Dhumal…now it’s Dhumal’s turn.Will Amit Shah’s forecast of 15-year rule of BJP stand true in Himachal or will Congress come back after 5 years?Amit Shah has declared in election rallies that this time Himachal is not voting for 5 years , it is voting for 15 years. But how far this forecast is going to be true, it can’t be ascertained…after 5 years Dhumal will be 78…I think he is playing last innings…I think both the leaders are in their last leg due to their age…new generation is coming. How the pair of J P Nadda in Delhi and Dhumal in Shimla work together? Will they become two different centres of power?Nadda was a contender of chief minister…But when his name was ruled out and name of Dhumal was announced then he withdrew himself and dedicated entire focus on elections but going forward it can’t be denied that Nadda and Dhumal will be two different power centres. One will be Delhi and other will be in Shimla. High Command will have its task cut out to maintain coordination between them. Eventually what is the political future of Dhumal’s son Anurag Thakur and Virbhandra’s son Vikramaditya?As far as Anurag Thakur is concerned, he is an MP and close to Arun Jaitley. On the other hand, Vikramaditya is contesting election this time…his future is in time wrap.Will Gujarat again see the reemergence of Jodi No : Narendra-Modi-Amit Shah? Will there be absolute majority for BJP or will it be the single largest party?Jodi is Super Hit…as far as election results are concerned, I believe that BJP is getting 112 seats and Congress 70. These days public gives decisive mandate…in 2014 polls BJP had led in 162 constituencies out of 165 and in this elections, the polling percentage was 68% and if we look at it, the vote looks even more decisive. Whichever party wins, it will get 125-130 seats. But it is believed that BJP will form government will 105-107 seats.Who besides Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and Rahul Gandhi emerged as the hero of poll campaign in Gujarat?If we look at heroes of Gujarat campaign then only three are there – Modi, Amit Shah and Rahul Gandhi…in second category we may keep Yogi, Smriti Irani, Jaitley, Hardik Patel and his two partners.Was the agenda of Gujarat Pride and Hindu-Muslim related issues came again into picture during last days of electioneering? Was there once again polarisation of Gujarati voters?Narendra Modi smartly raised the issue of Gujarat Pride…The word Neech which Manishankar uttered, Modi encashed that sensibly. Modi also raised the issue of Hindu-Muslim when he said that Manmohan Singh was present in a meeting with people of Pakistan to stall BJP from forming government Gujarat. This people believed to some extent. In the last leg of elections, what would be the impact of negative campaign carried out by Modi and BJP against Congress?Negative campaign is the strategy of Modi. But this should not have happened. Maximum people believed that campaigning should not stoop down to this level. When permission for roadshow in Ahmedabad was turned down, Modi campaigned from Sea-Plane. Was it Modi’s poll branding exercise? It was a masterstroke of Narendra Modi…people of Gujarat was hooked to the Plane. It was 100% a branding exercise.In this situation of Gujarat election, what would be the scenario in 2019? Will Rahul be able to give straight fight to Modi? How much impact would Gujarat and Himachal result will have on the outcome of 2019 elections?The 2019 scenario is absolutely clear which is showing Modi on seat. A Times of India survey say that 79% people want to see Modi as prime minister while Rahul Gandhi has only 16% vote for PM.In the second leg, a day before the polling, Rahul has given interview to Gujarat’s regional channel, what would be the impact on this?It was a mastermind move on Congress part…there is anxiety in BJP. That interview of Rahul was a big challenge for media managers of BJP, it was a failure. Interview came into light of election commission, sent notice to the channel and talks about filing FIR against Rahul also came into being. Later Election Commission retreated following uproar over this issue. Is Election Commission favouring BJP in case of violation of Code of Conduct and how much the independence of EC getting affected?It can’t be said that EC is favouring BJP or not but that goes as an impression among people, questions have been raised on the sanctity of EC. BJP has suffered from this.What would be the national agenda of Narendra Modi after winning elections in Gujarat and Himachal? Will he focus on governance or remain in election mode till 2019 elections? Modi is a man of passion. He has his own style of working. Whether he wins elections or not, it doesn’t affect him because he feels whatever he is doing is right. Whether it’s demonetisation or GST. But in coming days, he will have an agenda of conducting assembly and parliamentary elections simultaneously. Second agenda would be to make GST successful, third would be to have a crack down on shell companies and fourth would be to eradicate corruption. What would be the agenda of Narendra Modi’s one man army – Amit Shah? Will he again come into electioneering mode after forming cabinets in Gujarat and Himachal?If BJP forms government in Gujarat then his entire focus would be on Karnataka and then he will concentrate on Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and MP. He is completely immersed making political strategy 24X7. What is the political fallout of entry of Amit Shah in Rajya Sabha? Has remote control of BJP in Rajya Sabha gone to Amit Shah? This is Modi’s strategy not to merely send Amit Shah to Rajya Sabha but to establish him there. With Shah in RS, BJP MPs will be present in full strengthen with aggression. Definitely, the remote control will be with Amit Shah.Do you see any difference in the personality of Rahul Gandhi pre and post Gujarat elections?There is a big difference in both the situations. Earlier people used to make fun of Rahul Gandhi…now two major personality traits have been visible during Gujarat elections. Now he doesn’t hesitate and speak the language of people. His image has also seen a turnaround. Whether he wins election or not, he has emerged as a leader.Who will be Ahmed Patel of Rahul Gandhi? Or will core group of 4-5 leaders keep taking trivial decisions? Ahmed Patel has been in force as an advisor for last 20-25 years…there is no alternate to him in Congress…I don’t feel there can be any Ahmed Patel in the life of Rahul Gandhi Jagdeeshji, if I ask you to summarise this analysis in one sentence, what would you say?BJP is forming government in both the states but in Gujarat possibility of a miracle can’t be ruled out.

