Lok Sabha Elections 2019 https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019.rss Lok Sabha Elections 2019, Live Updates, Election 2019 Schedule and Voting Dates. Indian Parliament Election 2019. Kerala Election 2019 News Updates. Election Analysis, English Manorama. en Sat, 01 Jun 2019 13:47:05 GMT https://www.manoramaonline.com/privacy.html End of SP-BSP alliance? Mayawati to go it alone in UP bypolls Lucknow: Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) president Mayawati on Monday set the tone for the break-up of her party's alliance with the Samajwadi Party. Addressing a meeting of party leaders from Uttar Pradesh in Delhi, Mayawati announced that the BSP would contest the by-elections to 11 Assembly elections in the state on its own. This clearly means that Mayawati is in no mood to continue the alliance with Samajwadi Party. Moreover, BSP normally does not contest by-elections. But this time it has announced that it will field candidates in the state by-elections. Addressing the party meeting, she said the BSP had not benefited from the alliance with the Samajwadi Party. She stated that the transfer of votes between the two parties had not taken place. She asked party leaders to start short-listing candidates for the 11 by-elections that will be held because these legislators have been elected to the Lok Sabha. Nine legislators of BJP have won Lok Sabha elections while one legislator each from BSP and SP have been elected to the Lok Sabha. Meanwhile, state BSP president R S Kushwaha told reporters that EVMs were mainly responsible for the poor performance of the BSP in the Lok Sabha elections. The BSP won 10 Lok Sabha seats from Uttar Pradesh. The party had contested 38 seats. The Samajwadi Party, on the other hand, had contested 37 seats and could win only five. The Rashtriya Lok Dal had contested three seats and could not win even one. Interestingly, both Mayawati and SP president Akhilesh Yadav have not said a word on the future of the alliance till now. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/06/03/end-of-sp-bsp-alliance-mayawati-to-go-it-alone-in-up-bypolls.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/06/03/end-of-sp-bsp-alliance-mayawati-to-go-it-alone-in-up-bypolls.html Mon, 03 Jun 2019 10:59:53 GMT RSS 'agenda', Sabarimala affected LS poll performance: Kodiyeri Thiruvananthapuram: After three days of intense debate by various party committees, Kerala's ruling CPM on Saturday said it has identified the RSS "agenda" and the Sabarimala issue as the cause of its dismal performance in the state in the Lok Sabha polls and it will work to win back the people's confidence. The Congress-led UDF won 19 of the state's 20 seats, reducing the CPM-led Left Democratic Front to one - against eight seats in 2014, while the BJP failed to open its account. At the end of the meetings, CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan claimed that a section of the regular Left voters in the state was misled by the BJP/Congress on the Sabarimala issue. "The RSS here had a strategy which was to finish off the CPM and this is what they adopted in West Bengal and Tripura. What they did here was to vote for the Congress, even if it means defeat of the BJP, so as to finish us off. Then they can easily finish those parties who have gained at our expense... that's what they are doing in Bengal and Tripura," he alleged. Kodiyeri, however, added that the results have nothing to do with any sort of anti-incumbency against the Pinarayi Vijayan government. "In order to get back the confidence of the people, where a huge majority are fellow travellers of our party, various committees of our party will discuss and debate and report back on the corrective steps that need to be taken to work among our fellow travellers," he said. The total number of CPM members in Kerala is only half a million and the rest are sympathisers or supporters, or "fellow travellers" in the party jargon. "Another factor that worked against us was a few killings, that were wrongly foisted on us... and in this both the BJP and the Congress was able to create inroads into a large section of the society. We have asked all in our party to ensure that they adopt a position to work among the people in a humble manner only," said Balakrishnan. He also gave a clean chit to Pinarayi and said their party is not like the Congress, where they find scapegoats for reversals. "The state committee of the party takes up the responsibility of this," he added. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/06/01/rss-agenda-sabarimala-ls-polls-kodiyeri.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/06/01/rss-agenda-sabarimala-ls-polls-kodiyeri.html Sat, 01 Jun 2019 17:09:46 GMT Will fight BJP every single day, won't allow walkover: Rahul Gandhi New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said that the party's newly-elected 52 members in Parliament will fight every inch of the way like "a pride of brave-hearted lions" to protect the Constitution and the country's institutions and there will be no walkover for the BJP. Addressing the meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party in the central hall of Parliament, Gandhi cautioned the lawmakers that it will "be like the British period, when not a single institution supported the Congress party" and asserted "yet we fought and won and we are going to do it again". "We are 52 members and I guarantee you, it does not matter what institutions are standing against these 52 members. It does not matter who is standing against these 52 members. These 52 members are going to fight the BJP every single inch, without giving this much and that applies to the members from Rajya Sabha as well," he told the MPs, adding the Congress party will fearlessly do its duty as the leading opposition party in Parliament and outside. Gandhi's pep talk to the Congress lawmakers comes as it struggles to come to terms with its second successive crushing defeat in Lok Sabha elections and is facing a leadership crisis after his decision to quit as party president. The MPs at the meeting unanimously elected Sonia Gandhi as leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party and she has been authorised to decide the leaders in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. "The Congress Party may have just 52 Lok Sabha members, but we will work together like a pride of brave hearted lions to protect our Constitution and institutions and to fearlessly do our duty as the leading Opposition party. The BJP will have no walkover in Parliament," Gandhi later said on Twitter. Stressing that the Congress will rejuvenate, he lauded each of the MPs who have won this election and said they would go down in history as the ones who not just fought against a political party but also against every institution. "You fought a very good election, obviously, because the people who won the Lok Sabha this time need to understand exactly what they fought. You are probably the first people in this country's independent history, who have fought an election not against a political party but against every single institution in this country. "There is not one institution that did not fight you and tried to stop you from coming into Lok Sabha and you fought every single one of those institutions and you forced your way into the Lok Sabha. And that is something you should be extremely proud of," he said. Gandhi told the MPs that they have to understand that they are fighting for the Constitution of the country and the right of every single individual, regardless of the skin colour, religion, gender or state. "Who is fighting against you, you have to understand that also. Hatred, cowardice and anger are fighting against you. Lack of confidence, lack of self-belief is fighting against you. The people who are opposing us in Parliament House, they use hatred, they use anger to fight us. "Throughout the election, there is only one way to fight hatred and anger. There is no other way and that is the love and the affection and the compassion of the Congress Party. "That is why the BJP sits and says that we want 'Congress-mukt Bharat' because without the Congress they have a free run and no one to counter them. There is no opposition against the BJP other than the love and the compassion, the affection of the Congress Party. And that is what you have to understand," he told the new members. He asked them to be more aggressive and said they "may have to shout a little more, as they will get less time in Parliament like the last time". "Last time, if the Speaker used to give us five minutes, this time it may be two minutes, but in those two minutes, we will put forth what the Congress Party believes, we will put forth our defence of the Constitution," he said. Gandhi also said it would have been better if some of the old faces would have won. He said there were 5-10 people in the last Lok Sabha who gave tremendous support, but lamented that they did not win this time. "But they are ideologically with us even though they are standing outside the House. For me, they are standing with us inside the Lok Sabha." Gandhi also thanked all the Congress workers "who fought for the idea of India and defended it" and said "it is an opportunity for us to introspect, to look inwards, to try and see as to what went wrong, to try to rejuvenate ourselves." "I have no doubt that the Congress Party is going to rejuvenate. I have to thank all of you specially the seniors who are here. You have given a tremendous service in fighting for the Constitution and now you are fighting every single institution. "There is no institution that is going to support you in this country, not one is going to support you. It is like during the British period, when not a single institution supported the Congress Party yet we fought and won and we are going to do it again," he told the MPs. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/06/01/will-fight-bjp-every-single-day--won-t-allow-walkover-rahul-gand.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/06/01/will-fight-bjp-every-single-day--won-t-allow-walkover-rahul-gand.html Sat, 01 Jun 2019 13:49:07 GMT Alarming crisis, says CPM meet on poll rout and rise of BJP Thiruvananthapuram: The leading ruling party in Kerala is coming to terms with its Lok Sabha poll debacle as it realises the role the Sabarimala agitation played in eroding its base. The state unit of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has admitted that the faithful had gone against the party, thus handing the Left Democratic Front (LDF) its worst defeat in Kerala’s history. Strangely, the row over Sabarimala women's entry was not spelled out as the reason for the poll rout in a report submitted by CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan to the state committee during a meet to review the election defeat. The CPI(M) admitted that political opponents could to alienate believers of all religions from the LDF which could only win only the Alappuzha constituency out of the 20 in the state. However, Sabarimala was the main talking point during the meet. There were arguments supporting and countering the government's decision to implement the Supreme Court order that allowed women of all age groups to enter the temple. The meet will continue on Saturday. What next? The committee agreed that course corrective measures had to be immediately taken. The report pointed out that the LDF failed to address the concerns of the faithful and that the Left party should be more proactive in such matters in the future. The report also said the LDF government and the party were ready to make corrections in governance and at the organisational level. Party stand on temple issue fine At the meet it was widely said the Sabarimala row helped the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to make gains and that the situation was alarming. The meet agreed that the political stand taken by the government was not wrong, but there were varied opinions on the manner in which the SC order was implemented. Analysis of certain constituencies proved that the traditional voters of the CPM had favoured the BJP in the LS polls. As even the votes from party families went to the BJP, it was clear the government’s stand was not properly communicated even within the party and the LDF. Such a situation arose even when a record number of family gatherings (kudumba yogam) was held. When even the party was not able to reach out to its own workers, how can the common man be taken into its fold, the meet sought to know. The report, however, categorically stated that the LDF government was duty-bound to implement the SC order on Sabarimala. The Left front has always stood for gender equality. The rival parties were able to misuse this and corner the LDF, it was pointed out. Several members pointed out while the LDF stood by its stand on gender equality, the impact and interpretations of the volatile issue should also have been considered. It was pointed out that the government should have taken a more cautious approach while implementing the SC order. Who gained? The United Democratic Front (UDF) and the BJP made political gains out of the situation, and were able to create discord among the faithful, it was pointed out. Several leaders agreed with the report's finding that though the BJP was not able to open account in Kerala, its attempts to sow the seeds of Hinduism in the state were apparent in the polls. The BJP's rise in certain constituencies was alarming, the meet noted. In these constituencies, the BJP was able to gain support even from traditionally Left voters. The meet pinpointed on the defeats in Palakkad, Alathur and Attingal, considered to be LDF strongholds, as proof of this. The defeat in Alathur was dubbed as humiliating. There were also demands to exclusively probe the reasons that led to the poll debacle in Palakkad. The report also said the party failed to anticipate that the ‘Modi fear’ among the electorate and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi's candidature from Wayanad would favour the UDF. National issues were also taken up during the meet that was attended by state-central leaders, including general secretary Sitaram Yechury, politburo members Prakash Karat, S Ramachandran Pillai and M A Baby. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/sabarimala-facilitated-rise-of-bjp-in-cpm.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/sabarimala-facilitated-rise-of-bjp-in-cpm.html Sat, 01 Jun 2019 05:15:41 GMT Sonia Gandhi elected leader of Congress Parliamentary Party New Delhi: Sonia Gandhi was once again elected leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) at a meeting of party MPs at the Central Hall of Parliament on Saturday and said several "decisive measures" were being mulled to strengthen the party. In her speech after being elected the CPP leader, she called upon party MPs not to let their guard down and urged them to play the role of an effective opposition and ensure better coordination and cooperation with like-minded parties in Rajya Sabha. She told the members that the issues they raise in Parliament must resonate in the minds of the party workers and with the public. She also said that the party will play a constructive role in supporting the government in reform measures but will oppose it for it "divisive and regressive actions". Gandhi, after thanking the 12.3 crore voters who voted for the Congress in Lok Sabha elections, also lauded the role of Rahul Gandhi as Congress president for his "valiant and relentless campaign" in this poll. The meeting was attended by the party's 52 newly elected Lok Sabha MPs and Rajya Sabha members, besides members of the Congress Working Committee and other senior leaders. Gandhi, who represents Uttar Pradesh's Rae Bareli in Lok Sabha, is the chairperson of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA). Sources said the Congress Parliamentary Party authorised Gandhi to pick the party's leader in Lok Sabha. She has convened a meeting of senior leaders in the afternoon to decide on the matter. "In this time of crisis, we must acknowledge the numerous challenges confronting the Congress party. The Congress Working Committee met a few days ago to deliberate the next steps and the way forward for us. Several decisive measures to strengthen the party are being discussed," she told the MPs and leaders, while hinting at changes in the party that are in the offing. Congress president Rahul Gandhi is pushing for his resignation even though the party's highest decision making body has rejected it and urged him to undertake changes in the party. The sources say that the party is discussing several proposals, including installing a non-Gandhi as the party chief and a body of senior leaders that acts as a guiding force to the new president. She said even though the party had 44 MPs in last Lok Sabha and about 55 in Rajya Sabha, under Rahulji's leadership the Congress party has fought bravely to expose the government's misdeeds and congratulated the MPs for their hard work. "We were in the forefront of ensuring that some of the UPA's historic Acts were not diluted. At the same time, we cooperated with the government on a series of reforms, with constructive suggestions. This time too, we will support progressive and inclusive policies but oppose the government strongly whenever they undertake divisive and regressive actions," she said. While thanking the 12.3 crore voters, Sonia Gandhi said, "Your vote to the Congress party is a vote for safeguarding our Constitution, a vote for economic and social progress, a vote for liberty, and for social justice." Lauding Rahul Gandhi's role as party chief, she said, "I also take this opportunity to whole-heartedly thank Rahul Ji for his valiant and relentless campaign. As Congress president, he has given his all and toiled night and day for the Congress party." She said Rahul demonstrated his "fearless leadership" by taking the Modi government head on and highlighted the "injustices" carried out against farmers, workers, traders and small businesses, against the youth, women and the marginalised sections of society. She said Rahul has rejuvenated the Congress organisation in many states, and most recently led the party to victory in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. "As Congress president, he earned the respect and love of every worker and crores of voters across the length and breadth of our country. Even as I speak, emotional messages are coming from all corners, vindicating his leadership. We all express our gratitude to him for his sincerity of purpose, his relentless effort, his hard work and leadership," she said. On the reducing strength of the party in Rajya Sabha, the new CPP leader said as numbers will be challenged, it is even more important to ensure better coordination and cooperation with like-minded parties. Gandhi's name was proposed by former prime minister Manmohan Singh and all the MPs endorsed it. "Congratulations to Smt Sonia Gandhi on being elected Leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party. Under her leadership, the Congress will prove to be a strong & effective opposition party, that will fight to defend the Constitution of India," the Congress president tweeted. This was the first official meeting that Congress president Rahul Gandhi attended after the May 25 meeting of the party's working committee, where he had offered to quit as Congress chief. The CWC has already rejected his offer to resign and unanimously passed a resolution authorising him to bring structural changes in the party at all levels in a bid to revamp it. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/06/01/congress-parliamentary-party-meeting.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/06/01/congress-parliamentary-party-meeting.html Sat, 01 Jun 2019 13:00:18 GMT Opinion | Rahul should quit, but he must stay, too... Crises are embedded in the DNA of Congress. However, the 134-year-old grand old party is now caught in a Catch-22 situation. Its president Rahul Gandhi is firm on his decision to quit the post. After the party's second sucessive drubbing in general elections, Rahul seems to be the most depressed person in the country. After its rout by the invincible Modi-Shah duo of the BJP, the Congress is facing nothing short of an existential crisis. Rahul's decision to quit, the meaning of which only he could infer, has pushed the party into the verge of a collapse. It is staring at an unprecedented leadership deficit. In the past, it had at least a few names from outside the Nehru-Gandhi fiefdom to flaunt, but in the Modi-Shah era, the Congress can't even think of moving away from the family axis. Political India is divided over the question of Rahul's resignation. While all the party veterans and alliance leaders such as M K Stalin(DMK), Lalu Prasad (RJD) and Sharad Pawar (NCP) have urged him not to resign, former Union minister and known Modi-critic Yashwant Sinha argues that Rahul shouldn't damage his image further by recalling his decision. Sinha, being an outsider to the party, can give such advices, but none in the Congress seems to be able to afford the loss of Rahul at this juncture. Rahul's move to quit came as unexpected as the Congress' second drubbing in a row. It came out of a sense of utter despair, not of the electorate but the party mechanism. If reports are to be believed, Rahul has unleashed his anger towards the old guard in the party for putting their personal interest above those of the party. For those who know the way the Congress functions, Rahul's charges are nothing new. Party leaders across the country have been facing similar charges for long, though in a muted manner. Perhaps it was poetic justice that Rahul himself was destined to articulate the charge, that too at the Congress Working Committee, the party's highest forum. Why Rahul should quit Rahul should quit as party president for a variety of reasons, but only if he thinks that it would do some good for the party. Congress needs a revival, if not a resurrection, but that can't happen with the efforts of a single person. In the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls, the party made the mistake of entrusting one individual and his family -- read Rahul and his sister Priyanka -- with the mighty task of regaining its lost glory. However, that did not happen. The Congress and Rahul can't afford to entertain such a complacency among party ranks anymore. He should quit so that the entire party mechanism would feel the real heat of the party's crisis. In other words, only the extreme step by Rahul can infuse a collective sense of responsibility among the party top brass. The Congress, if it wants to survive the Modi wave -- some call it tsuNaMo these days -- should wake up to the fact that it can't solely rely on the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. Rahul's resignation would force the party to find a new set of leadership, which has to be young, dynamic, inclusive and strategic. The idea of a presidium with representation from all regions seems to make better sense. Rahul's move to quit should be approved by the party if his actual plans are to rebuild the party from grassroots. He should be allowed to occupy a less responsible post and travel across the country and meet the people. In that process, he should make sure to build a counter national narrative against the communal and jingoistic triggers that keep the BJP in power. Some may find it ironic to argue that Rahul should quit even as leaving the responsibilty to rebuild the party is on his shoulders. However, there is no need of any confusion because the primary argument is that Rahul should quit, only to make a stronger comeback powered by more experience. Why Rahul shouldn't quit All the arguments favouring Rahul's resignation are based on a sense of optimism that it would help the party overcome its present crisis in the long run. However, a realistic approach towards the issue doesn't actually support such arguments. If Rahul decides to keep himself away from the big responsibilities, the party may in fact end up in a collapse at once. The names being floated as an alternative to him, be it Sachin Piolt, Jyotiradithya Scindia, Captain Amarinder Singh or K C Venugopal, do not command the pan-India appeal that the party badly wants now. Rahul's resignation would also be seen as his inability to lead from the front. It would help the rivals peddle the narrative that he was a reluctant entrant to politics and that he can be no match for the charismatic Modi. Truth may be bitter, but the fact is that the Nehru-Gandhi family is the only common thread that binds the state units of the Congress in this point of history. There may be tall claims of ideological grounds such as protecting democracy and secularism and fighting fascism, but it would be naive to believe that the Congress rank and file would subscribe to it. In short, Rahul should stay, if he wants the Congress to stay afloat in hopes of a better tomorrow. Or at least to delay its collapse by a few elections. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/31/rahul-gandhi-resignation-pros-cons.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/31/rahul-gandhi-resignation-pros-cons.html Sat, 01 Jun 2019 01:46:25 GMT Dharmendra Pradhan: Ujjwala Man who helped BJP make inroads in Patnaik's citadel New Delhi: Almost two decades back when he was a little-known figure and was contesting his maiden MLA election, his party's poll ally and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik saw in him a potential threat. A threat that did come true when Dharmendra Pradhan helped build a groundswell for BJP that broke into Patnaik's citadel in 2019. Son of former union minister of state for surface transport, Debendra Pradhan, Dharmendra steered Modi government's biggest social initiative of providing free cooking gas (LPG) connection to poor women that helped build a base for the party in the rural hinterland. While he micromanaged implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjawla Yojana to see LPG customer base more than double to 26 crore in just five years, he kept Odisha central to his political priorities and virtually drove many a project in the oil ministry he headed to the state. A tough taskmaster, Pradhan was picked to head the high-stake Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas when Prime Minister Modi first rode to power in 2014. He overhauled controversy-riddled oil and gas sector but kept touring his home state virtually every week during the last five years, building a base for the BJP. This paid off when BJP clinched 8 out of 21 Lok Sabha seats in Odisha, up from just one in 2014. BJP also improved its tally in the state assembly to 23 from 10 previously. Back in 2000, Patnaik's BJD contested assembly elections in alliance with the BJP. Pradhan won from Pallahara seat, news that Patnaik reportedly greeted with, 'Oh! I've got a problem'. Pradhan was little known then and was just an activist of the BJP's student wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), and a former student union leader of Utkal University. But Patnaik, who some say 'x-ray' eyes, saw in him a potential threat who would breach his citadel. Almost two decades later, the chief minister's judgement is proving correct as the BJP put up a spirited challenge his uninterrupted reign. Pradhan became an MP in 2004 after successfully contesting from the Deogarh parliamentary constituency. He, however, lost the 2009 assembly elections but then the hardworking and ambitious Pradhan made enough contacts in the nation's capital to build a successful political career. He first became the BJP national secretary and then the general secretary. By 2012, he got elected to Rajya Sabha from Bihar. And when Modi swept to power in 2014 polls, he was made union minister of state for petroleum and natural gas with independent charge. He again has been made a cabinet minister in Modi 2.0 government. It was virtually because of Pradhan's ceaseless efforts that the BJP made deep inroads into the BJD-ruled state, eating into the vote-share of Naveen Patnaik-led BJD. The saffron party's vote-share in the state registered a substantial rise from 21.88 per cent in 2014 to 38.4 per cent this time, while that of the BJD dropped to 42.8 per cent from 44.77 per cent. Pradhan, who did not contest the just-concluded elections, was seen touring every nook and corner of Odisha to bolster the poll prospects of BJP candidates. He coordinated electioneering in all Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies in the state, trying to keep a tab on the pulse of the voters. Just after the first phase of the four-phase elections in the state, the 50-year-old Union minister had announced a dal-salt-rice package for the poor. It was seen as a masterstroke by many, as the promise did not figure in the BJP's manifesto for the state. In a cabinet reshuffle in 2017, Modi elevated him to the rank of union minister for the same ministry, with an additional charge of the ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship. The promotion was viewed by many as a reward for his relentless work to implement PMUY. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/31/dharmendra-pradhan-ujjwala-man-bjp-patnaik.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/31/dharmendra-pradhan-ujjwala-man-bjp-patnaik.html Fri, 31 May 2019 07:53:57 GMT Analysis | Reasons for BJP's Thiruvananthapuram fiasco The third place finish in Pathanamthitta and Thrissur Lok Sabha constituencies in Kerala will not rankle the state unit of the BJP the way the near one-lakh drubbing it suffered in Thiruvananthapuram would. In Pathanamthitta and Thrissur the party can at least take heart in the fact that the BJP's vote share had gone up stupendously. (K Surendran of BJP had taken it to 28.94 per cent from a modest 16.29 per cent in 2014 LS polls. Suresh Gopi's feat in Thrissur was even more commendable. From a mere 11 per cent in 2014, he amassed 28.19 per cent of the votes.) However, in Thiruvananthapuram, where the BJP had already emerged as a bigger force than even the Left, the party could not even sustain its 2014 level. From 32.45 per cent it fell to 31.25 per cent. Paper tiger During the campaign, it looked as if the BJP had everything going for it in Thiruvananthapuram. Not to leave anything to chance, especially because the BJP was prone to internal turf wars, the RSS had taken full control of the campaign. Add to it the money power, and the Sangh Parivar put in place by far the most efficient campaign machinery in the constituency. The target was 4 lakh votes, and it did not seem unattainable. The campaign was so driven that even in coastal areas where there is a thick concentration of Christian and Muslim families, children were seen playing with Modi masks. These were areas that the party had largely ignored in 2014. To top it all, there was Kummanam Rajasekharan. He was not just widely accepted within the organisation but was also revered as a paragon of virtue even by those outside the Sangh Parivar. Yet, Kummanam lost badly, embarrassingly. As it turned out, it was Shashi Tharoor who crossed the RSS target of 4 lakh votes. Kummanam's tally was nearly one lakh short. Fury of the coast Minority consolidation is the first excuse the BJP leaders shout in defense. In hindsight, top leaders Onmanorama talked to admit, the party could have easily foreseen this and promptly reassured the minorities. Here, there was strategic confusion. “We should have reached out to religious leaders in a big way rather than in the half-hearted manner we had gone about the task,” a senior BJP leader said. “We feared it would dilute the hard Hindutva stand the party was taking across the country and therefore was in two minds,” he added. In fact, the BJP campaign had penetrated deep enough. The party cadres visited Christian and Muslim houses in coastal areas three to four times, trying to assuage their concerns about a Modi government. However, the various church denominations remained aloof. “The Congress was able to give the impression that Rahul Gandhi would come to power,” the BJP leader said. The BJP vote share in Kovalam, which was historically low, dropped by nearly one per cent this time. Where did the Hindu votes go? The other alibi that the BJP trots out is that it had lost the NSS and SNDP, essentially Hindu, votes. To say that the BJP has lost NSS and SNDP votes is to assume that they had a near monopoly of the community votes earlier. This is not the case. Historically, even when the BJP was not a strong presence, the party had received a fair slice of the Hindu votes in the constituency. But the votes were distributed among all the three formations, with a clear preference for the UDF. But in 2014, there was a decisive shift of Hindu votes to the BJP. The voting trend this time shows that the BJP has more or less held on to its 2014 vote share; there was only a marginal drop from 32.45 percent to 31.25 per cent. Nair's anger and Modi's phone call So the question to be asked is not why Hindu votes were lost but why was the BJP unable to widen the Hindu support base it had created in 2014. One explanation trotted out is that the party was not able to keep NSS general secretary Sukumaran Nair in good humour. “Sukumaran Nair was not pleased that Kummanam made only a fleeting visit to his place. We were told that he was upset that Kummanam had not shown him enough respect,” a senior leader who was in charge of reaching out to community leaders said. “When we were exploring ways to mollify him, we were told that Sukumaran Nair would be satisfied only if the prime minister called on him at the NSS headquarters at Perunna. This was a tall ask but we managed to get Modiji to talk to Sukumaran Nair when he came on a campaign visit. They talked for some time and Modiji asked for his support. Even after this, Sukumaran Nair did not send instructions to 'karayogams'. He did not even ask his community members to at least vote according to their conscience. He just kept silent,” the BJP leader said. Pure soul image But Nair's indifference could have been made up, BJP insiders say, had Kummanam shed his Buddha-like image and been more caustic. “Never once did he take the name of Ayyappa Swami. He played by the book. See how Suresh Gopi reaped rich dividends by uttering Ayyappa's name during the campaign,” a leader said. In fact, the non-combative style of Kummanam had come in for some severe criticism during the campaign. “If the strategy was to present Kummanam as a virtuous pure soul, as our posters had suggested, the party should have shown Shashi Tharoor in a bad light. This was not done. Only when the other person is seen as really bad will your candidate's glow look more divine,” a top BJP idealogue said. Amit Shah, too, had given the party licence to adopt in-your-face tactics to win. Emboldened, a charged-up section within the party wanted to revive the controversy surrounding the death of Sunanda Pushkar. In 2014, O Rajagopal had brought the man who was instrumental in taking the death of Sunanda to court, Subramanian Swamy himself, to talk to the voters in Thiruvananthapuram. This time, Kummanam was not open to the idea. Old men's curse Kummanam's fair play might or might not have hurt him but there is now a consensus within the party that the continued apathy towards old warhorses like P P Mukundan and Raman Pillai had cost the party dear. “Raman Pillai was made the campaign committee vice-chairman but was not provided even a chair to sit, leave alone an office. After attempting three times to get a room, he left the campaign scene,” a BJP leader said. Mukundan, who was already sulking when Kummanam was announced as candidate, is said to command huge respect of the BJP cadres across the state. “I think we should begin our fight back in the state by giving these veterans party posts befitting their stature,” the leader said. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/30/reasons-for-kummanam-loss-in-thiruvananthapuram.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/30/reasons-for-kummanam-loss-in-thiruvananthapuram.html Fri, 31 May 2019 00:50:11 GMT Rahul meets Sharad Pawar amid Congress crisis New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday met NCP leader Sharad Pawar at the latter's residence and is learnt to have discussed the current political situation with him. Gandhi, who has been insisting on resigning as Congress president after the Lok Sabha polls debacle, drove to Pawar's residence and spent nearly an hour with him where it is learnt that the NCP chief also told him to continue as party chief. Details of the meeting were not immediately available. Pawar was in the Congress before he floated the Nationalist Congress Party in 1999. NCP is part of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA). Earlier, Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy met Rahul Gandhi at his residence, where Sonia Gandhi was also present. Kumaraswamy urged Rahul Gandhi not to quit as party chief. Meanwhile, party senior leader Ahmed Patel met Mallikarjun Kharge at the AICC headquarters and later met former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh. The meetings come ahead of Congress Parliamentary Party meeting on June 1, where the newly-elected Congress MPs will elect their new leader. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/30/rahul-meets-sharad-pawar.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/30/rahul-meets-sharad-pawar.html Thu, 30 May 2019 14:35:24 GMT BJP accuses TMC of breaking tubewells, water lines in regions it lost Kolkata: The BJP has accused West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress of breaking tubewells and snapping water lines in three localities of West Burdwan and Birbhum districts soon after the Lok Sabha poll results. Acting like sore losers the Trinamool Congress cadres have tried to teach a lesson to the locals who had voted for the saffron outfit. According to the Bharatiya Janata Party leadership in Kalua gram panchayat, the tubewells were damaged after they got more votes in the Kanakpur polling booth of Birbhum Lok Sabha constituency. "All tubewells in the village have been damaged, because BJP has done well," said local BJP worker Laltu Mondal. In protest, the villagers gheraoed the house of local panchayat member of the Trinamool, Panchanan Das. Das denied his party's hand in damaging the tubewells, but promised to repair them. "Nobody can say that Trinamool, or a panchayat member, or some other local club has done all this. BJP has won. It is trying to put the blame on us," he said. The tubewells were later repaired. A similar incident happened in Let Para of Badha village under Rampurhat block. BJP workers alleged that Trinamool workers broke five-six tubewells after saffron outfit's candidate Dudh Kumar Mondal took lead in the area. "Since BJP had got more votes, the ruling party workers damaged five-six tubewells and snapped drinking water lines," said local BJP worker Durjodhan Mondal. Trinamool member of Badha panchayat Shaymali Mondal said she was not aware who the culprits were. However, the plumbers were called in and the tubewells, as also the water lines, repaired. A third such incident was reported from ward number 30 of Durgapur municipal corporation under West Burdwan district. Locals found 10 public taps, from which water is supplied at specific timings daily, had been damaged, sources said. The development triggered tension, leading to a political blame game between the BJP and the Trinamool. BJP candidate S S Ahluwalia has won the Burdwan-Durgapur Lok Sabha constituency seat. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/30/bjp-tmc-breaking-water-lines.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/30/bjp-tmc-breaking-water-lines.html Thu, 30 May 2019 06:59:29 GMT Prominent faces, strong voices will be sorely missed in 17th Lok Sabha New Delhi: In last three decades of India's electoral history they were the strong voices of their party, states and respective constituencies in Lok Sabha but their voices will not be heard in the 17th Lok Sabha, which gave a decisive mandate to Narendra Modi government. Prominent among them, who influenced the national politics for decades, are Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) veterans L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Sumitra Mahajan, Hukumdev Narayan Yadav, former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, former Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and his deputy Jyotiraditya Scindia. The BJP veterans didn't contest 2019 Lok Sabha polls as they were denied tickets on age ground while Deve Gowda, Kharge and Scindia, who were bitter critics of Modi, tasted defeats in their respective constituencies. Advani, who was the oldest member in the outgoing Lok Sabha at 91 years, has represented the Gandhinagar constituency since 1991 and has been winning all the last five general elections by big margins. If Advani had contested, he could have become the oldest MP ever to fight the Lok Sabha elections after Ram Sunder Das of the Janata Dal-United, who won from Hajipur in 2009 at age 88 and ended his stint at the age of 93. Advani, remembered mostly for the rath yatra he undertook in 1990 to press for the demolition of the Babri mosque and building a Ram temple in its place, has served as Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister. His yatra, however, created the momentum that led to the demolition and large-scale riots but also established the BJP as a major political force in the country. Besides Advani, party veterans Joshi, Mahajan, Shanta Kumar, Kalraj Mishra and Bhagat Singh Koshyari also didn't contest Lok Sabha polls. Joshi, who won in 2014 from Kanpur, was the BJP President between 1991 and 1993 and has also represented Allahabad and Varanasi in Parliament. In 2014, he was shifted to Kanpur after the party decided to field Narendra Modi from Varanasi. He also held several posts in the Union government. Advani and Joshi are considered three top leaders of the BJP after late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who shaped the BJP which in 2019 elections alone won 303 seats. Sumitra Mahajan was elected the Speaker in the 16th Lok Sabha but she did not contest the general elections this time. In 2014, she got elected to the Lower House for the eighth time. She is currently the longest-serving woman member and has represented the Indore constituency of Madhya Pradesh since 1989. As a Union Minister she held the portfolios for Human Resource Development, Communications and Petroleum. Hukumdev Narayan Yadav, a five time Lok Sabha MP, was known for oratory skills in the Lower House. Yadav, a socialist leader who served as head of panchayat, was elected as MLA and entered the Lok Sabha in 1977. Since then, he has represented Madhubani parliamentary constituency but he chose not to contest this time. Deve Gowda, the former Prime Minister and a strong voice from the state of Karnataka for the past three decades, couldn't enter Parliament for the first time. He was expecting a sixth win in a row from Tumkur but was defeated by BJP's G S Basavaraju. Elected to Parliament from Hassan constituency in 1991, Gowda was instrumental in bringing the problems of Karnataka, especially of farmers, to the forefront. Kharge, who was leader of the Congress party in the 16th Lok Sabha, had served as Union Cabinet Minister - Labour and Employment, Railways and Social Justice and Empowerment in the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government. He lost from Gulbarga parliamentary constituency in Karnataka by a margin of 95,452 votes against BJP's Umesh G Jadhav. Scindia, the young face of Congress in the outgoing Lok Sabha, also tasted defeat for the first time in his electoral career. A close associate of Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Scindia was defeated by BJP's Krishna Pal Yadav from Guna parliamentary constituency of Madhya Pradesh. Guna was earlier known as the family bastion of the Scindia family. Another Congress leader, Tariq Anwar was also defeated in the elections from his traditional Katihar seat in Bihar while Shiv Sena veteran Ananth Geete also failed to make it to the Lok Sabha. Mohammad Saleem, a prominent voice of the Communist Party of India-Marxist too lost his seat. This change in the Lok Sabha indicates a generational shift in Indian politics as out of the 542 newly-elected members, over 300 are first-timers while several heavyweights were defeated. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/30/sumitra-advani-joshi-prominent-faces-will-be-sorely-missed.