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Election

Merkel’s party scores strong win in state polls

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Angela Merkel

Kiel (Germany) :  Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives secured a strong win Sunday in state polls in northern Germany, early results showed, giving a boost to her bid to retain power in September’s national elections.

Voters in the small, northern state of Schleswig-Holstein on the Baltic Sea handed her CDU party 33.3 percent, while the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) clinched 26.5 percent, latest results showed.

The vote outcome marked a blow for the Social Democrats who had earlier this year seen a surge in support since new leader Martin Schulz was chosen in February.

But this enthusiasm appeared to be fading, and Schulz’s supporters are increasingly fearful that the momentum he had been surfing on will not carry him into the chancellery, which Merkel and her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) have held since 2005.

The blow to the Social Democrats’ confidence also came one week ahead of a far bigger regional vote in their stronghold of North Rhine-Westphalia, also Germany’s most populous state.

– Schulz ‘sad’ –

Schulz expressed disappointment, saying: “This is something that goes under the skin and makes us sad. We all expected a better result.”

Merkel’s CDU meanwhile was confidently looking to next Sunday’s polls, where surveys show the conservatives and the SPD running neck and neck.

“A good election result gives us motivation to go on fighting,” said lawmaker Michael Grosse-Broemer, who heads the CDU parliamentary group in the Bundestag.

Merkel’s party has seen a comeback, after losing a string of state elections over the past two years as voters punished the German leader for her liberal refugee policy that allowed more than one million asylum seekers into Germany since 2015.

But with the pace of new arrivals slowing sharply, surveys show the conservatives gaining ground.

“The CDU is catching up regionally, and that lends momentum to Merkel ahead of the vote in North Rhine-Westphalia next week and before the national elections in the autumn,” said Spiegel Online.

The populist AfD (Alternative for Germany), which has railed against the migrant influx, scraped through on Sunday with 5.5 percent support, winning its first seats in the state parliament in Kiel, despite a vicious falling-out between moderates and hardliners inside the party.

The result was however a far worse showing than at the end of last year, when it was the third most popular party nationwide.

– ‘In good hands’ –

Beyond its significance as the last-but-one regional election before the September general elections, there were plenty of local peculiarities in Sunday’s vote.

Popular SPD state premier Torsten Albig, 53, has led a coalition of SPD, Greens, and local Danish minority party SSW since 2012.

His CDU challenger Daniel Guenther is 10 years younger and has been an energetic opposition leader in the regional parliament.

The centre-right group there has sparked debate across Germany in recent years with populist proposals like requiring pork to be served in school canteens — a nod to voters fearful of Islam’s influence on public life.

This year’s campaign has seen battles over education, policing and roads, a top concern in a state with a population of 2.8 million thinly spread across almost 16,000 square kilometres.

Another battleground is wind farm construction near residential areas — no small matter in a windy coastal region whose turbines are a key element in Germany’s “energy transition” away from nuclear and fossil fuels.

Both major parties sent their heaviest hitters to Schleswig-Holstein in recent days, with Schulz making appearances in Kiel and Luebeck on Thursday.

But his interventions have done little to counteract criticism that the former president of the European Parliament has so far failed to offer concrete attacks against Merkel and the right.

Schulz has an uphill battle ahead to defeat Merkel, a leader so popular that one CDU election poster in 2013 simply showed her fingers clasped in their habitual diamond shape alongside the slogan “Germany’s Future In Good Hands”.

AFP

Election

‘Janashakti’ of Congress to defeat BJP’s ‘Dhanshakti’: Chavan

The Shiv Sena and its ally BJP were clamouring over taking credit on the deceased Chintaman Wanga.

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Prithviraj Chavan

Thane, May 24 : Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president Ashok Chavan on Thursday said that the ‘Janashakti’ (people’s power) of his party will defeat the BJP’s ‘Dhanshakti’ (money power) in the Palghar Lok Sabha by-poll.

Addressing an election rally for the party nominee Damoo Shingada at Wangaon of Dahanu, he made this observation. He said that the BJP was making every effort to win this election by illegal means with use of money and power but the people of Palghar will defeat the ‘Dhanshakti’ of BJP. The former chief minister exuded confidence that the people of Palghar would elect the loyal candidate Mr Shingada of the Congress in this election. He said that both the Shiv Sena and its ally BJP were clamouring over taking credit on the deceased Chintaman Wanga.

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Election

Maha MLC biennial polls: Counting of votes underway

In the 78-member Legislative Council, the NCP is the single largest party with 23 seats, followed by the Congress (19), the BJP (18) and the Shiv Sena (nine).

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Elections

Mumbai, May 24 : Counting of votes was underway today for five out of the six local bodies seats where biennial elections to the Maharashtra Legislative Council were held on Monday.

The counting began at 8 am, an election official said.

The Election Commission deferred the counting process for the election to Osamanabad-Beed-Latur seat in view of a court order pertaining to suspension of some members of local bodies in Beed district.

The election was held as three members of the NCP, two of the BJP and one of the Congress are retiring from the Upper House of the state Legislature on June 21.