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Maha stops funds for religious, social events

The Maharashtra government has issued circular to local bodies including municipal corporations asking them not to spend government funds on religious and social functions organised by private institutions.According to the circular, the local bodies will not spend money on Ganeshotsav, Navratri, Ramzan, Eid, Chhath Puja, Gudi Padva, Guru Nanak Jayanti, Mahavir Jayanti and Dr BR Ambdedkar Jayanti.Shiv Sena MP Rahul Shewale objected to the circular, saying that the expenditure for Dr Ambedkar’s death anniversary at Dadar is borne by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.”Thousands of people across India throng Chaityabhumi on December 6. If the BMC is not allowed to spend the money, then who will? It is the duty of the government to make arrangements for people who are coming from various places. This circular will create a havoc. The religious sentiments of people will be also be hurt. Before it stirs a larger controversy, it has to be struck down immediately,” he said.According to the circular dated November 29, 2017, as per the court directives in Pradeep Jangan versus the state of Maharashtra case, the government has decided not to spend funds on any religious and social functions. As per the Maharashstra Municipal Corporation Act, 1949 and the Constitution of India, it is utra virus to spend government money on religious functions.Pradeep Jangan in his petition said that the expenditure on religious functions organised by private orginsations is borne by the government. “This is completely contradictory to the provisions of the Bombay Municipal Act 1949. It is loss of public money. There are various social and religious orgnisations which regularly seek government funds to celebrate their functions such as Dasma Devi festival, Mahashivratri Utasav, organised by Dharavi Devi Mandir Trust,” he said.The judgment further reads that the Municipal Corporation must also bear in mind that secularism is part of the basic structure of the Constitution and the municipal funds are primary required to be spent on civic amenities.SENA MP OBJECTSShiv Sena MP Rahul Shewale objected to the circular, saying that the expenditure for Dr Ambedkar’s death anniversary in Dadar was borne by the civic body, and stopping this will hurt the sentiments of thousands in the city.

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Assembly elections 2017: Headquarters empty but Congress confident

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

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

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

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‘Ray of hope’: Wishes pour in from politicos for Rahul Gandhi as he becomes Congress President

