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Election

On Amarinder’s birthday, Congress sweeps Punjab; AAP finishes second, Akali-BJP third

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Chandigarh, March 11 : The Congress party on Saturday swept back to power in Punjab after a decade, with veteran Amarinder Singh set to return as Chief Minister of the border state.

The Congress, headed for a two-thirds majority in the 117-seat Punjab assembly, worsted the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party combine. The party’s win also turned on its head the BJP’s ‘Congress Mukt Bharat’ (Congress free India) slogan.

The Congress won 76 seats and was leading in one more.

Having won Punjab for his party on his 75th birthday, Amarinder Singh said his first priority would be to eradicate drugs from the state.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose BJP was piggy-backing to power with the Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab for the past decade, spoke to Amarinder Singh and congratulated him on the victory.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which had run a high-voltage campaign in the state and claimed it could win up to 100 seats, got only 20 seats. Its ally, Lok Insaaf Party, won two seats.

The AAP beat the Akali Dal to emerge at second spot, and will be the main opposition in the new assembly.

The Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance, which ruled Punjab since 2007, finished a poor third with 18 seats. The Akalis won 15 seats while the BJP won three seats.

Ten ministers, including two from the BJP, in the Parkash Singh Badal government were defeated.

Congress candidate Gurjeet Singh Aujla won the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat comprehensively by 199,189 votes. The by-election was held along with the assembly polls.

“The people of Punjab have given us a big mandate. Our first priority will be to eradicate drugs from Punjab. I have vowed to finish drugs within four weeks,” a visibly happy Amarinder Singh, who was Chief Minister from 2002-07, told the media.

He was non-committal on having cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu as Deputy Chief Minister in the new government.

“That will be decided by Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi. All ministers will be decided by the party leadership.”

In Chandigarh, security was enhanced outside the private bungalow of Amarinder Singh in the upscale Sector 10 on Saturday morning itself as early trends started coming in. A metal detector and more security personnel were deployed as the number of visitors increased.

Outgoing Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, a five-time Chief Minister, accepted defeat and said he will resign on Sunday.

Badal, 89, the oldest Chief Minister in the country, said: “I am grateful to the people of Punjab for giving me an opportunity to serve them. I am fully satisfied with all the things I was able to do. I seek forgiveness for any mistakes.”

On the Lambi assembly seat, where Amarinder Singh had challenged Badal on his (Badal’s) home turf, Badal won by 22,770 votes. But Amarinder Singh won his traditional Patiala Urban seat by over 52,400 votes.

The Chief Minister’s son Sukhbir Singh Badal, the Akali Dal President, won in Jalalabad over AAP’s Bhagwant Singh Mann by a margin of 18,500 votes.

Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, who won from the Amritsar-east assembly seat by over 42,000 votes, dubbed the Congress victory as its “revival” and blamed the Akali rout on its leadership’s “arrogance and turning the treasury into personal property”.

Sidhu, who left the BJP to join the Congress last year, also attacked Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. “Kejriwal had wrong intentions. It is a huge defeat for him.”

Prominent AAP winners included Sukhpal Singh Khaira, H.S. Phoolka and Kanwar Sandhu. The AAP also finished second in 26 constituencies.

Prominent losers included former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal (Congress), Sunil Jakhar (Congress), Ludhiana MP Ravneet Singh Bittu (Congress), Punjab ministers Adaish Pratap Singh Kairon, Tota Singh, Sikander Singh Maluka and former Army chief, Gen J.J. Singh.

The Congress ended up with a vote share of 38.5 per cent from the votes polled in the election. The Akali Dal got 25.3 per cent while its ally BJP got 5.3 per cent. The AAP finished with 23.8 per cent of the vote.

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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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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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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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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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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