As many as 16 candidates are in fray in the six seats where there are total 4,621 voters, comprising members of 128zilla parishads, municipal corporations, municipal councils, nagar panchayats and the cantonment board.

In the 78-member Legislative Council, the NCP is the single largest party with 23 seats, followed by the Congress (19), the BJP (18) and the Shiv Sena (nine).

The JD(U), the PWP and the Peoples’ Republican Party have one member each while there are six independents.

The term of NCP’s Anil Tatkare, who represents the Raigad-Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg local bodies’ constituency, will end on May 31.

Besides, the terms of NCP’s Jayant Jadhav (Nashik) and Abdullah Khan A Latif Khan Durani (Parbhani-Hingoli), BJP’s Pravin Pote (Amravati) andMitesh Bhangdia (Wardha-Chandrapur -Gadchiroli) and Congress’ Dilip Deshmukh (Osmanabad-Latur- Beed) would end on June 21.

Pote is Minister of State for Industries in the Maharashtra government.

The Osmanabad-Beed-Latur seat contest is being viewed as a battle of prestige between state Women and Child Welfare Minister Pankaja Munde (BJP) and her cousin Dhananjay Munde (NCP), the Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council.

Earlier, Ramesh Karad of the NCP had withdrawn his nomination from the seat at the last minute.

Karad, a staunch supporter of Pankaja Munde, had joined the NCP and was immediately declared the party candidate.

But after Karad’s withdrawal, the NCP extended its support to independent candidate Ashok Jagdale. The BJP has fielded former NCP minister Suresh Dhas for this bypoll.

The ruling BJP and the Shiv Sena, the warring constituent in the Maharashtra government, are contesting three seats each.

The Sena is contesting Raigad-Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg, Nasik and Parbhani-Hingoli seats.

The NCP is taking on the Sena in Raigad-Ratnagiri- Sindhudurg and Nashik.

In the Parbhani-Hingoli local authorities constituency BJP rebel Suresh Nangare is in fray, along with Shiv Sena’s Viplav Bajoria and Congress’ Suresh Deshmukh.

BJP’s Rajya Sabha member and former chief minister Narayan Rane has declared his support to NCP candidate Aniket Tatkare in the Raigad-Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg local authorities constituency, against Sena’s Rajeev Sabale.

Pravin Pote of the BJP is contesting from Amaravati constituency against Anil Madhogaria of the Congress.

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Election

Palghar bypoll: CM accuses Sena of betrayal by fielding

In a jolt to its ally BJP, the Sena fielded Shriniwas Wanga for the by-election after his father and sitting BJP MP from the Palghar seat, Chintaman Wanga, died.

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Uddhav-Thackeray_Devendra-Fadnavis

Palghar (Maharashtra), May 21 : Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has accused the Shiv Sena of betraying the BJP by fielding the son of late MP Chintaman Wanga for the Palghar Lok Sabha seat bypoll.

He claimed the Sena knew that the BJP was already planning to nominate someone from Chintaman Wanga’s family for the by-election, scheduled on May 28.

Lauding Wanga’s association with the BJP, Fadnavis said the late leader represented the party’s ideology.

In a jolt to its ally BJP, the Sena fielded Shriniwas Wanga for the by-election after his father and sitting BJP MP from the Palghar seat, Chintaman Wanga, died.

Fadnavis, at an earlier rally in the district, said he had told Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray that the BJP was planning to give ticket to a member of Chintaman Wanga’s family for the by-election.

“Our ally (on one hand) was welcoming our decision to give ticket to the Wanga family and on the other hand hatching a conspiracy,” the chief minister said at a campaign rally in Palghar’s Nallasopara area last night.

Chintaman Wanga’s wife had yesterday filed a complaint of model code violation against the BJP, accusing the party of using her husband’s pictures on publicity material for the upcoming bypoll illegally.

However, Fadnavis said only the BJP had the right to use the late leader’s photos.

“Only we have the right to put up Chintaman Wanga’s photo. He wasn’t an individual but our ideology,” he said.

Urging the people of Palghar to vote fearlessly without succumbing to any threats, the chief minister said those come between the BJP and the people will be “crushed”.

Nobody should indulge in extortion in the name of the saffron flag, he said without naming any party.

Fadnavis said this was not an election of ‘galli’ (a local street), but ‘Delhi’ (Parliament), and asked other parties to do politics for the welfare of the society.

For the bypoll, the BJP has fielded Rajendra Gavit, who recently left the Congress to join the saffron party.

Fadnavis asserted that Gavit was the right successor to Chintaman Wanga.

“Why vote for those who don’t know whether they exist or not. Rajendra Gavit is like (Chintaman) Wanga who struggles for people…send him to the Modi team (Parliament),” he said.

Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari also spoke at the rally.

Apart from the BJP and the Sena, the Congress is also in fray for the bypoll to the tribal-dominated constituency, located about 110 km from Mumbai, and has fielded former MP Damodar Shingda.

Local outfit Bahujan Vikas Aghadi (BVA), which has three MLAs in total six Assembly segments in the Palghar constituency, has nominated former MP Baliram Jadhav.

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