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Election

Congress gave clean administration in Karnataka, says Rahul Gandhi

Karnataka is ahead of most states in empowering women. We believe that everyone should have equal opportunities.

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Athani (Karnataka), Feb 24 : Invoking the teachings of 12th century social reformer Basavanna, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday claimed that his party’s government in Karnataka gave a clean administration in the last five years.

“Following the teachings of Basavanna, our party has given a clean administration over the last five years in Karnataka. We have developed rapidly and did not make any fake promises,” said Gandhi at a public rally here in Belagavi district.

Gandhi, who is on a three-day visit to the state’s erstwhile Bombay-Karnataka region, said the Congress government in the southern state had truly imbibed the philosophy of Basavanna’s teachings — follow what you preach.

“Basavanna said: ‘Do not harm’. But under the Modi government, atrocities against Dalits, Adivasis and minorities have been on the rise. We started celebrating Akka Mahadevi Jayanti and Kittur Rani Chennamma Jayanti. The BJP only talks, it didn’t do anything when it was in power in the state earlier (2008-13),” asserted Gandhi.

Noting that women’s empowerment is an integral goal of the state’s development, Gandhi said the Congress government had implemented many schemes, which helped the women improve their life and unlock their potential.

“For the benefit of women, our government has launched ‘Anila Bhagya’ scheme to provide free cooking gas connection and stove to about 30 lakh families. ‘Mathrupoorna’ scheme meets the nutritional needs of pregnant women,” reiterated Gandhi.

Participating in the “Jana Ashirwade Yatra” (seeking people’s blessings) to return to power in the ensuing assembly election, the party chief repeatedly quoted Basavanna.

“Basavanna had said five things — don’t indulge in theft, don’t indulge in violence, do not lie, do not boast about yourself and don’t spread anger,” recalled Gandhi in a veiled attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre.

“Basavanna’s first sermon is ‘don’t indulge in theft’. Modi says the Congress government in Karnataka is corrupt. When he says it, on his right side is his chief ministerial candidate B.S. Yeddyurappa who had gone to jail, on the other side, four more ministers who too had gone to jail,” pointed out Gandhi.

“He (Modi) banned high currency notes, implemented GST (Gabbar Singh Tax) and destroyed lakhs of businesses, but Jay Shah’s (BJP President Amit Shah’s son) business turned into Rs 80 crore from Rs 50,000 within three months. But Modi does not speak about it,” recalled Gandhi.

Quoting Basavanna’s other sermon — don’t indulge in violence, Gandhi accused the Modi government of dividing society on communal lines.

Interacting with hundreds of women at Tikota in the neighbouring Vijayapura district, Gandhi said Karnataka was the first state in the country to have an industrial park for women entrepreneurs.

“Karnataka is ahead of most states in empowering women. We believe that everyone should have equal opportunities,” added Gandhi.

State Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, party’s state unit president G. Parameshwara, other state leaders and cabinet ministers from the state’s northwest region accompanied Gandhi on his day-long visit to the districts of Belagavi, Vijayapura and Chikkodi.

Cities

Over 69% voting in Haryana municipal polls

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Haryana

Chandigarh, Dec 16 : Over 69.39 per cent voters cast their vote in the municipal elections in Haryana on Sunday, a senior state election commission official said here.

State Election Commissioner Dalip Singh stated the polling in all 110 wards of the Municipal Corporation, Hisar, Rohtak, Yamuna Nagar, Panipat and Karnal, and 25 wards of Jakhal Mandi (Fatehabad) Aand Pundri (Kaithal) respectively, was completed on Sunday evening.

The overall percentage in these elections remained 69.39, Singh said.

The election to the posts of mayors will be held directly for the first time. Singh said 59 candidates (40 men and 19 women) contested the election for the seats of Mayor.

Voting was held on Sunday for five municipal corporations and committees in Haryana.

Elections to the five municipal corporations and committees of Hisar, Rohtak, Yamunanagar, Panipat and Karnal were held. Voters braved the cold weather to come out and cast their votes.

The voting started at 7.30 a.m. A total of 14,01,454 voters were eligible to exercise their franchise.

Haryana Police had made elaborate security arrangements to ensure smooth conduct of the elections.

Over 7,000 police personnel, including women police officials, were on duty.

Officials said for the first time in the electoral history of municipal elections in the country, none of the above (NOTA) was introduced as an option in the electronic voting machines (EVMs).

While the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and opposition Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) contested the elections on their respective party symbols, the Congress has chosen not to use the party symbol for candidates backed by the party.

The elections are being considered important before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and Assembly polls likely to be held in October 2019. The BJP has been in power in Haryana since October 2014.

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Election

Kamal Nath is new Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh

“Rahul Gandhi has chosen Kamal Nath as the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister,” party observer A.K. Antony said at the legislature party meeting.

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Kamal Nath

Bhopal, Dec 14 : Congress leader Kamal Nath was on Thursday chosen as the new Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, heralding Congress rule in the state after 15 years.

Kamal Nath, who flew in here late in the evening, was formally chosen leader of the state Congress legislature party after party President Rahul Gandhi decided on his name over the other aspirant Jyotiraditya Scindia.

