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Election

Congress pips BJP in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, MP; TRS takes Telangana

In Mizoram, the ruling Congress was trailing to the MNF, whose candidates were ahead in 16 of the 40 seats. The Congress was ahead in five seats, losing as many as 10 seats.

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Assembly Election in 5 State

New Delhi, Dec 12: Delivering a severe blow to the BJP in the Hindi heartland months ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress on Tuesday dislodged the saffron party out of power in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan and was just two seats short of majority in Madhya Pradesh where the two parties were locked in a nail-biting contest throughout the day.

In a bid to outsmart the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after the experience in Goa and Manipur, the Congress moved in late on Tuesday writing to Madhya Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel seeking an appointment to stake claim to form the next government. State Congress Chief Kamal Nath wrote to Patel claiming the Congress has emerged as the single-largest party with “majority support”.

In Telangana, the ruling Telangana Rashtriya Samithi (TRS)’s gamble of early elections paid off with the party scoring a landslide 4/5th win getting 88 seats out of 119 at stake, thrashing the Congress-led People’s Front.

The Congress also lost its last bastion in the Northeast — Mizoram — when it was defeated convincingly by the Mizo National Front (MNF) ending the party’s decade-long hold over power in the state.

Suffering worst defeat since coming to power in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted late in the night that he accepted the verdict with humility and would work with greater vigour for the people.

The highlight of the day was the ding-dong battle between the ruling BJP and the Congress in Madhya Pradesh where leads alternated between the two sides, with Congress getting a slight edge by winning 87 seats and leading in 26 in the 230-member House. The Congress was ahead in 113 including those won and the BJP in 109 which included 83 wins.

The Congress had won 58 seats in the last election. A nearly 3 per cent swing in votes against BJP hit the party hard in the elections where agrarian unrest, unemployment and the ill effects of demonetisation dominated the campaign.

The Congress, which may be falling short of the magic figure of 116, could look to get backing from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which is leading in 2 seats, and the Samajwadi Party (SP), which has won one seat, besides Independents, most of whom are Congress rebels and have won three seats while leading in one. The SP said it will back the Congress, and the BSP may follow suit.

Facing a stiff anti-incumbency, the BJP under Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, which had won 165 seats in 2013, was pushed down to 109 seats with 82 wins and leading in 28 seats. The party has been in power for the last 15 years in the state.

In the neighbouring Chhattisgarh, where also the BJP had been in power for three terms, the Congress took a sweet revenge by sweeping back to power with a three-fourths majority of 68 seats out of 90. The BJP won 15 seats. The alliance of former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi-led Janta Congress Chhattisgarh and Mayawati-led BSP fared poorly winning six and was leading in one seat.

In the 2013 elections, the BJP had won 49 seats against the Congress’ 39. The saffron party saw a huge negative swing of 8 per cent from 41 per cent it had secured in the last elections, while Congress’ fortunes improved drastically when it got 3 per cent more votes at 42 per cent.

Rajasthan proved true to the 20-year-old tradition of voting out the ruling party. The battle was won by the Congress which has bagged 99 seats, while the ruling BJP won 73 seats. The Congress, which is just short of the halfway mark of 100 of the 199 seats where election was held, saw its ally Rashtriya Lok Dal winning one seat. The BSP won six seats and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) won 2 seats. The two parties had fought against both COngress and BJP.

In final analysis, the BJP put up a better-than-expected fight as opinion polls had written off the party even before the contest had started.

The Bharatiya Tribal Party won two seats and the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party bagged 3. Independents, comprising mostly the Congress and BJP rebels, had a field day when 12 of them won and another was leading.

The Congress, which had a disastrous performance in the 2014 Lok sabha elections and suffered successive defeats in various Assembly elections, smiled for the first time defeating the BJP in a direct contest in three crucial states in north India.

Party president Rahul Gandhi, who campaigned vigorously, said the Assembly election results were a referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s non-performance on issues of unemployment, agrarian distress, corruption and negating the ill effects of demonetisation.

This was countered by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who said issues in state elections are entirely different. The BJP won Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in 2003 but lost the Lok sabha elections the next year, he said.

The general elections in 2019 would be fought around the performance of Modi where people will vote for the tried and tested leadership against a non-ideological opposition coalition, which is bound to collapse sooner than later, he added.

