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Himachal’s 68 Assembly seats all set for polls on Nov 9

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Shimla, Nov 8: Sixty-eight Assembly seats all set for polls on Thursday in a single phase in Congress-ruled Himachal Pradesh.  Officials said everything was in place for a smooth conduct of the polling in 7,525 booths.

A total of 50.25 lakh voters, including 19 lakh women and 14 transgenders, will decide the fate of 338 candidates. The counting of votes will take place on December 18 along with those of Gujarat.

The CPI-M has fielded candidates on 14 seats while the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which made its debut in the hilly state in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, has preferred to stay away.

The major battle is between two strongest contestants, one is veteran Congress leader and incumbent Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, 83, who is pushing hard to get to the helm for a seventh time, while on other hand is the BJP’s Prem Kumar Dhumal, 73, who is also trying to ensure the party’s win.

However, for  almost two decades, both the parties in the state have fought almost every assembly and Lok Sabha polls under their leadership.

“This time, Virbhadra Singh is fighting on two fronts — one is to establish his son Vikramaditya Singh, who is contesting his maiden assembly election, and the second is to ensure the party’s repeat as he forced the Congress to announce him as the Chief Ministerial candidate despite all odds,” a political observer told IANS.

For Dhumal, it’s simply the battle for “self-survival” after facing a humiliating defeat in the 2012 assembly polls. Since then, he was almost marginalised by the BJP faction led by Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda.

After thwarting foes within, Virbhadra Singh donned the battle gear much ahead of his arch rival Dhumal, whose name was cleared by the BJP as its Chief Ministerial candidate recently.

 

In the campaigning, Virbhadra Singh, who is known as ‘Raja Saab’ as he was born into the erstwhile princely state of Bushahr, has no qualms about folding his hands and bowing his head before commoners when it comes to seeking votes.

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi held only three election meetings in a single day just a day before the campaigning ended.

From the Congress, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who is known for his “royal ways” owing to his erstwhile Patiala royalty and related to ‘Raja Saab’, campaigned in the state for two days.

On other hand, for BJP Prime Minister Narendra Modi along accompanied with President Amit Shah and Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, J.P. Nadda, Smriti Irani and Thaawar Chand Gehlot campaigned to woo the electorate.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also campaigned for the elections in the hilly state.

Wefornews Bureau 

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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HS Walia

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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siddaramaiah kumaraswamy

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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Trinamool’s all-conquering run in Bengal Panchayat polls

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Kolkata, May 17: The ruling Trinamool Congress looked set for a resounding win bulldozing all political rivals in rural West Bengal on Thursday in the vote count for the three-tier state Panchayat election, with the BJP emerging a distant second in almost all the districts.

The Left Front, which ruled the state for 34 years till 2011, lay decimated in the third position, while the Congress was virtually wiped out in Monday’s polls, which were marred by widespread violence and allegations of strong-arm tactics and irregularities against the Trinamool.

As per latest reports, the state’s ruling party has won 20,277 Gram Panchayat (lowest tier) seats of 31,814 that were contested, while it was leading in 382 seats. The party has won 2,605 out of 6,125 contested Panchayat Samiti (middle tier) seats and were comfortably ahead in another 431.

The Trinamool Congress also seemed on track to win all 20 Zila Parishads.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee congratulated the party workers for the massive win and dedicated the victory to the people.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which managed to bag 5,416 Gram Panchayat and 282 Panchayat Samiti seats, gave a tough fight to the Trinamool in two western districts — Purulia and Jhargram. The saffron outfit also led in 34 and 43 seats, respectively, in the two tiers of the rural body.

Another interesting development was the performance of the Independents, who have bagged more seats than the Left Front.

In South 24 Parganas district’s Bhangar that has been on the boil over the construction of a power grid sub-station by the state government in the last one year, Independent candidates backed by Jomi-Jibika-Bastutantra O Poribesh Rokkha Committee (committee for protecting life, livelihood, ecology and environment) won five out of the eight Gram Panchayat seats, where they had filed their nominations via WhatsApp.

The Panchayat Samiti was, however, won by ruling party strongman Arabul Islam who was arrested a day before the election for his alleged involvement in the murder of a local youth.

BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said his party was moving on the right track. “We have done reasonably well. Had the polls been free and fair, we would have done better.”

Sporadic incidents of unrest over the election results were reported from districts like Nadia where a group of miscreants allegedly ran away with ballot boxes. The counting of votes was halted for almost three hours in Nadia’s Majhdia after allegations of tampering with the ballot papers were received.

“There are some reports of unrest in the districts but the administrations concerned have already taken action. There are no reports of major violence from anywhere,” State Election Commission (SEC) Secretary Nilanjan Shandilya told IANS.

In Birbhum district, BJP and Trinamool Congress activists clashed with each other outside a counting station. Police had to resort to baton charge to disperse the mob.

According to the state administration, 12 persons lost their lives on the polling day, out which six were confirmed have died in poll violence.

Statistics reveal that of the total 58,692 seats in the three tiers of the rural local bodies, 20,076 seats, or 34.2 per cent, have been decided uncontested, with the Trinamool bagging a whopping proportion of these seats.

These include 16,814 of the total 48,650 Gram Panchayats seats, 3,059 of the 9,217 Panchayat Samiti seats and 203 of the 825 Zila Parishad seats.

The Supreme Court has now asked the SEC not to issue winning certificates in these seats.

IANS

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