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/30/sumitra-advani-joshi-prominent-faces-will-be-sorely-missed.html Thu, 30 May 2019 06:25:40 GMT After poll drubbing, Congress takes oath of silence for a month New Delhi: The Congress has decided not to send spokespersons for television debates for a month. The move comes after the party's debacle in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls. The Congress has often accused the media of being "biased" towards the Modi dispensation. "@INCIndia has decided to not send spokespersons on television debates for a month,"Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted. "All media channels/editors are requested to not place Congress representatives on their shows," he said. The Congress is currently facing a crisis with party president Rahul Gandhi adamant on his decision to quit after the poll debacle -- winning just 52 Lok Sabha seats -- and its state governments facing an uncertain future. Gandhi, who announced his decision to quit the top party post at the Congress Working Committee meeting, has stuck to his stand and been staying away from meeting party leaders. On Tuesday, Gandhi had only met his mother and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, besides senior party leader K C Venugopal and the Congress's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his deputy Sachin Pilot went to meet Gandhi at his Tughlaq Lane residence on Tuesday, but they only met Priyanka. Senior Congress leaders have been pressing Gandhi to take back his decision to resign and revamp the party at all levels in these challenging times. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/30/congress-not-to-send-spokespersons-for-tv-debate-for-a-month.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/30/congress-not-to-send-spokespersons-for-tv-debate-for-a-month.html Thu, 30 May 2019 04:44:29 GMT PMO 2.0: Modi's Bond Ajit Doval may stay put as NSA New Delhi: An all-powerful Prime Minister's Office has centralised authority in the land in its first innings, now in its second avatar, it has much more to do. It will continue to oversee PM Modi's hobby horses which revolve around Jan, Aadhar and Mobile or JAM providing direct benefit to the poor and underprivileged at the bottom of the pyramid. Modi's Populist Development or Hindutva Plus has worked like a charm in 2019 hustings and the PM is in no mood to take his foot off the pedal. However, Modi 2.0 will also see a PMO 2.0. Speculation is rife over the continuing role of the Big Three atop Raisina Hill. Principal Secretary Nripendra Misra, National Security Adviser Ajit K Doval and Additional Principal Secretary P K Mishra. They provide the necessary heft to the PMO and the question is whether they will continue or not in the new PMO for another five years. All three have their tenures co-terminus with the PM. Principal Secretary Nripendra Misra is 74 years old and an ordinance was used to bring him into office in 2014, but it may see the age cut-off threshold of 75 nix his prospects. PM follows a code where leaders over 75 don't figure in his council of ministers and perhaps that is why stalwarts like Murli Manohar Joshi and Yashwant Sinha never made it to his Cabinet in 2014. This time tickets were not given to L K Advani, Joshi and even speaker Sumitra Mahajan for the same reason. But since there is a year for Misra to attain the age of 75, he may well continue. In the eventuality that Nripendra Misra is asked to demit office, it is certain that 70-year-old P K Misra (Additional Principal Secretary) will take over as Principal Secretary. One of the PM's most able advisors, Ajit Doval, will remain NSA. Which means that Additional Principal Secretary moving up the value chain could be the first change followed by a second for he will require a replacement. Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha, 63, who retires in mid-June will then step into Misra Jr's shoes. Nripendra Misra has a long and distinguished career as a top bureaucrat, from fertilser secretary to telecom secretary, he went onto become the regulator stewarding TRAI. A 1967 batch UP cadre officer, Misra has an MPA in public administration from John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and postgraduate degrees in chemistry and political science and public administration from Allahabad University. The principal secretary also plays a substantial influence on policy-making. Misra who has been credited for being an efficient, pro-business administrator has served as the telecom secretary under Dayanidhi Maran and is credited with the broadband policy to his name. A 1968-batch IPS officer who spent virtually all his career in IB, Ajit Doval is a former IB chief and a legendary intel operative who infiltrated Mizo National Army and combated terrorists in Punjab and Srinagar. He also spent six years in Pakistan and is described as a 'realist' on that country. He is the first police officer to receive Kirti Chakra in 1988. While there has been talk that he could become defence minister or Ambassador to US, he is in many ways the PM's eyes and ears on security-related issues and sources close to developments dismissed his move from the PMO completely. Pramod Kumar Misra is the other Misra in the PMO and like Misra Sr, an extremely powerful bureaucrat. It is important to mention here that this post was specially created by Modi to keep his most trusted bureaucrat close to him in the PMO. Misra has also been given the charge as Ex-Officio Mission Director of the ambitious National Mission for Clean Ganga. Reportedly very close to the PM, Misra served as Principal Secretary to Modi between 2001 and 2004 during his tenure as Chief Minister of Gujarat. It was during this period that Misra, a native of Odisha played a pivotal role in the metamorphosis of Modi from an RSS pracharak to the Chief Minister of Gujarat. He is known for assisting the then Gujarat CM while the latter made his way into the complex world of the bureaucracy and public administration. Misra was later handpicked by Modi and appointed as Chairman of the Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission for a five-year term just after a day of his retirement in 2008. In his four-decade-long career as an administrator, Misra has held various key positions at the Centre and in the Gujarat government. As Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture between December 1, 2006 and August 31, 2008 under Sharad Pawar, he was credited with the implementation of the National Agriculture Development Programme and the National Food Security Mission. It was during his tenure in the Ministry of Agriculture that the production of food grains reached record levels and there was a substantial increase in the agricultural GDP. He later served as Member Secretary in the National Capital Region Planning Board and Secretary of the National Disaster Management Authority. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/29/pmo-narendra-modi-ajit-doval-nsa.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/29/pmo-narendra-modi-ajit-doval-nsa.html Thu, 30 May 2019 00:37:00 GMT Modi to take oath as PM for second consecutive term this evening New Delhi: Capping a landslide election victory, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take oath along with a new council of ministers on Thursday for a second term, as suspense mounted on who will get the Big Four berths - Home, Finance, Defence and External Affairs. Top opposition leaders including Congress president Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, corporate honchos, film stars, chief ministers and a galaxy of leaders from BIMSTEC countries will be on hand to watch President Ram Nath Kovind administer the oath of office and secrecy to 68-year-old Modi and his ministerial colleagues at the forecourt of majestic Rashtrapati Bhavan. Modi and BJP president Amit Shah held a marathon meeting for the second consecutive day on Wednesday during which they are learnt to have finalised the broad contours the new ministry that is expected to have some new faces besides retaining most of the senior ministers. Though there is an intense buzz that Shah, credited for crafting the political strategy for the BJP, may be part of the new government and be given a plum portfolio, there was no clarity yet on him making a ministerial debut at the Centre. There was also speculation that Shah might continue as BJP chief since Assembly elections in some key states are due to be held in the next one year. Many BJP leaders are of the view that most key members of the previous Cabinet could be retained. Senior members like Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Nirmala Sitharaman, Smriti Irani, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Piyush Goyal, Dharmendra Pradhan, Narendra Singh Tomar and Prakash Javadekar are likely to retain their place. Irani, who defeated Rahul Gandhi in his home turf of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh to earn the tag of giant killer, is expected to get a key portfolio. A day before the swearing-in ceremony, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley wrote to Modi saying he does not want to be a minister in the new government on health grounds. There have been indications that the new ministry will reflect BJP's rising strength in states like West Bengal, Odisha and Telangana. As far as allies are concerned, both the Shiv Sena and the JD(U) are expected to get two berths (one cabinet and one MoS) each, while the LJP and the SAD may be given one berth each. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had a meeting with Shah on Wednesday and the two leaders are understood to have discussed JD(U)'s representation in the government. Lok Janshakti Party on Tuesday passed a resolution, recommending its president Ram Vilas Paswan as the party's representative in the Modi government. The AIADMK, which was also not part of the previous government, won only one seat. It may be given a ministerial berth as it is in power in Tamil Nadu besides being a key Dravidian ally of the BJP. Around 8,000 guests are expected to attend the swearing-in ceremony at the forecourt which is generally used for ceremonial reception to visiting heads of state and heads of government. When Modi is sworn-in at around 7pm, it will be the second time he takes the oath at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan. Modi was sworn in by the then President Pranab Mukherjee in 2014 in the presence of over 3,500 guests including the heads of SAARC countries. Earlier, Chandra Shekhar in 1990 and Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 1999 were sworn in at the sprawling forecourt. Leaders of BIMSTEC countries including President of Bangladesh Abdul Hamid, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, President of Myanmar U Win Myint and Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering have already confirmed their attendance at the event. From Thailand, its Special Envoy Grisada Boonrach will represent the country. Besides India, BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) comprises Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan. The government has also invited Kyrgyz President and current chair of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov, and Mauritius PM Pravind Kumar Jugnauth for the event and both of them have confirmed their participation. The opposition leaders who have been invited included TMC leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, JD(S) leader and Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, Telangana CM K Chandrashekar Rao, AAP supremo and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Though Banerjee had initially said she will attend the event, on Wednesday she announced that she will skip it, taking strong note of BJP's allegation that 54 of its workers had been killed in political violence in West Bengal. The invitation to opposition leaders is seen as Modi's move to reach out to them following the fiercely fought election in which the BJP registered a massive victory. Modi led BJP to a back-to-back majority for a single party in over three decades with the party winning 303 out of 542 seats in the lower house of parliament. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/29/pm-modi-oath-consecutive-term.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/29/pm-modi-oath-consecutive-term.html Thu, 30 May 2019 02:45:47 GMT Tharoor decodes BJP win, Congress drubbing in LS polls New Delhi: Asserting that people did not vote for their economic self-interest in the Lok Sabha polls, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor says the BJP decided early that its "product" was Prime Minister Narendra Modi and marketed him very well by building the most "extraordinary personality cult". He also said the Congress may have underestimated the impact of national security as an electoral topic on the psyche of the voter in North India where the BJP had great success in trying to convert the election into a "khaki' referendum". In Tharoor's view, had the Congress' idea of NYAY, a minimum income guarantee scheme, been unrolled even six months earlier, it might have won over many voters. "I think the results make it clear that there certainly seem to be some fundamental issues that we got wrong. It will undoubtedly take us some strong introspection and a comprehensive assessment to correctly identify exactly what these issues were," Tharoor told PTI. He said the Congress was convinced that grave economic concerns such as unemployment levels hitting a 45-year high, significant agrarian distress and the disastrous impact of other measures like demonetisation would play a pivotal role in deciding the fate of the election. "After all, there is a well-recognised wisdom in believing that voters would cast their votes according to their economic self-interest. But this time the Indian voter did not do that, and we need to understand why," the MP from Thiruvananthapuram said. Tharoor said one reason is perhaps the BJP executing crucial messaging better. "They decided early that their 'product' was Mr Modi and they marketed him very well. "They built up the most extraordinary personality cult in modern Indian political history, buttressed by larger-than-life imagery, hundreds of thousands of social media warriors, an intimidated 'mainstream' media, ubiquitous cameramen and a slick publicity machinery that was switched on 24/7, all lubricated by Rs 5,600 crore of taxpayer funds relentlessly promoting his every move," he said. The former Union minister also said the BJP had great success in marketing and creating a hype around many of its government's flagship schemes. "Perhaps we could have done better to make the reality of the flawed delivery of such schemes more apparent," he conceded "Another issue is that we may have underestimated the impact of national security as an electoral topic, in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack and Balakot strike, on the psyche of the voter," Tharoor said. He asserted that this is perhaps more true in the North than in South, where according to his personal experience, the issue did not gain much traction. However, in the North, the BJP had "great success" in trying to convert the election into a khaki' referendum, the 63-year-old leader said. Tharoor also pointed out that the party would have done better by releasing its party manifesto earlier and consequently giving itself more time to market ideas like NYAY, which he said by design and in terms of likely impact was nothing short of revolutionary. The Congress had promised that if it comes to power it will give an annual income support of Rs 72,000 to poor families under the minimum income guarantee scheme. "It appears that the core messaging around NYAY may have only reached around half the electorate and perhaps even the wrong halfmainly centred in urban areas and among professional classes, who would be paying for the scheme, rather than the bottom 20 per cent, mainly in rural India, who would become beneficiaries of it," he said. "Now all of this is based on 20-20 hindsight. But we really do need a comprehensive and systematic assessment of where and what we got wrong and I have no doubt that in the coming weeks the party will seek to do exactly that," the former diplomat added. Many party stalwarts bit the dust in the Lok Sabha polls, but Tharoor scored an electoral hat-trick by winning from the Thiruvanathapuram seat by a margin of about one lakh votes. The Congress faces an existential crisis with party president Rahul Gandhi adamant on his decision to quit after the poll debacle -- winning just 52 Lok Sabha seats -- and its state governments facing an uncertain future. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/29/tharoor-decodes-bjp-win-congress-drubbing-in-lok-sabha-polls.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/29/tharoor-decodes-bjp-win-congress-drubbing-in-lok-sabha-polls.html Wed, 29 May 2019 16:04:46 GMT Will KC Venugopal or Scindia head Congress as Rahul proposes presidium? New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi is adamant that he will not withdraw his resignation even as he remains furious with the old guard - Ashok Gehlot, Kamal Nath and P Chidambaram - who were busy pushing their children in the recently-concluded hustings and "not working for the party per se". However, better counsel is now prevailing where he has accepted that he will lead the Congress party in the Lok Sabha where its strength, from a paltry 44, has gone up to 52, an increase of a mere eight MPs. Sonia Gandhi will remain UPA chairperson and the Nehru-Gandhi family/dynasty will distance itself from day-to-day affairs of the party. An interim working president with two or more working vice presidents in a loosely-formed presidium will run the party operations and plan elections and campaigns. AICC general secretary K C Venugopal may emerge as interim president while Prithviraj Chauhan could be one of the vice-presidents. Given that the Congress has 23 MPs from the south, it appears that a south Indian will helm the party for the time being. Or alternatively, cut the umbilical cord with the past and appoint Jyotiraditya Scindia as the working president and have the youth brigade around him to turn the party's fortunes around. The recent rout which has seen the Congress draw a blank in 16 states, two Union Territories and as many as eight Chief Ministers and the leader of the party in the Lok Sabha losing is its darkest chapter yet. In the ensuing vacuum, treasurer Ahmed Patel, once political secretary to Sonia Gandhi, is back holding the reins. Congress had fielded 421 candidates across the country but only 52 of them got elected marking the second dismal performance by the party in the second successive general elections. The Congress won the maximum number of 15 seats in Kerala, followed by eight each in Punjab and Tamil Nadu each. In many states and Union Territories, it could not even open its account. Among the party leaders who lost were four members of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the highest decision-making body of the party. But the Young Turks are determined to dislodge the old guard. Sachin Pilot and Scindia are in the forefront to back Rahul Gandhi in his "clean-up" attempt. Sources said that in his outburst at the CWC meeting after the Lok Sabha defeat, Gandhi had selectively targeted the old guard. The Young Turks, all of whom had tasted defeat, were spared. In fact, Pilot and Scindia, being seen as the faces that may replace Gandhi, did not perform up to expectations. The Congress lost all the seats in Rajasthan for the second time in row, while in Madhya Pradesh, Scindia lost his own election. But the Young Turks feel that this was the time to take control of the party. They have started raising their voice highlighting what went wrong in Lok Sabha elections. South Mumbai candidate Milind Deora spoke up saying there was no media and communication strategy of the party in Mumbai. Pilot has also spoken about the problems affecting the party as he has asked for a mass contact programme with the people. Some party workers sat on a hunger strike outside Rahul's house to convince him against quitting. The Congress workers were detained by the police and let off subsequently. Delhi Congress leader Vijay Jatan and some workers, who sat on a hunger strike outside Gandhi's Tughlaq Lane residence, said their demand was that the latter should take his resignation back because the party needed his leadership. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/29/kc-venugopal-scindia-to-head-congress-rahul-resignation.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/29/kc-venugopal-scindia-to-head-congress-rahul-resignation.html Wed, 29 May 2019 17:01:30 GMT The insider versus outsider at Rahul Gandhi's 12 Tuglak Lane residence New Delhi: A mood of despair prevails in the Congress headquarters at 24 Akbar Road. More than anything else, it is Rahul Gandhi's inner circle, an elite coterie of outsiders, which is being silently opposed by the rank and file of the party. On top of the list figures the name of Rahul's close aide Alankar Sawai, a former ICICI Bank official who helps the party president in documentation, research and in suggesting ideas on political strategy. "Alankar wields tremendous clout in the party. Rahul might ignore the advice of senior leaders, but usually pays attention to Alankar's inputs. All Congress chief ministers and even (senior leader) Ahmed Patel give him importance," said a party functionary. The leaders who often fail to seek appointment with Rahul Gandhi blame Kaushal Vidhyarthi or K Raju when they find all the doors closed for them. The common perception is that the coterie serves as a wall between the leader and his loyal followers. An Oxford returnee, Vidyarthi became close to Rahul after his private secretary Kanishka Singh was sidelined following the party's 2014 poll debacle. Then came K Raju, an ex-IAS officer. "We have no complaint against Rahul ji. He has been always kind to us, but these courtiers do not allow us to meet him," revealed a visibly angry MLA from Rajasthan who was seen at the party office on Tuesday. The old guard which sits at 24 Akbar Road is hardly welcomed at Rahul's official residence at 12 Tuglak Lane in New Delhi. "Kishore Upadhyay and V George were stenographers here (Akbar Road) in this office like me. They were handpicked by Rajiv Gandhi and had performed better than these outsiders. They were well versed with Congress culture and its spirit," said a mid-level functionary of the AICC working committee at the headquarters for the past 35 years. The party cadre and some of the second-rung leaders are of the view that several key persons in Rahul's inner circle have an inclination towards communist ideology. For instance, Sandeep Singh, considered an outsider in the party. He was earlier linked to the All India Students Association (AISA) which is known for its association with the communists. As a student leader of JNU, Sandeep showed black flags to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2005. He is currently one of the political advisors to Rahul and is seen as the one who helps in drafting speeches for Rahul as well as Priyanka. "One of the incidents which affected Congress party's nationalist image was Rahul's visit to JNU in support of Kanhaiya Kumar. If someone is surrounded by Left-leaning aides, then such incidents (the one at JNU) are bound to happen, harming the party's impeccable image. Even Mark Tully (veteran journalist) in one of his articles had suggested that Congress should have a majority view instead of falling in trap of being dubbed as a party of the minorities," said a former national secretary of the Congress. Former bureaucrat Dhiraj Srivastava, investor banker Praveen Chakraborti, Michigan Business School graduate Sachin Rao and a former SPG officer, K B Byju, are the other members of Rahul's coterie who are perceived as outsiders by the old guard. It seems that while the leadership crisis continues to bother the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, there could be a change in the office of the party president, in view of the resentment prevailing against the "outsiders", particularly for those having an inclination for the Left ideology. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/29/rahul-gandhi-coterie-left-ideology.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/29/rahul-gandhi-coterie-left-ideology.html Wed, 29 May 2019 16:59:16 GMT Analysis | How Amethi and Smrithi sprang a surprise on Rahul and Congress Amethi, a dusty town in Uttar Pradesh, was known to be the fortress of the Congress party, yet in this general elections its voters surprised India by electing Union Minister Smriti Irani of BJP. This victory is huge for the BJP because the Congress had managed to hold the constituency for nearly four decades. Moreover, this is Smriti Irani’s first win in Lok Sabha polls after failing in two successive elections - in 2004 against Kapil Sibal from the Chandni Chowk in Delhi and in 2014 against Rahul Gandhi from Amethi itself. Smriti's 55,000-vote victory margin surprised even the BJP workers as the poll results came out on May 23. Rahul Gandhi had won from this seat for three consecutive terms effortlessly until Smriti, an yesteryear TV actress famed for her role as Tulsi in a sitcom, cast a spell this year. The seat had also been held by Rahul's parents, Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi and his uncle Sanjay Gandhi. The constituency, which was formed in 1967, always had its sentiments attached to the Gandhi family. The old voters here fondly remember Rajiv Gandhi as a passionate leader who made efforts to meet the locals and develop the area. And hence the voters continued to vote for the Congress in the general elections of 2004, 2009 and 2014. The voters did warn Rahul Gandhi in 2014 when his victory margin was reduced from 3 lakh to 1 lakh. Yet the Congress failed to perform this time in their family bastion. Its last-minute campaigning did not create a lasting impression and Amethi decided to give the saffron party a chance. The people in Amethi feel that Rahul Gandhi did not pay enough attention to them, especially the poor. According to media reports, the villagers are miffed with Rahul for not visiting them and pursuing developmental issues until a result was achieved. And worse, Rahul filed nomination papers from Wayanad in Kerala also, hurting the Amethi people the most. Though Smriti Irani lost in 2014 she tried to win the trust of the people in the course of the past five years. She made numerous visits to Amethi and addressed the infrastructural needs of the people. Her party also helped her significantly connect with the public and win their hearts. She helped the local farmers by building a barrage in Pipri village where the Gomti river often ruined their crops. Her vigorous campaigning was impossible to go unnoticed. Her one-on-one interaction with the population ultimately proved to be fruitful. The generation gap also played a key role at the elections this time in Amethi. It was the older generation who knew the importance of Gandhi family in Amethi and had a sense of commitment towards them. They knew that it was during the Gandhi period where the infertile, alkaline soil was turned into something productive that made their livelihood. But the younger lads chose future over emotions. Smriti helped them with scholarships and jobs, and several other schemes and so the youth bonded with her. The BJP had been plotting their victory in Amethi for quite some time. Several local leaders from other parties, including the Congress, had joined hands with them, also taking their share of votes to the BJP. The groundwork that the BJP did effectively across the country was followed in Amethi too. Amethi was a matter of pride for the Congress, but the Modi wave and Tulsi’s charm seemed to work at Amethi this year, adding one more constituency to the BJP’s pocket. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/29/amethi-smrithi-rahul-gandhi-congress.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/29/amethi-smrithi-rahul-gandhi-congress.html Wed, 29 May 2019 11:00:28 GMT Chandrani Murmu, the youngest MP, hopes to make a mark Chandrani Murmu, 25, has become the youngest-ever member of Lok Sabha, the Lower House of the Indian Parliament. “Hira” or “ Chandu”, as she is lovingly called, set the record as she won the Keonjhar Lok Sabha seat in Odisha. This representative of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) party had finished her B.Tech and was looking for government jobs, when she came into politics unexpectedly. When her uncle, a retired government official, Harmohan Soren, had asked her to contest in the general elections, Murmu did not take him seriously. She was in for a shock on April 2 as she stood in front of BJD leader and state chief minister Naveen Patnaik who asked her to work hard when given the party ticket to contest the polls. Murmu won the reserved seat for Scheduled Tribes, gaining votes on the promise of development. As the results where declared on May 23, the “daughter of the village” won the poll, defeating two-time BJP MP Ananta Nayak by a margin of nearly 67,000 votes. Prior to the elections, Chandrani had to put up with scandalous stories spun on her by political rivals. Even her morphed, obscene pictures were circulated on WhatsApp. However, the BJD candidate won her way through. “No woman should be subjected to such humiliation,” she noted. As her parliamentary career begins, Murmu dreams and hopes to represent her people and their needs well. Rather than making promises that cannot be kept, she has a few ideas on feasible developmental projects for her constituency. She plans to focus on providing employment and education, as well as establish a railway line between Keonjhar and Bhubaneshwar, the state capital. Though Keonjhar holds immense iron reserves, along with other rich mineral resources, the place lacks what may help in human development and is deemed backward on several parameters. “I am aware of the tag attached to Keonjhar. As the announcement of my candidature was made only a few weeks before filing of nomination, I did not have enough time to visit all corners of Keonjhar. Frankly, I am not aware of the challenges I have to face being a people’s representative. My first priority will be to know the constituency and spend as much as time with the people,” she said. In the recent polls, BJD fielded women in one-third of the 21 Lok Sabha constituencies in Odisha. The party secured 12 seats and five of them were won by women members, including Murmu. The tally of women MPs from the state is seven this time when two BJP winners too are included. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/29/chandrani-murmu-youngest-mp-hopes-to-make-a-mark.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/29/chandrani-murmu-youngest-mp-hopes-to-make-a-mark.html Wed, 29 May 2019 10:39:19 GMT Mamata backs off from attending Modi's oath of office Kolkata, May 29 (PTI) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Wednesday decided not to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi as prime minister citing 'untrue" claims by BJP that 54 of the party workers were murdered in political violence in Bengal. Banerjee had on Tuesday confirmed her presence at the ceremony to be held on May 30. "Congratulations, new Prime Minister, Narendra Modiji. It was my plan to accept the "constitutional invitation" and attend the oath-taking ceremony. However, in last one year, I am seeing media reports that the BJP is claiming 54 people have been murdered in political violence in Bengal. This is completely untrue. There have been no political murders in Bengal. These deaths may have occurred due to personal enmity, family quarrels and other disputes, nothing related to politics. There is no such record with us," Banerjee said in a tweet. "So I am sorry, Narendra Modi Ji, this has compelled me not to attend the ceremony. The ceremony is an august occasion to celebrate democracy, not one that should be devalued by any political party which uses it as an opportunity to score political points. Please excuse me," she wrote on Twitter. The just-concluded Lok Sabha polls witnessed a heated verbal duel between Modi and Banerjee who spearheaded the campaigns of their parties in West Bengal. Besides winning 303 Lok Sabha seats on his own (the NDA tally being 352), the BJP came up with a surprising poll show in West Bengal by bagging 18 of the state's 42 seats, only four less than the TMC's 22. The saffron party leapt from two seats in the state in 2014 to 18, while the TMC slid to 22 from 34. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/29/swearing-in-ceremony-bjp-narendra-modi-mamata-banerjee.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/29/swearing-in-ceremony-bjp-narendra-modi-mamata-banerjee.html Wed, 29 May 2019 10:18:08 GMT PM Modi meets Jaitley after he opts out of ministry New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, hours after he announced his decision not to seek a ministerial berth in the new government. Modi drove to Jaitley's official residence in the national capital and was with him for sometime, officials said. The deliberations at the meeting were not immediately known. Neither Jaitley, who had tweeted his letter written to Modi that he does not want to have any responsibility in the new government, nor his office immediately commented on the meeting. Modi and his council of ministers would be sworn in at Rashtrapati Bhawan Thursday evening. "I am writing to you to formally request you that I should be allowed a reasonable time for myself, my treatment and my health and therefore, not be a part of any responsibility, for the present, in the new government," Jaitley said in the letter. Sources said prime minister acknowledged receipt of Jaitley's letter and also appreciated his contribution towards economy and implementation of GST. However, it was not immediately known if Modi acceded to Jaitley's request. In his letter to Modi, Jaitley said during the last 18 months, he has had "some serious" health challenges and would want to keep away from any responsibility for "sometime" to concentrate on treatment. "After the campaign had concluded and you were leaving for Kedarnath, I had orally informed you that even though I was able to discharge the responsibilities assigned to me during the campaign, I would in future, for sometime, like to keep away from any responsibility. This will enable me to concentrate on my treatment and health," he wrote. A lawyer by profession, he has been the most important leader in Modi's Cabinet and has often acted as the chief troubleshooter for the government. As finance minister, Jaitley steered through Parliament major economic legislations such as the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which had languished for nearly two decades. Jaitley, 66, has also played key role in getting through several other laws such as the bill to ban the Muslim instant divorce practice known as 'triple talaq' and also articulately defended the Rafale fighter jet deal. Last week, he was admitted to AIIMS last week to undergo tests and treatment for an undisclosed illness and was discharged on Thursday - the day results of Lok Sabha elections were announced. He did not attend celebrations at BJP headquarters that evening after the party's emphatic victory. BJP won a landslide 303 seats, of the 542 seats, in the general elections. Jaitley underwent a surgery in the US on January 22 for a reported soft tissue cancer in his left leg, an illness that deprived him from presenting the Modi government's sixth and final budget of its current term. Railway and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal was the stand-in finance minister who presented the interim budget for 2019-20. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/29/arun-jaitley-cites-health-reasons-dont-want-to-be-minister-pm.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/29/arun-jaitley-cites-health-reasons-dont-want-to-be-minister-pm.html Wed, 29 May 2019 16:39:13 GMT No question of leaving the Congress, says Pilot Jaipur: Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot on Tuesday insisted that there was no question of him leaving the Congress at a time when there was speculation about his role in the party in case Congress President Rahul Gandhi quits. Speaking to IANS, Pilot said, "This is a crucial time for the party and there was no question of me leaving the party." Earlier in the day, Congress sources told IANS that with Congress chief himself mulling over his resignation, Pilot's future hangs in the balance in Rajasthan. Party sources said Rahul Gandhi was instrumental in making Pilot the state Congress chief in 2014. After the Assembly polls late last year, Pilot was made Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's deputy. However, since then, Rajasthan Congress was being run by two power centres, one led by Chief Minister Gehlot and other by Pilot respectively. Post-Lok Sabha debacle with Congress scoring not a single seat, both Gehlot and Pilot have been camping in Delhi. Rahul Gandhi had already expressed his displeasure with Gehlot for putting his son before the party during elections and speculation was rife over whether there could be a leadership change in the state. Meanwhile, the party has called a meeting on Wednesday in which reasons of defeat in the Lok Sabha elections will be evaluated. Also, a proposal will be passed for Rahul Gandhi to continue as national Congress president, party sources said. State party in-charge Avinash Pandey will chair the meeting and Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and deputy CM Sachin Pilot are likely to be present in the meeting. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/29/rajasthan-sachin-pilot-congress-rahul-gandhi.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/29/rajasthan-sachin-pilot-congress-rahul-gandhi.html Wed, 29 May 2019 06:53:33 GMT No truck with Ambedkar or MNS for Maharashtra polls: Congress Mumbai: The Congress in Maharashtra Tuesday ruled out any pre-poll alliance with the Vanchit Bahujan Agadhi (VBA) or the Raj Thackeray-led MNS for the upcoming assembly elections in the state. After the ruling BJP and Shiv Sena's impressive showing in the Lok Sabha polls in Maharashtra, opposition leaders, including those from the Congress-NCP combine, held a meeting here to discuss their strategy for the assembly polls scheduled later this year. The Congress-NCP combine received a severe drubbing in Maharashtra in the recent general elections, bagging just five of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in the state. State Congress president Ashok Chavan along with party leader Vijay Waddetiwar, NCP leaders Ajit Pawar, Jayant Patil, Chhagan Bhujbal, Samajwadi Party's Abu Asim Azmi, PWP leaders Ganpatrao Deshmukh and Jayant Patil, Jogendra Kawade of the People's Republican Party (PRP), CPI and CPM leaders from Maharashtra met at the residence of Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde. State Congress spokesman Ratnakar Mahajan said the meeting discussed the opposition's strategy for the assembly polls scheduled later this year. "Assembly elections will be a difficult task but we have fight it with all might," he maintained. Mahajan ruled out any truck with the Prakash Ambedkar- led VBA or Raj Thackeray's MNS for the assembly polls. "We maintain that VBA is the B team of the BJP and the MNS has no influence over voters," he said. The VBA, a social coalition of Dalits and Muslims, bagged 14.6 per cent votes in Maharashtra in the just held Lok Sabha polls and appears to have played a key role in the defeat of Congress-NCP candidates in eight to 10 seats. MNS chief Raj Thackeray, whose party did not contest the Lok Sabha polls, had vigorously campaigned against the BJP in the state. Thackeray had addressed nearly a dozen well-attended election rallies but failed to dent the BJP's poll prospects. Meanwhile, NCP president Sharad Pawar has convened a meeting of his party's leaders and lawmakers on June 1 to take stock of the political situation after the Lok Sabha polls, state NCP spokesman Nawab Malik said here Tuesday. The NCP bagged four Lok Sabha seats and the Congress just one. An independent candidate supported by the Sharad Pawar-led party also won, while one seat went to the VBA. The ruling BJP-Sena alliance bagged an impressive 41 seats. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/29/no-truck-with-ambedkar-mns-congress-maharashtra-polls.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/29/no-truck-with-ambedkar-mns-congress-maharashtra-polls.html Wed, 29 May 2019 06:30:39 GMT MLAs joining BJP like rats leaving a sinking ship: TMC Kolkata: The TMC Tuesday likened its MLAs who have joined the BJP on Tuesday to "rats abandoning a ship sensing danger" and said people will give them a befitting reply. Three West Bengal MLAs, including BJP leader Mukul Roy's son Subhrangshu Roy, and over 50 municipal councillors, most of them from the Trinamool Congress, joined the BJP on Tuesday. TMC's Tusharkanti Bhattacharya and CPI(M)'s Debendra Nath Roy were other MLAs from the state who joined the saffron party, BJP leader Anil Baluni said. Subhrangshu Roy was suspended by the TMC for his "anti-party" activities after the Lok Sabha election results were announced. A senior TMC leader said, "We will expel them from the party. Subhrangshu is already under suspension. We are not bothered about such opportunists. People will give them a befitting reply." "If some of the leaders join the BJP just because it has won a few seats, they are nothing, but rats who abandon a ship sensing danger. It is good that they have left our party," senior TMC leader and minister Firhad Hakim said. Another TMC leader Jyotipriyo Mullick said the party is looking into the development. BJP general secretary and its in-charge for the state affairs Kailash Vijaywargiya and Mukul Roy told reporters that more MLAs from the TMC, which is headed by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, will join the BJP in the coming days. Mukul Roy is seen to be instrumental in engineering the defection of TMC leaders to the BJP and, political watchers believe, he is one of the key architects of the party's best ever show in West Bengal, where Banerjee is in power since 2011. In Lok Sabha polls, the TMC fell to 22 seats from 34, while the BJP's tally zoomed to 18 from two. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/29/tmc-party-mla-joining-bjp-mamata-banerjee-didi.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/29/tmc-party-mla-joining-bjp-mamata-banerjee-didi.html Wed, 29 May 2019 06:17:44 GMT Mamata Banerjee to attend Modi's swearing-in ceremony Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said she will attend the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Modi as prime minister on May 30 in New Delhi. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo told reporters at the state secretariat that the invitation for the ceremony arrived on Tuesday and she would be attending it as "constitutional courtesy". "I have spoken to a couple of other chief ministers and have decided to attend it. "There are certain ceremonial programmes under the Constitution. We try to attend such events when we get an invitation for the swearing-in programmes of the president and the prime minister," she said. Banerjee's decision to attend the ceremony in New Delhi on Thursday, in which Modi will be sworn-in as the prime minister for the second consecutive term, comes after a heated verbal duel between the two leaders during the just-concluded Lok Sabha election. Modi, who spearheaded the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) poll campaign in West Bengal, addressed several rallies taking a swipe at Banerjee by calling her "speedbreaker Didi". He also accused her of running a syndicate that indulged in extortion. The TMC chief returned the barbs, calling Modi "expiry babu", and charged him with failure on all fronts during the five years of his first term. Reacting to Modi's statement in an interview that she sent him kurta and sweets at least once a year, Banerjee said at election meetings that she would send the prime minister "roshogollas" made of mud and pebbles which would break his teeth. Besides winning 303 Lok Sabha seats on his own (the NDA tally being 352), the BJP came up with a surprising poll show in West Bengal by bagging 18 of the state's 42 seats, only four less than the TMC's 22. The saffron party leapt from two seats in the state in 2014 to 18, while the TMC slided to 22 from 34. Meanwhile, Banerjee made major changes in her cabinet on Tuesday in the aftermath of the poll results. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/mamata-banerjee-to-attend-modi-s-swearing-in-ceremony.