Riding a pro-incumbency wave, the TRS headed by Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, scored a scintilating victory in Telangana making a mincemeat of the Congress-led “Praja Kutami” that included the TDP, CPI and the Telangana Jana Samithi. The inclusion of the TDP apparently backfired as the TRS made a bogey of the presence of “outsider” from Andhra Pradesh in Telangana politics.

In the 119-member Assembly, the TRS won 88 seats while the COngress managed to win only 19. TRS ally AIMIM led by Asaduddin Owaisi won seven of eight seats it contested. The TDP secured two seats, while the All India Forward Bloc bagged one. An Independent managed to win a seat, while TJS and CPI — part of the Congress alliance — drew a blank.

In the Northeast, the Congress lost its last state where the MNF decimated the ruling party winning 26 of the 40 seats at stake. The Congress won five, while Independents won in 8 seats. The BJP, which is in power in six of the northeastern states either directly or through allies, opened its account in the Christian-dominated Mizoram by winning a lone seat.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh resigned taking moral responsibility for the BJP’s stunning defeat in Assembly election, while his Rajasthan counterpart Vasundhara Raje also conceded defeat.

Mizoram’s Congress Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla also resigned after the humiliating defeat.

TRS chief K. Chandrashekhar Rao said he would play a crucial role in national politics.

IANS

Election

2019 Lok Sabha elections: EC to announce poll schedule in March 1st Week

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Election Commission

New Delhi, Jan 18: The Election Commission of India to announce the 2019 Lok Sabha election schedule in the first week of March, news agency ANI reported citing sources.

The election would be held in 6 to 7 phases.

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AAP irrelevant, we want to win all 7 Lok Sabha seats in Delhi: Sheila Dikshit

I will mobilise all workers and leaders for the party’s victory

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sheila dikshit arvind kejriwal

New Delhi, Jan 16 : Inducted as Delhi Congress President ahead of the crucial Lok Sabha elections, Sheila Dikshit says her target is to win all the seven Lok Sabha seats in the national capital.

The 80-year-old leader, who assumed office as the Delhi Congress chief on Wednesday, said she will mobilise all workers and leaders for the party’s victory.

She said her target is “to get Congress active and get all Congressmen together.”

Asked about her target for the Lok Sabha elections, she said: “I hope to win all the seven. We will target all the seven and then see”.

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Veteran Congress leader Sheila Dikshit with Former Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken during a programme where she took charge as the party’s Delhi unit chief in New Delhi, on Jan 16, 2019. (Photo: IANS)

Asked when the party will declare its candidates as the AAP has sounded its potential candidates and the BJP already has sitting MPs in all the seven seats, she hoped that the candidates will be decided soon. “Let’s see when the high command announces.”

Dikshit said she is not in favour of an alliance with the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the capital and prefers that the party go it alone.

However, at the same time she also does not rule out a tie up with the AAP.

“No, I am not in favour of it (alliance with AAP),” she told IANS.

“The Aam Aadmi Party is not a very polished party. For instance why did they do all that …Rajiv Gandhi having got the award (Bharat Ratna). What have they got to do with it. They never gave the award 22 years ago. Why did they pick it up? They just pick up things. I don’t think they think before what they are doing,” the three-time chief minister of Delhi said when she was asked about the reasons for not going for an alliance with the AAP.

“Anyway, for me, I mean they are the ruling party of Delhi so that relevance is there but otherwise they are an irrelevant party.”

Asked if the AAP was in touch with the party’s central leadership, she said: “No, not with us in anyway. I don’t think so.”

Pressed further on the issue, Dikshit said she had no idea. “Nobody has spoken about it.”

Asked if she had conveyed her viewpoint to the central leadership, Dikshit said she had given her views in the media.

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Veteran Congress leader Sheila Dikshit with party leaders Ajay Maken, Meira Kumar and Harun Yusuf during a programme where she took charge as the party’s Delhi unit chief in New Delhi, on Jan 16, 2019. Also seen . (Photo: IANS)

“I have conveyed to all of you so everybody knows my viewpoint. It has been there for a long time.”

Asked if she was ruling out an alliance with the AAP, she said: At the moment there is no alliance with AAP, and let’s see what happens in future.”

