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Election

Politics hots up in Gujarat amid rumours of Congress defections

The BJP needs at least 11 assembly seats more than its present strength of 103 to comfortably win both the seats. This can only happen if the opposition MLAs cross-vote or join the BJP and vote in its favour.

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Rajya Sabha Smriti Amit Shah

Ahmedabad, May 29 (IANS) Gujarat’s political climate is heating up amid speculation that the ruling BJP will engineer defections of Congress MLAs to ensure its victory on two Rajya Sabha seats falling vacant after resignations of BJP President Amit Shah and former Minister Smriti Irani, who have been elected to the Lok Sabha.

Going by the present party position in the 182-member state Assembly, the BJP and the Congress can win one seat each. This means a loss of one seat to the ruling party in the Rajya Sabha where the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has 99 seats against the requirement of 124 seats for a majority.

The BJP needs at least 11 assembly seats more than its present strength of 103 to comfortably win both the seats. This can only happen if the opposition MLAs cross-vote or join the BJP and vote in its favour. The Congress has 71 MLAs, the Bharatiya Tribal Party two, the Nationalist Congress Party one, Independents two, while three seats are vacant.

What has given grist to the rumour mill that some Congress legislators might join the BJP in the coming days are two simultaneous statements by Gujarat BJP President Jitu Vaghani and rebel Congress MLA Alpesh Thakore, who along with another legislator Dhavalsinh Jhala, quit the opposition party, days before the Lok Sabha elections.

But they have not resigned as MLAs and the Congress had two weeks ago made a representation to Speaker Rajendra Trivedi to disqualify them.

Vaghani told local Gujarati TV channels: “We are in the habit of winning, victory has always been ours. Wait and watch.”

Hours later on Monday, Thakore was quoted by media as saying: “At least 15 Congress MLAs are unhappy with the way the party treats them and are in touch with me. They may quit anytime soon.”

Thakore might himself join the BJP. He does not deny this and to questions about possibility of his joining the ruling party, said: “Everything happens for good. I want to do a lot for my community (OBC Thakores) and for the poor in the state.”

He even met Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel in Gandhinagar on Tuesday.

Another legislator and Congress turncoat Asha Patel has added to the speculations claiming that “more than 30 Congress MLAs are very unhappy with the party leadership and willingly join the BJP if invited”.

Patel, along with three other turncoats, took oath as BJP MLAs after being re-elected in by-elections held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls.

Gujarat Congress President Amit Chavda, who has offered his resignation owning moral responsibility for the party’s debacle in the Lok Sabha elections in the state, strongly denied that any party would cross over.

“Those who have deserted us had been lured away but not a single Congress MLA will join the BJP now,” Chavda told reporters on Wednesday. Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani has also offered to resign for the party losing all the 26 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

Election

Congress forms 5-party Mahagathbandhan to take on BJP in Assam

AIUDF General Secretary Aminul Islam said the Mahagathbandhan is good for Assam as it would fulfil the expectations of the people of the state and throw the BJP out of power.

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BJP and Congress Flag Poster

Guwahati, Jan 20: The opposition Congress on Tuesday announced a five-party ‘Mahagathbandhan’ to take on the ruling BJP-led coalition in Assam in the upcoming Assembly elections expected to be held in April-May.

Announcing the Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance), Assam Congress President Ripun Bora said that his party would contest the elections in alliance with the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), the three Left parties – Communist Party of India-Marxist, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) – and the Anchalik Gana Morcha (AGM).

He said that regional parties are welcome to join the Mahagathbandhan to oust the Bharatiya Janata Party from power in the state.

“The Congress is always keen to oust all communal forces for the best interest of the country. People are ready to vote out the BJP as its misgovernance caused a lot of distress to the people, who have become fed up with the BJP,” he said.

AIUDF General Secretary Aminul Islam said the Mahagathbandhan is good for Assam as it would fulfil the expectations of the people of the state and throw the BJP out of power.

AGM President Ajit Kumar Bhuyan, also a Rajya Sabha member, termed the formation of the grand alliance as a historic moment. He sounded optimistic that the grand alliance would defeat the BJP in the forthcoming elections.

Besides the AIUDF, a Muslim-dominated party in Assam, and the Left parties, state Congress leaders had held several meetings in the past few months with the ‘like minded parties’.

