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Merkel’s party scores strong win in state polls



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”.



BJP avenges by-poll defeat, wins UP Rajya Sabha cliffhanger



Yogi Adityanath, Akhilesh Yadav

New Delhi, March 23: Avenging its defeat at the hands of SP-BSP combine in Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha constituencies, the BJP on Friday scored a major victory when its candidate defeated a BSP nominee for the 10th seat in the Rajya Sabha biennial elections in which Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and actor Jaya Bachchan of the SP were re-elected.

In all in the elections held for 25 seats on Friday, the BJP won 12, the Congress five, Trinamool Congress four, Telangana Rashtra Samiti three and the Samajwadi Party one.

Smarting under the loss of by-poll elections in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the BJP left no stone unturned to win the battle against Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) when its candidate Anil Agarwal, a Ghaziabad-based businessman, defeated Mayawati’s candidate Bhimrao Ambedkar in a cliffhanger of a contest that went to the wire.

While the BSP candidate got 33 votes — short by four — in the first preference votes against 22 of the BJP, the ruling party nominee was declared winner on the basis of second preference votes.

The votes of SP MLA Nitin Agarwal and Anil Singh of the BSP, who cross voted in favour of the BJP, were declared invalid.

In Uttar Pradesh alone, the BJP won nine seats including those of Jaitley and Agarwal. Other winners were Ashok Bajpai, Vijay Pal Singh Tomar, Sakal Deep Rajbhar, Kanta Kardam, Anil Jain, G.V.L. Narasimha Rao and Harnath Singh Yadav.

While the BSP cried use of money, muscle power and state machinery by the BJP to win the elections, it refused to blame the Samajwadi for defeat.

On the other hand, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath blamed the BSP’s loss on the Samajwadi Party’s “opportunism” as it failed to transfer votes.

The other major battle was in the Congress-ruled Karnataka where the ruling party won three seats and one went to the BJP. While the Congress was sure of two seats on its own, it wrested the third in a fight with Janata Dal-Secular that complained irregularities. B.M. Farooq of the JD-S lost to G.C. Chandrasekhar of the Congress in the state.

Others elected from Karnataka were I. Hanumanthaiah and Syed Naseer Hussain of the Congress and Rajeev Chandrashekar of the BJP.

West Bengal went on predicted lines as the ruling Trinamool Congress bagged four seats and while Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi backed by the Trinamool defeated CPI-M’s Rabin Deb.

The four Trinamool candidates are sitting Rajya Sabha member Nadimul Haque and first time nominees Subhasish Chakraborty, Abir Biswas and Santanu Sen.

According to election officials, Trinamool’s Chakraborty secured the highest number of 54 votes. Haque and Biswas got 52 each and Sen 51. Singhvi garnered 47 votes. The votes of two Trinamool lawmakers – Jakir Hossain and Mrigendra Nath Maiti – were rejected.

Telangana’s ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) bagged all three Rajya Sabha seats. B. Prakash, J. Santosh Kumar and AB. Lingaiah Yadav were declared victorious while Congress candidate and former union minister P. Balram Naik was defeated.

In Chattisgarh, BJP candidate Saroj Pandey defeated Congress’ Lekhram Sahu by a comfortable margin, getting also the votes two MLAs who cross voted in her favour. Pandey secured 51 votes while Sahu got only 36.

In the by-election held in Kerala, the Left Front-backed candidate M.P. Veerendra Kumar won by securing a huge margin against Congress candidate Babu Prasad. Kumar, who resigned from the Rajya Sabha after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar joined hands with the BJP, contested the seat after shifting from the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).

The 80-year-old former Union Minister and newspaper baron secured 89 votes as against 40 that Babu Prasad got.

Out of a total of 58 Rajya Sabha seats to be filled, 33 candidates from 10 states were already declared elected unopposed on March 15. Of the 33, the BJP won 17. These included seven union ministers Dharmendra Pradhan, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Prakash Javadekar.

The Congress had won four, the Biju Janata Dal three, the RJD, JD-U and TDP two each and the Shiv Sena, the NCP and the YSR Congress one each.

In the elections held to 58 seats, the BJP won 29, the Congress nine, Trinamool four, TRS and BJD three each, JD-U, TDP and RJD two each and Samajwadi Party, Shiv Sena, NCP and YSR Congress one each.


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Congress wins 3 seats, BJP 1 in Karnataka RS polls




Bengaluru, March 23: The ruling Congress on Friday won three seats and opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) one in the Rajya Sabha biennial election for four seats in Karnataka, said an official.