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/mamata-banerjee-to-attend-modi-s-swearing-in-ceremony.html Tue, 28 May 2019 17:38:20 GMT Expect the unexpected from Modi in Camelot 2.0 New Delhi: With a gargantuan majority at his disposal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a huge gene pool to choose from and reward as he goes about appointing members to his new Camelot. However, with PM Modi, no one can second-guess him. At the same time, speculation is rife in Delhi's political circles on the composition of the new Cabinet. For starters, one will have to look at the Big Four - members of the all important Cabinet Committee on Security. In the erstwhile Cabinet there were two women. Apparently, former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje may be sounded out for the External Affairs Ministry while giant killer Smriti Irani, who toppled Congress President Rahul Gandhi from his pocket borough of Amethi, may get the plum post of Raksha Mantri. Many aspirations and ambitions have to be fulfilled while hard work and perseverance will need to be rewarded. The PM may also be looking at certain technocrats to push his JAM policy where the tri-junction of Jan, Aadhar and Mobile meet. This has paid handsome dividends at the bottom of the pyramid and in more ways than one given a sense of liberation and purpose to rural women. As such, one shouldn't be surprised if there is a Make in India, Skill Development and other such nomenclatures in the new Cabinet. Grapevine also indicates that NSA Ajit Doval may be one of the contenders for the Defence Minister's job. He could even be sent to Washington as India's ambassador to the US. Adding a twist to the permutations and combinations, if BJP President Amit Shah is inducted into the Cabinet, he may get one of the most crucial portfolios out of three - Home, Defence or even Finance. In whatever role the PM assigns him, he will be pushing the rollout agenda of the PM's pet schemes aggressively. In the eventuality that he joins the Cabinet, given the nature of Indian polity where the country lurches from one election to another and the whirligig is more often than not year round; Dharmendra Pradhan or Bhupendra Yadav may get the nod for the party top job. Health minister J.P. Nadda is another name doing the rounds. National General Secretary and a Rajya Sabha MP from Himachal Pradesh, Nadda is known as a master strategist in his party. The party had given him charge of Uttar Pradesh in the recently concluded hustings. The party bagged 62 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats. Meanwhile, Pradhan cut his teeth in the Bihar Lok Sabha elections 2014 and once again, this time in his home state Odisha. BJP's vote share in the Lok Sabha polls in Odisha rose from about 21.9 per cent in 2014 to 38.37 per cent while the ruling BJD's fell from 44.1 per cent in 2014 to 42.76 per cent. BJP's vote share in the Odisha Assembly polls also rose significantly from 18.2 per cent in 2014 to 32.5 per cent in 2019. An RSS member since his student days and a close confidant of both Modi and Shah, Pradhan is expected to play a bigger role in BJP. Bhupendra Yadav is a Rajya Sabha member, but equally a powerful national general secretary. Fiercely private, like his mentor Amit Shah, Yadav keeps to the confines of the war room, a role that he relishes. Yadav had been the BJP election in-charge for Rajasthan in 2013, Jharkhand in 2014 and Bihar in 2015. While Bihar did not go the way the BJP would have liked, Yadav delivered results for his boss, Shah, in both Rajasthan and Jharkhand. Home Minister Rajnath Singh may be retained in his present job, but if party President Amit Shah, who has played a monumental role in the BJP returning to power working ceaselessly and tirelessly to put the strategic tent poles in place, joins the Cabinet, the former party president may become the new Speaker of the Lok Sabha. BJP president Amit Shah on Tuesday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the leaders are understood to have discussed the contours of the new government which will be sworn in on Thursday. There is a view within the BJP that Shah may join the government after playing a crucial role in the party's return to power with an unprecedented majority. Shah has refrained from commenting on the matter. Though there was no official word on what transpired in their meeting but both leaders are believed to have discussed the formation of the second Modi government, including choices for ministerial berths and portfolios. Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, who served as the interim finance minister when Arun Jaitley was undergoing treatment, may step into his shoes. However, other names are also doing the rounds for this post. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad may be moved to a more prominent ministry after his win in Patna Sahib. He was a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and became a cabinet minister under Modi. Nitin Gadkari had a number of ministries under him and is credited with most tangible work being done in those departments. He may continue with the work assigned to him. Agriculture will be one of the focus areas and, there is a thinking that a technocrat like Ashok Gulati should be given the job to ameliorate the woes of agrarian India which appears to be in distress mode. Telecom will have a new minister since Manoj Sinha is one of the prominent losers in the BJP. If Pradhan moves to head the party, then the energy portfolio comprising petroleum and natural gas will also see a new face. Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi may get a cabinet rank this time. He is the most prominent Muslim face in the Modi team. Prakash Javdekar will also be given an important position -- he served as HRD Minister in the old Council of Ministers. With nearly 80 members in the previous Cabinet, lots of faces and names to fill the posts abound. Expect the infusion of new blood and representation to states where the BJP has done exceedingly well -- Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi, Jharkhand, Odisha, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and equal weight to the allies. Share for allies As far as allies are concerned, both the Shiv Sena and the JD(U) are expected to get two berths (one cabinet and one MoS) each, while the LJP and the SAD may be given one berth each. Many leaders are of the view that most key members of the previous dispensation could be retained. Lok Janshakti Party on Tuesday passed a resolution, recommending its president Ram Vilas Paswan as the party's representative in the Modi government. The AIADMK, which was also not part of the previous government, won only one seat. It may be given a ministerial berth as it is in power in Tamil Nadu and a key Dravidian ally of the BJP. (With inputs from IANS and PTI) https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/amit-shah-narendra-modi-new-government-bjp-nda2-ministers.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/amit-shah-narendra-modi-new-government-bjp-nda2-ministers.html Wed, 29 May 2019 01:17:04 GMT Abdullakutty praises Modi, says he adopted Gandhian values Thiruvananthapuram: Congress leader A P Abdullakutty has courted controversy by praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the BJP-led NDA's massive victory in the Lok Sabha election, prompting the party to seek an explanation from him. Pointing out that the victory was acceptance of Modi's development agenda, he said the secret of the PM's success was that he had adopted Gandhian values. He also hailed the centre's Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA), which envisages cleaning up India's cities, towns and rural areas and to eliminate open defecation through construction of household-owned and community owned toilets. The congress leader also lauded the Ujjwala Yojana in which the government's aim was to distribute 50 million LPG connections to women of BPL families. In a Facebook post, titled "On Narendra Modi's impressive victory", Abdullakutty said not only the opposition, but even those inside the BJP have been taken by surprise at the saffron party's massive victory. All political workers should keep their feelings apart, and keenly take a look at the results in a "calm and impartial manner," he said. Abdullakutty, who had been sacked from CPI(M) in 2009 for violating party discipline for praising Modi while he was the Gujarat chief minister, had served as MP from Kannur in 1999 and 2004. He later joined the Congress. "Mahatma Gandhi had told social workers that when you formulate a policy, you should remember the face of a poor man whom you have met. Modi implemented it accurately," Abdullakutty said. The centre's flagship SBA project helped 9.16 crore families get their own toilets and the Ujjwala scheme enabled 6 crore BPL families get free LPG connections, he said. "Once, we cross Kerala border, what we see is independent India's most pathetic sight - open defecation by the poor of the country. Modi, to a certain extent, gave justice to them. The free LPG connections was a huge relief to 6 crore BPL mothers, who until then, used dried cowdung and wood in their kitchens...," he said. Smart cities, bullet trains and many other dream projects were brought into Modi's political agenda and one cannot turn a blind eye to these facts, the two-time former MP said. "Our politics is changing completely. Victory is with development. When Modi is criticised, these facts should be remembered," he said in the post. Meanwhile, Congress' Kerala president Mullapally Ramachandran on Tuesday said the party will seek an explanation from Abdullakutty on his Modi praise. "My opinion is strong action should be taken against him," he told reporters here. Dismissing the remarks, senior Congress leader K Muraleedharan, who was recently elected to the Lok Sabha, said the act of praising Modi by any congress worker cannot be accepted and was wrong. "There is no compromise on this matter," he said. State youth congress president Dean Kuriakose, who won the Lok Sabha polls from Idukki, also came out against Abdullakutty's remarks. Taking a dig, CPI(M) leader and Kannur district secretary M V Jayarajan said Abdullakutty is waiting to join the BJP. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/abdullakutty-praises-modi-says-he-adopted-gandhian-values.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/abdullakutty-praises-modi-says-he-adopted-gandhian-values.html Tue, 28 May 2019 14:56:55 GMT Don't quit chorus grows as Oppn leaders ask Rahul to remain Congress chief New Delhi/Chennai: The chorus of voices urging Rahul Gandhi not to quit as Congress president grows louder with leaders of the party and also allies DMK and the RJD on Tuesday saying he remains the "best and competent" person to pull the party out of the crisis after the Lok Sabha poll debacle. Adding to the voices in the opposition UPA against Gandhi's offer to resign, Tamil superstar Rajinikanth said the Congress chief should stay on as he was a "youngster" and perhaps not got the cooperation of senior party leaders. DMK chief M K Stalin appealed to Gandhi not to step down, saying he has won the hearts of the people though his party lost the elections while RJD supremo Lalu Prasad termed the offer to quit as "suicidal", asserting it would amount to "falling into the BJP's trap". Stalin spoke to Gandhi over phone and "appealed to him to give up the idea of resigning as party president", a DMK statement said in Chennai. After his party's colossal electoral defeat, Gandhi offered to quit on May 25 during a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), which unanimously rejected his offer and authorised him to overhaul and restructure the party at all levels. Gandhi is reported to be insisting on his resignation and adamant on having a non-Gandhi installed as the party head. As senior Congress leaders made a determined bid to convince Gandhi to withdraw his resignation, Shashi Tharoor, who scored an electoral hat-trick by winning from the Thiruvanathapuram Lok Sabha seat, said Gandhi has led the party from the front and still has far more to offer to the party. Congress bagged 52 seats, marginally up from 44 secured in 2014. Asked about Gandhi's offer to resign and if he was still Congress' best bet in terms of leadership, Tharoor said attempts in the media to pin all the blame for the party's electoral setback on his shoulders are simplistic and unfair. "While Rahulji has bravely taken full responsibility for the defeat, we all are responsible for what went wrong and we all have a responsibility to ensure the party's revival," Tharoor told PTI in Delhi. Gandhi will easily beat any other interested candidate by a landslide if the party decides to hold a free and fair election tomorrow for the position of party president, the former union minister claimed. "That is the kind of place he has built in the hearts of the rank and file of the Congress party and therefore, to my mind, he still undoubtedly remains the best person to help rally the party out of the predicament it finds itself in and help us collectively move forward," Tharoor added. Delhi Congress chief Sheila Dikshit, a former chief minister, appealed to Gandhi to withdraw his decision, saying the party has bounced back in the past from challenging circumstances to emerge triumphant. Another Congress leader Pramod Tiwari after meeting Gandhi said, "Instead of resigning, he should seek resignations of leaders at all levels and restructure the party." M Veerappa Moily, also of the Congress, termed the poll setback as a "passing phase". Describing Gandhi as the "inspiration" for the party, Moily said it was not appropriate for him to quit his post. "Just because (Narendra) Modi has won...that is not a criteria to leave the presidentship. After all, ups and downs are common for the Congress party. We have seen them many a time," he told PTI in Hyderabad. Stating that Gandhi should not insist on his resignation, he said he should "continue to guide the destiny of the party and the nation". "Apart from legacy, on his own personality, he is the most competent person to lead the party," Moily said. During his telephonic conversation with Gandhi, Stalin told him though the Congress party has suffered defeat in the Lok Sabha polls, "you have won the hearts of the people". The DMK-led front in Tamil Nadu won 37 of the 38 Lok Sabha seats. The election in the Vellore parliamentary constituency was cancelled by the EC citing abuse of money power. Lalu Prasad said Gandhi's offer to step down will not only be suicidal for his party but for all the social and political forces battling against the Sangh Parivar. Prasad said this in an analysis of the Lok Sabha poll results, published in an English daily, the link of which he shared on his Twitter handle. Any new president of the Congress would be considered as a puppet of Rahul and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the perception would continue till the next general election, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president said. The moment someone outside the Gandhi-Nehru family replaces Rahul Gandhi, the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah brigade would paint the new leader as a "puppet" remote-controlled by him and his mother Sonia Gandhi, he said. Why should Rahul Gandhi give such an opportunity to his political detractors? Prasad asked. "Rahul's offer to resign suicidal. Opposition parties had the common goal to dislodge BJP but failed to build a national narrative. The result in a particular election can never alter the reality in as diverse and plural a country as India," he said in a tweet. Asked by reporters in Chennai to comment on Gandhi's offer to resign, Rajnikanth said, "He should not resign." "I won't say he lacks leadership qualities. The thing is it is very really difficult to handle the Congress party, it is an age-old party where senior-most people are there." "As a youngster it is difficult to handle the senior-most people. Even I think, my observation is, the senior Congress leaders - they had not cooperated well. They had not worked hard," he said. There was no need for Gandhi to resign as an opposition party was as important as the ruling one in a democracy, the veteran star added. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/don-t-quit-chorus-grows-as-oppn-leaders-ask-rahul-to-remain-cong.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/don-t-quit-chorus-grows-as-oppn-leaders-ask-rahul-to-remain-cong.html Tue, 28 May 2019 15:06:34 GMT Three West Bengal MLAs, several councillors join BJP in Delhi New Delhi: Three West Bengal MLAs, including BJP leader Mukul Roy's son Subhrangshu Roy, and over 50 municipal councillors, most of them from the Trinamool Congress, joined the saffron party Tuesday as it works to consolidate its position in the state following its impressive show there in Lok Sabha polls. The MLAs who joined the BJP at a press conference are TMC's Tusharkanti Bhattacharya and CPI(M)'s Debendra Nath Roy, besides Roy who was suspended from the state's ruling party for "anti-party" activities after the general elections results were announced. BJP general secretary and its in-charge for the state affairs Kailash Vijaywargiya and Mukul Roy told reporters that more MLAs from the TMC, which is headed by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, will join the saffron party in the coming days. Mukul Roy, once a Banerjee's confidant before falling out with her and joining the BJP in 2017, also mocked the chief minister over her claims that she wanted to resign following her party's less than expected show in the general elections, saying it is a "drama". "She will stick to her chair at all costs till people decide to remove her," he said, claiming that in the assembly polls, which are due in 2021, her party will struggle to emerge to get the status of the opposition party. The TMC had won 211 of the assembly's 294 seats in 2016. The BJP had won only three seats, but has since emerged as the principal challenger to her. A party needs to win at least 10 per cent of seats to be officially recognised as the main opposition party. "People are fleeing the TMC to join the BJP. Many more will join in the coming weeks," Roy said. With over 50 councillors joining the BJP, the party has got a majority in at least three municipal councils. Vijaywargiya noted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said in a speech during his campaign that over 40 TMC MLAs are in touch with the BJP and many regional party leaders are feeling suffocated due to Banerjee's "dictatorial" functioning. "We want her government to continue till 2021, but if it falls due to her doings, then we cannot help it," he said in a swipe at her. Mukul Roy also rejected the TMC's claim that the BJP was practising horse-trading by luring its leaders. Many MLAs of other parties, including the Congress, have joined the TMC due to "horse-trading", he countered. Mukul Roy is seen to be instrumental in engineering the defection of TMC leaders to the BJP and, political watchers believe, he is one of the key architects of the party's best ever Lok Sabha election show in the state, where Banerjee is in power since 2011. In the polls, the TMC's tally fell to 22 seats from 34, while the BJP's zoomed to 18 from two. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/three-west-bengal-mlas-several-councillors-join-bjp-in-delhi.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/three-west-bengal-mlas-several-councillors-join-bjp-in-delhi.html Tue, 28 May 2019 14:28:50 GMT Kummanam may become environment minister in Team Modi 2.0 Thiruvananthapuram: Chances are bright for BJP leader and former Mizoram Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan to become a Central Minister. National leaders of the BJP have already discussed the matter informally with some senior party leaders in Kerala. It is learnt that Kummanam is being considered for the environmental affairs minister's post, among other portfolios. However, the final decision would be taken only by the national leadership. BJP's top leaders wish to entrust Kummanam with a key portfolio even though he was defeated in the Lok Sabha elections from Thiruvananthapuram. It is felt that making Kummanam a Central Minister would benefit the party immensely in Kerala. Kummanam, who was the president of BJP's Kerala unit, was dramatically appointed as the Governor of Mizoram a day before the Chengannur Assembly bypoll last year. He later resigned from the Governor’s post to contest the Lok Sabha election from Thiruvananthapuram. The BJP is also actively considering a proposal to have two Central ministers from Kerala. Apart from Kummanam, either Suresh Gopi or V Muraleedharan could make it to the ministry. Both of them are Rajya Sabha members. Suresh Gopi's chances brightened after his creditable show in the Lok Sabha election from Thrissur. He polled 2,93,822 votes, which was 1,91,141 votes more than what the BJP secured in the previous election. Meanwhile, a large section of BJP leaders in Kerala want Muraleedharan to be made a Central Minister. During the term of the first Narendra Modi ministry also, there were reports that he would be chosen to be part of it. However, it was Alphons Kannanthanam who got the nod. There are supporters for Kannanthanam in the party as well as others who want him replaced. BJP national chief Amit Shah, meanwhile, prefers leaders from states where the party has made significant gains. In that case, a decision regarding Kerala's representation in Central Ministry may be taken based on the upcoming Assembly bypolls in the state too. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/kummanam-may-become-environment-minister-in-team-modi.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/kummanam-may-become-environment-minister-in-team-modi.html Tue, 28 May 2019 13:42:46 GMT Rahul Gandhi's offer to resign suicidal: Lalu Prasad Patna: RJD supremo Lalu Prasad on Tuesday termed Congress president Rahul Gandhi's offer to resign as suicidal and said it would amount to "falling into the BJP's trap". Gandhi's offer to step down as Congress president would not only be suicidal for his party but for all the social and political forces battling against the Sangh Parivar, Prasad said in an analysis of the Lok Sabha poll results, published in an English daily, the link of which he shared on his Twitter handle. Any new president of the Congress would be considered as a puppet of Rahul and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the perception would continue till the next general election, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) president said. The moment someone outside the Gandhi-Nehru family replaced Rahul Gandhi, the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah brigade would paint the new leader as a "puppet" remote-controlled by him and his mother Sonia Gandhi, he said. Why should Rahul Gandhi give such an opportunity to his political detractors, Prasad asked. "Rahul's offer to resign suicidal. Opposition parties had the common goal to dislodge BJP but failed to build a national narrative. The result in a particular election can never alter the reality in as diverse and plural a country as India," he said in a tweet. After his party's Lok Sabha poll debacle, Rahul Gandhi had offered to resign on May 25 during a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), which had unanimously rejected his offer and authorised him to overhaul and restructure the party at all levels. The CWC meeting was held in the backdrop of the Congress winning just 52 Lok Sabha seats and drawing a nought in 18 states and Union Territories. Gandhi himself lost from the family bastion of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, though he won from Wayanad in Kerala. Prasad, who was lodged in a Ranchi jail following his conviction in several fodder scam cases, is currently under treatment for blood pressure, sugar and kidney ailment at the Ranchi-based Rajendra Prasad Institute of Medical Sciences since December, 2017. On the opposition parties failing to build a national narrative, the RJD chief said, "All across northern, eastern and western India, they (opposition) fought it as though it was a state election. They failed to synchronise their strategy and actions. "The people were looking for a national alternative, which the opposition parties, fighting in a disoriented manner in their respective states, failed to provide," he said. Stunned by the rout of the RJD in Bihar and Jharkhand, Prasad skipped lunch for two days after the declaration of the poll results on May 23. This is the first instance after its inception in 1997 that the RJD could not win a parliamentary seat in Bihar and the second time in a row that it failed to open account in Jharkhand. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/rahul-gandhi-s-offer-to-resign-suicidal--lalu-prasad.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/rahul-gandhi-s-offer-to-resign-suicidal--lalu-prasad.html Tue, 28 May 2019 12:19:07 GMT Analysis | Secret behind Naveen Patnaik's cyclone of success Perhaps, fortune played to his favour in the form of a sympathy wave when his father and veteran leader Biju Patnaik died in 1998. Naveen Patnaik, Odisha's fifth time Chief Minister, however, is to be credited for his journey and growth ever since. The one-time author is now a seasoned politician and respected leader among the masses of Odisha. Patnaik, the alumni of prestigious Doon School and Kirori Mal College, Delhi, stayed away from politics for most part of his life. When 81-year-old Biju Patnaik passed away, the scholarly Naveen was a natural choice for the Janata Dal. Patnaik was quick in his rise in politics. The fact that he was neither fluent in Odia nor an orator in any language, or the fact that he hardly knew the intricacies of Odisha's politics was never a deterrent to his political growth. With a simplicity which almost echoed a Gandhian way of life, he strove ahead to pull his state up from the depths of poverty. A year after his entry into active politics, he removed himself from the Janata Dal and established the Biju Janata Dal (BJD). Supported by the BJP, the BJD's performance in the 1998 Lok Sabha elections earned him a post in the A B Vajpayee cabinet. Two years later, the BJD came to power in Odisha and Naveen Patnaik became the state's Chief Minister. With Naveen at its helm the party has not turned back ever since. BJD has secured majority of seats in every Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly elections held in the 21st century. This time the party won 112 out of the 146 seats in the Assembly elections and 12 out of 20 seats in the Lok Sabha elections. The raison d'etre for this stint is simple, he was a champion for inclusive development. He identified the lacunae of the state and addressed it with scientific detail. Poverty levels Though the state sported the title of being the poorest in the country with over 54 per cent of the population falling below poverty line in 2004, it managed to reduce its poverty levels by almost 20 per cent by 2012. Under Patnaik's effective stewardship, Odisha has emerged into a state with surplus rice from a state of tragic food security situation. Economic development The gross state domestic product (GSDP) of Odisha has almost doubled from Rs 2.31 trillion to 4.16 trillion from the year 2011-12 to 2017-18. The compound annual growth rate during the period was 10.3 per cent. An analysis by IBE, propounds that the state's investor-friendly policies have played a key role in producing these results. Besides being one of the top 10 states accounting for the highest number of MSME enterprises, the state has also drafted policies to promote start-ups. In 2018, the state contributed 34.3 per cent of the mineral production in India, the largest in terms of value. The extensive focus of the Patnaik government on building roads and other infrastructure especially to tribal areas is also one of the major reasons why people reimposed their faith in him. Resilience during disasters The fact that Odisha has managed to bounce back despite being the most disaster-prone state in the country is also an applaudable fact in itself. The super cyclone of 1999, Cyclone Phailin of 2013, Cyclone Hudhud of 2014, Cyclone Kyant of 2016 and the latest Cyclone Fani of 2019 have undoubtedly played a key role in arresting the progress of the state. The Patnaik government had done a commendable job in managing the state during Cyclone Fani in terms of disaster preparedness, mitigation, and rehabilitation. Women empowerment Interestingly, this time's Lok Sabha elections showcase that Patnaik's BJD has decided to embrace inclusiveness and gender equity as a policy. The party reserved one-third of its Lok Sabha seats for women candidates. These candidates from diverse walks of life went on to win five out of the seven seats reserved for them. Though the act might have been a political stunt, the act itself is a novel one which calls emulation from other political parties. As Naveen Patnaik takes oath in Odisha for the fifth term his responsibility is no different from his first term. He bears with him the aspirations of a downtrodden society struggling to take flight from the depths of poverty. They've given him the mandate to do what he does best -- empowerment. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/secret-behind-naveen-patnaiks-cyclone-of-success.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/secret-behind-naveen-patnaiks-cyclone-of-success.html Fri, 07 Jun 2019 11:58:49 GMT CPM's sole consolation in Bengal, gets back over 150 party offices! New Delhi: The CPI(M), which drew a blank in West Bengal in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls, seems to have emerged as the surprising beneficiary in the pitched battle for control of party offices between the BJP and TMC in the state, with the Left party managing to reopen more than 150 of them in the last four days, sources said. Party offices in Bankura, Purulia, Coochbihar, Bardhaman, Hoogly, North 24 Parganas and Howrah among others have now not only been taken over by the CPI(M) cadres, but the party symbol is being painted on them and party flags are now flying proudly atop the buildings. "BJP's IT cell is running a propaganda saying that the BJP is helping the CPI(M) to reclaim its offices in the state. It is a complete lie. We have recaptured our offices which had been taken away from us by the TMC. We have been able to do this because TMC has been weakened, its erosion is clear. Our people had been preparing to take over the offices," senior CPI(M) leader and Politburo member Nilotpal Basu told PTI. It was in 2011 that these party offices belonged to the CPI(M). After the loss of the Left Front to the Mamata Banerjee led Trinamool Congress, 34 years after it came to power, they were taken over by the TMC and its twin flowers were painted on their walls. TMC which had won 35 of the 42 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls managed only 22 of the 42 seats in the state this time, with BJP gaining significantly with 18 seats from its previous two seats. "The CPI(M) has managed to get back some of its party offices in the state with the help of the BJP. The BJP has got some seats and now they are using force and violence.They are definitely helping them. But its only a handful offices, nothing great," said TMC leader Sisir Adhikari. However, BJP's Howrah Town district President Surajit Saha told PTI that there was no instruction from the party to help the CPI(M) reclaim their offices. "We have received no such instruction from the party. However, I have heard that in many places TMC offices are being taken over by the CPI(M) and BJP. These things happens post poll," said Saha when asked if the BJP cadres were helping the CPI(M) to reclaim their party offices. A senior CPI(M) Politburo member said that the party was reclaiming its own offices because it was the first time since 2011 that Banerjee's TMC was weak and vulnerable. Stating that the TMC was reaping the "fruits of colluding with the BJP", the leader indicated that the party was taking back what belonged to it. "After the polls, the BJP has been systematically ransacking TMC offices in the state. Clashes have happened and in the chaos, the CPI(M) has recaptured our offices which had been earlier captured by the TMC goons. Why should the BJP help us? We have got them back on our own strength," another senior Politburo member told PTI. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/cpm-west-bengal-lok-sabha-polls-party-offices.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/cpm-west-bengal-lok-sabha-polls-party-offices.html Tue, 28 May 2019 11:55:14 GMT BJP high command peeved about poll outcome in Kerala Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is set to answer to its party high command over its disappointing show in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections. The central leadership is reportedly unhappy with the state wing's performance after it failed to win even a single seat in the Lok Sabha polls. BJP national secretary Y Satya Kumar said that the party was hopeful of winning at least three states in Kerala. He, however, said it was for the leadership to take a call on changing the Kerala president. Meanwhile, BJP state secretary M T Ramesh said that there was no need for a leadership change in the state BJP unit. "The BJP president is not chosen based on election results. The election activities are the responsibility of the entire state unit," he said. Pillai rejects rumours However, BJP state president Sreedharan Pillai claimed that the central leadership was satisfied with the Kerala unit's performance in the LS polls. "There won't be any fallout in Kerala. Compared to last parliamentary elections, the BJP could double its number of votes. A Union minister also rang me up and congratulated for the state unit’s performance. The Central leadership has already checked the preliminary report on election results. More detailed discussions will be held during the meet in Alappuzha," Pillai told Manorama News on Tuesday. He also hinted there would not be any reshuffle or change in party leadership the Kerala BJP. Pillai made the statements even as his detractors made veiled attacks on him over the party's failure to win crucial Pathanamthitta and Thiruvananthapuram seats. BJP huddle in Alappuzha The meeting of the BJP's core committee began in Alappuzha on Tuesday to review the party's fortunes in the elections. The meet pointed out that though it was not able to win any seats, the party could increase its vote share. A section of leaders are likely to demand that Sreedharan Pillai be removed from the post of state president. Organisational secretaries are also likely to face harsh criticisms during the meet. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/bjp-high-command-not-satisfied-with-kerala-results.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/bjp-high-command-not-satisfied-with-kerala-results.html Tue, 28 May 2019 11:31:27 GMT Modi meets Pranab Mukherjee, seeks his blessings New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday called on the former president and veteran Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee to seek his blessings. Modi, who will take oath as the prime minister for the second time on Thursday, described the former president as a "statesman". "Meeting Pranab Da is always an enriching experience. His knowledge and insights are unparalleled. He is a statesman who has made an indelible contribution to our nation," Modi tweeted, posting pictures with Mukherjee. "Sought his blessings during our meeting today," he added. Mukherjee was conferred with the Bharat Ratna on the recommendation of the Modi-led government in January. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/narendra-modi-pranab-mukherjee.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/narendra-modi-pranab-mukherjee.html Tue, 28 May 2019 09:41:13 GMT Rahul best person to lead party, too early to write Congress' obit: Tharoor New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi is the best person to pull the Congress out of its predicament following the setback in the Lok Sabha polls, says party leader Shashi Tharoor while declaring that his party is "alive and kicking" and it is too premature to write its obituary. The Congress has no time to sit and lick its wounds as it must immediately pick itself up for the upcoming state elections, Tharoor told PTI. The party faces an existential crisis with the party president adamant on his decision to quit after the poll debacle -- winning just 52 Lok Sabha seats -- and its state governments facing an uncertain future. Tharoor, who scored an electoral hat-trick by winning from the Thiruvanathapuram seat in the Lok Sabha polls, also said he is ready to take on the job of the Congress' leader in the Lok Sabha if offered the post. The Congress still represents the only credible national alternative to the BJP and it will take its message to the country, hopefully under Gandhi's leadership, he said. In his view, the Gandhi-Nehru family will continue to command "great clout and respect" within the party, on the basis of the tremendous contributions it has made in shaping and guiding the party since Independence. The former Union minister said Gandhi has led the party from the front and still has far more to offer to the party. Asked about Gandhi's offer to resign and if he was still Congress' best bet in terms of leadership, Tharoor said attempts in the media to pin all the blame for the party's electoral setback on his shoulders are simplistic and unfair. "I think it does a disservice to the very complex challenges facing the Congress party to reduce it to a question of one person. "While Rahulji has bravely taken full responsibility for the defeat, we all are responsible for what went wrong and we all have a responsibility to ensure the party's revival," the 63-year-old leader said. Gandhi will easily beat any other interested candidate by a landslide if the party decides to hold a free and fair election tomorrow for the position of party president, he claimed. "That is the kind of place he has built in the hearts of the rank and file of the Congress party and therefore, to my mind, he still undoubtedly remains the best person to help rally the party out of the predicament it finds itself in and help us collectively move forward," Tharoor said. Asked whether a non-Gandhi could lead the party, Tharoor said others can rise to prominent positions in the Congress and a case in point is that the last two Congress prime ministers were not Gandhis. "Still, I have no doubt the Gandhi-Nehru family will continue to command great clout and respect within the party, just on the basis of the tremendous contributions they have made in shaping and guiding the party since Independence," the former diplomat said. Two former prime ministers from the Gandhi family -- Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi -- even sacrificed their lives for the nation and this is the proud legacy to which Rahul Gandhi is heir, he said. Asked if the Congress still remains a credible alternative to the BJP, he said, "It's far too premature to write any obituary for the party as Kerala and Punjab have shown, we are very much alive and kicking." Despite Congress' poor showing across the country, the party performed well in Kerala and Punjab, winning 15 and eight seats respectively. "I strongly believe that we have no time to sit and lick our wounds and must instead pick up again immediately and effectively not least because we have several state elections coming up, some of which are four or five months away," he said. Elections are due in the states of Jharkhand, Haryana and Maharashtra later this year. Tharoor said he strongly disagreed with Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav's recent "ill-considered" statement that the "Congress must die". "I genuinely and passionately believe that what the Congress stands for and offers the nation is fundamentally indispensable to the future of the country," he said. The Congress represents an alternate vision of the idea of India, an inclusive and pluralist vision, that reflects truly the heart and soul of the country, Tharoor said. Asked if he would take up the role of Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, he said, "If offered, certainly I would, but that is not for me to determine. It is clear, though, that since so many of our stalwarts have lost these elections, those of us who remain will have to pull our weight and take on extra responsibility. I am ready for that." Talking about polarisation playing a role in elections, Tharoor said certainly the party has to understand why voters chose not to vote in their economic self-interest. With unemployment at a 45-year high, farmers in such distress that record numbers are committing suicide, and small and micro enterprises are shutting down all over the country, one would think that economics would decide the election, he said. "...Why should a young man who voted for Mr Modi in 2014 in the hope of getting a job vote for him again in 2019 when he still doesn't have a job? And yet he did," Tharoor said. "Undoubtedly, the increasing religious polarisation was a factor. But it is not the whole story, I think. The larger-than-life personality cult around the PM seems to have convinced some voters that he is the only one to lead the country and keep it safe from real and imagined enemies, within and outside," he said. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/rahul-best-person-to-lead-party-shashi-tharoor.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/rahul-best-person-to-lead-party-shashi-tharoor.html Tue, 28 May 2019 13:42:14 GMT Rajini likens Modi to Nehru, says Rahul need not quit Chennai: Tamil actor Rajinikanth Tuesday described Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a "charismatic" leader like Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajiv Gandhi and attributed the BJP's massive win in the Lok Sabha polls to his leadership. He also said that Congress president Rahul Gandhi need not resign following the party's debacle in the Lok Sabha elections, saying he was a youngster and perhaps had not got the cooperation of senior party leaders. The veteran star likened Modi to tall leaders of India, including Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, A B Vajpayee, K Kamaraj, C N Annadurai, M G Ramachandran, M Karunanidhi and J Jayalalithaa. "This Lok Sabha poll victory is a win for the individual leadership called Modi. It is the victory for a charismatic leader," he told reporters here. "In Indian politics, whether at the national level or state, any party will reap wins only on the (popularity) of a leader. He is a charismatic leader," he said about Modi. He noted that the country in the past had charismatic leaders like Nehru, Indira, Rajiv and Vajpayee. "After them (the country) has got Modi, a charismatic leader. If you see in Tamil Nadu, there were charismatic leaders like Kamaraj, Anna, Kalaignar, MGR, Jayalalithaa. Along those lines, this victory is achieved for the leadership of Modi," he said. However, the BJP lost out in southern states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu due to an "anti-Modi wave" though there was a pro-Modi wave in other parts of the country, he noted. "When there is a political wave, one cannot swim against it and will be swept away," he added. The reasons for such an anti-Modi wave in Tamil Nadu included the Sterlite issue in Tuticorin, methane extraction project in Cauvery delta and the "whirlwind campaign" of the opposition, Rajinikanth added. On Congress chief Gandhi's offer to resign, the Tamil superstar said, "He should not resign." "I won't say he lacks leadership qualities. I think it is really difficult to handle the Congress party... where senior- most people are there." "As a youngster it is difficult to handle the senior-most people. Even I think, my observation is, the senior Congress leaders -- they had not cooperated well. They had not worked hard," he said. There was no need for Gandhi to resign as an opposition party was as important as the ruling one in a democracy, the veteran star added. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/rajinikanth-likens-modi-to-leaders-like-nehru-rajiv-gandhi.