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Election

BJP to capture UP after 14-year hiatus; Cong gets Punjab

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New Delhi, Mar 11 : The BJP headed for a stunning victory today in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, trampling a fragmented opposition that had hoped the demonetisation exercise would have chipped away at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity.

The BJP was also locked in a close contest in Goa and Manipur with the Congress, which won the consolation prize of Punjab where it will form the government.

Modi’s party was now set to return to power in Uttar Pradesh after a 14-year gap during which regional parties such as the SP and BSP had held sway.

“The prime minister has clearly established himself as the predominant leader in India,” said Aarti Jerath, a political analyst, on NDTV.

BJP president Amit Shah, who crafted and conducted the election strategy in UP, credited Modi and his policies for the victory.

“This is the victory of the corruption-free rule and pro-poor polices under the leadership” of Modi, he tweeted.

“BJP has reached new heights in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh and changed the political picture of the country,” Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said amid scenes of jubilation at party offices in UP.

Party members danced and distributed sweets on streets and BJP offices. Women gathered in groups to watch results on TV danced as the results came in. One party leader said Holi, which will be celebrated on Sunday and Monday, has come a day early.

Terming the BJP victory as “shocking” and “difficult to swallow”, BSP leader Mayawati hinted at vote fraud in the elections that were spread over seven phases during the last two months in the five states.

She provided no evidence for her allegation, and it is unlikely to be taken seriously. Her party is expected to finish third.

After five hours of counting, the BJP won or led in 309 seats in UP. Along with its allies Apna Dal (Soneylal Patel)and Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP), the party will have a comfortable two-thirds majority in the 403-member legislative assembly.

The party had, however, not put forward any chief ministerial candidate. BJP leaders said the decision will be taken by the BJP parliamentary board and the legislature party in the state soon.

The BJP, which had just 47 seats in the outgoing Assembly, garnered 40 per cent vote share in the most riveting contest seen as a gamechanger and a virtual referendum on Modi’s popularity and demonetisation.

The party also went to the elections without fielding any Muslim candidate.

The nascent SP-Congress coalition was ahead in only 56 seats while Mayawati’s BSP was a distant third leading only in 20 places. The SP, whose campaign was spearheaded by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on development agenda, led in 49 seats.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi acknowledged that the party’s defeat was massive.

“Yes, UP is a bad loss, it hurts…I agree that, in UP, we need fundamental restructuring thinking for the Congress as a whole. These have to be hard, tough decisions about strategy,” Singhvi said.

The previous best showing by BJP in UP was in 1991, at the height of Ram Janam Bhoomi movement, when it got majority on its own winning 221 seats out of 425 in an undivided state.

SP leader and a state minister, Gayatri Prajapati, who is wanted in an alleged gangrape case and attempt to rape a minor, was trailing in Amethi, where Garima Singh (BJP), the first wife of Congress leader Sanjay Sinh, was leading.

Ameeta Singh (Cong), the current wife of Sanjay Sinh, was also trailing.

In Noida, Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s son Pankaj Singh was leading by an impressive margin.

The trends also showed BJP’s Sangeet Singh Som, who was booked in the Muzaffarnagar riots, leading in Sardhana.

Kailash Vijaywargia, a BJP general secretary, said that the perception that the BJP was a party of the upper castes has been demolished as all sections of the society including Dalits and Muslims voted for it.

“The central government schemes have benefitted everyone.

Muslim women have also benefitted from the schemes. Modi has created confidence in every section,” he said.

In Uttarakhand, the BJP put up a splendid show and is leading in 56 seats in the 70-member Assembly while Congress was ahead in only 10 seats. Congress Chief Minister Harish Rawat lost Haridwar (Rural) and Kichcha seats to BJP.

Congress leader Shakeel Ahmad attributed the party’s poor show in the politically crucial UP to “public mood” and said its performance will be “scrutinised”.

He, however, stressed that Congress’ gains in Punjab and likeliness of the party forming government in Goa, ruled by the BJP until before the elections, should not be ignored

In Punjab, the Congress won 16 and was leading in 60 of the 117 constituencies while the AAP, making a debut in Punjab Assembly polls, was in second position winning six seats and ahead in 16.

The ruling SAD was demolished with the party winning one and leading in 13 while its coalition partner BJP led in three seats.

Punjab Congress President Amarinder Singh, who is the party’s chief ministerial face, thanked people of the state for their overwhelming support.

The Congress legislature party will meet tomorrow to elect its leader, he said.

In Goa, where trends and results were available for 25 seats, the Congress won 11 seats and ruling BJP bagged 10.

They were leading in three and four seats respectively, in what could lead to a hung Assembly whose strength is 40.

The BJP suffered a big reverse when Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar lost to his Congress rival from Mandrem.

Former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat (Congress) won from Margao constituency.

In Manipur, the ruling Congress won 14 seats and was ahead in 10 while the BJP bagged 16 and led in four, according to details available for 40 constituencies.

Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh won from Thoubal Assembly seat by a margin of 10,400 votes. Rights activist Irom Sharmila, making her poll debut, was relegated to the fourth position.

Election

Palghar bypoll: CM accuses Sena of betrayal by fielding

In a jolt to its ally BJP, the Sena fielded Shriniwas Wanga for the by-election after his father and sitting BJP MP from the Palghar seat, Chintaman Wanga, died.