Wishes poured in for Rahul Gandhi from various opposition parties as he took over the reins of the Congress party today, with RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav saying the whole nation “wants to see him as the next prime minister”.Forty-seven-year-old Gandhi responded to the leaders on Twitter, saying, “thank you”. The leaders hoped that Gandhi would strive for the welfare of the people, put up a fight to protect secular fabric of the country. Former Bihar deputy chief minister and RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav lauded Gandhi for “redefining” Indian politics. Also readCongress prez Rahul Gandhi pays tribute to martyrs of 1971 warYadav said Gandhi has proved his mettle in inclusive, secular and liberal politics. The RJD leader said the youth feels “duped and cheated” under the current BJP-led NDA regime. “And this respect, Rahul Gandhi ji is being seen as a ray of hope to bring this pessimistic politics to an end. The whole nation wants to see him as the next prime minister of India,” Yadav said in a video message posted on the Congress’s Twitter handle. Also readBJP rakes up Madhu Koda’s sentencing to target Rahul Gandhi on his first day as Congress PresidentReferring to a line “that there are many promises to keep, miles to go before I sleep” from Robert Frost’s poem, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury hoped it would be the guiding motto for Gandhi during his stewardship of the Congress. “In Indian politics, we wish all those who have taken up new responsibilities the best. Our wishes to him in discharging these responsibilities only with the hope that it will be in the interest of the people and the country,” he said in a video message on the Congress’s Twitter handle. “Congratulations Rahul ji for this big responsibility and our best wishes for all ur endeavours,” Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal tweeted.In a video message posted on the Congress’s Twitter handle, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav noted Gandhi’s responsibilities have now become greater and hoped he would make consistent efforts to take the grand old party forward. DMK working president M K Stalin also joined the leaders in wishing Gandhi, hoping he would restore glory of secularism. “Am confident that he will fulfil the aspirations and hopes of the people and restore the glory of Secularism, Socialism and Federalism. @OfficeOfRG,” Stalin tweeted. Taking to Twitter, Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said that the party takes a pledge for a new movement that is free from fear, fascism, prejudices, equity and true democracy.”New Energy, Newer steps, New Challenges & Navsarjan! Under the leadership of Rahulji, We shall write a golden chapter for Our Nation!” Surjewala tweeted.Facing the uphill task of reviving a moribund party, Rahul Gandhi today took over as the Congress president, and immediately hit out at the BJP, accusing it of spreading hatred and violence in the country.”They break, we unite. They ignite fire, we douse it. They get angry, we love. This is the difference between them and us,” he told party workers.Gandhi, who was heralded by the 132-year-old party’s top brass, family members and boisterous rank-and-file, alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was taking India back to the medieval times.In his first speech to party workers after his formal takeover, he set the tone of its future course and how the party would take on its arch-rival BJP, saying the Congress was for inclusive politics and that it respects all Indians that extends even to the ruling party.The 47-year-old Gandhi family scion said he took over the party reins knowing that he would always be walking in the “shadow of giants”.”Today, the BJP people are trying to spread fire and violence in the entire country and only the force of lovable Congress workers and leaders can stop them,” he said.Before he gave his first address, he sought his mother Sonia Gandhi’s blessings and kissed her on the forehead.Attacking Modi, he said the Congress took India into the 21st century, “while the prime minister today is taking us backward, to a medieval past where people are butchered because of who they are, beaten for what they believe and killed for what they eat”.This ugly violence in the country, he said, has “shamed us” in the world as India’s philosophy and history, born out of love and compassion, are being tarnished by such horror.In an emotionally charged final speech as the Congress chief while passing on the party’s mantle to her son, Sonia Gandhi said the grand old party should set its house in order and introspect while readying for any sacrifice to stop communal forces in the country.She exuded confidence that Rahul would lead the party with courage, patience and devotion. He has endured many personal attacks which have made him “fearless”, she said.She also voiced concern over the alleged attacks on the core constitutional and fundamental values of the country by the BJP and asked party workers not to relent in the fight against such forces.”We are all witness to daily attacks on our fundamental values, against the freedom of speech and expression, against our rich diverse culture, and an atmosphere of fear and suspicion is being created.”Amid this, the Congress must look within and introspect and forge ahead. If we do not stand by our principles, we will not be able to wage this fight for the common people. This is a moral battle and to achieve success, we must set our house in order and be ready for any kind of sacrifice,” she said.Sonia Gandhi said the country was facing “unprecedented challenges”, but stressed that the party was not going to be scared and would fight it out.She recalled the times when she entered politics after losing her “anchor” (Rajiv Gandhi) and “mother” (Indira Gandhi), and how with the support of Congress workers she steered the party to power both at the Centre and in state after state.Congratulating Rahul Gandhi on his elevation, she said personal attacks on him have made him fearless and voiced confidence that his leadership will infuse new vigour in the party.”I am confident that with a new and young leadership, our party will be reinvigorated and bring about changes we need. You have chosen Rahul as your leader. He is my son, and it is not right for me to praise him,” she said.Former prime minister Manmohan Singh said Rahul Gandhi will sustain the “politics of hope” which is needed in the country and not allow the “politics of fear” to take over.In his brief address at an event where the new Congress president was handed over a formal certificate by the party’s election authority, Singh said certain “disturbing trends” are noticeable in the country’s polity and the people were depending on Rahul Gandhi to transform it.Singh described the day as “unique” in the party’s history and said Rahul Gandhi’s leadership would bring a new sense of dedication and commitment to steer the party to greater heights of glory.He also praised Sonia Gandhi for the “powerful and magnificent” leadership provided by her to the Congress which would go down in the annals of its history.”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,” the former prime minister said, apparently targeting the BJP.”May your path be blessed,” he said as he ended his speech.Rahul Gandhi was given the certificate in the presence of Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Robert Vadra and several senior party leaders.The new party chief also met PCC delegates from various states thanking them for electing him unopposed.There was chaos outside the AICC headquarters where party workers gathered in large numbers to witness the event, making it difficult even for senior party leaders to enter the premises.While there was bursting of crackers outside the venue, women played with ‘gulal’ and young party workers danced to the beats of ‘dhol’.Posters and banners were put up in Lutyens’ Delhi and traffic was halted around the AICC office on Akbar Road.