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/rajinikanth-likens-modi-to-leaders-like-nehru-rajiv-gandhi.html Tue, 28 May 2019 12:41:58 GMT Congress crisis: Rahul firm on resignation even as leaders rally around him New Delhi: The crisis in the Congress showed no signs of easing on Tuesday with Rahul Gandhi sticking to his decision to resign as party chief after its Lok Sabha poll debacle and staying way from meeting party leaders, except a few including his mother and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. Sources said Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his deputy Sachin Pilot went to meet Gandhi at his Tughlaq lane residence, but they only managed to meet Priyanka there. With senior Congress leaders pressing upon Rahul Gandhi to take back his resignation and revamp the party at all levels in these challenging times, a number of allies stood by him and urged him not to quit, describing him as the "best and competent" person to pull the party out of the abyss. The sources said Gandhi is not meeting anyone and remains incommunicado. He met only Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi during the day, besides party leaders K C Venugopal and chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala. Asked about the meeting, Gehlot and Pilot said that they did go to Rahul Gandhi's residence separately and spent some 20 minutes each there. Gehlot was reportedly ticked off by Gandhi at the CWC meeting on May 25 for giving priority to campaigning for his son in Jodhpur and neglecting other parts of the state. Rahul Gandhi met Sonia Gandhi in the evening and the two spent some time together. Sonia Gandhi came along with Rahul to drop him at his residence and spent some time there too. The sources indicate that the state executive of Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee will be meeting on Wednesday in Jaipur and would endorse the CWC resolution urging Rahul Gandhi to continue as party chief and steer the party out of its current state. The state co-ordination committee of Haryana is also meeting on Wednesday. The sources said more PCCs are likely to endorse the CWC resolution, as Delhi Congress chief Sheila Dikshit also appealed to Rahul to withdraw his decision to step down, saying the party has bounced back in the past from challenging circumstances to triumph. The chorus of voices urging Rahul Gandhi not to quit grew as DMK chief M K Stalin told the Congress president that he has won the hearts of the people, while RJD supremo Lalu Prasad termed the offer to quit as "suicidal", asserting it would amount to "falling into the BJP's trap". Tamil superstar Rajinikanth also said the Congress chief should stay on as he was a "youngster" and perhaps not got the cooperation of senior party leaders. Rahul Gandhi offered to quit as party chief at the CWC meeting on May 25 that unanimously rejected his offer and authorised him to overhaul and restructure the party at all levels. He is reported to be insisting on his resignation and adamant on having a non-Gandhi installed as the party head. As senior Congress leaders made a determined bid to convince Gandhi to withdraw his resignation, Shashi Tharoor, who scored an electoral hat-trick by winning from the Thiruvanathapuram Lok Sabha seat, said Gandhi has led the party from the front and still has far more to offer to it. The Congress bagged 52 seats, marginally up from 44 secured in 2014. Another Congress leader Pramod Tiwari said, "Instead of resigning, he should seek resignations of leaders at all levels and restructure the party." M Veerappa Moily, also of the Congress, termed the poll setback as a "passing phase". Describing Gandhi as an "inspiration" for the party, Moily said it was not appropriate for him to quit his post. "Just because (Narendra) Modi has won...that is not a criteria to leave the presidentship. After all, ups and downs are common for the Congress party. We have seen them many a time," he said. Gandhi should not insist on his resignation and should "continue to guide the destiny of the party and the nation", he said. "Apart from legacy, on his own personality, he is the most competent person to lead the party," Moily said. During his telephonic conversation with Gandhi, Stalin told him though the Congress party has suffered defeat in the Lok Sabha polls, "you have won the hearts of the people". The DMK-led front in Tamil Nadu won 37 of the 38 LS seats to which election was held in the state. Lalu Prasad tweeted: "Rahul's offer to resign suicidal. Opposition parties had the common goal to dislodge BJP but failed to build a national narrative. The result in a particular election can never alter the reality in as diverse and plural a country as India." Asked by reporters in Chennai about Gandhi's offer to resign, Rajnikanth said, "He should not resign." Leaders are pointing out that the CWC, which is the highest decision-making body of the party, has already put down in writing its decision at the meeting on May 25. Asked at the AICC briefing, party spokesperson Pawan Khera said, "Let us not indulge in any speculation. The resolution of CWC stands and that is where we are." Asked whether Rahul Gandhi has taken back his resignation, Khera said, "The CWC is the most important decision making body of our Party. The CWC had rejected the resignation. What else do you want me to say? The CWC has rejected his offer to resign, has rejected his resignation." Faced with a colossal electoral defeat, the Congress has been riven by internal turmoil. As the party grapples with a severe existential crisis, its governments in Karnataka, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh teeter on the brink with reports suggesting the BJP may try to wrest power in these states. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/gehlot-pilot-and-priyanka-meet-rahul-as-congress-crisis-deepens.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/gehlot-pilot-and-priyanka-meet-rahul-as-congress-crisis-deepens.html Tue, 28 May 2019 17:33:48 GMT CPM report shrugs off Sabarimala factor behind poll reverses New Delhi: The Kerala unit of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) mainly cited consolidation of the minority communities in the state for its debacle in the Lok Sabha elections. Curiously, it ignored the anger among the Hindu devotees over the Sabarimala issue while submitting a report to the CPM polit buro (PB) over its massive defeat. In the report, the Kerala unit has primarily pinpointed two reasons for the poll rout: the minorities believed that only the Congress can resist the BJP at the Centre, and that the traditional voters of the party were swayed by the right-wing campaign. CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said that the Kerala unit highlighted the political scenario in which only the Congress looked to be the alternative for the people. The Kerala unit was not hinting that the party’s pro-Congress stand had hampered its chances in the polls, he added. The CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) could win only Alappuzha seat among the 20 Lok Sabha constituencies in Kerala. The government decision to implement the Supreme Court order on women’s entry at the Sabarimala temple had alienated the faithful from the party, the CPM state secretariat had said after a meet soon after the poll results came on May 23. However, these points were skipped in the report submitted to the PB. Bengal chief offers to quit After being handed down yet another defeat, CPM Bengal state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra opined that the veteran leaders should now make way for the youth. Misra had offered to quit earlier when the Left suffered a massive defeat in the 2016 assembly polls in Bengal. He has reiterated his willingness to quit after the LS rout. The party drew a blank in the state. The Bengal unit pointed out that the exit polls were able to gauge the mood of the electorate accurately. Then how come the party's calculations went wrong, it sought to know. The general secretary admitted that the party has been on a losing streak since 2009. Each time a new reason led to the poll debacle, he added. Yechury made it clear that though Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was invited to campaign in Bengal, he had to skip it as he had to go abroad over government matters. Meetings The CPM central committee will meet from June 7. Before that the state units of Kerala, Bengal and Tripura would hold meetings. The Kerala state council would meet from May 30-June 1 for a thorough introspection. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/cpm-report-ignores-sabarimala-factor.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/cpm-report-ignores-sabarimala-factor.html Tue, 28 May 2019 06:15:56 GMT Kamal Nath alerts ministers to prevent poaching of Cong MLAs Bhopal: Days after the Lok Sabha poll results, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath has moved swiftly to keep his flock of Congress MLAs together to thwart any poaching attempt by a resurgent BJP. Nath, whose five-month-old government is surviving on a wafer-thin majority, has asked each of his Cabinet colleague to look after at least five legislators to check any desertion to the opposition camp, a Congress leader has said. Apprehension about the government's stability has crept in the Congress after its humiliating defeat in the recently concluded general elections in Madhya Pradesh, where it won just one of the 29 parliamentary seats, conceding the rest to the BJP. The BJP last week wrote a letter to the governor, requesting her to convene a special session of the assembly for testing the Nath government's strength on the floor of the House. "Nath ji has asked each of his 27 Cabinet colleague from his party to look after five legislators,” the Congress leader told PTI. The ministers are going to act as the "guardian" to the legislators, he said. They will coordinate and ensure that development works in the constituencies of these MLAs are not hampered, the leader added. An Independent MLA, too, is part of Nath Cabinet. In the 2018 Assembly polls, the Congress had won 114 of the state's 230 seats, two short of the majority mark of 116. The BJP had bagged 109 seats. The Nath government is backed by two BSP MLAs, one legislator of the SP and four Independent lawmakers. The Congress came to power in Madhya Pradesh barely six months ago after a wait of 15 years. The Congress leader said Nath Sunday asked ministers to look after MLAs after holding two meetings - one with his Cabinet colleagues and the other with all MLAs. At the meeting with Nath, the Congress MLAs aired their grievances related to ministers and the state bureaucracy, he said. The chief minister told the MLAs that he has asked his Cabinet colleagues to look into the issues raised by them, he said. Leader of Opposition Gopal Bhargava of the BJP on May 20 wrote a letter to Governor Anandiben Patel, requesting her to convene a special session of the assembly to discuss the problems being faced by the state. According to Bhargava, the BJP will seek a division (voting) on financial matters in the House. If the Congress-led government fails to scrape through, it will collapse, he said Monday. Nath has accused the BJP of luring his partys MLAs with money and posts to topple his government, a charge denied by the main opposition party. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/kamal-nath-asks-ministers-to-look-after-mlas-to-prevent-poaching.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/kamal-nath-asks-ministers-to-look-after-mlas-to-prevent-poaching.html Tue, 28 May 2019 05:16:09 GMT CWC set to meet again as Rahul firm on stepping down New Delhi: Reeling under the impact of poll debacle, the Congress is in deep trouble, with party chief Rahul Gandhi insisting on quitting the post amid a series of resignations, setting the stage for a likely meeting of its highest decision-making body, the Congress Working Committee (CWC), in the next four days. Amid indications that the party was considering a presidium system for taking it forward, the CWC is likely to discuss the leadership issue, sources said on Monday. It is learnt that Rahul Gandhi has conveyed that he has not changed his mind to quit. UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi are also learnt to have come to terms with his view that there should be a change of guard, though they have been of the view that the blame for defeat cannot be put on one person. During the day, party treasurer Ahmed Patel and general secretary K C Venugopal met Rahul and tried to persuade him not to press for his exit from the post. However, Patel later said that he had gone to meet Rahul for routine administrative work. "I had sought time before the CWC to meet the Congress President to discuss routine administrative work. The meeting today was in that context. All other speculation is incorrect and baseless," Patel ttweeted. Sources said the CWC, the party's top decision-making body, is also likely to look at the structural reforms needed by the party. There is also a view in the Congress that Gandhi is sending a clear message to the old guard by holding out because there should be full freedom in decision-making. Sources said Rahul Gandhi did not give appointment to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in an apparent snub to him. The Congress President was not keen on Gehlot seeking ticket for his son. Gandhi is also learnt to have declined other appointments including of newly-elected MPs who wanted to see him. The Congress is also believed to be considering a presidium system, as resignations pile up amid a deepening crisis. Gandhi had offered to resign taking moral responsibility for the party's defeat but the Congress Working Committee at its meeting on Saturday unanimously rejected the offer. Meanwhile, three more state party chiefs have tendered their resignations, taking the total number to six. Congress party chiefs of Jharkhand, Assam and Punjab have also resigned in addition to those from Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha. Karanataka Pradesh Campaign Committee chairman H. K. Patil has also resigned. Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jhakar, who was the sitting MP from Gurdaspur, sent his resignation to Congress President Rahul Gandhi taking moral responsibility for losing to actor Sunny Deol from the seat. The Congress has generally done well in Punjab winning eight of 13 seats. Jharkhand Congress chief Ajoy Kumar has also tendered his resignation. The party won only one seat in the state where it had an alliance with the JMM, RJD and other parties. While the party won Singhbhum seat, it lost Khunti by only 1,445 votes and Lohardaga by 10,363 votes. The party's Assam unit chief Ripun Bora also wrote to Gandhi taking moral responsibility for the party not being able to increase its tally from its previous tally of three seats. He has said in his letter that Gandhi may choose to replace him. Maharashtra unit chief Ashok Chavan, Uttar Pradesh unit chief Raj Babbar, and Odisha Congress chief Niranjan Patnaik have already sent their resignations. Yogendra Misra, the district Congress chief in Amethi in Uttar Pradesh has also sent his resignation, owning moral responsibility for Rahul Gandhi's defeat from Amethi. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/cwc-set-to-meet-again-as-rahul-firm-on-stepping-down.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/28/cwc-set-to-meet-again-as-rahul-firm-on-stepping-down.html Tue, 28 May 2019 04:35:38 GMT How Jagan stormed to power in Andhra Pradesh During the run-up to the Andhra Pradesh elections, the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) put up an electronic board outside its office that played out one message in loop - 'Bye Bye Babu'. And Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, the founder-leader of the YSR Congress, turned those words into reality on May 23. In a landslide victory he stormed to power in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, showing the doors to veteran N Chandrababu Naidu, the outgoing chief minister and the president of Telugu Desam Party (TDP). At 46, Jagan is one of the youngest chief ministers in the country. The 69-year-old Naidu now has the unique yet unenviable distinction of losing both to father and son. He had lost to Congress leader Y S Rajashekara Reddy, popularly known as YSR, in 2004. And now to his son Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy in 2019. Jagan was twice earlier denied the chief ministerial post. Several people had hoped that Jagan would succeed his father, when YSR was killed in a helicopter crash in 2009. However, Jagan had a fallout with the Congress high command after he decided to take out a condolence rally to the houses of those people who committed suicide, grieving his father's death. Despite the Congress' leadership’s obvious objection, Jagan went ahead with the rally. The fallout finally saw Jagan leaving Congress to start his own party - YSR Congress - in 2010. Those Congress supporters who were left in the lurch after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh flocked to the new party of their former leader's son. Contrary to what many might assume, YSR Congress is not named after Jagan’s father YS Rajasekhara Reddy. Instead YSR in the party name stands for 'Yuvajana, Sramika Raithu' which translates to Youth, Labour and Farmer. In the 2014 assembly polls, the YSR Congress was only one per cent short of the TDP in terms of votes. Naidu was probably saved by people who wanted a veteran to rule the state fresh out of bifurcation. Not losing heart, Jagan sat down to do his homework. Following his father's footsteps, he then set out on Praja Sankalpa Yatra. During the padayatra, he walked 3,648km in 341 days across the length and breadth of Andhra Pradesh. Just before the yatra, he had been in jail for 16 months after he was arrested by the CBI over an embezzlement case. Professional makeover Jagan's campaign was scripted by political strategist Prashant Kishore and his India Political Action Committee. Kishore's team marketed the youthfulness of the leader and ensured that the term 'Jagan annan' resonated throughout the state. Even before setting up the party, Jagan reached out to the common man by starting a TV channel and newspaper. When prominent Telugu newspaper ‘E Naadu’ sided with the TDP, Jagan came up with 'Sakshi'. Naidu attacked Jaganmohan, by taunting him for living in Hyderabad and campaigning in Andhra Pradesh. But people weren't swayed by such taunts. They rejected Naidu, who was once part of the NDA government at the Centre and later quit over Andhra special status row. Jagan didn't make any tall claims during campaigning. He said he would only make promises that can be fulfilled. Jagan ruthlessly attacked Naidu's TDP and Pawan Kalyan's JanaSena Party during his campaigning, but refrained from following the same approach when it came to the BJP. If the NDA had failed to win majority in the Lok Sabha polls, rumours were that Jagan would back the alliance. Jagan neither confirmed nor dismissed the rumours. By claiming that he had no hatred towards the Congress, he won over that side too. Challenges ahead However, Jagan has an uphill set of tasks ahead of him. The first of all would be to set up Andhra’s capital Amaravathi by River Krishna. Amaravathi currently has only some temporary offices. In Jagan's own terms, the capital is still on computer graphics. Jagan also needs to prove that the embezzlement charges against him are false in the court of law. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/how-jagan-stormed-to-power-in-andhra-pradesh.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/how-jagan-stormed-to-power-in-andhra-pradesh.html Tue, 28 May 2019 00:52:07 GMT Voices of discontent surface in Rajasthan govt after Rahul slams CM Gehlot Jaipur/New Delhi: After Congress chief Rahul Gandhi gave Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot a tongue-lashing for putting his son above the party, several Rajasthan ministers and MLAs have demanded that accountability be fixed and action taken for the Lok Sabha poll debacle. According to some of the leaders, who attended Saturday's Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting, Gandhi did a lot of "plain-speaking" in his surgical analysis of the role of several party leaders while himself offering to quit as the party president. Ticking-off Gehlot for camping in Jodhpur for his son Vaibhav's election, Gandhi said the chief minister spent days campaigning extensively for his son in Jodhpur and neglected the rest of the state. Gehlot had reportedly taken part in over 130 rallies and road shows, 93 of them in Jodhpur alone. His son, however, lost to the BJP, which took 24 of the 25 seats in the state, with one seat going to its ally. After Gandhi's severe criticism, several ministers in the state have come out in the open, demanding fixing of accountability and action over the electoral drubbing just months after the party formed the government in the state. Rajasthan Transport Minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas said the CWC has given Gandhi full authority to fix the accountability and he will exercise that power. Asked about Gandhi hauling up senior leaders for putting their sons over party, he said: "Rahul Gandhi ji has full right to say what he has to in the CWC. Nobody is above him and he would have said it after giving it full thought. All workers and leaders of the Congress respect his word. I also learnt from the media about it (Rahul's remarks)." "If Rahul Gandhi ji finds fault with senior leaders, it is his right -- to fix accountability and take corrective steps," Khachariyawas said. Echoing Khachariyawas' views, his cabinet colleague, Bhanwarlal Meghwal, also demanded that accountability be immediately fixed for the defeat. "Whatever Rahul Gandhi said is right...Action should be taken against those people who are responsible for this defeat so that a message goes to the workers. The Congress workers are also very angry," he said. Meanwhile, Gehlot is in Delhi and met Congress general secretary in-charge K C Venugopal on Monday. However, what transpired in the meeting was not known. Two state ministers have also come out in the open to demand a detailed assessment by the top leadership. Cooperative Minister Udai Lal Anjana, and Food and Civil Supplies Minister Ramesh Meena have said the party should review the reasons for the defeat so that the party bounces back and performs well in upcoming local body elections in the state. Meanwhile, there were reports that Agriculture Minister Lalchand Kataria has resigned after party's poor showing in the polls. However, there was no conformation. Several MLAs, speaking on condition of anonymity, said priority should be given to fixing accountability. K C Vishnoi, DCC president Hanumagarh, lashed out at Gehlot for the poll debacle. "The organisation worked really hard and brought the party to power. But within three months the people got upset with the government, the chief minister should take responsibility. He should have offered to resign," he said. The rumblings in the party cadres comes after Gandhi, who left the CWC meeting abruptly and was adamant on not continuing as the Congress president, ticked off several senior leaders. Apart from Ghelot, he also criticised former Union minister P Chidambaram and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath for placing their sons before party interests. Rahul also said that Gehlot, Nath and Chidambaram spent days lobbying for a ticket for their sons. Chidambaram's son Karti and Nath's son Nakul managed to win the Lok Sabha elections from their respective seats, but Gehlot's son Vaibhav lost the Jodhpur seat to BJP's Gajendra Singh Shekhawat with a margin of 2,74,440. Even in CM Gehlot's Sardarpura assembly seat -- a part of the Jodhour parliamentary constituency -- the BJP got better of Congress as also in Tonk, a seat that is represented by Deputy CM Sachin Pilot and falls in Tonk-Sawai Madhopur LS segment. In fact, the BJP was ahead in almost all the assembly constituencies of the ministers in the state. The CWC meeting was held in the backdrop of the Congress winning just 52 Lok Sabha seats and drawing a nought in 18 states and Union Territories. Gandhi himself lost from the family bastion of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, though he won from Wayanad in Kerala. The Congress drew a blank in Rajasthan for the second consecutive Lok Sabha polls and the poll debacle came just months after its victory in the assembly polls in the state. CWC sources said that when former Guna MP Jyotiraditya Scindia urged Gandhi to strengthen the state leaderships of the party, the party president quipped looking at Chidambaram, saying that "Mr Chidambaram threatened to resign if a ticket was denied to his son." About Kamal Nath who was absent from the CWC meeting, Gandhi said, "Mr Nath said how could he be CM if his son was not fielded." https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/uncertainty-rajasthan-government-rahul-chides-gehlot.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/uncertainty-rajasthan-government-rahul-chides-gehlot.html Mon, 27 May 2019 16:08:35 GMT Excited Mimi, Nusrat arrive in Parliament, pose for pictures New Delhi: Excitement was clearly visible on the faces of actress-turned-politicians Mimi Chakraborty and Nusrat Jahan on Monday, when they arrived at Parliament for the first time after getting elected in the recently concluded elections from the Trinamool Congress. The two actresses posted their joint photographs displaying the identity cards as MPs on the premises of Parliament. "And it's us again. First day at Parliament Nusrat Jahan," Mimi Chkraborty tweeted tagging Jahan. The TMC had fielded 17 women candidates in 42 seats in the state. Chakraborty and Jahan are young and well-known women Bengali film and television actresses. Chakraborty contested from Jadavpur while Jahan contested from Basirhat Lok Sabha seat in the state. Jahan won by 3,50,369 votes from Basirhat, while Mimi Chakraborty's margin of victory was 2,95,239 votes. The party had also fielded yesteryear actress Moon Moon Sen from Asansol. She lost to BJP's Babul Supriyo. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/excited-mimi-nusrat-arrive-in-parliament-pose-for-pictures.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/excited-mimi-nusrat-arrive-in-parliament-pose-for-pictures.html Mon, 27 May 2019 15:42:06 GMT 3 suspects held over killing of BJP worker in Amethi Lucknow: Three suspects have been arrested in connection with the killing of a close aide of newly-elected Amethi MP Smriti Irani, police said on Monday. "We have arrested three suspects in the Amethi murder case, while two suspects are still absconding," Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police (DGP) O P Singh told reporters here. "As many as seven persons were taken into custody and they were interrogated. Among those, there were three who were linked with the incident," Singh said. "As of now, two accused persons are still absconding and we are tracking them," the DGP said. Surendra Singh, (50), a former head of Baraulia village, around 25 km from the Amethi district headquarters, was shot at around 11.30 pm on Saturday. Singh was referred to a Lucknow hospital but succumbed during treatment. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/amethi-political-murder-bjp-worker-smriti-irani.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/amethi-political-murder-bjp-worker-smriti-irani.html Mon, 27 May 2019 15:06:57 GMT Tharoor says ready to be Congress leader in Lok Sabha New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor has said that he is ready to take the responsibility of the Leader of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha if party offers him the job. "If offered, I am ready to be the Congress' Lok Sabha leader," Tharoor, elected for a third consecutive term as MP from Thiruvananthapuram, told a TV channel on Monday. He accepted that the Congress' main election theme -- 'NYAY' -- was not properly communicated among the electorate. He, however, insisted that Rahul Gandhi should continue as the Congress president. "The party could consider appointing a series of regional working presidents to assist him," the former Union minister said. He said the Congress and other opposition parties must challenge the belief that the Hindutva concept of India, as essentially a Hindu country, has triumphed over the Nehruvian view of secularism that India is a country of multiple religions, castes, cultures and identities. Tharoor, a former UN under-secretary general, has been representing Thiruvananthapuram since 2009. In 2014, he won by a narrow margin of 15,000-odd votes against BJP veteran O Rajagopal. In 2019, he defeated Kummanam Rajasekharan of the BJP by 99,989 votes. The Congress won 52 seats in the Lok Sabha polls. It remains the main opposition party in the house. However, like in the 16th Lok Sabha, the Congress has not qualified to have a Leader of Opposition in the 17th Lok Sabha. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/shashi-tharoor-says-ready-to-be-congress-leader-in-lok-sabha.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/shashi-tharoor-says-ready-to-be-congress-leader-in-lok-sabha.html Tue, 28 May 2019 10:19:58 GMT Unease among Congress ranks as Rahul insists on resigning New Delhi: Faced with a colossal electoral defeat, the Congress was on Monday riven by internal turmoil with Rahul Gandhi insisting on quitting as party president while its governments in Rajasthan and Karnataka teetered on the brink. In the midst of the disquiet, several state Congress chiefs, including Punjab's Sunil Jakhar, Jharkhand's Ajoy Kumar and Assam's Ripun Bora, also offered to resign following the party's drubbing in the elections, party insiders said. Congress sources said Gandhi is insisting on resigning his post and is understood to have conveyed to several leaders that it is time for the grand old party to look for a new chief. The Congress won only 52 out of 542 parliamentary seats in the Lok Sabha polls, just six more than its 2014 tally. The party could not open its account in 18 states and union territories. Taking responsibility for the defeat, Gandhi on Saturday offered to resign as party president at a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the highest decision-making body of the party, but it was "unanimously rejected". At the CWC meeting, Gandhi accused three senior leaders -- Ashok Gehlot, Kamal Nath and P Chidambaram -- of placing their sons above the party. His sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said the entire top brass of the party left Rahul Gandhi alone to fight it out against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. As the party grapples with a severe existential crisis, its governments in both Karnataka and Rajasthan face a tough time with reports suggesting the BJP may try to wrest power in both states. It is learnt that Congress legislators Ramesh Jarkiholi and Dr Sudhakar visited BJP leader S M Krishna's residence in Bengaluru on Sunday along with several other BJP leaders and they are understood to have deliberated on dethroning the incumbent dispensation. Sources said a number of Congress legislators in Karnataka are understood to be unhappy over the party's electoral loss. In Rajasthan, there have been reports of internal turmoil with several ministers demanding fixing of accountability and seeking action against those responsible for the poll debacle in the state. The Congress drew a blank in Rajasthan as the NDA won all 25 seats. In Karnataka, where it formed a government with the JD(S) in May last year, the Congress managed to win only one Lok Sabha seat out of 28. The party was crushed in most of the 29 states, including Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, where it had defeated BJP in the assembly polls in December. As crisis beset the opposition party, its chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala on Monday urged everyone to respect the sanctity of the CWC meeting and asked the media not to fall into the trap of "conjectures, insinuations, gossip and rumour-mongering". Surjewala said it is a democratic forum for exchange of ideas and taking corrective action. It was a "closed-door" meeting and any speculation about it was unwarranted and uncalled for, he added. He was reacting to news reports about happenings at the May 25 meeting, the first of the CWC after the Congress's humiliating defeat in the parliamentary polls. "The Congress party expects everyone, including the media, to respect the sanctity of a closed-door meeting of the CWC. Various conjectures, speculation, insinuations, assumptions, gossip and rumour-mongering in a section of the media is uncalled for and unwarranted. "The CWC held a collective deliberation on the performance of the party, the challenges before it as also the way ahead, instead of casting aspersions on the role or conduct of any specific individual. The gist of the deliberations was made public in the CWC resolution of May 25, 2019," the Congress leader said in a statement. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/unease-in-congress-ranks-as-rahul-gandhi-insists-on-resigning.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/unease-in-congress-ranks-as-rahul-gandhi-insists-on-resigning.html Mon, 27 May 2019 14:11:36 GMT Shocked by RJD rout, Lalu Prasad gives up meal at hospital Ranchi/Patna: Stunned by the rout of his Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar and Jharkhand in the Lok Sabha election, Lalu Prasad gave up lunch for two days after the declaration of poll results on May 23. Prasad had the meal on Sunday, May 26, after doctors, worried for his health, pleaded him that proper food intake was required for his medication to continue, Dr Umesh Prasad, head of the team looking after him, told PTI on Monday. The RJD president is under treatment for blood pressure, sugar and kidney ailment at the Ranchi-based Rajendra Prasad Institute of Medical Sciences since December 2017 after he was sent to jail by a court, RIMS sources said. The doctor said Prasad's health parameters are normal. The jovial RJD supremo, known for his earthy humours, apparently could not digest that his party drew a blank in its stronghold Bihar and also in the neighbouring Jharkhand. This is the first instance after its inception in 1997, that the RJD could not win a parliamentary seat in Bihar but it's the second time in a row that it failed to open account in Jharkhand. Heading the 'mahagathbandhan' in Bihar, the RJD had fought on 19 seats and shared Arrah constituency with CPI(ML); it got a drubbing at the hands of NDA on all the seats. Prasad's eldest daughter Misa Bharti was defeated for a second time by Union minister Ramkripal Yadav, her father's former close associate, on Pataliputra constituency. On Saran seat, held by the RJD president for several times in the past, Chandrika Rai, father-in-law of his elder son Tej Pratap Yadav, tasted defeat at the hands of BJP's Rajiv Pratap Rudy. Of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar, only Kishanganj was won by Congress, a grand alliance ally. This was the first occasion that RJD went into an election without its popular leader Lalu Prasad. His wife Rabri Devi and son and heir apparent Tejashwi Yadav could do little to perk party's poll performance. Even during the "Modi wave" of 2014, RJD had managed to win four Lok Sabha seats in Bihar. Later, in the Bihar election, Prasad's party in alliance with JD(U) and Congress emerged as the single largest party with 80 MLAs. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar left the grand alliance in July 2017 and joined hands with BJP again. RJD spokesman Mritunjay Tiwari told PTI over phone from Patna, that the party would discuss in detail what went wrong for it in the election. But he said Prasad's absence was a big reason for the drubbing. Tiwari said the results have given the party "a lesson" which the leadership would definitely take into account to win back people's support. The RJD, which formed the mahagathbandhan with Congress, JMM and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik), got only Palamau (SC) seat as per the seat-sharing adjustment among them. But it lost the seat. In Koderma, former RJD state unit president Annapurna Devi fought on BJP ticket and defeated JVM president Babulal Marandi. RJD leaders on Monday are meeting for a review of the party's humiliating performance, its leader Kailash Yadav said. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/shocked-by-rjd-rout-lalu-prasad-gives-up-meal-at-hospital.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/shocked-by-rjd-rout-lalu-prasad-gives-up-meal-at-hospital.html Mon, 27 May 2019 11:31:16 GMT Rahul Gandhi to visit Wayanad in first week of June Thiruvananthapuram: Congress president Rahul Gandhi would visit Wayanad in the first week of June to thank the electorate for his record breaking win from this Lok Sabha seat in Kerala, said a Congress leader on Monday. Leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala said this after the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) met for the first time after registering a resounding victory in the Lok Sabha polls, winning all but one of the 20 seats in the state. A source in the know of things said Rahul Gandhi's visit could be either on Saturday or Monday. Gandhi won with the highest ever margin of victory in any Lok Sabha election with 4,31,770 votes. He defeated his nearest rival P P Suneer of the Communist Party of India who secured 2,74,597 votes while Gandhi received 706,367 votes. "This huge victory has placed more responsibility on us and we assure the people that this victory will not get into their heads. They will always work for the people of the state," said Chennithala. Rahul Gandhi lost the election from Amethi to BJP leader Smriti Irani. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/rahul-gandhi-to-visit-wayanad-in-first-week-of-june.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/rahul-gandhi-to-visit-wayanad-in-first-week-of-june.html Mon, 27 May 2019 11:18:36 GMT Ready to sacrifice everything for protecting country's basic values: Sonia New Delhi: UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi has written a letter to the voters of Rae Bareli thanking them for their support to her in the Lok Sabha elections. Gandhi, in her letter written on May 24 and released here on Sunday, said that her life is like an open book. "You are my family. The hope and courage that I have been getting from you is my real possession. I have also tried to take care of my extended family in every way. I have fulfilled my public responsibilities while discharging personal responsibilities. It will be my effort not to let any shortcoming come in this," she said. In an apparent reference to the electoral verdict, Gandhi said she knows that the coming days are full of difficulties. She vowed never to shy away from making any sacrifice for protecting basic values of the country and upholding the traditions set by the party's former leaders. "But I have full faith that with your support and trust, Congress will meet every challenge. However big the battle, I pledge my devotion to protect the basic values of the country and preserve the traditions of former Congress leaders," she said. Gandhi thanked the workers of Congress as well as Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party (SP) and Swambhiman Dal for their support during the elections. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/sonia-gandhi-congress-lok-sabha-elections.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/sonia-gandhi-congress-lok-sabha-elections.html Mon, 27 May 2019 10:31:36 GMT Gambhir, cricketer-turned-MP, upsets Delhi BJP colleagues by denouncing hate crime New Delhi: Newly elected East Delhi MP Gautam Gambhir Monday termed as "deplorable" the alleged assault on a Muslim man in Gurugram and asked authorities to take "exemplary" action in the matter. His comments, however, did not go down well among a few of his partymen in Delhi who said the words of the cricketer-turned-politician may be used against the BJP by the opposition parties. A 25-year-old Muslim man was allegedly slapped by a group of men in Gurugram on May 25. The victim was reportedly asked to remove his skull cap and forced to chant 'Jai Shri Ram'. "In Gurugram Muslim man told to remove skullcap, chant Jai Shri Ram. It is deplorable. Exemplary action needed by Gurugram authorities. We are a secular nation where @Javedakhtarjadu writes O palan-hare, nirgun aur nyare, & @RakeyshOmMehra gave us d song Arziyan in Delhi 6," Gambhir tweeted. However, a section of Delhi BJP leaders expressed their reservation over the tweet and said Gambhir's words may be used against the saffron party. "Gambhir is no longer a cricketer and he should realise that his words and actions will be seen through the prism of politics. "Nobody likes such incidents but what is the use of commenting on an incident in Haryana which may be used against the BJP by other parties," said a senior Delhi BJP leader. However, Gambhir said his secularism emanated from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's philosophy of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' and added that any oppression based on caste or religion is deplorable. "My thoughts on secularism emanate from honourable PM Mr Modi's mantra "Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas".. I am not limiting myself to Gurugram incident alone, any oppression based on caste/religion is deplorable. Tolerance & inclusive growth is what the idea of India is based on," he said in another tweet. Gambhir who joined the BJP before the recent Lok Sabha polls, contested from East Delhi seat and defeated Congress's Arvinder Singh Lovely by 3.91 lakh votes. The Muslim man identified as Mohamad Baker Alam alleged in his complaint to the police that four unidentified youths accosted him in a lane in Sadar Bazar area of the city and objected to his wearing the skull cap. "They removed my cap and slapped me while asking me to chant Bharat Mata ki Jai. As I followed their instruction and chanted Bharat Mata ki Jai, they asked me to chant Jai Sri Ram which I refused. At this, the youths picked up a stick and began mercilessly beating me," he said in his complaint. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/gurugram-muslim-man-assault-case-gautam-gambhir-bjp.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/gurugram-muslim-man-assault-case-gautam-gambhir-bjp.html Mon, 27 May 2019 10:11:20 GMT Is it the end of the road for Chandrababu Naidu? Hyderabad: With his worst-ever electoral defeat in Andhra Pradesh and losing relevance in national politics, Nara Chandrababu Naidu is facing the biggest challenge of his career. A leader, whose four-decade-long career saw his political pendulum swinging wildly from left to the right, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief last year exercised even his last option -- aligning with the Congress. But this time, he ran out of both the options and the luck. Till a day before the counting, Naidu was holding a series of meetings with leaders of various regional parties, desperate to cobble together an anti-BJP alliance to remain relevant in the national politics. He wanted to stop his friend-turned-rival Narendra Modi from returning to power even as he was facing an acid test at home against Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy. At the Centre, the 69-year-old wanted to achieve what he did in 1996 when as the convenor of the United Front (UF) he brought together regional parties to prop up the government of the third alternative. In 1999, he donned a similar role for the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Many saw in him a shrewd politician and few branded him a rank opportunist as he aligned with the BJP, apparently to ride on the Vajpayee wave. He succeeded in retaining power, which he got in 1995 after leading a revolt against his father-in-law and TDP founder N.T. Rama Rao. Then known as the poster boy of new economic reforms, a reformist and a tech-savvy leader, Naidu mastered the skills of doing business with any formation at the Centre, irrespective of its ideology. After losing power to his bete noire Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy (YSR) in 2004 following a record 9-year stint as Andhra Pradesh chief minister, Naidu admitted his priorities were lop-sided which led to the neglect of agriculture in the state. So he promised a slew of freebies in the 2009 elections, but the people remained unconvinced and gave YSR a fresh mandate. The emergence of Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate in 2014 offered Naidu a chance to revive his political fortunes. He not only joined the NDA once again but by campaigning with Modi, he succeeded in storming to power in the truncated state of Andhra Pradesh, as people preferred him, apparently for his experience in developing Hyderabad as a tech hub. As a leader who always enjoyed the role of a kingmaker and extracted his pound of flesh from the government at the Centre, Naidu was uncomfortable in the new dispensation where Modi had an absolute majority. Though facing post-bifurcation challenges like lack of state capital and poor finances, he had no option, but to quietly accept whatever was doled out to the state. However, it was when YSR's son and the chief of the YSRCP Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy started targeting him for his compromise over the Special Category Status (SCS) that Naidu realised how he was losing the ground to the opposition. Last year, he pulled out of NDA government accusing Modi of 'betrayal'. But the opposition still remained aggressive in exposing his flip-flops over the SCS. From a great admirer of Modi, Naidu soon turned into his worst critic and even joined hands with the Congress, his party's sworn enemy of 35 years. This was Naidu's biggest political misadventure and his rivals targeted him incessantly for his opportunism. He even joined hands with the Congress in the Telangana Assembly elections, but the experiment ended in a disaster with the Congress-led United People's Alliance (UPA) biting the dust. The flip-flops continued as he decided not to have an alliance with the Congress in Andhra Pradesh thereafter, even as he continued his efforts for an anti-BJP front at the Centre led by the Congress. "He was shifting goal-posts time and again on various issues. The opposition played it in a big way and voters were also watching all this," said political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy. The YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) chief's 'padayatra' and his party's aggressive campaign promising a wide range of freebies also rattled Naidu. His announcements of welfare schemes and even the implementation of some of them were too late to convince the voters. The allegations of corruption, casteism also dented Naidu's image and ultimately led to his worst-ever poll performance winning just three Lok Sabha seats. A second term for Modi with a massive majority also dashed Naidu's hopes of salvaging some pride with a role at the Centre. With his son Nara Lokesh suffering defeat, Naidu's dream of grooming him as his political successor was also shattered. "Naidu is already 69, and he may not find himself in the same physical and mental shape to lead the party campaign five years later," said Raghavendra Reddy. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/end-of-road-chandrababu-naidu-lok-sabha-elections.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/end-of-road-chandrababu-naidu-lok-sabha-elections.html Mon, 27 May 2019 10:15:55 GMT What Ariff did differently to emerge the sole CPM winner A M Ariff, the only CPM candidate left standing after a mighty UDF sweep, said that he had an inkling of the anti-Modi sentiment earlier on and had fine-tuned his election strategy to turn the gathering storm in his favour. Ariff also seems to be the only Left leader in the state who had such a foresight. Both chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and CPM general secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had said that the party never anticipated such a huge undercurrent against the BJP that had left the Left also in tatters. Ariff said that once he got wind of the anti-Modi pulse, there were two things that he stressed in all his stump speeches. “My speeches were not more than five minutes long. But within this capsule, I made it a point to emphasise two things. Even when my campaign team wanted me to rush, I insisted on making these two points,” Ariff said on Monday, during his first media interaction after the victory. One, Ariff told his voters why it was important to vote for a CPM candidate. “There was a general feeling that even if Left candidates were backed they will not have the numbers to make any difference at the Centre. But I told them that if a non-BJP formation came to power, the Left will always function as a corrective force. We will not allow the Ayodhya temple to be built, and we will do all we can, like in 2004, to block neo-liberal economic policies,” Ariff said. However, such a strategic positioning of the LDF was not evident anywhere else in the state. The LDF candidates wanted both the BJP and the Congress out. No one spoke about how they would be of use in a non-BJP dispensation. When he was reminded of this, Ariff just said that it could have been because of a lack of time. “We had so many points to cover that we just did not have the time and leisure to communicate all that we wanted,” he said. The second message that Ariff sought to drive home was that he alone could work smoothly in tandem with the LDF government. “Central schemes are implemented through the State. The Pinarayi government spends a substantial chunk of central funds in Alappuzha. But the earlier MP and the state government were not in sync most of the time and this had impeded development of Alappuzha. I told my voters that I will be better stationed to get the central schemes done through the state government,” he said. The newly-elected Alappuzha MP also hinted that the Sabarimala issue had forced the party on the back foot. Ariff said that it was a mistake not to have taken the Sabarimala issue head on. “The general feeling was that if we talk about Sabarimala we will lose votes. We should have actually spoken about the issue. We should have told the people why the government had to take the stand it had. People would have understood,” Ariff said. Pinarayi Vijayan's renaissance lieutenants Vellappally Natesan and Punnala Sreekumar, too, had said that the chief minister wanted a halt to 'renaissance work' during the elections. Ariff said the CPM had no intention to sneak women into Sabarimala, suggesting that such an impression had gained ground. “If that had been the case, the CPM general secretary just had to give a call to women below 40 years in the DYFI and the SFI to visit the hill shrine. No violence could have prevented the women from thronging the shrine,” Ariff said. His argument was that the CPM had failed to convince the people of the CPM's real intentions. He also brushed aside the call for a change in the style of functioning of Pinarayi Vijayan. "Your behaviour cannot be changed overnight. It was with this style that he had secured huge wins for the LDF earlier, including the one in 2016," he said. Ariff, however, was a tad disappointed that he could not lead in the Aroor segment of Alappuzha. “I was MLA in Aroor for three terms and so was a bit overconfident that people would vote for me even if I don't meet them. Not even once did I go to Aroor to seek votes,” he said. Instead, he concentrated more on Harippad and Karunagappally. “Harippad is the only segment that does not have an LDF MLA. (It is represented by opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala). I managed to reduce the UDF's lead in Harippad. I also improved the LDF lead in Karunagappally where there is a strong Muslim concentration,” Ariff added. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/what-ariff-did-differently-to-emerge-the-sole-cpm-winner.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/what-ariff-did-differently-to-emerge-the-sole-cpm-winner.html Mon, 27 May 2019 09:53:16 GMT After colossal defeat in Rajasthan and MP, Pilot and Scindia likely to be made CMs New Delhi: After suffering a colossal defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress is determined to set things right at the state level. Despite having won the mandate to rule the states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh just a few months ago, India's grand old party failed to replicate its success in the Lok Sabha Elections. In Rajasthan, the BJP secured all the 25 seats and ended up with a vote share 20 per cent higher than the assembly elections. It is only natural that the Congress is mulling changing the chief minister here. The PCC president and young leader Sachin Pilot might replace Ashok Gehlot, say party sources in the state. In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress managed to win only one out of the 29 seats despite winning the state elections last November. This reversal in votes suggest that Jyotiraditya Scindia might soon replace Kamal Nath in Madhya Pradesh as the Chief Minister. But Scindia’s loss from an easy seat might dent his chances for the same. Both Pilot and Scindia had claimed chief ministership after Congress won both states last December. Rahul Gandhi finally decided to give senior leaders Gehlot and Kamal Nath a chance after much deliberation within the party. He had then warned of a change if Lok Sabha performances were not up to the mark. There could be more pressure for change of guard in these states in the days ahead. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/pilot-scindia-to-be-made-cm.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/pilot-scindia-to-be-made-cm.html Mon, 27 May 2019 09:10:39 GMT I am your MP, your sevak, Modi tells Varanasi voters Varanasi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited his parliamentary constituency and offered prayers at the Kashi Vishwanath temple on Monday, four days after he steered the BJP to power in New Delhi with a resounding victory of 303 seats in the Lok Sabha. He was received at the airport by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Governor Ram Naik. Flanked by BJP president Amit Shah and Adityanath, Modi entered the temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and paid obeisance to the deity as priests recited Sanskrit 'shlokas' in the sanctum sanctorum and blew conch shells. Chemistry has triumphed over poll arithmetic, he said, profusely thanking Varanasi voters for electing him by a huge margin in the Lok Sabha elections. "Political analysts will have to accept that beyond poll arithmetic there is a chemistry," he told party workers on his first visit to his constituency after his resounding victory which was by a higher margin this time. "For the country I am the PM, but for you I am your MP, I am your sevak," he said. "Work and workers create wonders," Modi said, giving full credit for his victory to the workers at the grassroots level for creating awareness about his government's policies and programmes for the people. Uttar Pradesh is showing the way for India, he said. He also spoke of importance of "perfect synergy" between the government and the party. The prime minister said he was also grateful to his opponents who fought against him. At the same time he lamented there was a sense of political untouchability, adding BJP workers were being killed for their ideology in West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala. His remarks assumed signifiance in the light of the murder of a BJP leader in Amethi in the first post-poll violence in Uttar Pradesh. The thanksgiving visit to this temple town is his first since he won the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat with a huge margin of 4.79 lakh votes, nearly 1 lakh votes more since 2014. The visit is aimed at thanking people for again reposing their faith in him and offering prayers at the famous temple. After landing at the Lal Bahadur Shastri International airport, he flew by helicopter to the police lines from where he travelled by road to Bansphatak near the temple. It was a roadshow of sorts as his cavalcade traversed through the bylanes of the city amid high security with crowds lining the roads and people on rooftops hoping to catch a glimpse of the man who will be sworn as prime minister for a second term this week. Many people threw rose petals and flowers at the cavalcade. Adding to the carnival atmosphere were some artists who put up impromptu performances. He is also scheduled to address a gathering of BJP workers in the city, party sources said. On Saturday, Modi tweeted, Will be going to Gujarat tomorrow evening to seek blessings of my mother. Day after tomorrow, I will be in Kashi to thank people of this great land for reposing their faith in me. In a video message ahead of the May 19 polling, Modi called himself a "Kashivasi" and termed the city his guiding spirit. He said it was a matter of great satisfaction for him that he was in service of the city whose presiding deity is Lord Shiva. In the first back-to-back majority for a single party in over three decades, the Modi-led BJP won 303 out of 542 Lok Sabha seats that went to polls, handing out a crushing defeat to the Congress and many other political opponents. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/modi-varanasi-kashi-viswanath-temple.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/modi-varanasi-kashi-viswanath-temple.html Mon, 27 May 2019 09:00:32 GMT Personal attack on Ramya cost LDF votes: Balan Thiruvananthapuram: The personal attacks on Ramya Haridas, who won from the Alathur Lok Sabha constituency in the recently concluded elections, proved costly to the Left Democratic Front (LDF). Minister AK Balan too shares this possibility after the Congress candidate easily won from a seat which was considered safe for the Communist Party of India (Marxist) until the election results came out last week. LDF convener A Vijayaraghavan’s comment on UDF candidate might have influenced voters, Balan noted. The CPM will analyse the likely impact, said the party’s central committee member. Vijayaraghavan himself had explained he had no intention to hurt the lady candidate, but the media took his statement out of context. However, Vijayaraghavan said he does not believe Balan made a comment against him. His comment was political, not personal, the convener claimed. The media twisted my remarks against the party. The Left’s loss was unexpected, but the chief minister need not change his style, he added. Noting the reaction from the Left camp, Ramya said she was glad the CPM conceded its leader's abuse against her contributed to its defeat. Vijayaraghavan had made dirty insinuations against Ramya in April as the election campaign was on. "His offending words created much mental trauma. He should have realised I too have parents and family. I have overcome many such attacks before,” Ramya had reacted so then. "Character assassination has no space in the fight of ideologies. Those who claim to espouse renaissance values should not hurl abuses at women. The people of Alathur know what I am. No such propaganda can stop me from winning," Ramya had said then. Meanwhile, Balan also pointed out that CPM's Palakkad candidate MB Rajesh didn't cite infighting as a factor behind his defeat. Ramya's worry Ramya, the winning candidate from Alathur, is however disappointed as the government and the women’s commission didn't take action against Vijayaraghavan. "Women should come forward to defend women’s rights. The women’s commission has the responsibility to fight for women and not be swayed by political affiliations. Even those who are unaware of the rules should get its backing," she stated. Plan ahead Ramya shared her plans for the constituency which borders Tamil Nadu. (Alathur Lok Sabha constituency is made up of Tarur, Chittur, Nenmara and Alathur in Palakkad district; and Chelakkara, Kunnamkulam and Wadakkanchery in Thrissur district.) "Though an MP from Alathur, I represent all women from Kerala. I have a project in mind for the women in Alathur. They wake up early to go to work in Tamil Nadu’s textile shops. I have a plan to provide them with permanent job opportunities. I want to make sure the women in villages find jobs matching their skills and earn a respectable wage," Ramya revealed. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/personal-attack-on-ramya-cost-votes-says-balan.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/personal-attack-on-ramya-cost-votes-says-balan.html Mon, 27 May 2019 06:49:16 GMT CPM takes stock of poll reverses, Kerala unit blames Sabarimala row New Delhi: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) is reviewing the Lok Sabha election results which point to erosion of its support base, primarily in West Bengal and Kerala. Its Kerala unit has identified that the row over women's entry into the Sabarimala temple had alienated the Hindu devotees from the party, leading to its worst defeat in the Lok Sabha polls. The Kerala wing pointed out this in the report submitted by the state secretariat during the polit buro (PB) meeting that began on Sunday. The CPM unit of the southern state, which is the sole state in the country where it is in power, was criticised for failing to anticipate that the faithful and the minorities would abandon the party, causing a massive decline in the number of votes. However, the Kerala leadership justified the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF)'s stand on the Sabarimala row. They contended that the government, as a progressive organisation, tried to implement the Supreme Court order that allowed women of all age groups to enter the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who gave his opinion on the poll debacle, returned from Delhi on Sunday itself. He is in the state to take part in the Kerala Assembly session that began on Monday. The meet will now discuss on why the party failed to win votes even in CPM bastions in Kerala. Even within the party, criticisms have been raised against the leadership for failing to ensure victories in Palakkad, Alathur, Kasaragod, and Attingal constituencies. The LDF was able to secure victory only in Alappuzha among the 20 seats in Kerala. In Kerala, the combined power of the CPM, CPI and other allies of the LDF couldn't even garner votes that opponent Congress, which heads the rival United Democratic Front (UDF), alone fetched in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls. Congress could secure 37.27% of the votes, while the CPM-led LDF was able to win only 35.15% polled in the state. In one-third of the constituencies, the margin of votes between the UDF and LDF candidates is more than 10 per cent. In Wayanad, where Congress chief Rahul Gandhi contested, the difference is as high as 40%. The other big margins are: Idukki (19%), Ernakulam (17%), Alathur and Thiruvananthapuram (16% each), Kollam (15%), Chalakudy (13%), and Kottayam (12%). These wide victory margins points to the scale of the historic victory Congress managed in the state even as the party was routed elsewhere in the country, except Punjab and Tamil Nadu. The CPM leadership in Kerala is worried over the drubbing in the 2019 polls as the statistics of the past elections show that there was only minor difference between the two fronts. At the PB meet on Sunday, reports from other states were also submitted. The meet also held discussions about the party being cornered in West Bengal. The CPM central committee will meet in the first week of June. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/cpm-takes-stock-of-poll-reverses-kerala-unit-blames-sabarimala-row.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/27/cpm-takes-stock-of-poll-reverses-kerala-unit-blames-sabarimala-row.html Mon, 27 May 2019 05:52:02 GMT How Congress' Priyanka magic dissipated in UP Confidence is the one characteristic that Priyanka exuded all through the campaign trail for the Lok Sabha elections 2019. Though the Priyanka magic dissipated, the down-to-earth dispensation and feet-on-the-ground approach won many hearts. During her campaign in Rae Bareli, she had no qualms walking up to a snake-charmer who had a hood-flashed cobra by his side. As all the others coaxed him hard to put the reptile back inside the box, an unflappable Priyanka walked up to him and helped him do exactly that. At another place, she alighted from the car, shook hands and wished the best to a couple of people who were raising pro-Modi slogans on the wayside. On hindsight, the Priyanka Gandhi factor did not make an impact as the Congress thought it would – the BJP secured 61 of 80 seats in UP alone. Congress lost one of its precious two seats, that too her sibling Rahul Gandhi’s Amethi. In Eastern UP, where the Congress put Priyanka in charge as general secretary, the party contested in only 35 of the 41 seats. They lost in all 34, winning just one seat. It came second in Amethi and third in all the other places. The initiation Priyanka first campaigned for the Congress 20 years ago in 1999 for her mother, Sonia Gandhi, in Amethi. The party then fielded Rahul from Amethi and moved Sonia to Rae Bareli. Priyanka travelled the length and breadth of the constituencies with a spell of a smile and her subtle oratory. She was recently elevated as general secretary in charge of eastern UP; the party banking heavily on her to make a difference. The scene was grim when she was elevated – the party’s vote share was at an all-time low of seven per cent in 2014. This was a dip from the 51 per cent in 1984. The party machinery was loose and disorganized, if not in disarray. Priyanka had just 100 days to wave her magic wand and set things right. Knowing BJP’s tactics Eastern UP comprises the regions of Awadh and Purvanchal. The population of Awadh mainly consists of the upper castes. At least 13 per cent of the population of Awadh is Brahmins. The population traditionally supported the Congress but they cut the association a few years ago. The Congress thought there were two reasons why the upper castes would support them – the dismay of the Brahmins over Yogi Adityanath, a Rajput, being made the Chief Minister; and the 10 per cent reservation move of the BJP for the economically weaker among the forward castes. The Congress vote share had been going up since 2007 in UP. Brahmins, Kurmis, and the Jats helped the Congress gain 21 seats in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. But in 2014, the Kurmis and the upper castes voted for the BJPs and the Muslims for the Samajwadi Party (SP). But even then, the support of the upper castes, except Takurs and Brahmins, stayed with the Congress. This time around they too seemed to have abandoned the Congress. The strategy The Congress tried to project its own brand of Hindutva in UP through Priyanka. It wanted to capture the Hindu vote bank which it lost five years ago. But Priyanka did not want to loose sight of the other sections too – evident in her decision to start the campaign from Gangotri. The journey which started on march 18 was through regions with substantial Dalit and OBC presence, like Bhadohi and Mirzapur. The party pinned much hopes on places like Khushinagar, Maharajganj, and Dumariaganj. But the party secured just 25,604 votes in Bhadohi and 91,392 in Mirzapur. Women and youth As per statistics, the BJP’s support base is in tact among those in the 18-22 age group. A study by the Centre for Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) indicated that the party had secured 51 per cent of the young population voted for the BJP. UP also has among the highest number of women voters. The Congress wanted to wield its influence on the youths and women too by fielding Priyanka. Electoral stats In 2014, UP had 13.88 crore voters. This time, the number rose to 14.43 crore, which meant 55 lakh new voters. This chunk of new votes went to the BJP, if election stats are to be believed. In eastern UP, the BJP secured most seats with a huge margin – an assertion of the new-voter support theory. The CSDS report says the male voters form a major chunk of the Congress vote bank – approximately 59 per cent. The corresponding figure for BJP is 52 per cent. But women form a big chunk of the SP-BSP electorate, 53 per cent. Priyanka could wean away a chunk of women votes but that erosion happened from the SP-BSP combine, leaving the BJP unharmed. In 2014, the BJP won in 36 places. An interesting fact is that in over 20 places, the SP and BSP votes put together was higher than the votes polled for the BJP. This paved way for Akhilesh and Mayawati to come together. But the SP-BSP combine was in for a rude shock when the Congress backed off from the alliance. Over 40 per cent of UP’s population comprises backward classes. The SP intended to capture Dalit votes (22 per cent of the population) and Yadav votes (9 per cent). Also, the party eyed a share of the Muslim votes (19 per cent). The party was apprehensive that Priyanka would tear away a portion of the Muslim votes. SP’s Rampur MLA Azam Khan had reportedly requested Priyanka to desist from ‘splitting the Muslim vote bank of the SP.’ The Muslim population supports the SP but the electorate has no special affinity to the BSP. This is because the BSP leadership has no Muslim representation. Matters turned worse when Nasimuddin Siddiqui, former general secretary of BSP, joined the Congress immediately after the 2017 Assembly polls. At least 50 office-bearers of the BSP joined the Congress in the past year and half. BSP’s focus The BJP mostly focussed on the 12 per cent Jatav vote share. Reports indicated that only 12 per cent of forward classes would vote for the SP-BSP combine. But the SP-BSP alliance expected to grab 60 per cent of SC-ST votes, 40 per cent of OBC votes, and 80 per cent of Muslim votes. The alliance expected support from Priyanka in this context. The BSP was of the thought that the votes of Dalits except Jatavs and backward classes except Yadavs from BJP bank would go to the Congress. The SP-BSP alliance thought the Priyanka factor would help weaken the BJP this way. The Congress but had another strategy in mind. It was sure to dent the prospects of the SP-BSP combine. But the results turned a nought, against all calculations. No strongmen In 2009 and 2014, the BJP banked heavily on the Brahmins and Thakurs among the upper classes. They were able to woo, among the lower classes, those except the Yadavs and Jatavs. The BJP thought Priyanka would dent this vote bank. But the Modi-Shah combine had their trump card in announcing a 10 per cent reservation in jobs for the economically backward among the upper castes. The Congress found it tough to field candidates who could even give the BJP a tough fight. A case in point is the Brahmin-dominated Unnao. In 2014 and now, the BJP fielded Sakshi Maharaj. The BJP candidate secured 5.18 lakh votes in 2014. The SP and BSP candidates polled two lakh votes each and the Congress, 1.97 lakh. The Congress could not find and field anyone other than Anu tendon who came fourth in 2014. The Congress also faltered on its plan to field the candidate of the same community as done by the BJP in every constituency. Rahul Gandhi had himself stated that the party expected no major turnaround with Priyanka’s entry. The aim, sources said, was to capture the mandate in UP by 2022. The Congress placed its bet on Priyanka’s capability to connect with the masses and the reciprocal activity of its ranks on the ground. But now, with a diminished vote share and highly volatile ground support, it needs to be seen as to how her strategies for the 2022 Assembly polls would work. (Graphics by Jain David M) https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/congress-priyanka-gandhi-up-magic-dissipated.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/congress-priyanka-gandhi-up-magic-dissipated.html Mon, 27 May 2019 00:28:28 GMT Why Pinarayi Vijayan should take some blame for LDF rout in Kerala For the moment, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan can take refuge behind Narendra Modi. He can say that it was the frantic desire on the part of Kerala voters to see Modi's back that prompted them to temporarily set aside party ties and vote spiritedly for the UDF. As the chief minister believes, there clearly was a strong wish in Kerala to see the BJP out of power. But, if he is serious about taking the communal elements by the scruff of their necks, can the chief minister spare himself of blame in the humiliating rout the LDF suffered this time? “No”, says most of the political leaders, analysts and social observers Onmanorama talked to. They say Pinarayi Vijayan's style of functioning would have been at least partly responsible for perhaps the LDF's worst defeat in history. Failed midnight coup A senior LDF leader, on the condition of anonymity, said Pinarayi was absolutely right in wanting to implement the Supreme Court order. “There was nothing wrong in a chief minister saying so after the verdict came, even if it might have given the feeling that he was in some haste,” the leader said. “Where he disastrously erred was in sneaking in two women into the hill shrine on January 2, the day after the Women's Wall was successfully formed across the state. There was an element of triumphalism in the Left camp that offended even liberal-minded Hindus, and should have been avoided at any cost. This gave the impression that the Pinarayi government was not just implementing a Supreme Court verdict but had sinister plans in mind,” the leader added. Sajad Ibrahim K M, head of the Department of Politics, University of Kerala, who had coordinated a comprehensive post-poll survey in the state, too said women voters they had talked to, even those without any deep faith, felt that the entry of women in the dead of the night with police protection was highly unacceptable. “Otherwise, our survey showed that people were satisfied with the way Pinarayi Vijayan was handling governance, especially the post-flood reconstruction effort,” Ibrahim said. Pinarayi's double face One of the state's most reputed social critics, Hameed Chennamangaloor, said that the verdict was a reminder that the Kerala society had seen through the hypocrisy of Pinarayi Vijayan's political strategy. Chennamangaloor said Pinarayi Vijayan's body language, which he described as “so thick with arrogance”, had alienated voters. “Also, Pinarayi Vijayan's duplicity in matters of faith had distanced the silent, unorganised and neutral voter from the party this time,” Chennamangaloor said. He was referring to Pinarayi's double standards in dealing with faith-related issues. “He seemed to possess commendable spunk while dealing with the Sabarimala issue. But when questions of faith related to Muslim and Christian communities came up, where did all his much vaunted firmness vanish,” Chennamangaloor asked. Selective renaissance On November 20, not even two months after the Sabarimala verdict, came the Supreme Court verdict on the ownership of St Mary's Church in Piravom. “Was the Pinarayi government as determined as in Sabarimala to get the verdict on the Piravom church implemented? I suppose not. This is hypocrisy. This government has not succeeded in giving the impression that it was acting in a fair manner,” Chennamangaloor said. Some churning happened in the Muslim community, too, after the Sabarimala verdict. “Right after the chief minister declared that he would implement the Supreme Court verdict in Sabarimala, Samastha Kerala Jamiyyathul Ulama (an organisation of Muslim scholars) held a meeting in Kozhikode. During the meeting, the Ulama leader publicly warned the government against applying the Sabarimala gender logic in Muslim mosques in the state,” Chennamangaloor said. “If Pinarayi Vijayan was so committed to the ideals of renaissance and gender equality, he should have responded the way he responded to Hindu orthodoxy. He did not. Was he not man enough to oppose Muslim orthodoxy,” he said. By being so sheepish in the face of Muslim orthodoxy, Chennamangaloor said, Pinarayi sent out a strange message. “Renaissance was intended only for the Hindu community. Others can do as they please. Such double standards lost him even liberal Muslim votes,” he said. Consolidation of neutral minorities Chennamangaloor was also sceptical of the minority consolidation argument. “The most popular Muslim party by a long distance, the Muslim League, was already in the UDF. The second most important party, the SDPI, put up their own candidates and had secured 20,000 to 25,000 votes in all the nine constituencies it had contested, including in Malappuram and Ponnani. The other parties, the INL and P T A Rahim's National Secular Conference, had been with the LDF for quite a long time. There is nothing to show that they had changed sides. Only Jamat-e-Islami openly favoured the UDF in some of the constituencies,” Chennamangaloor said. In short, he was suggesting that it were the “liberal, unorgansied and neutral” Muslims who had deserted the Left this time. Ghosts of Periya and Onchiyam Another prominent social critic M N Karassery said both anti-Modi and anti-Pinarayi sentiments worked in equal measure to forge such a massive sweep for the UDF. Karassery, however, plays down the Sabarimala effect. “If that was the case why did K Surendran, the most celebrated martyr in the Sabarimala agitation, lose so badly in Pathanamthitta,” he said. He said there was indeed a strong fear among the minorities about a Modi-led dispensation. “But in constituencies like Vadakara, Kasaragod and Kannur, it was clearly a verdict against the CPM's politics of violence,” Karassery said. “Voters in Kasaragod have not forgotten the slain Youth Congress workers. And T P Chandrasekharan's blood has still not dried, it's still fresh,” Karassery said. Like Chennamangaloor, Karassery, too, was disturbed by the CPM's selective commitment to the rule of law. “Why was there no haste to implement the Supreme Court verdict in Piravom,” he asked. “And in the case of Muslims, the CPM game plan was to secure all non-League votes. They got it completely wrong this time,” Karassery said. The Left front had suffered badly whenever it had attempted to seek the help of fundamentalist Muslim formations. Telling examples are 2009 Lok Sabha polls and 2011, assembly elections, when Pinarayi Vijayan cosied up to Abdul Nasser Maudani disregarding the bitter disapproval of V S Achuthanandan. Coimbatore connection Even right wing Hindu leaders, though not surprisingly, concur with the liberals on Pinarayi Vijayan's role in the defeat of the LDF. They, however, are not ready to accept the verdict as an anti-Modi one. Hindu Aikya Vedi's K P Sasikala, Sangh Parivar's most shockingly extreme face, said the angry faithful just blindly voted against Pinarayi Vijayan. “They were so angry with the way he tampered with the Hindu faith that they did not even think of the consequences of voting for the UDF,” she said. “The voters were perhaps not convinced of the BJP's winnability. But they still had to vent their anger,” she said. Here is why Sasikala feels that the verdict was anti-Pinarayi. “If it was not against Pinarayi, why did the CPM lose in Palakkad? Just across the border in Coimbatore, the CPM had won big. (CPM's P R Natarajan had won by 1.79 lakh votes.) People in both these constituencies think almost alike. But this time Pinarayi's wickedness made the difference,” she said. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/pinarayi-vijayan-ldf-kerala-rout.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/pinarayi-vijayan-ldf-kerala-rout.html Mon, 27 May 2019 05:07:10 GMT Opinion | Good morning New India, wake up to the reality of Fortress Kerala There is an uproar, 'upcountry'. The trigger is a whitewash scenario from the southern most tip of the nation staring at the ruling dispensation. Much to the dismay of Narendra Modi's New India, Kerala discarded the saffron outfit with consummate ease. In social media, this unique world vision of God's own country triggered a raging debate on the pros and cons of such a narrative, completely out of sync with what is being touted as the mood of the nation. Is there a pathological hatred for saffron on full bloom in Kerala? If so why? Political realities are obvious. It is tough for the Lotus to stay afloat in Kerala. There are probably other triggers, too. An overwhelming chunk of the Hindus, the majority community of the state, do not subscribe to the idea of polarisation based on religion. And what is perceived as the hallmark of the Sangh outfits is unacceptable to a majority in the majority community itself, or read Hindus as per the BJP's lexicon, on whom the BJP pinned its political calculus. The BJP's arithmetic is being engineered in such a way that it does not need the backing of minorities any more across the country. Despite claims about being inclusive, this is the reality of the New India which the Sangh-led BJP is marshalling. Perhaps, that is not at all acceptable in Kerala. Mob lynching as a political tool is detested here. Accepted, there are odd voices who have rallied to justify political killings in God's own country. But such voices of hatred have been given a drubbing time and again. This verdict also is a reflection of an antipathy to political violence -– a twin murder by the ruling front has had a clear fall-out in northern Kerala. So, you need to forget about inciting mob violence. Transporting cattle, eating beef, constructing temples and whipping up hysteria over perceived injustice to the majority community are themes that do not find enough resonance to alter the political realities of this state. Not that there are no takers for such myopic world vision. Shrill voices are indeed gaining traction, but mostly end up creating revulsion. This activates a reverse polarisation among a silent chunk of the electorate. Make no mistake, it ain't minority consolidation alone. It is consolidation across communities to weed out what they perceive as an alien evil. Known evils are far more acceptable here. This necessitates a fortress to guard against the tidal waves of majoritarianism emanating from vast swathes of the country. Consolidation across communities is the name of that fortress, which Kerala has stitched up now. Embedded in that political statement is also a proclamation that thinking differently is a way of life here. That is perhaps why Kerala voted en masse to back Indira's Congress immediately after the demon of Emergency was unleashed. There is some order in the chaos of Kerala. Or rather, it seeks order in chaos too. You need to subtly weave in religion or caste-based priorities. Blatant provocation and polarisation of the Adityanath kind won't work. Without doubt, the BJP's political rivals in Kerala do play the communal and polarising cards. They play it deftly. Political violence, too, is not anathema for key players. But they bury it as 'isolated incidents', not flaunt them. The CPM has made the mistake of flaunting political violence and garlanding perpetrators of violence. The defence was mostly confined to the presumption that such heroes of hatred are innocent until proven guilty. That did not cut ice here. It got the drubbing it deserved on such occasions. So do not dabble with the notion that you can flaunt violence and get away with it. In other words, you need to pamper the subtle nuances of God's cherished country to make a political living here. And do not meddle with our culinary tastes. Beef curry is not a staple diet, it is an emotive issue, which is directly proportional to the BJP's agenda on the palate. We have too many holy cows, but we do not require Gaurakshaks. Local BJP leaders understand this, but perhaps they are unable to convey the dangers of dabbling with a constituency of beef to their political masters 'upcountry'. That is why they languish in the periphery of political wilderness. Pyare deshwasiyon, wake up. And embrace the riddle of Kerala, wrapped in subtle nuances and seeped in contradictions. Otherwise, this fortress can never be breached. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/new-india-reality-of-fortress-kerala.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/new-india-reality-of-fortress-kerala.html Mon, 27 May 2019 02:54:58 GMT Lok Sabha election results a reprieve for Yogi govt? Lucknow: The unexpected results in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the general election in Uttar Pradesh have added to the burden on the state’s Yogi Adityanath government to deliver on the promises earlier made by it, as well as fulfilling the expectations raised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address after being nominated as the BJP leader in Lok Sabha. The Yogi government had taken over office in March 2017 on the crest of a massive majority for the BJP in the Assembly election, and had started on a confident step of improving the law and order situation and making the state machinery more responsive. However, within months the government faced the charges of conducting fake ‘encounters’ to eliminate criminals, encouraging cow vigilantes, and failing to control the menace of stray cattle lose on school grounds, roads and highways by owners unable to take care of them. The opposition Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) showed remarkable alacrity to get together to challenge the BJP in seats vacated by Yogi in Gorakhpur and by Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Maurya in Phulpur. In the by-elections held for both seats held in March 2018, the SP candidates in each seat won with a decisive margin. It was a big embarrassment for the government particularly for Yogi who is said to have strong hold over Gorakhpur. It was felt even within the BJP circles that the two seats were lost mainly because of a joint opposition challenge, but partly also because of the dissatisfaction with the state government over several issues. A report in the media quoting the Political Stock Exchange data compiled by Axis My India for the India Today Group in December 2018 had indicated that Yogi Adityanath's popularity level had “slipped significantly” over the previous three months. He was largely blamed for encouraging communal polarisation in the state. Reports in a section of the media also noted that the incidents of violence against Dalits, over-zealousness of cow vigilantes and his so-called lack of communication with bureaucrats were making him unpopular among the people. It was also said that many officers were upset with Yogi’s approach towards bureaucrats and a course correction, these reports suggested, was required. Even opposition party leaders had started speculating that Yogi could be replaced after the Lok Sabha election if the results were disappointing for the BJP. However, the state government continued with its plans of improving the pilgrimage centres in Ayodhya, Varanasi and Mathura. Announcement was made to install a massive statue of Lord Ram in Ayodhya, and the Kumbh in Prayagraj was organised on a grand scale. During the Lok Sabha election campaign, Yogi was among the star campaigners. He visited most states in the country and addressed 163 rallies of which only 37 were organised in UP and rest in other states. His rallies also drew huge crowds everywhere. Incidentally, he was censured by the Election Commission in April for objectionable content in his election speech and was barred from campaigning for 72 hours. But he continued drawing crowds later too. The BJP campaign, led by Modi, paid off and the BJP won 62 out of 80 seats in the state. Most political observers had anticipated the SP-BSP alliance to do well but it was restricted to 15 seats only against a much higher expectation. It also established Yogi as a major campaigner for the party. Now, a buoyed Yogi is preparing to turn to his job as chief minister with a new confidence. First, he is planning to have a reshuffle in his ministry since three ministers have made it to the Lok Sabha. In all 9 BJP MLAs had contested the Lok Sabha election and 8 have won. The winners are ministers Rita Bahuguna Joshi (Allahabad), Satyadev Pachauri (Kanpur) and SPS Baghel (Agra). The MLAs who won are R K Singh Patel, Rajvir Singh Valmiki Diler, Upendra Rawat, Pradeep Chaudhary and Akhaybar Lal Gaud. The only MLA and minister to have lost is Mukut Bihari Verma from Ambedkar Nagar. A reshuffle in the bureaucracy could also be on the cards. Incidentally, a large number of bureaucrats were seen lining up in front of BSP leader Mayawati’s residence in Lucknow on the day the exit polls results had indicated that the SP-BSP alliance could get up to 50 or more seats. But quick to sense the changed atmosphere, bureaucrats now have started circulating information that it was the “good work” done by them which contributed to BJP’s grand show. It is also being indicated by official sources that the Yogi government will now focus on speeding up pending projects held up because of the election model code of conduct. According to party sources, Yogi is here to stay but the time for a course correction is now, in view of the preparations for the 2022 Assembly election. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/lok-sabha-election-results-up-yogi-adityanath.