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Voting ends in HP with record voter turnout

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Kinnaur: A voter after casting her vote during Himachal Pradesh assembly elections in the Kinnaur District of Himachal Pradesh on Nov 9, 2017. (Photo: IANS)

Shimla, Nov 9 : Voting closed today in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh, where the BJP is seeking to dislodge the Virbhadra Singh-led Congress government on the issue of corruption while deflecting attacks by rivals on demonetisation and GST.

Sixty sitting MLAs were among the 337 candidates fighting for a seat in the 68-member legislative assembly of Himachal Pradesh, one of few states under Congress rule.

The results along with those of the BJP-ruled Gujarat will be a bellwether of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity.

Voters wait in a queue

Kinnaur: Voters wait in a queue to cast their votes during Himachal Pradesh assembly elections outside a polling booth in the Kinnaur District of Himachal Pradesh on Nov 9, 2017. (Photo: IANS)

As many as 7,525 polling booths were set up and 37,605 personnel deputed for poll duty in the state, which has a total of 50,25,941 voters.

Voting for the Assembly, which started at 8am, came to an end at 5pm, but continued in some booths were people were still waiting to cast their votes.

A total of 17,850 personnel of police and Home Guards and 65 companies of central paramilitary force had also been deployed.

To ensure free and fair polls, other officials, including 29 general, three police and 22 expenditure observers as well as 1,561 micro observers were believed to have been deployed across the state.

Chief Minister and Congress leader Virbhadra Singh, 10 ministers, eight chief parliamentary secretaries, Deputy Speaker Jagat Singh Negi, former chief minister and BJP leader Prem Kumar Dhumal and over a dozen former ministers are among those who have thrown their hat in the ring.

Voters cast their votes

Kinnaur: Voters cast their votes during Himachal Pradesh assembly elections outside a polling booth in the Kinnaur District of Himachal Pradesh on Nov 9, 2017. (Photo: IANS)

The ruling Congress and the BJP, led by Dhumal, contested all 68 seats. The BSP fought for 42 seats, the CPI(M) 14, Swabhiman Party and Lok Gathbandhan Party six each and the CPI three. There are also 112 independents in the fray.

Dharamsala has the maximum number of candidates at 12.

Both Virbhadra Singh and Dhumal have moved out of their old constituencies. While the Congress leader contested from Arki, the BJP leader chose Sujanpur.

The 12-day high-voltage campaign, which ended on Tuesday, saw over 450 rallies by star campaigners of the BJP and the Congress.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed seven rallies and BJP president Amit Shah, six.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi addressed three rallies.

Corruption was the main focus of the BJP campaign with the party training its guns on the chief minister while the Congress hit out at the BJP over GST and demonetisation.

Chief Parliamentary Secretary Mansa Ram, who was elected for the first time in 1967 from Karsog (SC), fought for the eleventh time.

The election saw 19 women — six from the BJP and three from the Congress. Seven rebels each from the two parties also contested the polls.

At present, the Congress has 35 and the BJP 28 MLAs in the House. There are four independents while one seat is vacant.

Web-casting was used in 2,307 polling stations for live monitoring of polling activities.

Officials said 7,525 electronic voting machines (EVMs) and VVPAT paper trail machines were used. The Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail machines were used for the first time in this election.

An estimated 10 per cent of the total number of EVMs and VVPATs had been kept in reserve.

IANS

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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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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siddaramaiah kumaraswamy

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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Trinamool’s all-conquering run in Bengal Panchayat polls

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Kolkata, May 17: The ruling Trinamool Congress looked set for a resounding win bulldozing all political rivals in rural West Bengal on Thursday in the vote count for the three-tier state Panchayat election, with the BJP emerging a distant second in almost all the districts.

The Left Front, which ruled the state for 34 years till 2011, lay decimated in the third position, while the Congress was virtually wiped out in Monday’s polls, which were marred by widespread violence and allegations of strong-arm tactics and irregularities against the Trinamool.

As per latest reports, the state’s ruling party has won 20,277 Gram Panchayat (lowest tier) seats of 31,814 that were contested, while it was leading in 382 seats. The party has won 2,605 out of 6,125 contested Panchayat Samiti (middle tier) seats and were comfortably ahead in another 431.

The Trinamool Congress also seemed on track to win all 20 Zila Parishads.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee congratulated the party workers for the massive win and dedicated the victory to the people.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which managed to bag 5,416 Gram Panchayat and 282 Panchayat Samiti seats, gave a tough fight to the Trinamool in two western districts — Purulia and Jhargram. The saffron outfit also led in 34 and 43 seats, respectively, in the two tiers of the rural body.

Another interesting development was the performance of the Independents, who have bagged more seats than the Left Front.

In South 24 Parganas district’s Bhangar that has been on the boil over the construction of a power grid sub-station by the state government in the last one year, Independent candidates backed by Jomi-Jibika-Bastutantra O Poribesh Rokkha Committee (committee for protecting life, livelihood, ecology and environment) won five out of the eight Gram Panchayat seats, where they had filed their nominations via WhatsApp.

The Panchayat Samiti was, however, won by ruling party strongman Arabul Islam who was arrested a day before the election for his alleged involvement in the murder of a local youth.

BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said his party was moving on the right track. “We have done reasonably well. Had the polls been free and fair, we would have done better.”

Sporadic incidents of unrest over the election results were reported from districts like Nadia where a group of miscreants allegedly ran away with ballot boxes. The counting of votes was halted for almost three hours in Nadia’s Majhdia after allegations of tampering with the ballot papers were received.

“There are some reports of unrest in the districts but the administrations concerned have already taken action. There are no reports of major violence from anywhere,” State Election Commission (SEC) Secretary Nilanjan Shandilya told IANS.

In Birbhum district, BJP and Trinamool Congress activists clashed with each other outside a counting station. Police had to resort to baton charge to disperse the mob.

According to the state administration, 12 persons lost their lives on the polling day, out which six were confirmed have died in poll violence.

Statistics reveal that of the total 58,692 seats in the three tiers of the rural local bodies, 20,076 seats, or 34.2 per cent, have been decided uncontested, with the Trinamool bagging a whopping proportion of these seats.

These include 16,814 of the total 48,650 Gram Panchayats seats, 3,059 of the 9,217 Panchayat Samiti seats and 203 of the 825 Zila Parishad seats.

The Supreme Court has now asked the SEC not to issue winning certificates in these seats.

IANS

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