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Not part of any coalition or in alliance with any political party: AAP

The BJP swept Delhi in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, winning all the seven seats, while the AAP emerged as the main party in the assembly polls a year later, winning a staggering 67 of the 70 seats.




New Delhi, Dec 9 : The ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is maintaining its distance from the Congress while being aggressive in its anti-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stance, appears to have still not decided whether or not to do business with main opposition party in parliament in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Senior party leader and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh hinted as much when he said that there is a need for an anti-BJP formation to checkmate the saffron party ahead of the general elections. But on the question of a tie-up with Congress, he said the stage has not come as yet and the Congress has not approached it to be part of an alliance.

“There is no initiative from the Congress or from the AAP for an alliance. In the three states (Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh) where we fought the assembly elections, we did not have a tie-up with the Congress anywhere. First, there should be talks (between the two sides) and an initiative to actually know if we are comfortable together or not. There is no initiative from the Congress or from the AAP for an alliance,” Singh told IANS in an interview.

The BJP swept Delhi in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, winning all the seven seats, while the AAP emerged as the main party in the assembly polls a year later, winning a staggering 67 of the 70 seats.

Though there has been no direct political contact between the Congress and the AAP, Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal shared the stage last week at a farmers rally and a similar rally at Janatar Mantar. Both were also present at the swearing-in ceremony of Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy earlier this year.

Supporting the idea of a coalition by terming it the need of the hour to stop the BJP, Singh asserted that it was important for the nation and for democracy that the opposition parties are united against the BJP throughout the country.

However, he also said although the AAP is not part of any alliance or coalition, its “anti-BJP stand” is clear and so the party welcomes any sort of alliance to fight communal politics in the country.

“The BJP has to be stopped and challenged for the economic betterment of the nation.”

Citing examples of the Lok Sabha by-elections in Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh (Phulpur, Kairana and Gorakhpur), where the BJP was trounced, Singh said a “coalition of parties is an option to remove the BJP”.

“Our anti-BJP stand is very clear. In Kairana, we did not put up a candidate. RLD (Rashtriya Lok Dal) was contesting the election against BJP. We will not support the BJP, so our people campaigned for RLD and this is the current situation. We are also not a part of the grand alliance. But we feel it is important to stop the BJP.”

He said the important thing is not whether AAP is part of an alliance or not but “until the opposition alliance is formed, with or without the AAP, it will be difficult to stop the BJP. A coalition is the need of the hour to stop the BJP and if there is an equation on that throughout the country it will be helpful”.

“We (AAP) feel there is no discussion in the country on serious issues related to farmers, youth and the economy. There is an attempt to disturb the communal atmosphere of the nation. It is important for the nation and for the democracy to have a coalition against the BJP throughout the country.”

He urged the parties to stand together to raise serious issues during the general elections, which the BJP will try to “hide with non-issues” like the Ram Temple.

“For the 2019 elections, the BJP will bring and discuss non-issues. It will try to make issues out of non-issues and has started doing this with the Ram Temple discussion. They did not and will not speak about the employment to youths, black money, the price of the dollar, petrol and diesel,” Singh said.

The National Spokesperson of the AAP also said Modi, in his speeches, never discusses his poll promises.

“So, even if we speak about the work, what exactly has he done? It is demonetisation that broke the backbone of the economy.”

“India is an emotional country and the Prime Minister is taking advantage of this. He is an expert in raising emotional issues but never speaks on serious issues like Rafale. It doesn’t matter what the caste of the Prime Minister is, or what he did before becoming PM. We want to know about black money, bullet trains, farmers’ issues and when the rupee will reach 40 (to the dollar).”

Speaking about the strategy of AAP for 2019, he said the party will contest in 80-100 seats across the nation.

“The party will fight elections in all the seats in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Goa. We will also contest some seats in other states.”

However, Singh said the candidates and other strategies will be announced after December 11, when the results of elections in five states — Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Mizoram — will be out.

(Nivedita Singh can be contacted at [email protected])


‘Operation Shakti’ in the vanguard of Congress march to LS polls




New Delhi, Jan 21 : To understand what was at the core of Operation Shakti, IANS caught up with its centrifuge Praveen Chakravarty to understand what the Congress was attempting for the BJP had them on the run till recently.

As he says, “I was quite sanguine initially on this whole metamorphosis but when I saw the Congress President calling a worker by name and talking to him and the response that he was getting, I realised that the wisdom of the crowds could not be faulted, involve the people in everything which is the real offshoot of true democracy or peoplecracy.

“That is how 30,000 people were surveyed in Delhi to find out who should be Congress President for Delhi.

“In fact every candidate was selected in the three north and middle India states using this interface, including the Chief Ministers. The template being ‘Wisdom of the Crowds’, a seminal book by James Surowiecki, New Yorker business columnist with boundless erudition explores the simple idea of large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no matter how brilliant and better at solving problems, fostering innovation, coming to wise decisions and even predicting the future.

“Data is available, my experience and expertise as a political scientist helped and one found over a six month period that data is pure gold and that is what one needed to plug and play into.”

Apparently, the Congress President is an extraordinary believer in the objectivity of data and the primacy of this being the gold standard to crack the election code.