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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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Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist found dead in Jammu and Kashmir

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Saturday 16 December 2017 15:58 ISTMust readMinor set ablaze by neighbours for opposing molestation in UP’s MainpuriAaditya Thackeray sets deadline for quitting alliance<!–end of artlmustredbx–><!–end of articllftpbx–>One Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist, a Pakistani national, was found dead in Tral Eidgah in South Kashmir on Saturday.<!– /11440465/DNA_Mobile_Article_300x250_BTF_1 –>Also readJammu and Kashmir | 3 terrorists gunned down in Handwara encounter, ‘raining whole night,’ tweets DGPThe terrorist was killed after a landmine went off where he was hiding.More details are awaited.

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

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

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Sonia Gandhi and the unexpected rise and stunning fall of Congress

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

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Setting tone for 2019 Lok Sabha polls? PM taking us back to medieval times, says Congress President Rahul Gandhi

All roads led to 24, Akbar Road since early morning on Saturday as the Congress prepared for the change of guard at its headquarters in New Delhi.Celebration was in the air as party workers were seen dancing and bursting crackers ahead of the official elevation of Rahul Gandhi as president of the 132-year-old party.The 47-year-old arrived at the venue in his trademark white kurta payjama teaming it with black half jacket.Sharing the dais with his mother Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi was beaming with confidence.Sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and her husband Robert Vadra were seen in the front row.Terming the moment as ‘historic’ Mullappally Ramachandran, the chairman of the central election authority of Congress, handed over the certificate of elevation to Rahul Gandhi amid loud cheers.After Ramachandran’s brief remark, former PM Manmohan Singh took the stage to congratulate Rahul Gandhi. He also took the moment to recall the stint of Sonia Gandhi as Congress president.Though the spotlight was firmly on Rahul Gandhi, but his mother’s emotional farewell speech managed to strike a chord with party workers.In her 20-minute long address, Sonia Gandhi talked about assassinations of her mother-in-law Indira Gandhi and her husband Rajiv Gandhi. She recalled the difficult days and her initial years in Indian politics.With a rousing standing ovation, the Congress gave its respect to the outgoing party president.Then came the moment everyone was waiting for. In his first speech as Congress President, Rahul Gandhi talked about the ‘politics of fear’. In an all out attack against the ruling BJP and the Prime Minister, Rahul Gandhi said that the Congress took India to 21st century, but ‘the PM today is taking us back to medieval times.’He also spoke about how these days, people are being targeted for what they eat. The stinging attack clearly shows that the 47-year-old will not sit back but take aggressive stance in future.The address also shows his confidence and the vision that he is providing the party for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.Congress trying to set an alternative political narrative will decide the future of Grand Old Party, which was reduced to just 44 out of 543 Lok Sabha seats in 2014. With just 8 per cent votes, it was Congress’ worst performance ever. The same was seen in Sonia Gandhi farewell address when she said that ‘we have lots many elections, but we won’t bow down.’ It is this self-realisation that will help the Congress in coming times and help the party to stay relevant.In his address, Rahul Gandhi slammed the BJP for politics of hate. He said, ‘They (BJP) crush voices but we allow them to speak, they defame, we respect and defend.’ He also said, ‘Those in BJP are soldiers fighting for self. Whereas the Congress is guided by service of community.’ It is these statements clearly portraying the Congress as the party working for ‘spirit of India’ that may propel Congress to a course correction.The big question remains – can Rahul Gandhi put Congress back in power? What was seen in Gujarat – his temple visits or marathon public interactions – may have shown that he has finally arrived on the political scene, yet the Monday results may set new tone.