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/lok-sabha-election-results-up-yogi-adityanath.html Mon, 27 May 2019 00:28:12 GMT India will regain lost position in the world: Modi in first rally after poll win Ahmedabad: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday said people's mandate in the Lok Sabha elections has given an opportunity to the country to regain its lost position in the world order. Speaking at a felicitation event here organised by the Gujarat BJP unit, he urged the cadres to remain humble after the landslide victory. "I can see that the next five years will be very crucial, both in the context of India and the world. And fortunately, we are now having a full majority government, that too having support of strong NDA allies," he said. The next five years will be as important as the period between 1942 to 1947, he said. "This is an opportunity for the country to regain its lost position in the world order. And, I have no doubt that we will achieve it. This is a big opportunity to awaken people's conscience and take the country forward. It is time to make a vow to make India a problem-free country," Modi said. The prime minister addressed the gathering at JP Chowk outside the BJP office in Khanpur area, its former state headquarters before it shifted to Gandhinagar. It now houses the party's city unit office. Modi reminisced that he had spent many years in this small office during his initial days as a politician. He had last addressed a gathering at JP Chowk when BJP won the 2012 Assembly polls, he recalled. The Lok Sabha results stunned all the political pundits, Modi said. "During the campaigning for the sixth phase, I had, for the first time, said we will cross 300 seats. At that time, many people made fun of my statement... I saw during the campaigning that people were keen to reinstate this government. People wanted to strengthen the government. They knew that their votes will provide guarantee of security and bring prosperity," he said. "This is a pro-incumbency vote. A vote to reinstate the present government. In the beginning of the poll campaign, I had told it is not BJP or its candidates who are contesting, it is the people who are contesting the polls... The word 'wave' is too small to describe the poll results this time," he said. The BJP leader also remembered the victims of the devastating fire in Surat two days ago, and said he was in a dilemma as to whether he should address such a gathering in the immediate aftermath of the incident that claimed 22 lives. "Till yesterday, I was in two minds whether to go for this felicitation function or not as on one hand, there was 'kartvya' (duty) and on the other hand, there was 'karuna' (compassion) for those who died in Surat. No amount of words can reduce the grief of the families who have lost their children in that tragedy," he said. "On the other hand, I had to thank the people of the state and also take blessings of my mother as a duty," the prime minister added. The function was kept simple in the wake of the tragic incident in Surat, he noted. Remembering his days as Gujarat chief minister, Modi said though people in other parts of the country did not know him in 2014, they knew Gujarat very well for its development. "People knew what is Gujarat and how it is ahead on many parameters. The fragrance of Gujarat and its development reached the people before I reached out to them. Gujarat's development was at the core of people's mandate to us in 2014, as people had a feeling that the country would see similar development," he said. Speaking earlier, BJP president Amit Shah said it was Modi who ended 'gundaraj' (reign of criminals) and corruption in Gujarat as chief minister from 2001 to 2014. "There is a reason why people reposed immense faith in Narendra bhai. He had visited numerous villages, trained many party workers and finally made Gujarat a BJP fortress. He started Gujarat's journey of development in 2001 and took it to the country after 2014," he said. "There was a time when Gujarat was known for curfews and riots. People faced difficulty in taking out Rath Yatra (chariot processions taken out by temples). All that vanished after Modi became CM. He ended Gujarat's water problems and provided electricity in rural areas," Shah added. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/india-lost-world-order-modi-rally-election.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/india-lost-world-order-modi-rally-election.html Sun, 26 May 2019 17:46:35 GMT Heads expected to roll in Congress after election rout New Delhi: Heads are expected to roll in the Congress following the party's dismal performance in the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections where it won just 52 seats, just 8 more than what it managed in 2014. A party source told IANS: "Many general secretaries and state unit chiefs could face the heat as the party will fix responsibility for its poor performance." The Congress Working Committee (CWC) on Saturday authorised Rahul Gandhi - whose offer to step down as the Congress president was unanimously rejected by CWC members - to make a complete overhaul and detailed restructuring of the party at every level. According to the source, the Congress president was quite forthright at the CWC meeting, not sparing even some senior leaders of the party. Gandhi is believed to have said that Congress chief ministers Ashok Gehlot and Kamal Nath were eager to give ticket to their sons although the party president was not very keen on the idea as he felt that they had a bigger role to play in campaigning. While Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath's son Nakul Nath successfully contested from his father's stronghold Chhindwara, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's son Vaibhav Gehlot tasted defeat in Jodhpur. The source said that Gandhi also referred to veteran Congressman and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram for pushing for a Lok Sabha ticket for his son Karti Chidambaram from Sivaganga in Tamil Nadu. Karti Chidambaram is one of the eight Congress candidates who emerged victorious in Tamil Nadu. The Congress president reportedly told the CWC that these senior leaders had put the interests of their sons before the interests of the party. Gandhi is learnt to have said that Chidambaram was even willing to walk out of the party if his son was denied a Lok Sabha ticket. However, when Gandhi offered to step down as the Congress president on Saturday, Chidambaram got emotional and broke down in front of the CWC members. The source said that Chidambaram reportedly told Gandhi that 12 crore people had voted for the party and that "south India believes in you. How can you say you don't want to remain president?". https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/heads-expected-to-roll-in-congress-after-election-rout.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/heads-expected-to-roll-in-congress-after-election-rout.html Sun, 26 May 2019 14:49:00 GMT BJP, TMC gear up for battleground 2021 By welcoming the BJP and refusing to give even one seat to the Left, West Bengal has virtually rewritten its political scenario with the Lok Sabha poll results. The eastern state but did not reject the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and gave some breathing space to the Congress. Though Trinamool won 22 seats, the BJP reached second with 18 seats. However, the BJP appears to be closer to its goal of ousting Trinamool from West Bengal by 2021. Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had claimed that 40 of the Trinamool MLAs were waiting to switch over to the BJP after the polls. Suspended Trinamool MLA, Subhrangshu Roy, who would soon join the BJP is seen as the first to start the exodus. Community first Corruption, infighting in party and Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee’s way of functioning are seen as some of the reasons that forced people to vote against the TMC. However, the Muslim community still sided with Trinamool as is proven by the 22 constituencies where the party won. Most of these constituencies have 40-60 per cent of Muslim voters. Though Mamata had taken precautionary steps to thwart attempts on splitting the votes on community-based politics, these did not yield results. Trinamool lost out on several constituencies with high Hindu population. However, it is not possible to say that the community factor alone decided the results. Compared to the assembly polls, Trinamool's vote share has only marginally come down. Compared to 2014, Trinamool's vote share increased in Lok Sabha constituencies where they won. It proves that Trinamool was able to win over minority and anti-Modi voters. Left, Congress voters to BJP? However, some would contend that Left and Congress voters had backed the BJP. Figures too back such statements. In Alipurduar, 2014 numbers: Trinamool - 29.46% vote, BJP - 27.72%, RSP - 27.30%, Congress – 9.49%. Whereas in 2019: Trinamool - 36.72%, BJP - 54.4%, RSP - 3.91%, Congress – 1.99%. The BJP was able to portray itself as a force capable of taking on Mamata, and win over votes from the Left and the Congress. The Sangh Parivar activists also worked hard to reverse the BJP's chances in the state. The BJP was able to register victories in tribal areas and most of the northern parts of the state. However, any attack on the Bengal's cultural sentiments saw the state rooting as one. Statues of social reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar were vandalised just before the last phase of polling. Trinamool won all the nine seats. The way ahead Trinamool workers are confident that they have two years to mend their ways before the 2021 assembly polls. Mamata has already started course-corrective measures. The Bengal CM said she was ready to take responsibility of the poll debacle and resign as chief minister. However, the TMC Leadership rejected this. Mamata had alleged that BJP won votes by communal politics. "I have doubts regarding the BJP's massive victory. Some foreign forces are behind this. The party created an emergency-like situation in the state to win the polls," she said. Trinamool also suspended MLA Subhrangshu Roy after he said the TMC should accept the defeat after the LS polls and praised his father Mukul Roy’s organisational skills. Mukul Roy, one of the founders of TMC, had switched over to the BJP in 2017. The BJP plans to give more representations from Bengal in the central ministry. However, there is not much to say about Congress in Bengal. And the Left is nowhere in the picture. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/bjp-tmc-battleground-bengal.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/bjp-tmc-battleground-bengal.html Sun, 26 May 2019 14:33:03 GMT Modi to be sworn in as prime minister on May 30 New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind will administer the oath of office and secrecy to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other members of the Union council of ministers on May 30 at 7pm at Rashtrapati Bhavan, an official communique on Sunday said. Modi won a second consecutive five-year term as Prime Minister with the National Democratic Alliance returning to power with a massive majority in the Lok Sabha elections. The BJP alone bagged 303 of total 542 seats that went to polls with the NDA getting 353 seats. Elections were held in 542 of the 543 seats. The election in Vellore Lok Sabha seat was cancelled by the Election Commission citing abuse of money power. Modi along with NDA leaders on Saturday met President Kovind and staked claim for the formation of government. Kovind asked Modi to decide his council of ministers and the date of his swearing-in ceremony. The president also appointed Modi to the office of prime minister of India, a communique issued by the Rashtrapati Bhavan said. Modi was earlier elected as leader of the BJP parliamentary party and the NDA parliamentary party at a function at Central Hall of Parliament which was attended by senior NDA leaders, Chief Ministers of NDA-ruled states, 353 newly-elected NDA MPs and senior BJP functionaries including party chief Amit Shah and veterans L. K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/modi-to-be-sworn-in-as-prime-minister-on-may-30.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/modi-to-be-sworn-in-as-prime-minister-on-may-30.html Sun, 26 May 2019 14:10:26 GMT Who may become BJP chief if Amit Shah joins new Modi ministry? New Delhi: With the BJP president Amit Shah likely to be given a key portfolio in new National Democratic Alliance government, discussions are on who would be the next chief of the saffron party. Neither Shah nor the party has confirmed the BJP chief's move to the ministry. However, rumours are strong that he would be the second-in command in Narendra Modi's new council of ministers. If that happens, then the BJP would have to choose an experienced party hand who would be accepted by the RSS too. The party would have to find a person who would be able to emulate the Modi-Shah model of functioning. Surely, Modi and Shah will take a final call on the new BJP chief. Shah, who took over from Rajnath Singh in 2015, was able to turn the party into an indomitable force in the country. The leadership is of the opinion that Shah's successor should be as hardworking and aggressive as him. Modi has instructed the MPs to come up with a 1,000-day plan for the NDA 2.0 that includes several initiatives, such as sending an Indian into space. The new BJP chief should be capable of taking the government initiatives to the people and making the party stronger at the grassroot-level. The names of senior leader J P Nadda, who was the Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, in the outgoing government, is doing the rounds. Ram Madhav, who was able to build party's support in several states, and party general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya also could be in the race to become the next BJP chief. Dharmendra Pradhan, who was the petroleum minister in Modi government, is also known for his organisational skills. Party national general secretary (organisation) Ram Lal could also be considered. Speculations are also rife on whether the BJP would give the party's reins to a woman leader. The BJP has been trying hard to make inroads into the southern parts of the country. If the BJP opts for a woman leader from the south, Nirmala Sitharaman could be considered. Mission New India Developmental projects are the focus in the new government’s 1,000-day plan. Doubling the farmers' income in three years is one among them. House for everyone, woman empowerment, job security and digital India also find a place in the plan that is known as Mission New India. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/bjp-chief-likely-amit-shah-modi-ministry.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/bjp-chief-likely-amit-shah-modi-ministry.html Sun, 26 May 2019 12:21:10 GMT Will leave AAP in 2020: MLA Alka Lamba New Delhi: Disgruntled Aam Aadmi Party legislator Alka Lamba has announced that she would leave the party next year. "My journey started with you in 2013 will end in 2020. My best wishes will be with the dedicated revolutionary ground workers of the party, hopefully you will remain a strong alternative in Delhi. The last six years have been memorable and I have learnt a lot from you," the Chandni Chowk MLA said in a tweet. She did not say whether she would quit AAP before or after the assembly election due in Delhi next year. Lamba has been at odds with the party for some time now. On Saturday, Lamba sought accountability from AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal on the crushing defeat of the party in Lok Sabha polls following which she was removed from the official WhatsApp group of the party lawmakers. AAP did not win any of the seven parliamentary seats in Delhi. Sharing screenshots on Twitter where it can be seen that she was removed by AAP's North East Delhi candidate Dilip Pandey from the group, Lamba lashed out at Kejriwal and said why is she being held responsible for the party's loss in Lok Sabha elections. Hinting at Kejriwal, she said action should be taken against those who took all decisions "sitting in a closed room". "I have always been telling the party what you (Kejriwal) are telling them now. I am sometimes added to the group, sometimes removed. It would have been better if a meeting was held to introspect, look at the shortcomings and move ahead, she said. This is the second time that Lamba has been dropped from the WhatsApp group. Previously, she was dropped in December last year when she raised objection to AAP's resolution to revoke Rajiv Gandhi's Bharat Ratna. However, she was added before the campaigning for Lok Sabha polls started and was expected to campaign for the party. But Lamba refused to campaign for the party and even refrained from participating in Kejriwal's roadshow after she was asked to walk behind his car during the event. In April, Lamba engaged in a bitter Twitter spat with AAP's Greater Kailash MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj, who had taunted her to resign from the party. Following the spat, Lamba addressed a large crowd outside Jama Masjid and said the party was repeatedly demanding her resignation. She alleged that the party leadership was "weakening" her and said she is being accused of attempting to switch over to the Congress. Alka Lamba won the Chandni Chowk assembly seat for the first time in 2013. Before joining Kejriwal, Lamba was part of the Congress women wing. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/aap-2020-mla-alka-lamba.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/aap-2020-mla-alka-lamba.html Sun, 26 May 2019 10:44:11 GMT Jaganmohan Reddy meets PM Modi, discusses special status for Andhra New Delhi: YSR Congress Party president and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister-designate Y S Jaganmohan Reddy met Prime Minister Narendra Modi here on Sunday and discussed the issue of according the special category status to the state. He later also met BJP president Amit Shah and sought his support for the state's key demands. The SCS is a major demand of the YSRCP and Reddy, during his election campaign, had said he would support the party at the national level which promises to grant the status to Andhra Pradesh. The YSRCP stormed to power on Thursday with a landslide victory in assembly polls. During the meeting with Modi at his 7, Lok Kalyan Marg residence, Reddy discussed the issues of special category status to Andhra Pradesh and the state's financial situation and sought central funds, sources said. They said he also invited the prime minister to his swearing-in on May 30 in Vijayawada. The YSRCP chief also interacted with officials at Andhra Bhawan. On Saturday, he was unanimously elected as the leader of YSRC legislature party. Reddy's party has won 151 of the 175 assembly and 22 of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in Andhra Pradesh, the elections for which were held on April 11. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/jaganmohan-reddy-meets-pm-modi-discusses-scs-andhra.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/jaganmohan-reddy-meets-pm-modi-discusses-scs-andhra.html Sun, 26 May 2019 11:07:20 GMT Congress alone left all LDF parties way behind with number of votes Thiruvananthapuram: The combined power of the CPM, CPI and other allies of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala couldn't even garner votes that opponent Congress, which heads the United Democratic Front (UDF), alone fetched in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls. Congress could secure 37.27 per cent of the votes, while the CPM-led LDF was able to win only 35.15 per cent polled in the state. Both the CPM and the Congress had contested in 16 seats each. The CPM, which is the ruling party in Kerala, was dealt a humiliating defeat as it managed to win only a single seat. It allies drew a blank, thus the LDF combine lost 19 out of the 20 Lok Sabha seats as the results showed on May 23. In one-third of the constituencies, the margin of votes between the UDF and LDF candidates is more than 10 per cent. In Wayanad, where Congress chief Rahul Gandhi contested, the difference was as high as 40 per cent. The other big margins are: Idukki (19%), Ernakulam (17%), Alathur and Thiruvananthapuram (16% each), Kollam (15%), Chalakudy (13%), and Kottayam (12%). These wide victory margins points to the scale of the historic victory Congress managed in the state even as the party was routed elsewhere in the country, except Punjab and Tamil Nadu. The CPM leadership is worried over the drubbing in the 2019 polls as the statistics of the past elections show that there was only minor difference between the two fronts. In the past polls, even when one front wins more number of seats, the other alliance doesn't lag much behind in terms of vote share. So whenever it couldn't muster many seats, the CPM used to justify its performance with the decent vote share. The CPM often fell back on this number ploy to claim victory even while facing defeat. However, this time around the CPM is in no position to make any such tall claims, putting the leadership in a spot. This steep decline in vote share prompted the CPM to pinpoint the loss of traditional votes as the reason for the massive defeat. These signs look ominously similar to those encountered by the Left in West Bengal. The loss of traditional votes was one of the first alarm signals for the Left in Bengal. This time it couldn't elect even a single representative to the Lok Sabha. The only consolation for the LDF is that it was able to prevent a BJP victory in Kerala. The party is aware even that was also due to the faithful supporting the UDF. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/congress-alone-left-all-ldf-parties-way-behind-with-number-of-vo.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/congress-alone-left-all-ldf-parties-way-behind-with-number-of-vo.html Sun, 26 May 2019 08:34:35 GMT Did NSS wreck Kummanam's chances in the poll? Thiruvananthapuram: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Kerala will analyse the role played by Nair Service Society (NSS) in the just-concluded Lok Sabha polls. The party missed out on getting NSS votes in Thiruvananthapuram that saw a tight contest, pointed out losing BJP candidate Kummanam Rajasekharan and senior leader O Rajagopal, MLA. The party did not get the desired support from Thiruvananthapuram, Vattiyoorkavu and Nemom assembly constituencies that have considerable Nair population. Though the NSS had reiterated its equidistant policy from all parties, the BJP had specifically requested the outfit from voting against Kummanam. However, that did not seem to have happened as Kummanam lost to Congress candidate Shashi Tharoor by nearly 1 lakh votes. The BJP candidate came a distant second, but ahead of CPI's C Divakaran. The BJP is all set to calculate the number of votes the party received from the NSS at booth level. Moreover, BJP candidate K Surendran was relegated to the third spot in the Pathanamthitta, raising questions over the NSS support in this crucial constituency as well. BJP had set high hopes on both Thiruvananthapuram and Pathanamthitta seats in the wake of the Sabarimala row. The party is ready to take immediate measures to mend ties with the NSS if any fissures had developed in their relationship. The BJP leadership is aware of the need of NSS backing in the upcoming bypolls in the state. Minister Kummanam? Though Kummanam failed to secure the Thiruvananthapuram seat, he is most likely to be made a minister. Even the RSS has asked the Centre to give a deserving position for Kummanam, who resigned from his Mizoram governor post to contest in Thiruvananthapuram. Kummanam had also said that he would work for Kerala's development even after the poll debacle, hinting about his place in Modi's council of ministers. Union minister Alphons Kannanthanam could be retained in the ministry. V Muraleedharan could also make it to the ministry, taking the total number of ministers from Kerala to three. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/nss-likely-played-spoilsport-for-kummanam.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/nss-likely-played-spoilsport-for-kummanam.html Sun, 26 May 2019 07:57:15 GMT Eyeing next polls, Modi likely to pick a minister from Kerala New Delhi: In an attempt to woo the voters ahead of the next election, the new National Democratic Alliance government might give special consideration to those states, including Kerala, that did not elect an NDA or BJP candidate. After the NDA stormed into victory in the Lok Sabha polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said – “We stand with those who trusted us and also for those whose trust we have to win over.” Modi’s statement hints at party’s focus on states where BJP did not do well in LS polls. The BJP failed to convert support in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh to victories. The focus is now on these states. Kerala might get a minister in the first phase. Other states are likely to get ministers during the next phase of expansion. The Kerala puzzle The party leadership was confident of opening account in Kerala this time. Party chief Amit Shah had claimed that the BJP would win five seats and the party had hopes on at least two. Union minister Alphons Kannanthanam, who contested from Ernakulam, might get another chance in the ministry. He is currently a Rajya Sabha member. The BJP is pinning its hopes on the bypolls soon to be held in Kerala. Their next target would be the 2021 assembly polls. Telangana, Odisha The party that suffered a humiliating defeat in the Telangana Assembly polls was able to register victory in the LS polls. The victory in four seats was also a recognition for party national executive committee member PK Krishnadas who is from Kerala. One of the newcomers from Telangana is likely to become a Minister of State. The BJP also won eight seats in Odisha in a tightly fought contest with the BJD. Names of senior leader Jual Oram and all-India secretary Suresh Pujari are also doing the rounds. Bengal The BJP was able to secure victory in 18 seats in West Bengal. It now eyes the assembly polls in the Trinamool Congress-ruled state. At least four MPs from Bengal could be included in the ministry. National executive member Arvind Menon, a Keralite, had played a crucial role in BJP's victory in Bengal. Crucial states The BJP was able to better its results in Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra. The party also let JD(U) contest in its sitting seats in Bihar, scripting another winning formula. Another sparkling victory was to overcome the grand Alliance (Mahagathbandhan) in Uttar Pradesh. Modi has already said that he would not let go off states that backed the BJP. Allies The NDA allies are not in a position to bargain for ministers as the BJP secured enough numbers to form the government on its own. With the BJP eyeing the upcoming Maharashtra assembly polls, Shiv Sena is likely to get three ministers. Nitish Kumar's JD(U) has an eye on the railway ministry. LJP leader Ram Vilas Paswan might make way for his son. BJP to get majority in Rajya Sabha too The BJP would get majority in the Rajya Sabha by next year, helping the party in smooth passage of legislations. The party would have more than half the number in the 245-member Rajya Sabha by 2020. By next November, 75 new Rajya Sabha members will be elected. The BJP has the strength to elect 19 members from UP, Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Assam and Meghalaya. Currently, the BJP has 101 members in the Upper House of the Parliament. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/modi-likely-to-pick-a-misiter-from-kerala-crucial-states.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/modi-likely-to-pick-a-misiter-from-kerala-crucial-states.html Sun, 26 May 2019 11:22:47 GMT Sabarimala row behind Left’s poll debacle: CPM secretariat Thiruvananthapuram: Along with people from the Hindu community, voters from the Christian and Muslim communities too abandoned the Left Democratic Front (LDF) during the Lok Sabha polls, handing the CPM-led alliance its biggest defeat. Even the traditional voters went against the LDF, the CPM state secretariat noted as it began to analyse the poll debacle. The leadership is of the opinion that an intensive and deep course-correction measures need to be adopted to rise from its worst showing in the history of Kerala politics. The secretariat meet zeroed in on the row over Sabarimala women's entry as the factor that led to a steep decline in the number of LDF votes. Even families that owe allegiance to the party backed away. The Christian community was also swayed after rumours that the government would implement the Church Act. Though the government clarified there was no such move, the meet pointed out that it was not able to fully remove the misconception. The Muslims were also apprehensive over speculations that the government and the CPM would try to bring in reforms in the community. Certain sections deliberately tried to create a propaganda that women's entry at mosques was the ruling front's next agenda, the CPM suspected. Social media platforms were used to spread such rumours, creating distrust among them, the meet noted. The LDF government’s attempts to implement the Supreme Court 2018 verdict that allowed women of all age groups to enter Sabarimala triggered various kinds of reactions and interpretations. However, the ruling front failed to address or counter such misgivings, it was pointed out. During the meeting, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan explained the government's duty over Sabarimala and the political crisis created by it. The meet also pointed out that there was a perception that the government was adamant on implementing the Sabarimala order and this caused distrust among the faithful. The CM too did not contest these points. On a self-introspection mode, the leadership admitted the loss of votes even of party members and supporters in CPM bastions, leading to the massive defeat. Though even in 2014, there were one-off instances of members of party or CPM-backed outfits going against the Left, this became a general trend this year. The party was not able to anticipate the people’s concern about voting for the Left that has lost its sheen nationally. Nor was the party able to change the campaign mode to address the people's misgivings, it was noted. The tendency to raise political ideas that do not strike a chord with the people and circulating them on social media also came under the scanner post the debacle. The party has been given a rude awakening call not to remain in this self-created bubble of righteousness. CPM bet was on five seats, but got just one The LDF was confident of winning at least five seats even in the worst of circumstances. However, this calculation was proved wrong as the results came out. The secretariat meet admitted that the party did not foresee such a poll debacle. Though the party had claimed victory in 18 seats even after the voting, it was actually pinning its hopes on 10-11 seats. But it had to be contented with just Alappuzha seat. A grassroot-level introspection is needed on why the calculations went wrong in the first place. Further action would be taken based on the poll analysis report to be approved by the state committee that would meet on May 31-June 1. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/cpm-secratariat-ls-polls-defeat-introspection-sabarimala.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/26/cpm-secratariat-ls-polls-defeat-introspection-sabarimala.html Sun, 26 May 2019 04:28:09 GMT After double whammy, SP stares at existential crisis in UP Lucknow: Smarting after a near-rout in the general election, the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (SP-BSP) combine is in for testing times. The next big election for Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly is due in 2022. The SP-BSP combine won 15 of the state’s 80 Lok Sabha seats while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 62 seats, its ally Apna Dal (S) emerged victorious in two seats and the Congress won from Raebareli. The SP had entered into a pre-poll alliance with the Congress in the 2017 Assembly election with disastrous results for both parties. The SP’s experience with its similar pre-poll alliance with BSP for the recently concluded Lok Sabha election has been more damaging. While the SP’s tally at five is the same as it was in 2014, this time there is the added ignominy of three members of the Mulayam Singh Yadav family losing in their bastions. These losers are Akhilesh’s wife Dimple Yadav in Kannauj, Mulayam’s nephew Dharmendra Yadav in Badayun and Ram Gopal Yadav’s son Akshay Yadav in Firozabad. Of the five seats won by the SP, two are that of Mulayam Singh Yadav (Mainpuri) and Akhilesh Yadav (Azamgarh). The other three victorious SP candidates are ST Hasan (Moradabad), Mohammad Azam Khan (Rampur) and Shafiqur Rahman Barq (Sambhal). Mulayam has won the Mainpuri seat with a reduced margin of about 94,000, which is one-fourth of the 3.64 lakh victory margin in 2014. Mulayam had, in the aftermath of the SP-BSP alliance, cautioned Akhilesh and other party leaders about paying a huge price for the same. BSP gainer Many SP leaders believe that the jolt of 2019 is much greater than that of 2017, since this time the alliance was with a long-time rival BSP, which has not only got revived at the cost of SP but may emerge as a bigger challenge for SP in coming days. The BSP, on the combined strength of its own supporters as well as those of the SP, won 10 seats – up from zero it had achieved in 2014. The recurrent theme among SP workers is that the BSP did not do enough to ensure the victory of at least Dimple Yadav in Kannauj, Dharmendra Yadav in Badayun and Akshay Yadav in Firozabad. Even the ordinary SP workers feel that the vote transfer from BSP to SP did not take place to the extent it happened from SP to BSP, resulting in disappointing results for SP. Shivpal factor Another factor that weakened the SP was the decision of estranged SP leader Shivpal Yadav, Mulayam's brother, to form his own party and especially contest from those seats considered SP strongholds. In the process, he himself contested from Firozabad and lost, but Shivpal also ensured the loss of nephew Akshay Yadav. Also, the lack of support from Shivpal's supporters was among the major reason for Dimple's defeat from Kannauj. BJP makes amends for bypoll loss The SP also lost the two seats that it won famously in the 2018 by-elections - Gorakhpur and Phulpur. While Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had vacated Gorakhpur, Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Maurya had resigned from Phulpur. The SP had then managed to convince the BSP to put up common candidates from both places. The strategy led to an embarrassing loss for the BJP in both places in the bypolls last year, but the BJP has wrested these seats with bigger margins in the just-concluded Lok Sabha polls. Seats in BSP's kitty The constituencies won by BSP are Saharanpur (Haji Fajlur Rehman), Bijnore (Malook Nagar), Nagina (Girish Chandra), Amroha (Kunwar Danish Ali), Ambedkar nagar (Ritesh Pandey), Shrawasti (Ram Shiromani), Lalganj (Sangeeta Azad), Ghosi (Atul Kumar Singh), Jaunpur (Shyam Singh Yadav) and Ghazipur (Afzal Ansari). It clearly indicates that the BSP had chosen its seats wisely while the SP faltered on that count. The BSP was confident of its own voters as well as vote transfer from SP in these places, while the SP appeared floundering. Amethi too sign of losing grip Another example of the slipping control of SP and BSP over their traditional supporters is the defeat of Congress president Rahul Gandhi from Amethi, despite a specific appeal made in his favour by both Mayawati and Akhilesh during the campaign. Likely options for SP The challenge before SP president Akhilesh Yadav is now to consolidate his own flock, motivate his supporters and start preparing for 2022, even as BSP chief Mayawati continues to dominate the opposition space with 11 MPs. Since Akhilesh’s experiment with the Congress and the BSP has not been much useful, a silent rapprochement with Shivpal Yadav could be a logical move, according to many SP sympathisers. Since both Akhilesh and Shivpal swear by Mulayam’s advice, the patriarch may come up with a patch-up suggestion. It remains unclear whether Akhilesh would be ready to ditch Mayawati so soon after the election debacle, as it would mean earning her wrath again. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/sp-stares-at-existential-crisis-up.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/sp-stares-at-existential-crisis-up.html Sun, 26 May 2019 00:59:07 GMT President Kovind invites Modi to form government New Delhi: BJP leader Narendra Modi was on Saturday appointed prime minister-elect by President Ram Nath Kovind, who also asked him to form the new government. After the BJP and the National Democratic Alliance unanimously elected him as their leader, Modi reached the Rashtrapati Bhavan Saturday night to stake claim to form the next government. Modi later told reporters at the forecourts of Rashtrapati Bhavan that President Kovind has appointed him prime minister-elect and asked him to form the new government. The outgoing Union council of ministers had tendered its resignation on Friday night and Kovind had asked Modi to continue as caretaker PM. Kovind requested Modi to advise him about the names of others to be appointed members of the Union Council of Ministers; and indicate the date and time of the swearing-in ceremony to be held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Earlier in the day, a delegation of the National Democratic Alliance led by BJP president Amit Shah and comprising Parkash Singh Badal, Rajnath Singh, Nitish Kumar, Ram Vilas Paswan, Sushma Swaraj, Uddhav Thakeray, Nitin Gadkari, K Palaniswami, Conrad Sangma and Neiphiu Rio, called on the president at Rashtrapati Bhavan. A letter stating that Narendra Modi has been elected leader of the BJP Parliamentary Party was handed over to the president, it said. "Letters of support from NDA constituent parties were also handed over to the president," the communique said. After the NDA returned to power with a massive majority, Modi becoming the prime minister again was a foregone conclusion. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/president-kovind-invites-modi-to-form-government.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/president-kovind-invites-modi-to-form-government.html Sat, 25 May 2019 16:44:07 GMT Mamata offers to quit as chief minister, TMC rejects Kolkata: Trinamool Congress president Mamata Banerjee Saturday offered to quit as chief minister of West Bengal following her party's drubbing in the Lok Sabha polls, but the TMC rejected it. Addressing her first press conference after the election results were declared, she accused the BJP of polarising people on religious lines to garner votes in West Bengal and wondered if some "sort of setting or foreign power" played a role in such a huge victory of the saffron party. West Bengal witnessed a saffron surge on Thursday as the BJP inflicted a deadly blow to ruling Trinamool Congress by winning 18 of the total 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state. The TMC won 22 seats, down from 34 in 2014. "I wanted to resign from the post of chief minister. The chair is nothing for me. But, the party rejected it. I don't need the chair, but the chair needs me," said Banerjee after an hour-long meeting with all candidates and senior leaders of the party. Claiming that her government has fulfilled all the commitments made to the people, Banerjee said she now will concentrate more on her party. "One party that did not commit anything, won seats. I think, I have done more for people. Now I need to work for my party," she said. "Money power and religious divide prominently came into play. The administration was taken over by ECI for last five months. How can I remain the chief minister in such a scenario? That's why I had offered to step down," she said. The BJP which had only two Lok Sabha seats in last general elections and hitherto not a major force in the state did better than the Left Front and the Congress after good performance in the last year's rural polls to emerge as the main challenger to the TMC in Bengal. The 64-year-old Banerjee also raised suspicion over BJP's stellar poll performance across the country. "This huge victory is not beyond suspicion. It is quite astonishing how opposition is completely wiped out in several states," she claimed. She alleged that EVMs were programmed to give the BJP a lead of more than a lakh. "Foreign hand might also be involved in this. Votes were bought spending crores of money. In north Bengal, we share border with Assam. That state's finance minister (Himanta Biswa Sarma) was sitting here for two weeks. What was he doing here? BSF took voters and forced them to vote for them. Election Commission is the man of the match of the election," the TMC supremo alleged. Reiterating her previous stand that the ECI was "biased", Banerjee claimed that central forces were used to intimidate voters to vote for the saffron party. She also said that an emergency-like situation was created in the state by the BJP to win the elections. Renewing her attack against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP, Banerjee said, "Rajiv Gandhi got 400 seats. Could he run Parliament? So, such arrogance is not good. Opposition leaders were called Pakistanis when they raised questions. Now why is the Pakistan PM invited? Isn't it anti-national?" She reiterated that she will continue to fight against communalism. "I will attend Iftar party. You may say I appease Muslims. You can say that, its your prerogative. But, I am ready to be kicked by the cow which gives milk," she said in an apt reference to Muslims voting in her favour. Banerjee declined to accept that there was any "Modi wave" and claimed that the BJP had "looted" votes in a systemic way to get these numbers. "How is it possible that the Congress failed to win even one seat in Gujarat, Haryana, or Delhi. What about Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh which Congress won just few months back? Should I accept that there everything was in order, there was no manipulation," she said. Banerjee also reiterated that she will not allow NRC in Bengal. However, she said that she will provide constructive cooperation to the Union government. She alleged that central government officers were used to distribute money, and admitted that some of Trinamool Congress leaders also succumbed to the lure of money. When asked is she worried that BJP might topple her government, she dared the BJP to do so. "Let them try. Is it so easy? Why is the BJP so hungry (for power in the state)? Why are they in such a hurry," she asked. If the data of the national polls are analysed assembly segment-wise, the BJP is ahead in nearly 130 of the 294 assembly constituencies in the state, the majority mark being 148. West Bengal will go for assembly polls in 2021. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/mamata-banerjee-tmc-west-bengal.