To a follow up question on when the uncertainty will end, she smiled and refused to comment.

She rejected apprehensions that the Congress and the AAP fighting separately will give an advantage to the BJP in Delhi.

“Why, why, why…No. We are strong enough ourselves, please remember. We are older than the BJP and much older than the AAP. No thank you…No, there is no need (to align).”

To a query whether she had given her feedback to the party, Dikshit said, “Not yet,” and added that she will be doing so as soon as she was asked by the leadership.

Asked if potential candidates have been sounded out, she said “everybody is working, everybody has got their mind on it and we have to meet and bring (it) to each other’s attention.”

Asked about her being made PCC chief only three months before the polls and if it should have been done earlier, Dikshit said: “What has happened has happened. You make the best of what has happened.”

She said the party not having declared its candidates so far does not matter. “The God made the whole world in seven days and surely we can do this (declare candidates).”

However, she refused to spell out her party’s strategy. “I won’t tell you just now. I will bring the strategy which is implementable. So let me just study it.”

She said the workers were motivated and the ground work was visible for the last-three four days.

Asked who was the main challenger between the AAP and the BJP in Delhi, she said they both were a challenge.

“I think at the national level, if you are looking at their presence, then the BJP is.”

Asked if Rahul Gandhi was relying on the old guard having appointed Kamal Nath chief minister in Madhya Pradesh, Ashok Gehlot in Rajasthan and Bhupesh Baghel in Chhattisgarh, Dikshit did not give a direct answer.

“I wouldn’t say. This is a question you need to ask Rahulji. I don’t make assessments on appointments, they have been made, they have been made.”

Dikshit admitted that there was some factionalism in the Delhi unit and said it will be addressed.

“There is… wherever there are 20…there are hundreds of people in the Congress, there is bound to be a faction. It is not something that cannot be overcome for a particular cause,” she said.

“The challenge is to face the forthcoming elections to the Lok Sabha and the challenge that is consistent with that is to keep the party together. All of us not to show our differences of opinion if we have any. Carry on what the leaders (say) so that we are seen as a joint organisation working for the good of the Congress,” she said.

Dikshit said she will campaign for the Congress in Uttar Pradesh if asked to, “but I will focus more on Delhi as there is a lot of work here.”

Asked about the dim possibility of a grand alliance shaping up in Delhi, she said: “You all bring a time limit saying do it now or tomorrow. In politics there is no time limit. It depends on the opportunities and atmosphere that is there and then we take decisions.”

She said that both national and local issues will be highlighted in Delhi during the campaign.

Dikshit said the party will highlight the development work done during her 15 years as chief minister. “Obviously, those works were done by Congress and we will surely highlight those works.”

On the recurrent confrontation between the AAP government in Delhi with the BJP-led central government, Dikshit said she had worked smoothly as Chief Minister with the Vajpayee government.

“It is for them to understand whether confrontation brings out work,” she said.

(Anand Singh can be contacted at [email protected] and Prashant Sood at [email protected])

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AAP to fight Lok Sabha polls in UP, Kejriwal won’t contest

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ARVIND KEJRIWAL

Varanasi, Jan 13 : The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Sunday said it will contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections from Uttar Pardesh but unlike last time, party chief Arvind Kejriwal will not be its face from Varanasi.

Speaking to IANS, AAP MP Sanjay Singh said the details of the seats and candidates would be finalised by February-end.

“The party or Kejriwal never said that he is going to contest the Lok Sabha elections. He is Delhi’s Chief Minister and he has no plans to join the electoral race in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” Singh said.

“The party will field candidates in the Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh from the areas where the organisation is strong. The details of seats and candidates will be announced by February-end,” he added.

Singh on Sunday concluded his two-day “Bhajpa Bhagao, Bhagwan Bachao Yatra” in Varanasi.

The Yatra, which started from Ayodhya on Saturday, was organised to “expose” the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on various issues. He also sough to highlight that hundreds of Shivlingas were allegedly found lying under the rubble of structures demolished to pave way for the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor — a pet project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his parliamentary constituency.

The AAP has announced that it will focus on Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Goa in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

In 2014, Kejriwal contested face from Varanasi against BJP candidate and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Kejriwal lost the elections by over three lakh votes.

IANS

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