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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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Rahul Gandhi to take charge as Congress president today: 10 updates

Rahul Gandhi will take over the reins of the Congress party on Saturday. This marks the beginning of the new era in the Grand Old Party, which has so far seen the leadership of Sonia Gandhi for 19 years.Ahead of the official elevation, here are the major updates on this political story:1: Rahul Gandhi will receive a formal certificate of being elected as the Congress president unopposed from the party’s central election authority at a function at the party headquarters in New Delhi today.2: The 47-year-old will take the charge from his mother Sonia Gandhi, who has been the longest serving president of the Congress.3: Sonia Gandhi, who became Congress president in 1998, steered the 132-year-old party for 19 years.Also readSonia Gandhi ‘retires’ as Rahul Gandhi takes the reins today4: Sonia Gandhi’s two-decade long stint saw the Congress-led UPA winning two successive Lok Sabha polls in 2004 and 2009 and formed UPA-I and UPA-II governments.5: On Friday, the media was abuzz with stories about Sonia Gandhi’s retirement.Also readIt’s official! Rahul Gandhi is new Congress president, to assume office on December 166: Congress, however, clarified that she is retiring from the post of party president and not from politics.7: The reluctance shown by Rahul Gandhi in his initial years of politics is now a thing of past.8: The Gujarat Assembly Election saw him in an alll-new aggressive avatar. Be it going to temples or questioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Twitter, Rahul Gandhi managed to infuse new energy in the party’s poll camapign.9: Though all major exit polls are showing the BJP victory in both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, the fact remains that this would be solely seen in comparison with Rahul Gandhi’s aggressive campaigning.10: At a time when the Congress has been reduced to limited political presence across India, Rahul Gandhi will have huge responsibility on his shoulders.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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As Gujarat campaign progressed, we saw complete bankruptcy in BJP: Rahul Gandhi in Kerala

The Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi today hit out at the BJP, saying the saffron’s party “complete bankruptcy” was exposed during campaigning for the Gujarat assembly polls.”As the campaign progressed, we saw complete bankruptcy in BJP. They diverted from one issue to another,” Gandhi said at a function here in connection with the centenary celebrations of late RSP leader Baby John.Taking potshots, Gandhi said “first they (BJP) talked about Narmada, followed by OBCs and then they moved to ‘vikas’ and eventually we saw a spectacle.”Targeting Narendra Modi, Gandhi said “In the last 3-4 days of the campaign, all that was left for the prime minister was to talk about himself and insult the previous prime minister (Manmohan Singh) of this country. That is all they have,” he said.Expressing confidence about his party’s good performance in Gujarat’s two-phased polls that ended today, Gandhi said “we are going to defeat these forces.””These forces are not going to stand in front of us. The foundation of these forces is actually extremely weak. They have inherited marketing muscle and money. So they have very loud voice. But the voice is hollow,” he said.Also readGujarat Elections 2017 | BJP’s attempts to create distractions won’t work this time, says Rahul GandhiHe charged the BJP-RSS with trying to divide people on lines of caste and religion.Gandhi also said they were trying to get a foothold in Kerala. “It is our duty to fight these forces not only in Kerala but also in the country,” he said.The congress leader said after spending time with people of Gujarat, they told him that the last 22 years (of BJP rule) “have been a lie.””The labourers and farmers and women have been forgotten. Health care system has been destroyed and there was a tremendous upsurge against the ideas of BJP in Gujarat itself,” he claimed.Gandhi said the Congress worked unitedly on the basic issues of the people of Gujarat.