“All three Congress candidates and one from the BJP won the contest while the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) candidate lost for the fourth seat,” an Election Commission official told reporters here after counting of votes.

L. Hanumanthaiah, Syed Naseer Hussain and G.C. Chandrasekhar of the Congress and Rajeev Chandrashekar of the BJP were declared elected by the Returning Officer.

B.M. Farooq of the JD-S lost to G.C. Chandrasekhar of the Congress.


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Rajya Sabha election results: Congress’ Abhishek Manu Singhvi wins from West Bengal, TMC clinches 4 seats




New Delhi, March 23: Voting for the high-level Rajya Sabha elections to fill 25 seats in six states- Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Telangana held on Friday. 

Out of 58 Rajya Sabha seats, polling is being held for 25 vacant seats as 33 candidates from 10 states have been elected unopposed.

The voting began at 9 am and continued till 4 pm. Counting of votes started from 5 pm.

Below we have enlisted states and the number of seats which will be filled with today’s verdict: 

Andhra Pradesh (3), Bihar (6), Chhattisgarh (1), Gujarat (4), Haryana (1), Himachal Pradesh (1), Karnataka (4), Madhya Pradesh (5), Maharashtra (6), Telangana (3), Uttar Pradesh (10), Uttarakhand (1), West Bengal (5), Odisha (3), Rajasthan (3) and Jharkhand (2).

Apart from the Rajya Sabha elections, a by-poll will also be held for one seat in Kerala where MP Veerendra Kumar, the Left-backed candidate of Sharad Yadav faction of the JD(U), is fielded against Babu Prasad of the Congress.

Check here updates:

Telangana’s ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) wins all three seats 

B. Prakash, J. Santosh Kumar and AB. Lingaiah Yadav were elected to the Upper House.

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee shows victory sign

Following polls results, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee  showed victory sign.

Trinamool Congress bags four seats 

All four TMC candidates — sitting Rajya Sabha member Nadimul Haque and first time nominees Subhasish Chakraborty, Abir Biswas and Santanu Sen — emerged victorious in the vote count.

Congress’s Abhishek Manu Singhvi attains triumph from West Bengal 

Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi won Rajya Sabha elections from West Bengal. After winning he said ‘it is humbling and uplifting, it is a result of cooperation between different groups and MLAs.’

Counting begins in Karnataka

Counting of votes started at 7 pm.

Counting begins in UP 

Counting of votes began after clearance from the Election Commission in Uttar Pradesh at 6.33 pm.

TDP leader C M Ramesh unanimously elected

TDP leader C M Ramesh, has been unanimously elected to Rajya Sabha consecutively.

Counting of votes stopped  in Karnataka

Congress’ G. Parameshwara, said “counting of votes has not started as yet because Janata Dal had complained to EC about some discrepancy. Janata Dal has boycotted the voting now, so that will also enhance our chances of victory”.

Counting of votes halted in Uttar Pradesh

Election Commission has not given permission to begin the counting of votes for Rajya Sabha election due to some objections in ballot papers. Counting to begin only after EC gives clearance.

SP and BSP demand from Election Commission to declare votes of BJP’s Nitin Agrawal and BSP’s Anil Singh invalid alleging that they did not show their ballot paper to the polling agent.

BJP wins from Chhattisgarh

BJP’s Saroj Pandey wins Rajya Sabha Election from Chhattisgarh

Visuals from Kerala Legislative Assembly

Visuals from Bengaluru 

BSP MLA Anil Singh cross voted for BJP

Visuals from Telangana Assembly

No cross-voting is going to take place, but BJP MLAs will cross-vote in our favour, says SP

Samajwadi Party leader Ram Gopal Yadav stated there will be no cross-voting in the Rajya Sabha polls being held in Uttar Pradesh, but BJP MLAs will cross-vote in their favour.

MLAs queue up in West Bengal Assembly to vote in Kolkata

Image: ANI

Five seats are being contested in the state. Altogether six candidates, including Congress candidate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, are in the fray for the five Rajya Sabha seats from this seat.

Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath meets party MLAs in Lucknow

Javadekar, Yeddyurappa met BJP candidate Rajeev Chandrashekar in Bengaluru

Samajwadi Party leader, Rajendra Chaudhary said “SP candidate Jaya Bachchan Ji & BSP candidate, (Bhim Rao Ambedkar) whom we are supporting, will win the Rajya Sabha elections. Considering BJP’s condition I’d say that its own MLAs are annoyed & some of them may even end up siding with the opposition”.


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