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Voting begins in first phase of J&K panchayat polls

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jammu kashmir panchayat polls

Jammu/Srinagar, Nov 17: Polling began on Saturday for the first phase of the Jammu and Kashmir panchayat elections under tight security arrangements.

Voting started at 8 a.m. and will end on 2 p.m.

18.5% voter turnout recorded till 11 am in the first phase of Panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir.

Polling is underway in Srinagar, Ganderbal, Budgam, Baramulla, Kupwara, Handwara, Bandipora, Sopore, Leh and Kargil districts.

Earlier, very few voters were seen outside polling stations in the valley while voters started coming out in good numbers in the Jammu region.

Fifteen districts of the state — seven in Jammu region, six in valley, two in Ladakh — were going to the polls. There were a total of 3,296 polling stations — 1,303 in the valley and 1,993 in the Jammu region.

In Jammu region, Saturday’s polls were being held in Doda, Ramban, Rajouri, Kishtwar, Kathua, Samba and Jammu district while in the valley it was taking place in Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Ganderbal, Badgam and Srinagar districts.

Polling is also scheduled today in Ladakh’s Leh and Kargil districts.

The state’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Shaleen Kabra said 5,585 candidates were in the fray for for 420 sarpanch and 1,845 panch posts in the first phase.

He said 85 sarpanchs and 1,676 panchs were already been elected unopposed.

Keeping the ground situtaion in mind, Kabra said 491 polling stations in the valley and 196 in the Jammu division have been declared as hypersensitive.

Contingent plans have been drawn for polling stations close to the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border so that these can be shifted to other places in case of a ceasefire violation.

Heavy deployments of police and central paramilitary forces have been made to ensure a peaceful polling process.

Separatists have called for a protest shutdown on Saturday asking the people to stay away from these elections.

This is the first of the nine-phased panchayat polls.

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Ashok Gehlot to be Rajasthan Chief Minister

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Jaipur, Dec 13: Veteran Congress leader Ashok Gehlot will take over as the new Chief Minister of Rajasthan. 

The name of 67-year-old Gehlot, a two-time Chief Minister, will be announced by the party in Delhi on Thursday evening after Congress President Rahul Gandhi completes discussions with senior party leaders, party sources told news agency IANS.

The decision was taken after day-long marathon consultations between party observers and party president Rahul Gandhi.

Earlier, he served as the Chief Minister of Rajasthan from 1998 to 2003 and again from 2008 to 2013.

The Congress emerged as a single largest party in the recently held Rajasthan elections had one seat short of a majority. The party, however, has the support of its pre-poll ally Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs and Independents.

In the 200-member Rajasthan Assembly, the Congress clinched 99 seats, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) won one seat, Bahujan Samaj Party bagged six and  Independents attained thirteen.

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Taking Inputs from MLAs, Workers: Rahul Gandhi on New Chief Ministers

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New Delhi, Dec 13: Congress President Rahul Gandhi Thursday said that the names of Rajasthan, Chhatisgarh and Madhya Pradesh chief ministers will be announced soon.

Speaking to media, Gandhi stated ” We are taking inputs from different people in the party. We are taking inputs from MLAs, from workers. You will see a Chief Minister soon”.

KC Venugopal, All India Congress Committee observer for Rajasthan, chief ministerial hopefuls Sachin Pilot and Ashok Gehlot and other are in New Delhi to meet the Congress president.

Earlier in a day, All India Congress Committee’s observer for Chhattisgarh, Mallikarjun Kharge stated “All MLAs have unanimously authorised AICC President Rahul Gandhi to select Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader (for Chhattisgarh). Whatever decision he takes, the MLAs are ready to accept”.

“We can’t make the conclusion of confidential discussion public. MLAs are given the rights that they can express their individual opinions, nothing will be disclosed for now. Decision on CM candidate (Chhattisgarh) should be taken by today”, On Chhattisgarh CM candidate, party leader TS Singh Deo told media.

Prior to this, Venugopal and state-in-charge Avinash Pandey were here on Wednesday to attend a Congress Legislature Party meeting of the newly-elected MLAs, who were to give their views on Chief Minister.

As per the reports, the meeting held for around eight hours but no consensus could be reached.

Eventually, it was decided that the Congress President would take the final call.

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Rajasthan: Congress leaders meet Governor, stake claim to form government

The delegation comprising Pilot, Gehlot and other Congress leaders reached the Governor’s House in Jaipur after a series of meetings at the Pradesh Congress Committee office the state capital.

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Sachin Pilot

Jaipur, Dec 12 : Even as suspense over the name of next Rajasthan Chief Minister continued, a Congress party delegation on Wednesday met Governor Kalyan Singh to stake claim to form the next government in state.

Rajasthan Congress President Sachin Pilot and former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot are the frontrunners for the coveted post.

The delegation comprising Pilot, Gehlot and other Congress leaders reached the Governor’s House in Jaipur after a series of meetings at the Pradesh Congress Committee office the state capital.

The newly elected MLAs from across the state had come to attend the meeting to elect their leader. However, no consensus could be reached, with both Gehlot and Pilot supporters strongly backing their leaders.

Meanwhile, Congress leaders have confirmed that after a meeting with the Governor, Pilot and Gehlot will leave for Delhi to meet Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday.

The Congress has emerged as the single-largest party in Rajasthan with 99 seats, though they are one seat short of a majority.

Its pre-poll alliance partner Rashtriya Lok Dal has won one seat and together, they have garnered 100 seats, which makes for the majority mark.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party gained 73 seats in the Assembly elections held in Rajasthan on Dec 7 for 199 seats out of 200. Election in Ramgarh constituency was countermanded following the death of BSP candidate Laxman Singh.

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