“Rahul Gandhi has chosen Kamal Nath as the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister,” party observer A.K. Antony said at the legislature party meeting.

Kamal Nath told the gathering that he would fulfil all the promises made in the party’s manifesto.

“I assure every voter of Madhya Pradesh that we will fulfil our promises. The people have stood with the truth,” he said.

He thanked the party workers for effectively taking the message to people in the Assembly elections.

Later, talking to reporters, Kamal Nath said he would meet the state Governor Anandiben Patel on Friday morning to decide on the day and time of his swearing in.

“I shall strive to be true to the trust that the people of Madhya Pradesh have reposed in me,” he said.

Kamal Nath was accompanied at the meeting by Scindia. Both Kamal Nath and Scindia flew to Bhopal late in the evening after four-hour-long consultations with Gandhi.

An apparent reason for Congress President Rahul Gandhi choosing Kamal Nath over Scindia as Chief Minster is the nature of verdict in the state where the party is short of majority by two seats.

The Congress won 114 seats, two seats short of majority in a tight contest, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) finished a close second with 109 seats in the 230-member House.

The party is dependent on the Independents to cross the half-way mark even as the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party have extended the support of their three MLAs. Kamal Nath is seen as someone who can deftly manage allies and supporting parties.

The decision came two days after the election results were declared in Madhya Pradesh.

Kamal Nath, a former Union Minister, was appointed Madhya Pradesh Congress chief only seven months back and immersed himself in preparations for the Assembly polls in the state where the BJP had been in power for 15 years.

He is the senior-most member of the Lok Sabha, having won nine elections.

Although the Congress is also poised to form governments in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, no decision has yet been taken on the Chief Ministers in the two states.

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Election

Gehlot emerges top choice for Rajasthan CM, Pilot puts up spirited claim

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New Delhi/Jaipur, Dec 14 : Veteran Congress leader Ashok Gehlot on Thursday emerged Rahul Gandhi’s pick as the Chief Minister in Rajasthan, but suspense continued the with state party chief Sachin Pilot putting up his claim strongly as the two leaders had late night meetings with the Congress President.

Both Pilot and Gehlot had separate meetings with Gandhi, unlike in Madhya Pradesh where the two aspirants — Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia — had met him together.

Party observer for Rajasthan K. C. Venugopal, who was also at the meetings, told the media later that taking decision on leadership was not easy but it will be announced on Friday.

“Taking decision on CM is not an easy job. The final decision will be taken tomorrow in a meeting to be held here around 10 a.m.,” he said.

Pilot, who had a meeting with Gandhi earlier in the day, reached Gandhi’s residence at 10.30 p.m on Thursday.

The meeting came hours after the leadership issue was settled in Madhya Pradesh, with Gandhi tweeting his picture with Kamal Nath and Scindia, who were both chief ministerial aspirants. The smiling picture carried the line “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time – Leo Tolstoy.”

Kamal Nath was chosen as the new Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh and both he and Scindia flew down to Bhopal to announce the decision.

Party sources said Gandhi is keen to give a similar message for Rajasthan as well.

Both in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the Congress missed the majority mark by two seats and is now dependent on some external support.

Pilot, who stayed put in Delhi, appealed to party workers to maintain peace and saying that he would “welcome” any decision that will be taken by the party.

He issued the appeal on Twitter as reports emerged that Gehlot has been picked by the party leadership to lead the government and that his (Pilot’s) supporters were protesting on the streets demanding that Pilot should be made the Chief Minister.

The name of 67-year-old Gehlot, a two-time Chief Minister, is expected to be announced by the party on Friday.

Earlier, Gehlot and Pilot met Rahul Gandhi. UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi is understood to have counselled Rahul Gandhi over relying on “experience” as it was a verdict with a narrow margin of victory and a seasoned leader would be better equipped to deal with a situation in which the party would need the backing of MLAs belonging to BSP and Independents, who won 13 seats. Most of them are Congress rebels.

The party won 99 seats and with its pre-poll alliance partner it managed to touch the halfway mark in the 200-member Assembly.

Pilot reportedly put up a strong claim to the post on the ground that he had galvanised the party after the defeat in 2013, when he was appointed the state party chief.

Gehlot, who was planning to leave for Jaipur but was asked to stay back in Delhi, also appealed to workers to maintain peace and said any decision taken by the leadership will be acceptable to all.

Asked by the media why he returned from the airport, he said he could leave at night or on Friday accompanied by central party observer K.C. Venugopal and Avinash Pande, who is the party in charge in the state.

About the delay in announcing a decision, Gehlot said: “Such decisions take time because three states are involved. It is good that the leadership has decided to consult various leaders and workers.”

Replying to another question, he said, “What right BJP has to question us on the decisions? A signal has gone from the elections to the country that those who created an atmosphere of hate have been wiped out from the Hindi heartland. And this is what will happen in the Lok Sabha elections too.”

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the central Congress observers met the newly elected MLAs in a bid to find out who they would prefer as Chief Minister.

The MLAs authorised Gandhi to take the call on the Chief Minister’s name.

Both Gehlot and Pilot had also called on Governor Kalyan Singh on Wednesday evening and staked claim to form the government. Both contested the Assembly elections and won their seats.

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