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

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

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

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

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Gujarat Elections 2017 | Campaign ends in land, air and water; Gujarat set to vote

Curtains came down on Tuesday on the month-long high-voltage Gujarat poll campaign, which often spiralled into a vicious war of words between the lead contenders — the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a somewhat resurgent Congress in the state.As the cacophony over the second phase of polls ended, newly-declared Congress president Rahul Gandhi capped his temple visits by sporting a ‘Rudraksha’ and Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a seaplane to reach his hometown Mehsana, bringing the spotlight back on his Gujarat Vikas plank. Polling for 93 seats in central and north Gujarat will be held on Thursday.Issues such as Ram Temple in Ayodhya and Rahul Gandhi’s religious origin after his entry in to the Somnath Temple, kept the political pot boiling, overshadowing the debate over development. The last leg of the campaign saw the PM alleging Pakistan’s involvement in Gujarat polls and a sharp rebuttal by former PM Manmohan Singh. The trends, in fact, left both parties baffled even as they publicly claimed victory.As per indications, the state is all set to witness its most keenly contested polls in the last two decades. While no election rallies or public meetings will now be allowed,candidates can carry out door-to-door campaigning.While Modi, who served as Gujarat chief minister for 13 years, was the party’s poster boy even for this election, Rahul spent over 20 days in the state to end his party’s 22-year losing streak.The BJP and the Congress had also planned roadshows in Ahmedabad, featuring Modi and Rahul, respectively, in a last attempt to win over the voters but the plans had to be dropped as they couldn’t secure police permission.The BJP responded by getting a seaplane to take off from the Sabarmati river along with Modi. The plane landed on the Dharoi lake before going to the Ambaji temple in north Gujarat. At the same time, undeterred by BJP’s criticism, Gandhi visited the city’s Jagannath temple to offer prayers.The ongoing Gujarat elections are being seen as a huge test for Modi ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. An adverse or poor result in his home state could be a huge setback for him. Considering the high stakes involved, it wasn’t surprising that the election battle witnessed high-pitched campaigning from both sides.BJP’s attack on Congress mainly revolved around injustices to Gujarat and to Sardar Patel, while Congress’ criticism of BJP was mostly over issues such as note ban, GST, farmers’ distress, among others.A key component of the campaign was the emergence of the Patidar reservation stir leader Hardik Patel, whose rallies attracted huge crowds. But whether that will translate into votes for Congress is yet to be seen. Hardik, who declared support for the Congress, has vowed to inflict heavy losses on BJP.Meanwhile, election authorities said as many as 2.23 crore voters were eligible to vote in the second phase. “All preparations have been completed. Polling will take place in 25,558 booths. Over 1.75 lakh personnel will be on duty,” state’s Chief Electoral Officer BB Swain said.There are 851 candidates in the fray in the second phase, including deputy chief minister Nitin Patel, ministers Bhupendrasinh Chudasama and Pradipsinh Jadeja, leader of Opposition Mohansinh Rathwa, and senior Congress leader Siddharth Patel.Journalist and Dalit activist Jignesh Mevani, who is contesting as an Independent from the Vadgam SC seat, but with Congress support, is also in the fray. OBC leader Alpesh Thakor, fighting on a Congress ticket from Radhanpur, is another prominent face.The 93 seats that go to polls in the second phase are in Banaskantha, Sabarkantha, Patan, Aravalli, Mehsana, Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, Mahisagar, Kheda, Anand, Vadodara, Panchmahals, Dahod, and Chhota Udepur.

