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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

Congress workers protest outside EC office, detained

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New Delhi, Dec 14 : Several Congress workers were detained on Thursday as they staged a protest march against the Election Commission for issuing a notice against party’s President-elect Rahul Gandhi for his TV interviews but alleged that it had failed to apply the same standards for Prime Minister Narendra Modi for holding a roadshow after casting his vote.

The party also submitted a fresh memorandum to the EC on Thursday demanding action against Modi for the roadshow in Ahmedabad. In its memorandum, the party called upon the EC to follow the dharma of the Constitution, implement the law and register an FIR against the Prime Minister.

Police detained Congress workers who were marching to the Election Commission in protest against Modi’s roadshow in Gujarat after casting his vote on Thursday.

Party workers were stopped by police outside Sardar Patel Bhawan near Patel Chowk.

“ECI is a constitutional institution. It is not dependant on anyone. Democracy and election process are being being murdered. This is surprising since we gave them prima facie evidence – a video of Modiji’s roadshow. Why was there no notice against him,” said Congress leader and Mahila Congress chief Sushmita Dev.

“Notice has been issued against us, We are not sad about it. But why notice has not been issued against them (BJP),” asked Dev.

“When Modiji is appealing to the people on December 8 to vote for BJP on December 9, is that not violation of model code of conduct. Why notice is not being issued to them?” Dev added.

Dev said: “BJP is in power, they can go anywhere. We are in opposition, so the police has stopped us. This is what is happening in the country. They are misusing power in front of the ECI.”

IANS

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Opposition slams ‘inaction’ by EC, says it has failed to uphold constitutional mandate

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Opposition Parties Meet
Opposition Parties Meet, Photo Tweeted by ANI

New Delhi, Dec 14 : Opposition parties on Thursday strongly criticised the Election Commission over its “inaction” regarding alleged violation of the Model Code of Conduct by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Gujarat and said the “attitude” of the poll body has cast an “ominous shadow” on its “credibility”.

In a statement issued by opposition parties after they meet here at Parliament House to chalk out the strategy for the winter session beginning on Friday, they said, “The opposition parties strongly criticised the violation of model code of conduct by Narendra Modi and his cabinet colleagues during the Gujarat elections and on the day of polling when he held a road show in Ahmedabad.

“Inaction of the Election Commission is indeed shocking as it has failed to uphold its constitutional mandate under Article 324,” the statement read.

The meeting of the opposition leaders was attended by Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge, Anand Sharma, Jyotiraditya Scindia, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, SP’s Naresh Agrawal, CPI’s D. Raja, TMC’s Derek O’Brien, NCP’s Tariq Anwar and RJD’s J.P. Yadav.

The opposition leaders said that instead of taking action for violations, the poll panel has allowed violations by the ruling BJP and been indulgent in allowing the Prime Minister to dedicate the submarine ‘Kalvari’ on the day of the poll.

“These actions directly influence the voters to the advantage of the BJP, the ruling party.

“This attitude of the EC has cast an ominous shadow on the credibility of the EC and the integrity of the electoral process,” it said.

The opposition party leaders also expressed their disappointment and outrage over the “hasty decision” to disqualify Sharad Yadav and Ali Anwar from the membership of Rajya Sabha, “without following due process”.

“The decision is unfair and unjust,” the leaders said.

The opposition parties will meet again on Monday to chalk out the strategy for the winter session.

IANS

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Gujarat battle ends amid Congress-BJP war of words

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Gandhinagar, Dec 14 : The second and final phase of the bitterly fought Gujarat Assembly polls ended on Thursday evening amid a war of words between the ruling BJP and an aggressive Congress.

Balloting closed at 5 p.m. with an estimated 60 per cent of the 2.22 crore electorate exercising their franchise in 93 constituencies across 14 districts of northern and central Gujarat.

Nearly 50 per cent polling was seen by 3 p.m., the Election Commission said. One official said the overall polling could even cross 70 per cent.

Thursday’s fight for Gujarat, ruled by the BJP for 22 long years, ended more or less peacefully. Voters, however, complained about malfunctioning Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) at some places.

The sluggish voter turnout in the first few hours due to the winter chill gave way to visible enthusiasm as the day progressed. Long queues of men and women were seen outside polling booths almost everywhere.

But with the stakes high in Gujarat, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress were locked in a war of words after Prime Minister Narendra Modi voted in Ahmedabad and then went around the area, flashing his finger with the voter mark.

A furious Congress complained to the Election Commission that Modi held a roadshow in Ranip area.

Afer casting his vote, Modi stood on the steps of his vehicle and waved to the cheering crowds. His 97-year-old mother Hiraba, who lives in Gandhinagar with Modi’s younger brother Pankaj Modi, also voted in Gandhinagar North.

The Congress accused the Election Commission of ignoring the BJP’s and Modi’s violations of the model code of conduct. Congress activists staged a demonstration outside the office of the poll panel in New Delhi.

BJP veteran L.K. Advani, the Lok Sabha member from Gandhinagar, cast his vote at a booth in Hindi Vidyalaya in Shahpur area of the old city. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley voted at a booth in Chimanbhai Institute at Vejalpur area.

Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel too voted on Thursday. Patidar leader Hardik Patel, who has virtually thrown his lot with the Congress, exercised his franchise in Viramgam.

A skirmish took place between two groups in Hasanpur village in Visnagar at Mehsana. The police used batons to disperse the mob. Ten persons have hospitalised.

The districts were elections were held on Thursday included Banaskantha, Patan, Sabarkantha, Mehsana, Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, Aravalli, Mahisagar, Panchmahal, Dahod, Kheda, Anand, Vadodara and Chhota Udepur.

A total of 25,575 polling booths were set up in 14,523 places.

There were several complaints regarding malfunctioning EVMs in and around Vadodara city, halting polling temporarily.

A clash also erupted in Dhanera town in Banaskantha district, police said.

The first round of polling to elect a 182-member Gujarat Assembly took place on December 9. The votes will be counted on Monday.

IANS

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