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Survey finds BJP, Congress in dead heat in Gujarat, massive gain for Congress

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New Delhi, Dec 5: The Congress welcomed the findings of opinion poll which show a massive gain for Congress saying the voters in Gujarat have already decided to vote the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government out.

Meanwhile the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday dismissed as “wide off the mark” a new opinion polls findings that showed the Congress gaining heavily and fast catching up with the ruling party in Gujarat as well as closing the gap between the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi as compared to the similar last two polls done in August and October.

The Lokniti-CSDS survey done in the last week of November among 3,655 voters across 50 assembly constituencies threw up some surprising results as it found the Congress leading among voters who take pride in their Gujarati identity over national identity, suggesting that the “Gujarati Asmita” card might not work as the BJP expects it to.

It also found Rahul Gandhi’s popularity surging while that of Modi taking a slight hit and the gap between the two leaders’ likeability by the public narrowing down to just seven points from 16 points in October. With 64 percent votes, Modi still remains the most popular leader in the state though.

The survey noted that over the last month the Congress staged an “impressive recovery” in the southern and central regions of Gujarat where it had been trailing the BJP by quite a huge margin. In north Gujarat, the Congress has managed to hold on to its “fairly big lead” over the BJP, it said.

In rural Saurashtra, the Congress is the front-runner while the BJP dominates in urban Saurashtra. This rural-urban pattern of support is evident in most parts of the state, the poll said.

The survey opined that economic hardships faced by the voters is a major reason behind the Congress’ rise and also a major reason for the Patidars’ support to the Congress besides Hardik Patel’s call to defeat the BJP over their unmet demand for reservation.

“It seems that India’s rise in World Bank’s ease of doing business ranking, Moody’s ratings upgrade for the Indian economy and the concessions given by the government with regard to GST have not really improved voters’ perception of Modi’s performance,” the survey said.

The survey also ascribed the Congress’ new found support among women as another reason for its rising popularity. A month ago, women were found to be strongly backing the BJP over the Congress (50:39 per cent). This 11 point gap has now reduced to just two points, the opinion poll found.

Welcoming the survey findings, Congress Spokesman Sanjay Jha said the survey “clearly manifests that there is an increasing momentum towards the Congress party in Gujarat”.

“The Gujarat voters have already decided to vote BJP government out, largely because the so-called ‘Gujarat Model’ was a fictitious and fraudulent spin which today stands totally exposed. That is why a nervous BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is the principal campaigner in Gujarat, are indulging in communal polarisation,” Jha told IANS.

However, the BJP dismissed the poll findings as “off the mark” and said the Congress was nowhere in the race, much like the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.

“Both the opinion and exit polls of the CSDS-Lokniti in Uttar Pradesh projected victory for the Congress-Samajwadi Party combine, which the BJP won with a landslide margin. The series of CSDS polls are as wide off the mark in Gujarat as they were in Uttar Pradesh,” BJP Spokesman G.V.L. Narasimha Rao told IANS.

“The Congress party’s so-called comeback in Gujarat is as strong as it was in Uttar Pradesh,” he added.

IANS

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Recount of presidential votes in Wisconsin ends, reaffirms Biden’s win

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Joe Biden

Washington: US President-elect Joe Biden’s win in Wisconsin has been reaffirmed after two of the state’s largest counties completed the recount of the ballots cast in the November 3 presidential election, with just a little change in the tally.

The Democratic former Vice President’s lead over incumbent President Donald Trump in the key swing state grew by 87 votes, after the latter gained 45 votes in the Dane County recount and Biden got a 132-vote net gain in the Milwaukee county recount, Xinhua news agency reported.

The statewide tally showed Biden won Wisconsin by over 20,000 votes.

The Trump campaign has, as required by state law, paid $3 million for the recount, only to see his defeat more apparent.

A day before the recount results, Trump had tweeted on Saturday that he would file a lawsuit “Monday or Tuesday” to continue challenging the results.

“The Wisconsin recount is not about finding mistakes in the count, it is about finding people who have voted illegally,” he said.

“We have found many illegal votes.”

Wisconsin is set to certify the results on Tuesday.

Wisconsin Voters Alliance, a conservative voter group, has filed a lawsuit against the Wisconsin Elections Commission, asking the state’s Supreme Court to prevent the certification.

But Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers’ attorneys filed a response to the lawsuit on November 27, calling the group’s effort a “brazen attack on democracy itself” and asked the state Supreme Court to dismiss it.

The Democratic Governor said the lawsuit was a “mishmash of legal distortions” that attempted to disenfranchise millions of Wisconsin residents.

He said failing to certify the election results would alter other election results across the state, throwing the government into chaos.

Trump also suffered consecutive legal defeats in Pennsylvania, as the state’s Supreme Court on Saturday ruled against a Republican-filed case alleging voting irregularities, after a federal appeals court denied his re-election campaign’s effort to appeal its own case that was rejected by a lower court.

Trump told Fox News on Sunday that he “would like to file one nice big beautiful lawsuit” in the US Supreme Court, complaining that “it’s hard to get into the Supreme Court”.

He said the high court needs to be “willing to make a real big decision”, adding he’s got “the best Supreme Court advocates, lawyers that want to argue the case if it gets there”.

Last week, US District Judge Matthew Brann rejected the Trump campaign’s lawsuit accusing Pennsylvania of allowing voters to fix errors in the mail-in ballots and seeking to prevent the state from certifying the results.

The judge also refused the campaign to file an amended complaint.

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Around 52% Polling recorded in 1st phase of DDC Polls in Jammu and Kashmir

The SEC said that the DDC elections will play a decisive role for development at the grass-roots level.

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Jammu: State Election Commissioner (SEC) K.K. Sharma said on Saturday that the first phase of District Development Council (DDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir has been conducted successfully with a voter turnout of 51.76%.

The polling was by and large peaceful in the 43 constituencies of DDC that went to the polls on Saturday in which 3,62,766 voters, including 1,93,375 males and 1,69,391 females, out of 7,00,842 voters, exercised their franchise to choose their representatives in their respective councils, the SEC said in a press conference.

Sharma said that Reasi district recorded the highest polling at 74.62 per cent, followed by Rajouri (70.52 per cent), Poonch (68.69 per cent), Samba (68.61 per cent), Doda (64.49 per cent), Kathua (62.82 per cent), Jammu (61.49 per cent), Ramban (64.21 per cent), Udhampur (57.13 per cent) and Kishtwar (55.16 per cent) — all in Jammu division.

In the Kashmir division, Budgam district recorded the highest polling at 56.96 per cent, followed by Kupwara (50.74 per cent), Ganderbal (48.62 per cent), Bandipora (43.57 per cent), Anantnag 43.32 (per cent), Shopian (42.58 per cent), Kulgam (34.35 per cent), Srinagar (33.76 per cent) and Baramulla (32.51 per cent).

The SEC further said that large number of people came out to cast their votes in the first phase of DDC polls and panch/sarpanch bypolls. Long queues could be seen despite severe cold conditions in the Kashmir division and the hilly areas of the Jammu division, Sharma added.

The SEC said that the DDC elections will play a decisive role for development at the grass-roots level.

He also appreciated all the stakeholders for their tireless efforts for the successful conduct of the polling process. Adequate security personnel were deployed at all the polling stations to ensure the smooth conduct of the polls, he said.

The SEC further informed that arrangements for the second phase of polling — to be held in 43 constituencies, 25 in Kashmir division and 18 in Jammu division — have been put in place.

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Ahead of DDC polls, BJP targets Abdullahs over ‘land grab’

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Farooq Abdullah

New Delhi: Ahead of the District Development Council (DDC) polls in Jammu and Kashmir beginning Saturday, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad trained his guns on the Abdullahs for their alleged role in the Roshni scam.

Prasad alleged that the key leaders of the erstwhile state, including Farooq Abdullah, used their “influence and power for land grabbing”.

“In 1998, Farooq Abdullah had purchased 3 kanals of land but he encroached upon 7 kanals of land which were double the size of the purchase,” Prasad alleged while speaking to the media. He further said that under the Roshni scam, the name of Farooq Abdullah’s sister Suraiya Mattu has also appeared, who, the minister alleged, is also a beneficiary of 3 kanals of land.

“There was a conscious land loot by the powerful people of J&K who were getting benefits under the Roshni Act which was declared unconstitutional by the J&K High Court. This is low level politics by the powerful people of J&K and we condemn it,” alleged Prasad.

Prasad said the J&K High Court has declared the Roshni Act as unconstitutional and has stated that the names of people who have acquired land under this Act should be listed and made public.

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