Chakravarty, a former Goldman Sachs Wall Street banker — who worked with Nandan Nilekani in the past in UIDAI and then in Manmohan Singh’s PMO — the Wharton-educated data scientist known as ‘Chucky’ says, “We have learned a lot from these state elections — what worked, what didn’t — and have started transposing this learning for the Lok Sabha elections.

“Plans are now afoot to craft our campaign accordingly, this is work in progress and it it will be done after collecting ground zero feedback from multiple locations.

“It will be ground up in terms of choice of candidate, mediums of communication, issues at hand, the whole ball of wax. All my output goes directly to the Congress President only. He then gives direction on the way forward.”

The battle of 2019 will be fought across 2,00,000 polling booths and the issues will vary from place to place.

For instance in the state elections, just to give a flavour, the Congress found that landless farmers and youth were livid over in DeMo in Bhopal. Upper caste wanted reservation somewhere else etc.

Chucky studied at BITS Pilani and worked with IBM in Japan and at Microsoft on Windows 95 and did his Masters from Wharton before plunging into the high jinks world of investment banking only to move back to India in 2005.

His belief is that there is no general election in India, it is a sum of parts as 29 states go to the polls at the same time.

As he added, “National election is a myth. Our approach is to attack each state differently for every state has myriad problems. Our incessant surveys and people inputs have shown us that Notebandi resulted in a scarcity of jobs, it transcended across class, gender, economic strata. It’s overnight announcement in that it became law as of midnight November 8, broke the back of the people in this country.”

The Congress is buoyant on its Gabbar Singh Tax stratagem which it claims has worked. They will take on an incumbent in Narendra Modi but a defiant Prime Minister whose people connect skills are unquestionable. Somewhere in this convoluted narrative, the Congress is expected to focus on the economy for it reckons that the economy is resembling a shipwreck.

At the vanguard of the Congress electioneering campaign will be “scarcity of jobs, pricing erosion for farmers, ever-lowering demand for MSMES, another casualty of ‘notebandi’, which will bring the focus back on the economy and how it is hurting people of all hues”.

Chucky also confirmed that another imperative was the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which worked consistently with the voter as the GOP tried to pinpoint areas of economic weakness which included the emasculation of the venerable institution.

The Congress morale is upbeat as if it has been given an adrenaline shot, winning helps and three states are like ‘sone pe suhaga’. New elements have been introduced in the Congress campaign, there is freshness in its approach in the main people connect.

The BJP won 62 out of 65 LS seats in the 2014 general elections in Rajasthan, MP and Chattisgarh. Empirical data from these state polls reveals that they have lost 50 of these if LS polls were to take place today. Of course, state polls, by polls and general hustings are fought on different issues.

In parallel with the general elections, three important states will go to the polls — Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and possibly Jammu and Kashmir.

Immediately after the national polls, Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand will go to polls.

The Congress won 206 seats in the 2009 polls to romp home as the single largest party, but by December 2013, after various state polls, the total had been reduced to 106 if one was to collate assembly poll data.

So, if the Congress ended up with 44 in May 2014, it was no surprise, for the erosion was rapid and severe. Not a similar litmus test awaits the BJP besieged by incumbency.

(The first part of the story was carried on Sunday by IANS)

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Congress, opposition doing negative politics over EVMs sensing defeat in 2019 elections: BJP

His remarks came soon after a person named Syed Suja, who claimed that he was part of the team which designed EVMs in India.



New Delhi, Jan 21 (IANS) Accusing the Congress and other opposition parties of indulging in ‘negative politics’ over the electreonic voting machines (EVMs), the BJP on Monday hit out at them, saying that sensing defeat in the coming elections, they have started spreading such rumours.

“There are a few powers behind the hacking, which has hacked the brain of Congress and Congress is working with that mindset,” Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told reporters here.

His remarks came soon after a person named Syed Suja, who claimed that he was part of the team which designed EVMs in India.

Defending the EVMs, Naqvi said the Election Commission (EC) has number of times asked the political parties to approach it and give evidence over the issue of hacking EVMs. “But they never approached the Commission,” Naqvi said.

“Before elections they (opposition) have started blaming EVMs as they have realised their defeat in the coming elections. They have realised the mood of the people and nation ahead of elections,” he said.

“Congress and a few of its friends are doing negative politics over EVMs,” he alleged.

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EC rejects claims of EVMs rigging in 2014, says its examining legal action



Election Commission

New Delhi, Jan 21 : The Election Commission on Monday firmly rejected claims by a US-based self-claimed cyber expert Syed Shuja that the 2014 elections were rigged, saying it was examining legal action over the “motivated slugfest”.

Soon after Shuja claimed that the 2014 elections were rigged, the Election Commission in statement said, “It has come to the notice of Election Commission that an event claiming to demonstrate EVMs used by EC can be tampered with, has been organised in London.”

“Whereas, ECI has been wary of becoming a party to this motivated slugfest, ECI firmly stands by the empirical facts about foolproof nature of ECI EVMs deployed in elections in India,” it said.

The Commission said that it needs to be reiterated that these EVMs are manufactured in Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) under very strict supervisory and security conditions.

“And there are rigorous Standard Operating Procedures meticulously observed at all stages under the supervision of a Committee of eminent technical experts constituted way back in 2010,” it said.

“It is being separately examined as to what legal action can and should be taken in the matter,” the Commission added.


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