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Palghar (Maharashtra), May 21 : Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has accused the Shiv Sena of betraying the BJP by fielding the son of late MP Chintaman Wanga for the Palghar Lok Sabha seat bypoll.

He claimed the Sena knew that the BJP was already planning to nominate someone from Chintaman Wanga’s family for the by-election, scheduled on May 28.

Lauding Wanga’s association with the BJP, Fadnavis said the late leader represented the party’s ideology.

In a jolt to its ally BJP, the Sena fielded Shriniwas Wanga for the by-election after his father and sitting BJP MP from the Palghar seat, Chintaman Wanga, died.

Fadnavis, at an earlier rally in the district, said he had told Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray that the BJP was planning to give ticket to a member of Chintaman Wanga’s family for the by-election.

“Our ally (on one hand) was welcoming our decision to give ticket to the Wanga family and on the other hand hatching a conspiracy,” the chief minister said at a campaign rally in Palghar’s Nallasopara area last night.

Chintaman Wanga’s wife had yesterday filed a complaint of model code violation against the BJP, accusing the party of using her husband’s pictures on publicity material for the upcoming bypoll illegally.

However, Fadnavis said only the BJP had the right to use the late leader’s photos.

“Only we have the right to put up Chintaman Wanga’s photo. He wasn’t an individual but our ideology,” he said.

Urging the people of Palghar to vote fearlessly without succumbing to any threats, the chief minister said those come between the BJP and the people will be “crushed”.

Nobody should indulge in extortion in the name of the saffron flag, he said without naming any party.

Fadnavis said this was not an election of ‘galli’ (a local street), but ‘Delhi’ (Parliament), and asked other parties to do politics for the welfare of the society.

For the bypoll, the BJP has fielded Rajendra Gavit, who recently left the Congress to join the saffron party.

Fadnavis asserted that Gavit was the right successor to Chintaman Wanga.

“Why vote for those who don’t know whether they exist or not. Rajendra Gavit is like (Chintaman) Wanga who struggles for people…send him to the Modi team (Parliament),” he said.

Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari also spoke at the rally.

Apart from the BJP and the Sena, the Congress is also in fray for the bypoll to the tribal-dominated constituency, located about 110 km from Mumbai, and has fielded former MP Damodar Shingda.

Local outfit Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA), which has three MLAs in total six Assembly segments in the Palghar constituency, has nominated former MP Baliram Jadhav.

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Election

AAP leader joins SAD ahead of Shahkot bypoll

Welcoming Walia into the party fold, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said the youth leader had made a name for himself in a short period of time and would be an asset for the SAD in Jalandhar district.

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Jalandhar, May 20 : In a jolt to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), its leader from Doaba region H S Walia today joined the Shiromani Akali Dal along with his supporters ahead of the Shahkot bypoll scheduled to be held on May 28.

Walia said he was joining the SAD due to its “pro-people” policies as well as the party’s desire to take all sections of society with it.

“I earlier joined AAP because it professed idealism. However I slowly realised that the party had become thoroughly corrupt and was not concerned about Punjabis and their problems. Moreover, AAP is being run from Delhi by Arvind Kejriwal who does not give any weightage to the local leadership,” Walia alleged.

Welcoming Walia into the party fold, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said the youth leader had made a name for himself in a short period of time and would be an asset for the SAD in Jalandhar district.

Walia would be duly adjusted in the party organisation and would be given important duties, he was quoted as saying in a release.

The SAD president said the manner in which both the Congress and the AAP leaders were joining the SAD was indicative of the functioning of the Congress government as well as complete disillusionment with the Aam Aadmi Party.

Badal said political leaders usually changed parties towards the fag end of any government’s tenure, but presently leaders were “leaving the Congress in droves” because the party had “lost all appeal among the masses” after reneging on promises made to the people.

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Election

Kumaraswamy to be sworn in as chief minister on Wednesday

HD Kumaraswamy, the JD(S) CM candidate will be sworn in as next chief minister of Karnataka on Monday morning. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Mayawati, Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi have been invited.

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This paved the way for JD (S)’ H D Kumaraswamy to be sworn in as chief minister and for the hastily-formed Congress-JDS alliance to form the government. Kumaraswamy’s oath ceremony was initially slated for Monday (between 12 noon and 1.05pm, apparently on the advice of his father Deve Gowda’s astrologer). However, he later deferred it to Wednesday as May 21 is the death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi.

Earlier, Yeddyurappa resigns as the chief minister of Karnataka. Congress president Rahul Gandhi says BJP MLAs disrespected the National Anthem and walked out of the Assembly after Yeddyurappa stepped back. JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy will meet with the Governor of Karnakata Vajubhai Vala at 7.30 pm. The duo will meet to stake claim for forming the government. Ahead of Karnataka floor test on Saturday, Congress had accused the newly-elected Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa of bribing one of its MLAs.

The grand old party shared an audio clip of the alleged conversation between the two leaders on Twitter. This was followed by the allegation that two of its missing MLAs – Anand Singh and Pratap Gouda have been kept at the Goldfinch Hotel which is just 1 km away from the state Assembly.

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