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Amid UP landslide, BJP discusses CM probables

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Lucknow, March 11: With the BJP set for a landslide in Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, speculations are rife within and outside party circles about the new Chief Minister.

For some, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is also a probable candidate for the top post in the state. The names of state BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya, Union Minister Manoj Sinha and even Yogi Adityanath are doing the rounds.

Rajnath Singh has been the Chief Minister for a little over one year between 2001 and 2002. The Thakur leader, however, may not be a favourite since he is not seen as “too cosily” by Narendra Modi-Amit Shah team.

Maurya is from a Most Backward Caste and Bharatiya Janata Party’s Lok Sabha MP from Phoolpur in Allahabad.

Maurya led from the front in the 2017 assembly polls in the most populous and politically significant state in the country. He criss-crossed the state in the last one year and is credited to have brought the most backward castes to the BJP camp.

BJP President Amit Shah, sources say, “designed the poll strategy in such a way that Maurya’s naming as the state unit chief pepped up the MBC voters”.

Maurya came up to the expectations and is indeed a front runner, a senior party leader told IANS.

The Phoolpur MP, however, refused to bite the bait and said the BJP is a “democratic party where things such as these are discussed by the Parliamentary Board”.

“Till now, I was given charge of the state unit and marshalling the forces for an electoral win. I have discharged that job to the best of my abilities,” he added.

Another name doing the rounds is of Manoj Sinha, the Union Minister of State for Railways. He is from Poorvanchal, where the BJP is focussing big time.

Known as “amicable” and a quiet worker, he has endeared himself to the party leadership. But many insiders feel he may not make it to the finishing line, since the BJP high command’s tilt is towards an MBC or Other Backward Class.

Having decimated the Bahujan Samaj Party and hugely dented the Samajwadi Party (SP) in the OBC vote bank, the BJP is now trying to strike a balance between the Dalits, OBCs and MBCs as well as the Brahmin-Thakur voters who have long supported the party.

Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani’s name has often cropped up in drawing room discussions. Being a good orator and a woman, she stands some chance, many in the BJP feel. But a section says this seems unlikely as “Modi and his team will not like to suffer for her failures in future”

Firebrand leader Yogi Adityanath, a vocal section of the party feels, should be the next Chief Minister. But his style of politics — speaking of ‘ghar wapasi’, ‘love jihad’ and its kind — don’t make him a favourite beyond the Gorakhpur belt.

Dinesh Sharma, the Lucknow mayor and party’s national Vice-President, many feel also is in the reckoning. A Brahmin face is something the party needs, a state office- bearer said.

The name of BJP National Spokesman Srikant Sharma, who contested from Mathura, is also being thrown up by some. However, there is also a feeling that “after the Akhilesh disaster for a big state like Uttar Pradesh”, the BJP will not toy with a young person, who has not even held any office so far apart from having experience in party organisation.

The BJP Parliamentary Board is slated to meet in New Delhi later on Saturday to discuss the issue of Chief Minister. A final decision is, however, likely to be taken after Holi on March 13 when the state BJP legislature party meets. Till then, rumour mills will keep working overtime in the land of Awadh.
By Mohit Dubey

IANS

Election

Brisk polling for Madhya Pradesh by-polls

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Bhopal, Feb 24: Brisk polling was witnessed in  Madhya Pradesh’s two key assembly constituencies  – Mungaoli and Kolaras on Saturday.

Poll percentage of 69 percent and 58.90 percent recorded by 3 p.m. in the contests seen as a battle royale between the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress.

A total of 22 candidates from Mungaoli in Ashoknagar and 13 from Kolaras are in the fray.

As many as 2,44,457 voters from Kolaras and 1,91,009 from Mungaoli were eligible to vote between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Around 3,000 poll officials are conducting the process at 575 polling stations, the EC official said.

However, the EVM at Kolaras’ booth number 57 were not functioning at the time of reporting and people were waiting outside the booth since morning to cast their votes.

“I have been standing in the queue for the past one hour, voting has not started since the EVM is not working” complained a local at Kolaras.

Ahead of the by-elections in two state assemblies of Madhya Pradesh, senior Congress leader Randeep Surjewala levied strong accusations on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

He blamed the BJP of murdering the democracy by meddling with the electoral process of the state and influencing the poll results.

Meanwhile, voting also began for Ludhiana Municipal Corporation elections in 95 wards.

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Voting begins for Ludhiana MC poll

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Ludhiana MC Poll
People waiting for their turn to vote (Photo ANI)

Chandigarh, Feb 24: Voting began for the biggest municipal body in Punjab, the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation (MC), on Saturday morning.

Voters started queuing up before 8 a.m., when the voting officially started. The voting will continue till 4 p.m., election officials said.

A total of 494 candidates are contesting for the 95 municipal wards. Results will be announced on February 27.

The main fight is between the ruling Congress, the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) alliance and the Aam Aadmi Party-Lok Insaf Party alliance.

There are over 10.5 lakh voters in Ludhiana. 1,153 polling stations have been set up for voting.

Civic issues like water supply, lack of cleanliness, pollution, bad roads and infrastructure and poor sewerage are the main issues for common people in the election.

Tight security arrangements were in place on Saturday for the smooth conduct of the polling process.

The Congress, which runs the government in Punjab since March 2017, had won the municipal elections in the municipal corporations of Amritsar, Jalandhar and Patiala in December.

The Congress party had also emerged victorious in 20 out of 29 Municipal Councils and Nagar Panchayats.

IANS

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Election for 58 Rajya Sabha seats on March 23

The term of 58 Rajya Sabha members is due to expire in April and May this year.

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New Delhi, Feb 23 : Biennial election for 58 seats of Rajya Sabha from 16 states will be held on March 23, the Election Commission announced on Friday.

While the last date of nomination is March 12, counting of votes for all seats will be held on March 23, it said in a statement.

The term of 58 Rajya Sabha members is due to expire in April and May this year.

The retiring members include 10 from Uttar Pradesh, six each from Bihar and Maharashtra, five each Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, four members from Gujarat and Karnataka while the number is three each for Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha and Rajasthan.

Two members will retire from Jharkhand while Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand have one retiring member each.

Also, bye-poll for a seat from Kerala will be held on March 23 due to resignation of M.P. Veerendra Kumar.

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