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/mamata-banerjee-tmc-west-bengal.html Sat, 25 May 2019 16:11:50 GMT Modi asks NDA MPs to work without discrimination, reach out to minorities New Delhi: All set for a second term as prime minister, Narendra Modi said Saturday his government will now begin "a new journey to build a new India with new energy" and reached out to minorities, saying the ruling alliance has to win their trust and work without any discrimination. In his over 75-minute address after being elected the leader of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, Modi said the massive mandate has multiplied responsibilities, and advised lawmakers on their public conduct, saying they should avoid speaking to the media for publicity and shun the "VIP culture". However, it was his suggestion to the MPs in his maiden speech to them that they work without any discrimination and win the trust of minorities that stood out as the alliance, especially the BJP, is often criticised for being indifferent to their concerns and not pursuing inclusive politics. "Our mantra should be 'sabka saath, sabka vikas and sabka vishwas' (with all, for everybody's development and having everyone's trust)," he said in the speech which he began by bowing to the Constitution. "They (minorities) cannot be handed over to them (Opposition), who benefit because we keep quiet," Modi said at Parliament's Central Hall, accusing his rivals of making minorities live in fear and exploiting them during elections as part of their vote-bank politics. He said the poor were deceived all these years but his government managed to break through this "deception" and improved their lot and asked NDA MPs to similarly smash through the deception around minorities. "Minorities were deceived, like the poor. Minorities were made to live in fear," the prime minister said. It would be good if their education, social and economic standards are lifted up, he said, lamenting the minorities were instead made to live in an "imaginary fear". "We have to break through this deception. We have to win their trust... It is a big responsibility that we have to fulfil. Those who vote us are ours and even our most trenchant opponents are ours. We cannot believe in any discrimination," he said. Invoking the 1857 war against the British rule, he said all communities worked shoulder-to-shoulder for self-rule then and called for replicating a similar unifying spirit for good governance now as India readies to celebrate the 75 years of independence in 2022. "The Constitution is supreme for us. Whatever form of worship we follow at home but outside there cannot be a bigger God for us than Bharat Mata (Mother India)," he said, likening the country's 130 crore citizens to 130 crore 'Gods' who should be served by the ruling alliance with a similar spirit. The BJP-led NDA that won 353 of the 542 Lok Sabha seats for which elections were held, made huge inroads in different sections of society. However, minorities mostly voted for the opposition due to their wariness over BJP's Hindutva politics, political watchers believe. "We stand for those who trusted us and also for those whose trust we have to win... We have to take everyone along to take India to new heights in the 21st century," Modi said. With speculation rife over who will join his Council of Ministers, Modi said he was yet to go through the details of all the NDA MPs and asked them to not trust media reports in this regard, adding they are aimed at creating confusion and often put out with "bad intentions". Many "Narendra Modis" have cropped up in the country, giving out ministerial positions to MPs, he said wryly and added that newspaper reports do not make ministers. Responsibilities will be given as per norms, he stressed. Modi said elections often divide and create gulf but 2019 polls united the people and society. There was a pro-incumbency sentiment in this election and its result was a positive mandate, he said, adding that there is no better path than serving people when in power. "We ran the government for poor people between 2014-19 and I can say the poor elected the government this time," he said. He also called for the NDA to work with cohesion for the country's development and said his "naara" (slogan) for the alliance is "national ambition and regional aspirations". Asking MPs to work together with him, he said they should shun arrogance as it is people not their personality, any caste or Modi who elected them. The vote share of BJP and its allies rose over 25 percentage points in this general election, he said, adding in a lighter vein that in absolute terms the rise is as much as the votes polled by US President Donald Trump. "Wave" is a light word to describe the mandate the NDA has received, he said, noting that the NDA won more than 50 per cent votes in 17 states. He said the NDA will work to meet national ambition with regional aspirations and invoked BJP stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee to underscore his party's commitment to the National Democratic Alliance, first stitched during Vajpayee's time. There should be energy and synergy in the alliance, he said. The BJP has had uneasy relations with some of its allies in the last five years before it worked to repair them ahead of the 2019 election. All of its allies, including JD(U)'s Nitish Kumar, Shiv Sena's Uddhav Thackeray and Akali Dal's Parkash Singh Badal, were on the dais when Modi spoke to the lawmakers. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/modi-amit-shah-bda-bjp-parliamentary-party.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/modi-amit-shah-bda-bjp-parliamentary-party.html Sat, 25 May 2019 17:49:46 GMT Jagan elected YSRC legislature party leader, stakes claim to form govt in Andhra Vijayawada/Hyderabad: Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, who led his party to a thumping victory in both Assembly and Lok Sabha polls in Andhra Pradesh, staked claim to form the government in the state after he was elected leader of the YSRC legislature party on Saturday. Armed with the resolution unanimously electing him as the YSRCLP leader, he met AP and Telangana Governor ESL Narasimhan at the Raj Bhavan in Hyderabad and staked claim to form the government. He reached Hyderabad by air from Vijayawada and met the Governor around 4:30pm, official sources said. Earlier, at the meeting of the newly elected MLAs at the YSR Congress office in Vijayawada, a resolution was adopted electing Reddy as the legislature party leader, the party sources said. Thanking the MLAs for electing him as the legislature party leader, Reddy said, "In 2019, people voted for us out of faith and belief, in 2024 they should give us a bigger mandate because of our performance." He also sought the support of the MLAs to help him earn the "performing chief minister" tag within a year, a YSRC legislator told PTI. The party has announced the swearing-in ceremony would be held on May 30 at Indira Gandhi Municipal Stadium in Vijayawada. In a spectacular performance, Reddy, son of late Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, led his YSR Congress to a landslide, winning 151 of 175 Assembly seats in Andhra Pradesh, the elections for which were held on April 11. While the TDP headed by N Chandrababu Naidu got 23 seats, the Janasena party had won only one seat. The YSRC had bagged 22 of the 25 seats in Lok Sabha elections while the TDP managed to get only three seats. After the YSRCLP meeting, its parliamentary party meeting was held, where Reddy stressed on the need for raising various demands of the southern state in Parliament by both the party's Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha members. "We have been advised to stay committed and united for the demand for special status and other provisions in AP Reorganisation Act," a newly-elected MP, Gorantla Madhav, told reporters. Last year, the party's Lok Sabha MPs P V Midhun Reddy, YS Avinash Reddy, Y V Subba Reddy, V Varaprasad Rao and M Rajmohan Reddy took part in a hunger strike and later submitted their resignations to Speaker Sumitra Mahajan after the BJP-led Centre refused to grant special status to the state. During the election campaign, Reddy had also expressed his willingness to support any party at the Centre that would grant special status to the state. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/jagan-mohan-reddy-ysrc-andhra-pradesh.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/jagan-mohan-reddy-ysrc-andhra-pradesh.html Sat, 25 May 2019 12:32:31 GMT Can Mamata Banerjee keep flock together ahead of state polls amid saffron surge? Kolkata: A Modi wave and simmering anger over TMC's alleged appeasement of the minorities that polarised voters after bloodied panchayat elections last year may have cost the ruling party in West Bengal dearly as its tally came down from 34 to 22 in the Lok Sabha polls. Stunned by the sudden saffron surge, daggers seems to have been drawn in the Trinamool Congress (TMC) camp with local leaders blaming those holding top party posts for their "lack of foresightedness" and "arrogant approach" as primary reasons behind the poor poll show. Although the TMC has managed to increase its vote share from 39 per cent in 2014 to 43 per cent this time, it failed to hold on to its strongholds in tribal-dominated Jangalmahal region of south Bengal and tea garden belt in the north, where the party faced a complete rout. The BJP won 18 of total 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state and increased its vote share from 17 per cent in 2014 to 40.5 per cent this time. Even in the seats the TMC won, the BJP emerged as the runners-up, relegating the Left to the third spot. Although the TMC leadership is tight-lipped as a sense of "fear and despair" gripped party's ranks with some even apprehending the stability of its government in the state, its secretary general Partha Chatterjee has described BJP's rise in the state as "temporary". "We just failed to gauge the undercurrent. We really don't know what lies ahead. It would be really tough to keep the flock together," said a TMC leader, who did not wish to be named. Of the 22 seats the TMC won, 16 constituencies witnessed a battle of nerves till the last round of counting with leads changing in minutes. If the data of the national polls are analysed assembly segment-wise, the BJP is ahead in nearly 130 of the 294 assembly constituencies in the state, the majority mark being 148. West Bengal will go for assembly polls in 2021. According to TMC sources, initial assessment has revealed that there was groundswell against the party in rural areas due to several factors, foremost of which was the violence during panchayat polls due to which many couldn't cast their votes. The others being corruption at the local level and stiff polarisation amid an anger over "appeasement". TMC insiders said the party virtually failed to counter BJP's nationalism narrative and Hindutva pitch, which resulted in the polarisation in the state, where Muslims constitute 27 per cent of the population. Bengal, where the electoral discourse has largely steered clear of communal flairs after Independence, witnessed allegations of appeasement flying from both sides -- TMC and BJP -- resulting in the polarisation. "While the BJP banked on its plank of NRC to drive out infiltrators and a sustained campaign against alleged attempts by the TMC to stop Durga Puja in Bengal, our part not only failed to counter, but in its bid to project itself as messiah of Muslims earned the wrath of a large section of Hindus," said a senior TMC leader. The viral video of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee getting down from her car and chasing few youths who shouted "Jai Shri Ram" also didn't go down well and the BJP milked the incident to further polarise the election, according to analysts. They said the infighting in party's rank also led to discontent with a section of TMC cadres voting for the BJP in order to "teach their own party leaders a lesson". BJP's spectacular performance may have raised eyebrows given its dismal organisational strength in the state, but according to Mukul Roy, considered to be the main architect of the lotus (BJP's election symbol) bloom, the victory was much anticipated. "In most of the areas, a large section of disgruntled TMC workers and leaders have voted in favour of the BJP. Several TMC leaders have actually worked for us. Now it's time for us to bring those TMC workers and leaders into the BJP and work towards the final battle for assembly polls," he said. Also the en masse shift of Left votes played a key role in BJP's Bengal show. Compared to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the Left vote share of 29 per cent dwindled to about 7 per cent, indicating a complete shift to the saffron side. According to senior Left leaders, a huge section of Left voters, including party cadres, chose the BJP to defeat Banerjee in the state. The TMC which had systematically poached elected representatives of the Congress and the Left over the last few years while working towards its mission of "opposition-free" Bengal, actually led to a bipolar political field between TMC and BJP - the only opposition, political observers said. With assembly elections in two-year's time, municipal polls next year, the biggest challenge before the TMC is to keep its flock together as its top leadership is apprehensive of an exodus to BJP. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/can-mamata-banerjee-keep-flock-together-ahead-of-state-polls-amid-saffron-surge.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/can-mamata-banerjee-keep-flock-together-ahead-of-state-polls-amid-saffron-surge.html Sat, 25 May 2019 11:55:24 GMT How TikTok made Modi popular among young voters New Delhi: Nearly 1.5 crore young "digital natives", most of whom cast their votes for the first time, chose to vote for Narendra Modi as India's next prime minister and Chinese short video-sharing app TikTok played a great role in creating a "Modi wave" among them. While the seasoned members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were busy charting out strategies and organising rallies, the younger, tech-savvy karyakartas took charge of expanding Modi's digital presence across platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter - and TikTok. TikTok, which claims to have over 120 million monthly active users in India, played a crucial part in circulating dialogues, speeches and candid reactions from Modi on smartphones across the length and breadth of the country. "One day, my Instagram was flooded with TikTok videos showing Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Modi sharing hugs and winks during a Parliament session with 'Aankh maare, ladka aankh maare' song playing in the background. It will always be one of my favourites this election season," Riya Kalwani, content writer from Mumbai told IANS. "Seriously, whoever took the time and energy to make these videos, hats off to them," she added. The app-struck young voters took to the platform to record themselves, shouting the famous "Mitro" and "Iss baar fir Modi sarkar" videos, hash-tagged them with social media trends and shared those. After Modi prefixed the word "Chowkidar" before his name on Twitter, TikTokers went berserk. Not just individuals but families recorded themselves imitating Modi's "Aap aashvast rahiye, aapka ye chowkidar, poori tarah chowkanna hai" dialogue along with videos on the "Mein bhi chowkidar hu" songs. "So many people did TikTok videos on 'Zyada se zyada ye mera kya kar lenge? Aree hum toh fakeer aadmi hai, jhola leke chal padenge' dialogue. It was everywhere. There was also this one where people have dubbed Modi discussing popular daily soap 'Ye rishta kya kehlata hai.' Just hilarious," said Deepika Tiwari, a media student. Another TikTok video that trended showed a TV screen recording of Modi speaking in a session with a paper in hand and his supporters banging the table behind him in agreement along with a famous dialogue from Bollywood movie "Munna Bhai MBBS": 'Sir, bahar casualty mei koi marrne ki halat pe raha, toh usko form bharna zaroori hai kya?" In addition to Hindi, several TikTok videos were shared in other regional languages including Bhojpuri, Rajasthani, Gujarati and Bengali. In an interview with Bollywood star Akshay Kumar, Modi said that he enjoys memes on the Internet. The clip became a sensational TikTok topic that floated on social media platforms for quite a while. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/how-tiktok-made-modi-popular-among-young-voters.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/how-tiktok-made-modi-popular-among-young-voters.html Sat, 25 May 2019 11:15:24 GMT Pinarayi swears by own style and stand on Sabarimala amid poll rout Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has claimed that the row over women's entry into Sabarimala temple did not have an impact on the Lok Sabha polls even while accepting the massive defeat that the Left Democratic Front (LDF) suffered. "The government only did what it was supposed to. Irrespective of who the CM is, he/she can only act like this. The LS results cannot be considered as the people's verdict against the government," Pinarayi said on Saturday. The CM refused to accept the charge that the LDF’s worst showing in LS polls with just one victory in the 20 assembly constituencies in the state was due to the Sabarimala factor. “If the Sabarimala row did have an impact on the polls, then wouldn’t it have helped the BJP? The BJP had claimed that it would win in Pathanamthitta. But they finished third," the CM pointed out. "Some sections tried to create discord among the faithful. The front would check if their attempts had succeeded," he said. No censure of govt When asked if he would resign from his chief ministerial post over the poll debacle, Pinarayi Vijayan brushed off the question as a usual demand by the opposition. Pinarayi said that the people had belief in his government and it would be proved at the right time. “The LS results cannot be seen as a censure of the government,” he added. When asked if he would change his style of functioning, Pinarayi said, "My way of functioning is mine. I reached till here through my way of functioning. That will continue," he said. Why LDF lost Pinarayi however conceded that the LDF couldn't gauge the mood of the electorate. “The LDF defeat is not a constant. Of the several reasons that led to this defeat, the LDF failed to understand a few during campaigning. One of them was the people's anxiety over the country's future. They did not want a BJP-led government at the Centre. A good number of them, including those who support the LDF, believed that the Congress would be able to form government. As it was the Lok Sabha polls, they decided to vote for the Congress. "Raul Gandhi's decision to contest from Wayanad also favoured the Congress. This pro-Congress factor led to the decline in LDF votes,” Pinarayi explained. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/sabarimala-did-not-affect-poll-results-kerala-cm-pinarayi.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/sabarimala-did-not-affect-poll-results-kerala-cm-pinarayi.html Sat, 25 May 2019 11:06:22 GMT Congress top body rejects Rahul Gandhi's offer to quit after LS polls rout New Delhi: Taking total responsibility for the Lok Sabha poll debacle, Rahul Gandhi on Saturday offered to resign as Congress president, which the Congress Working Committee (CWC) unanimously rejected and authorised him to overhaul and restructure the party at all levels. The crucial meeting of Congress's highest decision-making body deliberated for almost four hours upon reasons behind the party's defeat with various leaders urging Rahul Gandhi to continue to provide leadership. Sources said Gandhi put forth his resignation before the committee, asking it to elect a new president. The sources added the Congress chief did not give any speech and asked the CWC to chose a new leader from outside his family. Top leaders asked him not to resign, with some even getting emotional while convincing him to continue. Congress stalwarts including party general secretaries, chief ministers and former ministers, unanimously rejected his offer to resign and reposed faith in his leadership. The CWC asked him to continue as party chief and carry out an overall of the party at all levels and rejuvenate it and passed a resolution in this regard. "Congress president Rahul Gandhi in his address to the CWC offered his resignation as the party president. The CWC unanimously and with one voice rejected the same and requested the Congress president for his leadership and guidance in these challenging times," said the resolution passed by CWC. The CWC "unanimously" called upon the Rahul Gandhi to lead the party in its ideological battle and to champion the cause of youth, farmers, SCs, STs, OBCs, minorities, poor and deprived sections. The resolution accepted with humility the mandate of the people and expressed gratitude to 12.13 crore voters who stood behind the party. "The Congress party is committed to don the role of a constructive opposition, raising people's issues and holding the government accountable to people of India," the resolution said. The CWC commended the tireless efforts of Congress chief, leaders, workers and candidates, who fought a vigorous battle in challenging circumstances and thanked allies who joined hands to fight this ideological battle. The CWC resolution said it fully recognises challenges, failures and shortcomings, resulting in this mandate, and recommended a thorough introspection. "The CWC requested the Congress chief for a complete overhaul and a detailed restructuring at every level of the party. A plan to this effect shall come into force at the earliest." "The Congress party has lost the election but our indomitable courage, our fighting spirit and commitment to our ideology remains stronger than ever. We shall continue its fight against forces that thrive on hatred and division," it further read. Earlier, around 40 top Congress leaders from across the country listed the reasons for the party's defeat and suggested ways to revive the party again. Sources said senior party leader P Chidambaram also turned a little "emotional" while asking Rahul Gandhi to continue and said some supporters, especially from South which voted for Congress, may take some "extreme step" in case he resigned. Sonia Gandhi did not speak at the meeting, while former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra spoke, listing various reasons and asked the Congress leaders to continue its fight against the BJP. While all chief ministers of Congress-ruled states - Ashok Gehlot, Amarinder Singh, Bhupesh Baghel and V Narayanasamy - were present at the meeting and also spoke. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath was not present and sources pointed out at speculation that his government was "under threat" and he was trying to put his "house in order". Addressing a press conference, Congress leader A K Antony did not agree that the party suffered a "humiliating defeat" saying "I do not agree". "We were not able to raise up to the expectations of the people. The party will go into the reasons for defeat in detail and come out with its considered opinion," he said. Senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said a detailed discussion and introspection on reasons for defeat will be done and credited Gandhi for providing leadership in fighting the battle of ideology. "Victory or defeat is different and providing leadership is different and Rahul Gandhi gave that leadership to the party. It is a defeat of numbers and not of ideology... I have never seen such a unanimity across all age groups in the CWC in saying that Gandhi led from the front," Azad told reporters. Asked about talk of Article 370 being abrogated by the BJP, he said, "This is not a new thing. It is on the agenda of BJP for long and they say it in every election." Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said "the partisan manner in which this election was conducted by the Election Commission was also discussed." The CWC also noted with concern the challenges of surging oil prices, crisis in banking sector, downturn of economy, looming job and agrarian crisis and drought. The committee also talked about institutional integrity, the hallmark of constitutional democracy, that "remains under a cloud", as also issue of social strife and tensions that affect the populace. "CWC hopes that the government will address these issues as its top priority." The meeting comes after Congress could win just 52 Lok Sabha seats and drew a nought in 18 states and Union Territories. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/rahul-gandhi-offers-to-quit-congress-cwc-wants-him-to-stay.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/rahul-gandhi-offers-to-quit-congress-cwc-wants-him-to-stay.html Sat, 25 May 2019 16:37:03 GMT What went wrong in Amethi for Congress? Amethi: What went so horribly wrong for Congress President Rahul Gandhi that he lost from his familys pocket borough Amethi Lok Sabha constituency? Ask local leaders and people and they cite reasons like Congress turncoats benefitting BJP's Smriti Irani and apparent lack of interest of Rahul as well as his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra this time. Rahul, who was elected three times consecutively from the constituency in 2004, 2009 and 2014, lost this time by over 55,000 votes. The only other time that a Gandhi family member has lost from this constituency, created in 1967, was in 1977 and it was Rahul's uncle late Sanjay Gandhi who was defeated in an anti-Emergency wave. Sanjay Gandhi then wrested the seat from Janata Party in 1980 and since then it has remained with the Congress, barring one year when the BJP won the seat. After Sanjay Gandhi's death in 1981, Rajiv Gandhi won the seat in a by-election the same year. Rajiv Gandhi then retained the seat in 1984 and 1989. After Rajiv's death, Captain Satish Sharma, a friend of the Gandhi family won the seat in 1991 and 1996. However, in 1998, Sharma was defeated by Sanjay Singh, former Congress leader who had contested on a BJP ticket. A year later, Sonia Gandhi entered politics and won the Amethi seat. She retained it before shifting to Rae Bareli in 2004 and fielding Rahul from Amethi. Rahul retained it three times but was defeated now. "Why will anyone vote for such a person who does not visit the people of his constituency," posed Surendra Singh, a resident of Buraulia in Amethi, while referring to Rahul. He said the Congress chief had visited Buraulia three years ago and did not visit here even in the election season. Significantly, Rahul was conspicuous by his absence even during the day of polling in the constituency while his rival Irani was active. Vishun Kumar Singh, a resident of the Nara village, said the virtual absence of Rahul and Priyanka from Amethi during the elections had hurt them badly. "Earlier Priyanka Gandhi used to camp in Amethi and Rae Bareli and would take care of the campaigning. But this time, both of them were busy in campaigning in other parts of the state," he said. "In their absence, the campaign carried out by the local leaders hardly generated any buzz among the people," Singh said. Rakesh Singh, a local Congress leader, said the party was very weak in Amethi organisationally as compared to the BJP. "Had we not been weak, we would not have lost four out of five Assembly seats of Amethi Lok Sabha constituency in the 2017 Assembly polls," he said. He said turncoats and BJP's four MLAs brought votes for their party in Amethi, making a huge dent in the Congress votes. "Chandra Prakash Mishra, formerly of the BSP, who contested against Rahul Gandhi in 2004 and got close of 1 lakh votes, had joined the BJP. And Mishra's joining the BJP gave an edge to the saffron party as he had a good command on the backward and Dalit votes in Amethi," Singh said. Rakesh Singh said that Dalits and OBCs constitute about 58 per cent of the total population of Amethi, while Thakurs and Brahmins constitute over 26 per cent and Muslims for over 16 per cent. Others who have joined the BJP in the past five years include Jang Bahadur Singh (Congress), Dhiru Tripathi (Congress and then SP), ex-Samajwadi Party MLA Gajadhar Singh, former Congress and BSP leader Ashish Tripathi, SP leader Rajesh Masala and ex BSP leader Sriram Krantikari. Krishna Tiwari, who had joined the BJP leaving Congress in 2015 told IANS, "Several Congress leaders leaving the party made things worse for the Congress as they joined the ruling BJP in last five years." He said besides Congress leaders, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party leaders, who also switched to the saffron party in last few years proved a turning point for the BJP. Giving examples of the leaders who switched to the BJP, Tiwari said, "From Salon assembly constituency, the Congress's forward face and former MLC Dinesh Pratap Singh has switched sides to the BJP and contested against Sonia Gandhi." He said, Shiv Balak Pasi of the Congress had also joined the BJP. "And after his death, his wife Kamla Devi has also joined the BJP," he said. Farman Haider, a local resident of Musafirkhana constituency on the other hand blamed the local Congress leaders for Rahul Gandhi's defeat in Amethi. He said the local leaders like Deepak Singh, Yogendra Mishra (Amethi Congress President, who resigned earlier in the day) and Chandrakant Dubey did not allow Rahul Gandhi to connect with the people." "If he is not allowed to interact with the people of Amethi then how will he come to know about the problems of the people," Haider rued. Surendra Singh, another resident of Burualia, the village which was adopted by former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, said that the Congress chief must introspect why the people did not vote for him this time. He said, "The roads in his area, scholarships to the students and youths, Kendriya Vidyalaya centre and several schemes brought by Irani in Amethi helped her connect with the masses, especially the youth." Pointing towards the number of visits of Irani in Amethi and Rahul Gandhi, Singh said, "Even after losing in 2014, she (Irani) came to Amethi for over 35 times. She met people personally. And when they went to Delhi, she also remembered their names. While Rahul Gandhi visited for over 15-16 times." "And the local BJP leaders acted as a bridge between Irani and the people of Amethi to fulfill their demands," he said. Ashok Singh said that Didi (Irani) helped people in their testing times. Like when the houses or crops of people or farmers were destroyed in natural calamities she immediately sent help to those families. Gyan Pratap Singh, owner of the Alok Dhaba, said that Irani has personally connected with the people of Amethi. For instance, she has personally got over 50,000 people covered under a central government life insurance scheme, besides ensuring benefits under various other initiatives. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/why-rahul-gandhi-lost-in-amethi.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/why-rahul-gandhi-lost-in-amethi.html Sat, 25 May 2019 08:35:09 GMT Teeka Ram Meena vows to end bogus voting in Kerala Thiruvananthapuram: One name remained a talking point in Kerala during the entire process of the Lok Sabha polls. He is no politician but an IAS official - Kerala's Chief Electoral Officer Teeka Ram Meena. The Rajasthan native toiled hard during the three months and conducted repolling in seven booths after instances of bogus voting were proved. Around 50 officials at the CEO's office and around 1.25 lakh election officials across the state worked hard to hold the biggest democratic process in Kerala. This year also saw the highest voter turnout in Kerala in 30 years. "My biggest contribution as CEO would be to put a stop to the menace of bogus voting in the state. I was able to set the wheel in motion," Teeka Ram Meena told Manorama. "Now, six bypolls will have to be held in six months. I assure you that there will not be any complaints of bogus voting," he said. Meena is also tasked with making a new voters' list for the Kerala Assembly polls that are due in two years' time. Though the voting and the counting process are over, the IAS official has more tasks at hand. "Will begin checking the candidates' expenditure and details of their criminal cases from next week. If any fraud is detected, strict action would be taken," he added. When asked about the LS poll results, this is what Teeka Ram Meena had to say: "Congratulations to all the winners. But the real winners are the people." https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/teeka-ram-meena-wants-to-put-an-end-to-bogus-voting.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/teeka-ram-meena-wants-to-put-an-end-to-bogus-voting.html Sat, 25 May 2019 06:30:44 GMT Will poll results and govt's anti-Centre stand hit big-ticket projects in Kerala? Thiruvananthapuram: With the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government making a thumping comeback at the Centre and the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala suffering a massive defeat in the Lok Sabha polls, the fate of the development projects in the state looks uncertain. Concerns are being raised over projects that need central funds and those conceived by the Centre. To alleviate such worries, the state government would have to shed its strong anti-Centre stand. The state government would have to adopt a practical approach of ensuring that the development projects are not harmed, even while opposing the Centre’s policies. The Left parties that suffered a massive defeat nationally do not even have enough MPs to stage protests in the Parliament. For that the Left would now have to depend on the Congress, which would benefit the latter. The state government has been on a warpath with the Centre over several issues, such as the handing over of the Thiruvananthapuram airport operations to a private company. Dire need of investment Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's foreign tips alone will not bring huge investments to the state. For that even the Centre too has to give the nod. The central government has to give the final approval for taking loans from the World Bank and German Development Bank KfW for rebuilding Kerala after the massive August floods of 2018. The Centre had earlier opposed the Rs 700-crore aid that the UAE had offered to the flood-hit state. The Centre is likely to take a more stringent stand in the changed circumstances. The Centre's stand on the development of national highways and railways is also important. A controversy was triggered after the NDA government removed the Thiruvananthapuram-Kasaragod national highway expansion from the high priority list I. The Centre later backed off from the decision due to political pressure. The Rs 26,000-crore project cannot be completed without the Centre's support. The development of Thalassery-Mysuru, Nilambur-Najancode and Angamaly-Erumely railway tracks, Sabarimala airport, Thiruvananthapuram-Kasaragod high-speed rail, light metro projects in Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram are all depended on the Centre. However, the multi-crore Vizhinjam project is unlikely to be affected as the Adani Group is developing it. The GAIL pipeline project, which is nearing completion, also looks good to sail through. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/poll-results-might-affect-kerala-development-projects.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/poll-results-might-affect-kerala-development-projects.html Sat, 25 May 2019 06:10:08 GMT How political dynasts fared in this Lok Sabha elections? Dynastic politics has been an inherent part of the Indian political system for a long time now. Ever since Indira Gandhi stepped into the shoes of Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister, the trend has grown by leaps and bounds in this country known earlier for its kings (rajas) and several royal dynasties and feudal lords that traditionally held sway over numerous kingdoms even under the colonial rule. Though the Nehru-Gandhi family is indubitably the most chanted name in Indian politics, it is just one among the many families that choose political kin from their own flock. Mulayam Singh Yadav, Ram Vilas Paswan, Deve Gowda and Karunanidhi are some of the popular leaders who have decided to maintain the political clout of their respective parties with family members. The entry of relatives into Indian politics may have been eased by the political power exercised by their families. However, it by no means guarantee their individual success in a democracy like India as is the case of Rahul Gandhi, who lost from a constituency in the recently concluded general elections. The Lok Sabha elections 2019 was a bitter-sweet moment for most dynasties in India. The Nehru-Gandhi family While Sonia Gandhi, one of the two daughter-in-laws of Indira, sailed safely through her Lok Sabha seat Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh, her son Rahul Gandhi had a different story to tell. He lost to BJP's Smriti Irani at a nearby constituency, Amethi, considered to be a safe bet for the Nehru family. The Congress President, however, achieved a resounding win in Kerala'a Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency with a lead of over 4,30,000. Interestingly, Maneka Gandhi and Varun Gandhi, have established themselves well in the opposite BJP camp with an easy win in their respective camps -Sultanpur and Pilibit from UP. Maneka is the widow of Indira's son Sanjay Gandhi and Varun is her lone child. Sonia being the widow of Indira's eldest son Rajiv Gandhi. The family of Mulayam Singh Yadav Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party (SP) have won from their respective seats in UP in the just-concluded election. Akhilesh's wife Dimple Yadav was upset by a BJP candidate in SP bastion Kannauj. Shivpal Yadav, Mulayam's politically estranged brother, as well as Dharmendra Yadav and Akshay Yadav, his nephews, too lost from the Lok Sabha constituencies where they had tried their electoral luck in the 2019 general elections. Shivpal Yadav had quit SP and formed his own outfit named the Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia). Both Shivpal and Akshay contested from the same seat, Firozabad. The family of Ram Vilas Paswan The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) headed by Ram Vilas Paswan is also turning out to be a dynastic concern. While Paswan himself stayed out of the elections, his two brothers - Ramchandra Paswan and Pasupathi Kumar Paras -- and son Chirag Paswan emerged victorious in their contest from constituencies in Bihar. The party had contested on six seats and half of them had a Paswan family member as its candidate. All the LJP candidates won their elections. The family of Karunanidhi The family members and relatives of DMK's late patriarch M Karunanidhi are well entrenched in Tamil Nadu politics. The Dravidian party and its allies bagged 37 out of 38 Lok Sabha seats on which elections were held in the state. Karunanidhi's daughter Kanimozhi won from Thoothukudi and grandnephew Dayanidhi Maran was the victor from Chennai Central Lok Sabha constituency. The family of NTR The children of late NT Rama Rao, the founder of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, were unable to live up to his legacy this time. His daughter D Purandeshwari, a BJP candidate badly lost and finished fourth on the Visakhapatnam seat. M V Sri Bharat (Bharath Mathukumilli), the son-in-law of NTR's son N Balakrishna, also lost from the same seat as a TDP candidate. Chandrababu Naidu and son Outgoing Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu is is the son-in-law of TDP founder NTR. Naidu, also the current chief of TDP, couldn't retain power as the YSRCP won the AP assembly elections held alongside the Lok Sabha polls this summer. He retained his Kuppam assembly seat, but his son N Lokesh lost from Managalagiri in his maiden bid to enter the AP legislative assembly. Naidu's bid to rally anti-BJP turned out to be a fiasco as the BJP retained power at the Centre with a full majority. Interestingly, YSRCP led by Jaganmohan Reddy is the son of former Andhra CM and Congress stalwart YS Rajasekhara Reddy. His fledgling party nearly swept both the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/dynasty-politics-in-lok-sabha-elections.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/dynasty-politics-in-lok-sabha-elections.html Sat, 25 May 2019 07:16:56 GMT Analysis | Disparate electoral maths looms in Kerala's vacant assembly segments Thiruvananthapuram: A fall-out of the United Democratic Front's sweeping victory in the Lok Sabha polls is by-elections to six assembly segments, which will again test all three political combinations in Kerala. Merely going by the Lok Sabha poll voting pattern, the UDF holds a clear edge in all constituencies, including Aroor, from where CPM's A M Ariff will have to vacate following his victory in Alappuzha Lok Sabha poll. In Aroor assembly segment of Alappuzha constituency, Ariff (65,008 votes) had to concede a slight lead to Shanimol Usman, who got 65,656 votes. But there is a catch here. In Kerala, voters treat Assembly and Lok Sabha polls with clear differentiation. Still, if all the by-polls were to be held soon, the LDF would have a tough task to retain Aroor, the only seat it would have to defend. The UDF would marshal all resources to wrest Aroor, once represented by K R Gowri. It may not be an easy task for the LDF to find a suitable replacement for Ariff. The UDF may pitch Shanimol herself from Aroor, hoping to cash in on the lead she gained in the assembly segment. The other constituencies where by-elections are to be held are all represented by the United Democratic Front (UDF) – Vattiyoorkavu, Konni, Ernakulam, Pala and Manjeswaram. In the 2016 assembly elections, Manjeswaram was won by the Indian Union Muslim League's P B Abdul Razak. Razak got 56,870 votes and K Surendaran of the BJP was the nearest rival with 56,781 votes. The winning margin was a mere 89. An independent candidate, Sundara K polled 467 votes, most of which would have harmed Surendran's chances. Razak passed away on October 20, 2018, necessitating a by-poll. There was a protracted poll-malpractice related case filed by Surendran and hence the by-election was delayed in Manjeswaram. Vattiyoorkavu and Konni are the other seats in the lot, which would witness a tough electoral battle. In Vattiyoorkavu, an assembly segment under Thiruvananthapuram LS seat, Congress's Shashi Tharoor led by 2,836 votes, though BJP's Kummanam Rajasekharan this time bettered even O Rajagopal's 2014 voting percentage. The contest here is not going to be as simple as that as the UDF would find it tough to replace K Muraleedharan, who had a stellar stint as an MLA from Vattiyoorkavu. It would be difficult to pick a suitable candidate to replace him for the UDF. Indications are that the BJP may not force Kummanam again for a poll battle and instead accommodate him in the Union ministry. But it has an array of probable candidates to field in Vattiyoorkavu. There have been no official discussions on this, but K Surendran or Suresh Gopi could pose a serious challenge this time unless the UDF zeroes in on a candidate of the stature of Muraleedharan. Given the drubbing it received in polls, the LDF would also move heaven and earth to put up a stern fight in Vattiyoorkavu, where T N Seema was relegated to a poor third in 2016 Assembly polls despite an LDF sweep in the state. Surendran would again come to contention in Konni assembly segment, which would be vacated by Adoor Prakash, who toppled A Sampath in Attingal, a CPM bastion. In Konni assembly segment, Anto Antony polled 49,667 votes. But the difference between second placed Veena George (46,946) and K Surendran (46,506) is just 940 votes. But the advantage here for the BJP in case Surendran were to be chosen as its candidate is that Anto Antony and Veena George won't be in the picture. The UDF's woes will again be compounded by the fact that it would be tough to find a replacement for Adoor Prakash. So Vattiyoorkavu, Konni and Aroor will be the real battle grounds for the LDF, UDF and the BJP if assembly by-polls were to be held soon. In Pala, only if the bickering in Kerala Congress (M) following the demise of K M Mani plays out there would be a tough contest. Ernakulam constituency is traditionally a UDF bastion and there won't be much trouble in store. So the political maths would have to be redefined by all players and selection of candidates would have a definite impact in by-polls. The CPM-led LDF would have to prove that the LS setback was a different scenario. The UDF cannot bank on LS results alone to continue the momentum as it is defending four of the five seats where by-polls have to be held. For a shattered BJP state unit, it is yet another shot at redemption. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/kerala-assembly-bypoll-candidates-electoral-maths.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/kerala-assembly-bypoll-candidates-electoral-maths.html Sat, 25 May 2019 09:43:30 GMT Sabarimala stand, minority unification led to humiliation in LS polls: CPM introspects Thiruvananthapuram: The CPM state secretariat would introspect if the Pinarayi government's stand on Sabarimala women's entry had backfired, handing the Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala its worst defeat in the Lok Sabha polls. Accepting the poll drubbing, the CPM has publicly announced that it would take corrective measures. The CPM, which had fully backed the Pinarayi government over the Sabarimala row, has for the first time registered a contrasting opinion. The CPM secretariat noted that the Left was not able to hold on to people who traditionally voted for the LDF. "As per the preliminary analysis, the right-wing forces were able to misguide a set of devotees. The party will specifically look into the reasons that led to such a situation," the secretariat said in a statement. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was also present in the meeting, which noted that the Left lost out on votes even in its stronghold areas. The meet pointed out that sentiments of the devotees reflected in the poll results. But CM Pinarayi made no efforts to quell these opinions, sources said. However, the CPM has not specifically used the term Sabarimala in the statement. Though the meet also looked into the minority unification as one of the reasons that led to the massive defeat, that factor was also left out from the statement. Even CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had admitted the loss of minority votes after the results were out. However, the party did not want to further alienate the minorities by reiterating it and therefore the minority factor was left out from the press statement, it was said. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/sabarimala-stand-reason-for-cpm-loss-party-introspects.