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Gujarat polls: Rahul hopes for ‘zabardast result’; give a fitting reply to opposition’s lies, says Modi

In the last message before the curtains were drawn on the campaign for the Gujarat Assembly elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to the voters to give a “fitting reply to the negativity and lies of the opposition.”In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Modi urged people to vote in record numbers in the second phase of Gujarat polls on December 14. “I call upon the people of Gujarat to not only give the BJP an overwhelming majority but also ensure that BJP wins in every polling booth across the state,” he said. Targetting the opposition, Modi said he never imagined that his opponents would spread “lies about Gujarat, Gujarat’s growth and about me personally and that it was natural for every Gujarati to feel hurt.” Also readGujarat Elections: Campaigning ends, both Modi-Rahul visit temples on the last day Claiming that the “victory of BJP is a guarantee for a bright future,” Modi said no Gujarati will let go off a “golden opportunity of development.”Also readGujarat Elections 2017: From Neech Aadmi to Pakistan-Ahmed Patel row; statements that dominated the campaign “With the Government of India and Government of Gujarat working together, the strength rises manifold. This 1+ 1 is not 2 but 11 and together we will take Gujarat to new heights. No Gujarati will let go off a golden opportunity of development of our youth and coming generations. Victory of BJP is a guarantee for a bright future,” he said on Twitter. “I am devoting my life for the betterment of crores of people of Gujarat and India. Have been fortunate to always get your blessings. I am sure you will continue to bless us in these elections too by voting for BJP,” he added. Also readGujarat assembly elections: PM Narendra Modi takes off in seaplane from Sabarmati riverEarlier in the day, Modi took a seaplane ride from the Sabarmati River in Ahmedabad to Dharoi Dam in north Gujarat and returned after offering prayers at the famous Ambaji Temple, ending the ampaign for the second phase of the polls with much fanfare. While the BJP is hopeful to retain power in the state that it has ruled for 22 uninterrupted years, the Congress looking to make a dent in the saffron party’s victory march. Congress president- elect Rahul Gandhi, who has led the party’s campaign in the state, today said there is a “tremendous undercurrent” against the BJP and the results will be “zabardast.””It is for the first time in an election that Modiji has not spoken about corruption…about farmers. There is (zabardast) tremendous undercurrent (against the BJP). Be it Patidars, OBCs, Dalits, farmers….all are angry. Public mood has undergone ‘zabardast’ change,” Rahul said at a press conference in Ahmedabad. “The Congress will win the election….the results will be ‘zabardast’,” Mr Gandhi said.The campaigning for the second and final phase of voting which will take place on December 14, covering the remaining 93 assembly seats, ended this evening. The first phase of polling, covering 89 seats, took place on December 9. The results for 182-member assembly will be declared on December 18.

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Gujarat Elections 2017: From Neech Aadmi to Pakistan-Ahmed Patel row; statements that dominated the campaign

