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In Uttarakhand, Trivendra Rawat, Satpal Maharaj front runners for CM post




New Delhi, March 11 : Former state BJP chief Trivendra Singh Rawat and party National Executive member Satpal Maharaj have emerged front runners for the Chief Minister’s post in Uttarakhand following the BJP’s landslide win, informed sources said on Saturday.

Rawat, an organisational man of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Uttarakhand and party in-charge in Jharkhand, won his traditional Doiwala seat by defeating Congress’ Hira Singh Bisht with a margin of over 24,000 votes.

Rawat, a swayamsewak of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), is considered close to BJP President Amit Shah. He was in close touch with Prime Minister Narendra Modi when the latter was a General Secretary (Organisation) of the BJP and in charge of Uttarakhand.

During the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Rawat was given responsibility of regional election in-charge in Uttar Pradesh under Shah where the BJP emerged victorious. He is also credited for the BJP’s win in Jharkhand.

“Rawat is a man of the organisation and has a clean image. He is close to RSS, PM Modi and Shah too,” a senior BJP leader from Uttarakhand told IANS on condition of anonymity.

Asked about Satpal Maharaj’s prospects, the BJP leader said: “Maharajji is very popular and has lakhs of followers. But one factor working against him is that he came into the BJP fold after leaving Congress.”

Maharaj, the head of the Manav Utthan Sewa Samiti, teaches meditation techniques called “Knowledge” and has a huge following across the state and other parts of the country.

He is considered a good administrator and has served as Union Minister of State for Railways.

In February 2014, Satpal Majaraj openly criticised Harish Rawat’s elevation as Chief Minister of Uttarakhand and a month later quit the Indian National Congress and joined the BJP.

Maharaj won Chaubattakhal constituency by defeating Congress’ Rajpal Singh Bisht with a margin of over 5,000 votes.

Besides these two leaders, state BJP chief Ajay Bhatt is also a likely contender, but he lost his own election from Ranikhet assembly seat.

He was defeated by Karan Mahara of Congress by a margin of 4,981 votes.

Sources in the BJP say that if Bhatt had won, he would have been a strong contender for the post.

Other senior leaders, including former Chief Ministers B.C. Khanduri, Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Vijay Bahuguna, Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank are also lobbying to become Chief Minister of the state.

According to BJP sources, none of these are likely to be considered for Chief Minister.

“Khanduri is almost unlikely because of his age (82). Bahuguna switched to BJP after a long career in Congress. Nishank is a Brahmin face but he is an MP and is likely to work in national politics. Koshyari has also very little chance,” another BJP leader said.

BJP President Amit Shah said on Saturday that the Chief Minister candidate will be “decided on the basis of merit. We will elect the best”.

The BJP has convened its Parliamentary Board, the highest decision making body of the party, on Sunday to decide the name of the Chief Ministerial candidates of the states where it has emerged victorious.

The BJP is headed for a landslide in Uttarakhand, leading on 57 seats against the Congress’ 11 in the 70-member assembly.


Tripura Election 2018: Around 79% turnout in Tripura Assembly polls: CEO



People after casting their votes (Photo-ANI)

Over 78 per cent of Tripura’s 2,536,589 voters had cast their votes on Sunday in a peaceful manner to elect a new Assembly, said state chief electoral officer Sriram Taranikanti.

However, he said that the polling percentage might go up as huge numbers of voters were still in queues at 10 p.m. on Sunday night in around 100 of the 3,174 polling stations across the state.

“Over 78.56 per cent of the 2,536,589 voters in Tripura had cast their votes. The polling percentage will go up when the final figures come after completion of the remaining around 100 polling stations,” Taranikanti told the media.

He said that 191 (6 per cent) VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) and 89 (5 per cent) EVM (Electronic Voting Machines) malfunctioned causing delay in balloting.

“We have decided to conduct re-poll in a polling station under Karamchara assembly constituency even as the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and CPI-M (Communist Party of India-Marxist) demanded re-polling in some polling stations,” Taranikanti said adding that there is no incident during the polling throughout the state.

In a separate media briefing, the BJP demanded a re-poll in eight polling stations and the CPI-M demanded re-poll in three polling stations.

Ruling Left Front convenor Bijan Dhar alleged that at least five election agents of Left Front candidates were injured and shifted to hospitals when workers of BJP and its electoral ally IPFT (Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura) attacked on them in different places of Tripura.

“Forward Bloc candidate Biswanath Saha and some women were injured when the central para-military forces carried out a baton charge in two separate places in western Tripura,” he said, demanding action against the attackers.

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Lok Sabha By-Polls: Congress announces candidates for Gorakhpur, Phulpur seats




Lucknow, Feb 17: The state Congress on Friday announced faces for Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha seats, where by-elections are scheduled to be held on March 11.

The party named Dr Surheeta Chatterjee Kareem, a gynaecologist, as its candidate from Gorakhpur, while it chose Manish Mishra, son of former IAS officer J N Mishra, for the Phulpur seat.

Congress state president Raj Babbar confirmed the candidature of both nominees.

The by-elections in Uttar Pradesh were necessitated after Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath became the Chief Minister, while Phulpur MP Kehsav Prasad Maurya was appointed the Deputy Chief Minister.

Congress state president Raj Babbar confirmed the candidature of both nominees.


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US intelligence chiefs say Russia still meddling, threatening 2018 elections

In strong language, Coats said Russia President Vladimir Putin has been emboldened by Russia’s successful interference in the 2016 elections and is targeting the 2018 election cycle.



Dan Coats

WASHINGTON — Russia and other adversaries will continue to engage in cyber warfare to “degrade our democratic values and weaken our alliances,” the nation’s top intelligence official said Tuesday.

“Frankly, the United States is under attack,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee, adding that every facet of society is being targeted with cyber intrusions.

In strong language, Coats said Russia President Vladimir Putin has been emboldened by Russia’s successful interference in the 2016 elections and is targeting the 2018 election cycle.

“There should be no doubt that (Putin) views the past effort as successful,” Coats said.

The national intelligence director’s comments come against the backdrop of continuing congressional and criminal investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and whether the Kremlin coordinated their activities with President Trump’s campaign.

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