AIUDF President and Lok Sabha member Maulana Badruddin Ajmal has been stating that the two parties (Congress and AIUDF) have decided to contest the Assembly polls together since their tie-up for the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) polls held last month.

Recently, interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi had appointed three central leaders — Bhupesh Baghel (Chhattisgarh Chief Minister), Mukul Wasnik (AICC General Secretary) and Shakeel Ahmed Khan (Bihar MLA) — to oversee the election campaign in Assam in close coordination with the AICC general secretaries and the party in-charge for the state.

Baghel and other central leaders held meetings with the state party leaders in Guwahati before Assam Congress chief announced the Mahagathbandhan.

The Congress had suffered a setback in the recent elections to the BTC and the Tiwa Autonomous Council. Two of its MLAs – Ajanta Neog and Rajdeep Goala – had joined the BJP last month, delivering another blow to the party.

In the 2016 Assam assembly elections, the Congress had contested on its own without an electoral alliance with any party, securing 24 seats.

After the last Assembly polls, the BJP formed the government in Assam for the first time after winning 60 seats following the formation of an alliance with the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) and the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which won 14 and 12 seats, respectively. The ruling alliance also has the support of an Independent MLA.

The 126-member Assam Assembly is likely to go to the polls in April-May along with West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.

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Election

Sonia forms 10-member election panel for Kerala chaired by Chandy

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Sonia Gandhi in Cong meeting

New Delhi, Jan 20: Eyeing the assembly polls in Kerala, the Congress on Tuesday announced a 10-member Election Management and Strategy Committee under the leadership of former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy as its chairperson along with senior party members like Shashi Tharoor and K. C. Venugopal.

Venugopal, who is the party’s General Secretary (Organisations) in a statement said that party chief Sonia Gandhi has approved the appointment of Election Management and Strategy Committee of Kerala Congress for the upcoming assembly elections with immediate effect.

He further said that the Committee shall meet frequently to discuss matters related to electioneering, co-ordination and formulation of election strategies.

Besides Chandy, Tharoor and Venugopal, the party has also named Mullapallay Ramachandran, Ramesh Chennithala, Tariq Anwar, K. Muraleedharan, V.M. Sudheeran, K. Sudhakaran and Kodikkunnil Suresh as the panel members.

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Election

Bengal: Left, Congress leaders hold talks; to finalise candidates by Jan end

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Congress

Kolkata, Jan 18: Top leaders of the CPI(M)-led Left Front and the Congress conducted a meeting here on Sunday to discuss the seat-sharing and other election-related strategies, leaders of both the parties said, adding that their candidates would be finalised by the end of this month.

However, both the Congress and Left leaders said that they would hold more such meetings this month to finalise the candidates’ list for the upcoming Assembly elections, expected to be held in April-May.

Both the party leaders would meet again on January 25 and 28 to settle the seat-sharing issue and other poll-related preparedness.

In 2016 West Bengal Assembly polls, the two parties had forged an alliance and won 76 seats in the 294-member Assembly.

Post meeting, Left Front Chairman and CPI-M politburo member Biman Bose said that their discussion with the Congress was cordial and fruitful.

“To defeat the communal force BJP and the fascist TMC (Trinamool Congress), the Congress-Left parties’ alliance is must. The alliance would definitely thrash the binary rule in Bengal,” the veteran Left leader told the media.

Bose said that leaders and workers of Left parties and Congress should fight against the BJP and the TMC with shoulder to shoulder.

Party sources said that the Congress wanted to contest in 130 seats but the Left leaders did not concede the demand.

Bengal Congress chief and the party’s leader in the Lok Sabha, Adhir Chowdhury said that the seat sharing with the Left parties would not be completed in a single meeting, however, the seat sharing process would be concluded within this month.

CPI-M state secretary Suryakanta Mishra, Congress leaders Abdul Mannan and Pradip Bhattacharjee were present at the meeting.The Left and Congress parties are likely to hold a mega joint rally in Kolkata soon to kick start their election campaign.

The all important elections to the 294-member West Bengal assembly are likely to be held in April-May along with Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.In the 2016 West Bengal polls,

Trinamool had retained its majority and won 211 seats while the Bharatiya Janata Party won three seats.

However, in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Left and Congress had fought separately with the Congress won two seats, the Left Front dominated by the CPI-M, which ruled Bengal for 34 years (1977-2011), drew a blank.

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