As the campaigning for Gujarat assembly election finished today, voters can finally heave a sigh of relief after days of non-stop bickering between top political leaders. From calling GST as ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’ to accusing Pakistan of meddling in Gujarat polls, both Congress and BJP left no stones unturned to make sharp jab at each others. Here are some of the most talked about statements made during Gujarat campaign. 1. Gabbar Singh TaxStepping up his attacks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi dubbed Goods and Services Tax (GST) as “BJP’s Gabbar Singh Tax.”Addressing a public gathering in Gandhinagar on October before the Gujarat assembly election, Rahul Gandhi slammed the BJP-led government for a “faulty tax regime that is destroying small businessmen and industries in the country”.Rahul Gandhi even tweeted the next day saying, “Congress GST = Genuine Simple Tax. Modi ji’s GST = Gabbar Singh Tax = yeh kamaai mujhe de de (give me the income).”2. The Rahul Gandhi – Janeu Dhari controversy It all started when Rahul Gandhi visited Somnath temple on December 29 and allegations started pouring in that the Congress leader is not ‘Hindu’. This claim was based on the allegation that Rahul Gandhi was registered as non-Hindu when he visited the temple. BJP was quick to react and slammed the Congress leader for lying about his faith.Congress then refuted the charge saying Rahul Gandhi is not only a Hindu but a “janeu dhari” (janeu dhari means the Hindus who wear the sacred thread that would reveal him as Brahmin). Congress also blamed BJP for deviating from the important issues.After the controversy broke out, Rahul Gandhi also came forward and said he and his family are “shiv-bhakts” and they don’t do “dalali” over religion and political gain.“My grandmother (Indira Gandhi) and my family are Shiv bhakts (devotees). But we keep such things private. We generally do not speak about them. Because, we think it is a very personal matter and we don’t need anyone else’s certificate about it… We don’t want to do ‘dalali’ over it. We do not want to use it for political purposes too.”However, BJP leader Sambit Patra could not let go of the controversy and took a poetic dig at Rahul Gandhi and said the Congress leader changes his faith according to his political gain.”Badaltey huye mausam ka badalta huya parwana hoon main. Gujarat mein janeudhari Hindu hoon toh UP-Bihar mein maulana hoon main. (With the changing weather I change myself. In Gujarat I am a Hindu and in UP-Bihar I am a Muslim),” Patra said while addressing a conference on December 6.3. PM Modi’s “Aurangzeb Raj” jibe at CongressAfter Rahul Gandhi filed his nomination papers for the post of Congress president, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took direct jibe at Congress over dynasty politics. Addressing a rally in Gujarat’s Valsad, PM Modi said, “I congratulate the Congress on their ‘Aurangzeb Raj’.”“For us, the well-being and betterment of people matters because we consider 125 crore Indians as our high command,” PM Modi added.The BJP attacked Congress over dynastic politics, contrasting it with their party, saying people from all kinds of backward get an opportunity to rise to the top like Narendra Modi, who sold tea in Gujarat is now the prime minister.;4. Mani Shankar Aiyar’s ‘neech’ remarkSenior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar created quite a storm when he referred Prime Minister Narendra Modi as “neech aadmi”. “This person is a ‘neech aadmi’ (low-minded). He is not civilised and in a situation like this, there is no need to practise such dirty politics,” Aiyar said.The “neech” remark was not received well by both BJP and Congress and created massive controversy just before the polling. BJP attacked the Congress party for disrespecting the prime minister and said the “people of Gujarat will punish anti-poor, anti-Dalit, anti-Tribal and anti-OBC Congress”.Responding to Mani Shankar Aiyar’s neech comment, PM Modi said,”Shriman Mani Shankar Aiyar said that Modi is of ‘neech’ (lower) caste and is ‘neech’ (vile). Is this not an insult to Gujarat? This is a Mughal mentality where if such a person (who comes from a humble background) wears good clothes in a village, they have a problem.”In a damage control move, the Congress then suspended Mani Shankar Aiyar from the party and issued him a show cause notice.Rahul Gandhi also tweeted: “BJP and PM routinely use filthy language to attack the Congress party. The Congress has a different culture and heritage. I do not appreciate the tone and language used by Mr Mani Shankar Aiyer to address the PM. Both the Congress and I expect him to apologise for what he said.”5. With love from CongressAfter the neech remark by Mani Shankar Aiyar snowballed, Rahul Gandhi while addressing a rally took a subtle dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying he will defeat the BJP with love not anger.”Modi ji, Gujarat mein hum aapko pyaar se, bina gusse ke haraane jaa rahe hain (PM Modi, this time in Gujarat we will defeat you with love, with no anger, we will defeat you),” Gandhi said at a rally. “Modi ji keeps using bad words against me in his speeches, even today he did so. Rahul Gandhi respects the post of PM. No matter what PM says about me, but I won’t utter even a single bad word about the PM,” the newly appointed Congress president added.6. PM Modi’s Pakistan-Ahmed Patel rowIn perhaps the most significant statement of the entire polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleged that Pakistan was meddling in the Gujarat assembly election and sought answers from top leaders of Congress who are said to have held secret meetings with Pakistan officials.“Why did you hold a closed-door meeting just before Gujarat polls? If it was so important, why did not you invite Indian officials also to attend it. Or reported it back to the Government of India. You must explain it,” PM Modi said while addressing a rally.The prime minister alleged that former PM Manmohan Singh and other Congress minister held secret meetings with Pakistan’s High Commissioner and Foreign Minister at party leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s house just before the elections. The prime minister also raised questions over the alleged appeal by former director general of the Pakistan army, Sardar Arshad Rafiq, to appoint senior Congress leader Ahmed patel as the chief minister of Gujarat.”(On one side) Pakistan Army’s former DG is interfering in Gujarat’s election, on the other side, Pakistan’s people are holding a meeting at Mani Shankar Aiyar’s house,” PM Modi said. The Congress also slammed PM Modi for making ‘false accusations’. Rahul Gandhi said that the statement made by Modi about a former prime minister and other Congress ministers meeting Pakistan officials in “unacceptable”.

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