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/sabarimala-stand-reason-for-cpm-loss-party-introspects.html Sat, 25 May 2019 05:05:13 GMT After stellar show, Bengal MPs eye cabinet berths, BJP targets 2021 Kolkata: After putting up an amazing performance in the just-concluded Lok Sabha polls, the BJP unit in West Bengal is hoping for a few ministerial berths in the NDA-II cabinet, which is likely to be formed on May 30. The BJP, which hardly had any presence in the state till a few years ago, won 18 seats out of 42 in the state and it also got around 40% vote share. This is the best show by the party in Bengal and the party unit expects some rewards for this when the cabinet is formed. Sources said the party unit in the state believes that if proper representation is given to Bengal in the Union cabinet that will help the party win the coming state assembly elections in 2021. Sources claimed that several BJP MPs from Bengal are vying for a berth in the NDA-II cabinet. Dilip Ghosh, who bagged the Midnapore seat, is a strong contender for a ministerial berth. Another MP who is eyeing a place in the Cabinet is Union minister and Asansol’s sitting MP Babul Supriyo. Sources said as Supriyo already holds a portfolio he will be given a berth in this ministry also. Dilip Ghosh's contribution to the BJP win in the state is immense and he is likely to be included in the Cabinet. Moreover, state BJP's women wing president Locket Chatterjee, who was elected from Hooghly constituency, may also be rewarded. She is a celebrity and if included that will give some glamour to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ministry. She is a popular face from Tollywood and chances are high that she will be given a chance. However, she told mediapersons that “I am overwhelmed by the trust that people have shown me. Be as a minister or just an MP from Hooghly I will be by the side of the people. The people of Singur had suffered a lot and neither the former Left Front government nor the present Trinamool Congress government has done anything for the poor farmers. My aim is to uplift their status and the rest will be decided by the central leaders.” John Barla from Alipurduar, Khagen Murmu from Malda North, Subhas Sarkar from Bankura and Shantanu Thakur from Bongaon are the other contenders on the list for ministerial berths. In the 2014 LS elections, the BJP had won only two seats from the state – Darjeeling and Asansol. Target 2021 Even though the party has put up an excellent show in LS polls, the BJP's target is 2021 assembly elections. The party is in a tight contest with Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress and the saffron surge in the LS polls has emboldened the BJP to take on the 'Didi'. According to sources, the BJP is now planning to bring in a lot of developmental works to the state with the help of Central government so that it can ensure victory in the assembly polls. BJP’s national general secretary and Bengal observer Kailash Vijayvargiya had stated that it was a vote against Mamata Banerjee’s appeasement politics and misrule. “This is the penultimate step, the final step will be formation of BJP government in Bengal by 2021 and also to restore democracy in the state,” he said. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/bengal-bjp-mps-eye-cabinet-berth.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/bengal-bjp-mps-eye-cabinet-berth.html Sat, 25 May 2019 06:34:38 GMT No rest, Chowkidar's second shift starts on May 30 New Delhi: As the BJP swept to power with a spectacular performance for a second term, all eyes are now on government formation, amid speculation that several new faces including party president Amit Shah may be brought into the new cabinet. The council of ministers led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi tendered their resignation which was accepted by President Ram Nath Kovind, paving way for formation of new government. In first back-to-back majority in the Lok Sabha polls for a single party in over three decades, the Modi-led BJP won 303 seats out of 542 in the Lok Sabha polls, handing out a crushing defeat to the Congress and many other political opponents. BJP sources indicated that swearing-in ceremony of the prime minister and his council of ministers could take place on May 30. The newly-elected MPs of the BJP-led NDA will meet on Saturday to formally elect Modi as their leader, setting in motion the process to form a new dispensation. Many BJP leaders are of the view that Shah will join the Modi Cabinet and is expected to be given one of the four key ministries -- Home, Finance, External Affairs and Defence. With Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj having health issues, there have been talks whether they will be part of the new dispensation or not. Jaitley, a Rajya Sabha member, had unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha election from Amritsar in 2014, while Swaraj, who had won from Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh, opted out from the electoral battle this time on health ground. The two leaders have not commented on whether they would like to join the government or not. In the run-up to the results, Shah had also sidestepped queries on him joining the government, saying it is the prerogative of the party and the prime minister. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is expected to continue with a key role in the new government. With Smriti Irani handing a shock defeat to Congress President Rahul Gandhi in Amethi, it is expected that the party may reward her with an important responsibility. A number of senior faces from the outgoing cabinet including Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Piyush Goyal, Narendra Singh Tomar and Prakash Javadekar are set to figure in the new cabinet. Among allies, Shiv Sena and JD(U) are likely to be given cabinet berths as both the parties have done exceedingly well, winning 18 and 16 respectively. The party will reward new faces from states like West Bengal, Odisha and Telangana where it has made significant inroads. "A number of young faces are likely to be inducted into the council of ministers as the BJP leadership has been working to groom a second line of leadership," said a senior party leader. Earlier in the day, the outgoing Union Cabinet adopted a resolution recommending the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha. The 17th Lok Sabha has to be constituted before June 3 and the process to form a new House will be initiated when the three Election Commissioners meet the President in the next few days to hand over the list of newly-elected members. All the newly-elected BJP MPs are expected to meet Saturday to elect Modi as their leader, following which he will meet the president to stake claim to form the new government, party sources said. Modi's swearing-in ceremony was a grand affair the previous term. It witnessed the presence of heads from SAARC nations, members of the outgoing cabinet and Bollywood celebrities. Sources say that even the US President Donald Trump maybe among the invitees this time. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/modi-swearing-in-ceremony-on-may-30.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/25/modi-swearing-in-ceremony-on-may-30.html Sat, 25 May 2019 02:17:05 GMT Ideology of Gandhi's killer has won, says Digvijaya Bhopal: Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh, who contested and lost the Lok Sabha poll from Bhopal to Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, on Friday said that the violent ideology of Mahatma Gandhi's killer had won in these elections. Speaking to reporters here, Singh said: "We accept the public mandate according to the traditions of the Indian democracy. My only worry is that the values of the apostle of peace Mahatma Gandhi lost to the violent ideology of his killer in these elections." Commenting on the BJP election slogans, the Congress leader said: "It is strange that the BJP slogan in the 2014 elections was "abki baar 280 paar" and they achieved an absolute majority with 282 seats out of 543, 166 more than previous 15th Lok Sabha." "In this year's elections, the saffron party's slogan was "abki baar 300 paar" and it has got 302 seats. I wonder what magic wand the BJP has, which predicts exactly the number of seats they will get even before the votes are cast. They deserve congratulations for it," he said. Asked if he was questioning the electronic voting machines (EVMs), Singh said: "Nobody said I was losing the elections till the opening of the EVMs. Even some BJP leaders congratulated me, I still have their messages. But the result is before you." Singh, however, added that he did not want to comment on the EVMs because the matter had already been debated much. Pragya Thakur, who is out on bail in the Malegaon blast case, had during the campaigning said that Nathuram Godse, who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, was a patriot. "Nathuram Godse was a patriot, is a patriot, and will remain a patriot… those who call him a terrorist should look within… they will get a reply in this election," she said. Her statement was vehemently criticised among the party lines and even Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned her for the statement. Digvijaya Singh lost to Thakur by over 3.6 lakh votes. The Bhopal seat has been a safe bastion for the BJP in the general elections since 1989. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/24/ideology-of-gandhi-killer-won-digvijaya.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/24/ideology-of-gandhi-killer-won-digvijaya.html Fri, 24 May 2019 17:39:14 GMT Jaitley may not be a minister in new Modi govt New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is unlikely to be a part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Cabinet in the BJP government's second term due to his ill health, which may require him to travel to either the UK or the US for treatment of an undisclosed illness, sources with knowledge of the matter said. Jaitley, 66, has become "very weak" as his health has deteriorated over the past few weeks, sources said, adding that he has developed some throat condition as well that prevents him from speaking for long. He was admitted to AIIMS earlier this week to undergo tests and treatment for an undisclosed illness and was discharged on Thursday but did not attend celebrations at BJP headquarters that evening after the party's emphatic victory in the general elections. Sources said Jaitley is not keen to take up a ministerial position in the new Modi government and may have conveyed his unwillingness to hold any position, such as a minister without portfolio, to Modi. Doctors treating him have advised him to go to the UK or the US for treatment, they said. Jaitley, whose health has been on a decline ever since he underwent a kidney transplant in May last year, will take a call in the next few days on the issue. He has not attended office for the last three weeks and has rarely been seen in public. He, however, has been writing blogs and tweeted on Modi's victory Thursday. He did not attend the Cabinet meeting called Friday that recommended dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha. Sources said that he, however, met all the five secretaries in his ministries at his residence in what was described as a routine meeting. A lawyer by profession, he has been the most important leader in Modi's Cabinet and has often acted as the chief troubleshooter for the government. While as a finance minister he steered through Parliament major economic legislations such as the nationwide Goods and Services Tax (GST) -- which had languished for nearly two decades, he has also played key role in getting through several other laws such as the bill to ban the Muslim instant divorce practice known as 'triple talaq'. One of the most prolific voices in the Modi government and a key strategist, Jaitley did not contest the current Lok Sabha elections presumably because of his ill health. He lost his first parliamentary election from Amritsar in 2014. Suave and articulate, he has been the party's spokesperson for many years. He entered Parliament at the age of 47 when he was nominated to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat, where Modi was the chief minister. Jaitley was a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and when Modi swept to power in 2014, he was made the finance minister and also handled briefly the additional charge of defence and information and broadcasting ministries. He had undergone surgery in the US on January 22 for a reported soft tissue cancer in his left leg, an illness that deprived him from presenting the Modi government's sixth and final budget of its current term. Railway and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal was the stand-in finance minister who presented the interim budget for 2019-20. Jaitley had returned to India on February 9 after undergoing skin grafting. He is believed to have undergone some kind of a medical procedure again when he last month visited the US to attend the IMF-World Bank Group Spring Meetings. Jaitley had undergone renal transplant on May 14 last year at AIIMS, New Delhi, with Goyal filling in for him at that time too. Jaitley, who had stopped attending office since early April 2018, was back in the finance ministry on August 23, 2018. Earlier in September 2014, he underwent bariatric surgery to correct the weight he had gained because of a long-standing diabetic condition. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/24/jaitley-may-not-be-minister-in-new-modi-govt.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/24/jaitley-may-not-be-minister-in-new-modi-govt.html Fri, 24 May 2019 16:02:15 GMT Cabinet recommends dissolution of 16th Lok Sabha; ministers resign New Delhi: The Union Cabinet Friday recommended the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha as the Union Council of Ministers tendered their collective resignation, government sources said. The Cabinet meeting came a day after the counting of votes for the Lok Sabha elections in which the NDA retained power with a massive mandate. After the Cabinet's recommendation, President Ram Nath Kovind is now expected to dissolve the present Lok Sabha, the term of which is ending on June 3. He would also ask the present government to continue till the new government is formed in the coming days. Later, at a meeting of the Union Council of Ministers, all members of the Council tendered their collective resignation. Moments after President Ram Nath Kovind accepted resignation of the Union Council of Ministers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while the sun has set on the term of the present government, the brightness of its work will continue to illuminate the lives of people. The president has asked the Union Council of Ministers to continue till the next government is formed in the next few days. "The sun sets on this term, but the brightness our work has brought will continue to illuminate the lives of millions. A new dawn awaits, a new term beckons," Modi tweeted. He said his government is even more determined to fulfil the dreams of 130 crore Indians and create the "New India all of us dreamt of". Meanwhile, BJP workers from Varanasi Friday handed him the official certificate of election. Modi won the Varanasi constituency by a margin of 4.79 lakh votes, thus retaining the seat. Feel happy to be representing one of the oldest and most vibrant centres of Indian culture, he tweeted. Earlier in the day, Modi met officers and staff of the Prime Minister's Office at South Block. "The prime minister appreciated the efforts and dedication of the entire PMO, over the last five years and urged everyone to rededicate themselves to work even harder to play a key role in fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of the people of India. "He said people have great expectations from the government, and these expectations provide Team PMO with the energy to work to the utmost," an official statement said. The 17th Lok Sabha has to be constituted before June 3. The process to form a new House will be initiated when the three election commissioners meet the president in the next few days to hand over the list of newly-elected members. Besides the prime minister, the Union Council of Ministers has 60 members, including cabinet ministers, ministers of state with independent charges and ministers of state. In the absence of the PM, the Union Council of Ministers passed a resolution praising the leadership of Modi and the work done by the government in the last five years. The present Modi government had taken oath on May 26, 2014. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/24/cabinet-recommends-dissolution-of-16th-lok-sabha.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/24/cabinet-recommends-dissolution-of-16th-lok-sabha.html Fri, 24 May 2019 16:53:41 GMT Resignations fly in Congress after LS polls rout New Delhi: A day after Congress suffered a humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha polls, party's Uttar Pradesh chief Raj Babbar, Karnataka's H K Patil, Odisha's Niranjan Patnaik and Amethi district head Yogendra Mishra sent in their resignations to the high command owning moral responsibility for the drubbing. Owning moral responsibility for the rout of the Congress in Uttar Pradesh, Babbar sent his resignation to Congress President Rahul Gandhi. He lost the Fatehpur Sikri seat to Raj Kumar Chahar of the BJP by a margin of over four lakh votes. "My best wishes to the winners. The UP Congress results have been disappointing. I have failed to discharge my responsibility effectively and I blame myself for this. I will meet the party leadership and place my views before them," the actor-turned-politician tweeted. The Congress could manage to win only the Rae Bareli seat represented by UPA chairperson and senior Congress leader Sonia Gandhi. Even pary chief Rahul Gandhi could not save his family pocket borough Amethi, that has always voted in favour of the Congress for 39 years. Union Minister and BJP candidate Smriti Irani trounced Gandhi by over 55,000 votes. Amethi district head Mishra early on Froday sent his resignation letter to the party chief. The BJP and its ally, Apna Dal, have won 64 of the 80 Uttar Pradesh seats for Lok Sabha, while the SP-BSP alliance got only 15 seats. In Karnataka where the Congress-Janata Dal-Secular alliance could only manage to win 2 out of 28 seats. The BJP showed its best performance winning 25 seats. The Congress had won 8 seats in 2014. State party Patil took moral responsibility and resigned from the post. In his letter to Gandhi, Patil said it was time for the Congress to introspect. Odisha's Congress chief Niranjan Patnaik also resigned taking responsibility for the loss as BJP gained in vote share. In Biju Janata Dal's home turf, the BJP made in-roads and won eight out of 21 seats. The BJD won 12 and the Congress one. The Congress could not open its account in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in Odisha. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/24/up-pcc-raj-babbar-congress-state.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/24/up-pcc-raj-babbar-congress-state.html Fri, 24 May 2019 12:16:22 GMT Vasavan proves no match for Chazhikkadan In a battle between candidates familiar to all, Thomas Chazhikkadan of the Kerala Congress (M) secured a majority of over one lakh votes in Kottayam. While Chazhikkadan polled 4,21,046 votes, his rival V N Vasavan of the CPM secured 3,14,787 votes. The margin was 1,06,259 votes. NDA’s P C Thomas, who finished third, received 1,55,135 votes. UDF had given Chazhikkadan, a former MLA, the task of retaining the seat that had been captured by Kerala Congress vice-chairman Jose K Mani. Meanwhile, the CPM fielded its district secretary Vasavan. The plan was to repeat a victory which had been eluding the party after Suresh Kurup won from Kottayam four times. NDA aimed to put up a show similar to the one in the 2004 elections in Muvattupuzha. In that poll, P C Thomas had won, to the consternation of both the LDF and UDF. Thomas was again the NDA’s candidate in Kottayam. However, the poll outcome reflected the reality that Kottayam district hosts the headquarters of the NSS and that it is a stronghold of various chuches. Over the years, Kottayam, which has UDF forts like Puthuppally and Pala, has gone to the Left only on six occasions. Of the 16 Lok Sabha elections held so far, 10 have witnessed victories by UDF candidates. During the last Assembly polls, five of the seven seats under the Kottayam Lok Sabha constituency elected UDF MLAs. The seats are Kottayam, Puthuppally, Pala (Now vacant), Kaduthuruthy and Piravom. LDF won in Vaikom and Ettumanur. The present Kottayam Lok Sabha constituency was formed in 2008 and Jose K Mani emerged victorious in 2009 and 2014. His margins were 71,570 and 1,20,599 respectively. In 2014, Jose K Mani secured 4,24,194 votes, Mathew T Thomas of Janata Dal (S) 3,03,595 votes and Independent supported by NDA Noble Mathew 44,357 votes. As Sabarimala temple is situated in the neighbouring district, the issue of women’s entry was a hot topic in Kottayam also during the elections. Another issue was the fall in prices of rubber. Meanwhile, the Christian community was up in arms against the proposed Church Act. With a former MP and two ex-MLAs in the fray, the electoral scene in Kottayam carried its own dignity. UDF stressed on the acceptability of Chazhikkadan, a four-time MLA from Ettumanur. His personal contacts too came in handy for the front. It was during the campaign period that Kerala Congress chairman K M Mani passed away. Incidentally, the sympathy wave created following his demise helped bring together all the divided factions within the party. The development works carried out by Jose K Mani during his two terms as MP also attracted votes to the UDF. LDF aimed to capitalize on Vasavan’s track record as former MLA from Kottayam and his personal contacts as CPM district secretary. Meanwhile, NDA felt that P C Thomas could attract votes in addition to those from BJP supporters. CPM had taken over the seat from alliance partner Janata Dal blaming it for putting up a poor show in the 2014 polls. During the initial phase, the main campaign plank of the LDF in Kottayam was the factionalism in Kerala Congress. However, when P J Joseph expressed his support for Mani, the Left’s chances dimmed. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/24/vasavan-proves-no-match-chazhikkadan-kottayam.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/24/vasavan-proves-no-match-chazhikkadan-kottayam.html Fri, 24 May 2019 10:57:51 GMT ‘Bald dare’: Natesan wins Arif bet, keeps his mane Alappuzha: SNDP Yogam general secretary Vellappally Nadesan gets to keep his hair intact after surviving a ‘bald dare’. Nadesan had said he would shave off his hair if LDF candidate AM Arif lost. Arif’s victory is his community’s revenge on Congress’s district leadership, he said. He alleges they abuse the community. The Left too has lost favour among backward communities. Organisational errors led to Thushar Vellappally winning lesser seats in Wayanad than the BDJS candidate in Mavelikkara. Thrissur would have been a better option for him. The community and party have deeper roots there. But a loss was certain. He chose Wayanad for a mightier battle. UDF benefitted from a state-wide minority consolidation. Left’s loss of face in handling Sabarimala issue reflected in Thiruvananthapuram and Pathanamthitta. Natesan’s bets 1999 - After a tiff with VM Sudheeran, Natesan said the Congress leader will lose to Left’s Murali, the actor. But Sudheeran won big. 2011 - Natesan entered into three bets and won two. He feigned ignorance of the third he lost. Vakkom Purushothaman claimed UDF will win more than 85 seats in that election. Natesan challenged him saying UDF will not win over 75. Vakkom said he will visit Natesan and gift him a gold ring if he lost, and Natesan had to do the same if he lost. UDF ended up with 72 seats in 2011. Vakkom kept his promise and visited Natesan to gift a ring. In the same election, Natesan said KR Gowri Amma would lose. A gold ring was the bet this time too. He won again as Gowri Amma lost. In the same poll, Natesan said he will take half his moustache if PC Vishnunath wins. Viswanath won, but Natesan ‘forgot’ about the bet. 2014 - Natesan predicted KC Venugopal’s loss. But he won. Natesan, however, had not entered into a bet with anyone at that time. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/24/bald-dare-vellappally-natesan-wins-arif-bet.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/24/bald-dare-vellappally-natesan-wins-arif-bet.html Fri, 24 May 2019 10:45:55 GMT Analysis | Credit for Thiruvananthapuram win goes to 'global Indian' Tharoor, not cross voting Minority consolidation in favour of the Congress and the desertion of the Left by its traditional voters would be highly simplistic ways of coming to terms with Shashi Tharoor's phenomenal success in Thiruvananthapuram, a constituency that many observers say is saffron at heart. After the voting, even Tharoor, exuding the usual post-poll confidence of a candidate, did not give himself a margin of more than 30,000 votes, double that he managed in 2014. As it turned out, Tharoor surprised himself on counting day and won with almost the very same majority he had secured when he came fresh to the state in 2009 after his UN stint; if then the margin was 99998, this time it was 99989. The BJP said the minorities conspired. The CPI said Tharoor robbed its votes. A deeper analysis suggests that pitted against Kummanam Rajasekharan's rustic and monk-like austerity and C Divakaran's old style Communist vibes, more than anybody else the young urban and rural voters in the constituency found Tharoor's intellectual flamboyance, his flashy image of a global Indian at ease in elite company, a far better bet. Tharoor's turnaround Shashi Tharoor led in six of the seven Assembly segments that make up the Thiruvananthapuram constituency. In 2014, O Rajagopal had led in four of the seven segments. This time Kummanam led only in Nemom, the segment considered perhaps the most saffronised part in the whole of the state. But even in Nemom, Tharoor managed to bridge the gap. If the difference was 18,046 votes last time, this time it was brought down to 12,041. It was not all. Tharoor even got his vote percentage up remarkably in Nemom. From 26.97 per cent in 2014, it ballooned to 32.88 per cent this time. Kummanam's fight This is not to say that Kummanam lost badly. He had put up a far creditable performance than what the final tally shows. Figures reveal that he could nearly repeat O Rajagopal's effort in 2014 that saw Tharoor pushed dangerously to the brink. If Rajagopal secured a vote share of 32.45 per cent in 2014, Kummanam's was only marginally lower at 31.25 per cent. In five of the seven segments, Kummanam held on to the BJP's 2014 vote share, with just a marginal less than one per cent decline in some. For instance, in Nemom his vote share was 41.40 per cent, very nearly similar to the 41.89 per cent share last time. A very similar, and negligible, decimal point fall was witnessed in Neyyatinkara, too, where he came second. In Vattiyoorkavu, Kummanam even bettered BJP's 2014 performance; from 36.83 per cent last time to 37.41 this time. A notable fall was found only in Kazhakuttam and Thiruvananthapuram, two urban segments that O Rajagopal had led last time. Even here the drop was less than 3 per cent. It was in Kazhakuttam, an urban centre flourishing around the Technopark, where O Rajagopal secured his biggest lead after Nemom in 2014. Folly of Left lament Here Tharoor had improved his vote share this time by more than 5 per cent and more than neutralised Rajagopal's lead of over 7,600 votes despite the fact that Divakaran not only held on to the CPI share in 2014 but also improved on it. This brings us to the CPI's public lament that Left votes had flown en bloc to the Congress candidate, resulting in Tharoor's massive victory. At least in Kazhakoottam it has not. Nonetheless, it is true that in other segments the CPI has suffered some erosion of votes. In Kovalam, Neyyatinkara and Parassala the party lost about 3 per cent votes when compared to 2014. As for Thiruvananthapuram, Vattiyoorkavu and Nemom, the drop was less than two per cent. The negligible to modest drops in the vote share of both the BJP and the CPI points to perhaps the most defining nature of the verdict this time. Tharoor's victory margins in all the seven segments were five to six percentage higher than the combined fall in the vote shares of the BJP and the CPI. This can mean just one thing: new voters in Thiruvananthapuram, especially those in the 18 to 25 bracket moving around with dreams of making it big in life, found Tharoor hugely acceptable. Rise of secular Hindu Of course, there was minority consolidation. Tharoor made his biggest gains in Kovalam, Neyyatinkara and Parassala, the western tip and the eastern section of the constituency where minority Nadars and Christians are concentrated. His vote share swelled by at least 8 per cent in all these three segments. At the same time, one also cannot lose sight of the massive secular consolidation that happened. The biggest turnout this time was recorded in Hindu and BJP dominated areas like Kazhakuttam and Nemom, areas where Tharoor and not Kummanam made considerable gains. His stupendous showing in urban areas like Vattiyoorkavu and Thiruvananthapram (where his vote share zoomed from 27 per cent to 44 per cent) is further proof that even the Hindu community in the southernmost constituency of the state had voted overwhelmingly in favour of Tharoor. Hitting below the belt The BJP's vilification campaign, too, backfired big time. The BJP state president P S Sreedharan Pillai, in what now looks like an outrageous attempt to show Tharoor as morally corrupt, alleged that he had married a lady from Adoor. Tharoor promptly went to court, and Pillai was not heard making the charge again. Later, in the midst of electioneering, the BJP unleashed a campaign saying that Tharoor had slighted Nair women in his 1989 novel 'The Great India Novel'. NSS founder Mannathu Padmanabhan's grandson himself came out publicly in support of Tharoor. There was also an attempt to make Tharoor look like a snob who found fishermen and their catch repulsive. Given the astounding gains he made in Kovalam, Neyyatinkara and Thiruvananthapuram, it can be safely assumed that the coastal folk had looked upon such charges with a sneer. Tharoor's campaign message was simple and direct. “You are electing a person to take your problems to New Delhi and beyond. Therefore, think hard before you vote,” he consistently told his voters, especially college students, during the campaign. Even allowing for a bit of arrogance, this pitch seems to have put things in perspective for voters in Thiruvananthapuram. Add to this the fear of a saffron surge, and bingo! Tharoor sprang a surprise on himself. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/24/credit-of-tvpm-goes-to-global-indian-tharoor.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/24/credit-of-tvpm-goes-to-global-indian-tharoor.html Sun, 26 May 2019 03:15:16 GMT CPM’s all-out bid to unseat Premachandran sputters Kollam elected N K Premachandran, who stressed on his personality as well as development, again. In his second innings as United Democratic Front (UDF) lawmaker, Premachandran’s margin of victory is 1,48,856 votes. While the RSP leader secured 4,99,677 votes, his CPM rival K N Balagopal polled 3,50,821 votes and NDA’s K V Sabu 1,03,339 votes. Interestingly, Kollam constituency has always been favourable to candidates who have shifted base to the district. Premachandran belongs to Navaikulam in Thiruvananthapuram district and Balagopal hails from Kalanjoor in Pathanamthitta and NDA's Sabu is from Thipunithura in Ernakulam. All of them are law graduates. The CPM had put up a stiff fight to capture Kollam at all cost. The RSP was keen to retain it at any cost. A seemingly tough battle ensued. Kollam had become a fertile ground for the RSP to grow after N Sreekandan Nair, a native of Ambalapuzha, won the Lok Sabha elections from here with huge massive margins five times. Later, S Krishna Kumar from Thiruvananthapuram representing Congress became Lok Sabha MP from Kollam on three occasions. Winners in all the 16 Parliament elections, except one, held from 1952 belonged to neighbouring districts. RSP was the winner on eight occasions and Congress three. Premachandran went to Parliament initially as the successor of Sreekandan Nair, but the CPM captured the seat in 1999. During the 2019 polls, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had directly coordinated the LDF campaign in Kollam. The CPM had won in Kollam with RSP as its ally on two occasions. However, the Congress regained the seat in 2009. When the RSP and Premachandran were sidelined by the LDF in 2014, the UDF grabbed the opportunity and took them into the front. Premachandran went on to register a huge win over CPM politburo member M A Baby in 2014. Premachandran is known in the constituency as the man with a golden touch. He was selected for the Special Sansad Ratna Award for the best Lok Sabha member in 2017. Interestingly, it was Balagopal who was the best Rajya Sabha member that year. In 2014, Premachandran’s tally was 4,08,528 votes and margin 37,649. Baby had secured 3,70,879 votes and P M Velayudhan of the BJP 58,671 votes. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/24/cpm-bid-to-unseat-premachandran-fails.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/24/cpm-bid-to-unseat-premachandran-fails.html Fri, 24 May 2019 11:40:28 GMT Analysis | Fadnavis fans 'Modi Tsunami' in Maharashtra Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis underplayed his hand after the Lok Sabha results were out, crediting people’s trust in prime minister Narendra Modi’s leadership for the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance’s landslide victory in the state, winning 41 of 48 seats as against 42 in its previous outing. The “Modi wave” of 2014 had turned into a “tsunami”, he said talking to media in Mumbai on Thursday, adding that the mandate would cause him sleepless nights, as several issues needed to be resolved. “Drought is staring at us,” the CM acknowledged, his eyes firmly set on the forthcoming assembly polls, likely to be held in October 2019. There’s little doubt Fadnavis’s deft handling of the state’s affairs in the past four-and-a-half years has contributed equally, if not more, to the BJP’s rich Lok Sabha harvest in the state. His political graph has been on the rise ever since he took over the reins of the party in 2012 and led its victory march in the 2014 assembly polls, followed by successes in local body elections, ensuring BJP now controls a bulk of the state’s panchayats, zilla parishads and municipal corporations. Not only did he manage to fend off socio-political challenges posed by the Maratha Kranti Morchas, Kisan Long Marches and Dalit unrest post-Bhima Koregaon violence, the chief minister is widely credited for bringing on board the quarrelsome Shiv Sena, just in time for the Lok Sabha campaign. The two had parted ways ahead of the 2014 assembly elections and continued to distrust each other despite having joined hands to rule the state. More than anybody else, it's Fadnavis who poses a major challenge to the rival Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)-led alliance of 56 parties, who would be looking to make a comeback in the assembly – if at all they manage to come out of the resounding drubbing at the Lok Sabha elections. The Cong-NCP has managed to retain its tiny share of six seats, with NCP winning five and Congress one, while the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) of Prakash Ambedkar-Asaduddin Owaisi opened its account with former journalist and sitting MLA Imtiaz Jaleel emerging a surprise winner in Aurangabad against Sena veteran Chandrakant Khaire. The VBA, floated less than a year ago, has emerged as an alternate ‘non-BJP, non-Congress’ force in Maharashtra politics with its candidates occupying the third position in more than 40 constituencies. The Congress-NCP should be regretting its decision not to align with Ambedkar’s grandson for his VBA is said to have polled more than a lakh votes in 10 constituencies and 90,000 plus in five. Post-Lok Sabha polls, Ambedkar declared in a television appearance, “We’re nobody’s slaves,” hinting they would go it alone even in the forthcoming assembly battle. Sharad Pawar in his media interaction after the counting trends were clear, confessed the VBA’s numbers will have to be looked into carefully before deciding strategies for the polls ahead. But the Congress is yet to come to terms with its presence, as evident from Prithviraj Chavan’s reassertion in an article for a Marathi newspaper a day after the results. “VBA was used by the BJP (for its benefit),” the former chief minister wrote, though he admitted that the Congress’s Dalit and Muslim votes were weaned off by it. The Congress’s worst-ever performance in Maharashtra – it managed to win Chandrapur in Vidarbha with the help of Sena defector Suresh Dhanorkar, who upset the BJP’s four-time MP and Union minister of state for home Hansraj Ahir – should make it introspect. Two of its former chief ministers, Sushilkumar Shinde and Ashok Chavan, who is also the state unit chief, were trounced along with a number of heavyweights and prominent faces, who all failed miserably. The NCP’s showing was no better – Supriya Sule managed to keep Baramati while others won in Raigad, Satara and Shirur, but her nephew and Ajit Pawar’s son, Parth, lost in Maval. Navnit Rana, a successful independent backed by the party in Amravati, helped raise its tally to five. While the defeat in Maval would hurt Ajit Pawar more than anybody, Pawar Senior would be licking the wounds suffered in Ahmednagar, where Sujay, son of Congress’s leader of opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, who has since resigned the post, romped home with over 2.75 lakh votes. Sharad Pawar had made this a prestige battle, denying the seat from his party’s quota to the first family of sugar barons in western Maharashtra, with whom he has had a running feud for three generations. However, Sujay, joined the BJP and won. His father is expected to join him soon. The NCP met a similar fate in Madha, Pawar Sr’s former constituency, where his trusted aide Vijaysingh Mohite Patil’s son was denied a ticket. It cost him the Mohite Patil’s loyalty and the seat fell in the lap of BJP. Clearly, Fadnavis’s clever ploy of luring defectors from Congress and NCP while ruthlessly denying tickets to his own MPs – the BJP dropped seven, a third of its sitting MPs – has weakened the opposition ranks and added to his party’s bench strength. The Congress and NCP minus the backing of feudal barons and their cash-rich cooperative and private institutions, carefully nurtured under their political patronage for decades, will be hobbling around without these crutches at the assembly polls. The shock defeat of Raju Shetti of Swabhimani Paksha, a farmers’ leader who built a political career by opposing the Congress-NCP barons in the sugar bowl of western Maharashtra, was an indicator of the BJP-Sena’s growing clout. Shetti, a sitting MP from Hatkanangale, who was part of the saffron alliance in 2014 but broke away to ally with secular forces, was trounced by Sena’s Dhairyashil Mane. Interestingly, Mane’s family was staunch Pawar followers until they were denied tickets. Like Dhairyashil, many of BJP-Sena’s winners in western Maharashtra as elsewhere are local Maratha satraps interested in maintaining their hold over their political jagirs. “Issues like drought, water scarcity, minimum support price for agriculture produce, pending sugarcane dues, rural distress and farmers’ suicides, were drowned in the cacophony of Hindutva and national security,” Shetti said, surprised by the rural voters switch to emotive issues. It may be true that the plethora of local issues highlighted in the media and picked up by the opposition during the campaign failed to register with the state’s voters in a parliamentary election. In western Maharashtra, known as Pawar’s stronghold and the sugar bowl of the state, the BJP-Sena won seven of the 10 seats, wresting one each from NCP and Swabhimani Paksha. In 2014, they had managed five seats. The NCP was reduced to three from its earlier tally of four. In neighbouring Konkan, the Sena maintained its position in four of the five seats it contested, though its candidate and Union minister Anant Geete lost to NCP’s Sunil Tatkare in Raigad. The BJP too retained Bhivandi, the only seat it contested. In north Maharashtra, where the Kisan Long March originated and grabbed national attention last year, the ruling parties swept all six seats. Jiva Pandu Gavit, a seven-time CPM MLA representing the Adivasis of the region, polled just over a lakh votes, trailing behind his BJP and NCP rivals in Dindori. Marathwada, which had proved a face-saver for Congress in 2014, electing its two MPs, Ashok Chavan from Nanded and Rajeev Satav from Hingoli, put its lot behind the AIMIM-VBA in Aurangabad this time. In the remaining constituencies, it was BJP-Sena all the way. In Vidarbha too, except the surprise result in Chandrapur, the BJP-Sena managed to hold the fort. The top winner here was Union minister and senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari, who defeated his former party colleague-turned-Congressman, Nana Patole, by over two lakh votes. The sweep across the state should give the saffron partners a major boost, especially the BJP and CM Fadnavis, who will now have greater command over both the government and the alliance affairs. While the BJP may still need the Sena to conquer Maharashtra, it would continue to play the big brother, given their bigger numbers in both the Lok Sabha and the current assembly. In the changed political scenario, the likes of Uddhav Thackeray or Ramdas Athavale would be more than satisfied to keep their place in the ruling alliance for their own reasons; Uddhav to stave off any likely challenge from his cousin, Raj Thackeray, and Athavale to save himself from Ambedkar’s onward march. The BJP under Fadnavis have clearly emerged the sole political power centre in Maharashtra. Allying with it will have its benefits. Challenging it will be fraught with risks. The Congress-NCP have no choice. They will have to face the Fadnavis-led BJP again in October. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/24/analysis-fadnavis-fans-modi-tsunami-in-maharashtra.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/24/analysis-fadnavis-fans-modi-tsunami-in-maharashtra.html Fri, 24 May 2019 10:40:10 GMT Sampath fails to charm Attingal for a fourth time The main battle in the Attingal Lok Sabha constituency was between two leaders who had never tasted an electoral defeat. CPM leader A Sampath lost out in his fourth run to Congress’s Adoor Prakash, who has been representing Konni in the Kerala legislative assembly for five consecutive terms. Adoor won by a margin of 38,247 votes to wrest Attingal from Sampath. He polled 3,80,995 votes while Sampath’s vote base decreased to 3,42,748 votes. BJP’s warhorse Shobha Surendran polled 2,48,081 votes to finish third. The LDF lost out in an election dominated by debates about local development and the recent agitation against the state government’s decision to implement a Supreme Court order that struck down a ban on entry of young women into the popular Sabarimala shrine. Attingal had almost always aligned with the CPM and the Left Democratic Front. Left parties represented Attingal, which was called Chirayinkeezh before the 2008 delimitation, 11 times, while the Congress could win the seat only five times. The LDF commands all but one assembly segments in the Lok Sabha constituency. The UDF has a representative only in Aruvikkara. The constituency has a history of giant slaying. R Shankar himself has lost out to K Anirudhan, Sampath’s father, in erstwhile Chirayinkeezh. Vayalar Ravi stormed the constituency in 1971 and 1977 with impressive leads. In 1980, when he switched his loyalties to the Congress (U) and contested as part of the CPM-led front, he lost out to Congress (I) candidate A A Rahim. The Congress retained the seat through Thalekkunnil Basheer in 1984 and 1989. He beat veteran Communist Susheela Gopalan in 1989. Gopalan, however, took revenge in 1991 by wresting the seat from the Congress. The constituency had remained with the CPM ever since. CPM’s Varkkala Radhakrishnan and Sampath have represented the constituency three times each as the Congress organisation remained weakened. Sampath polled 3,92,478 votes in 2014 to record a hat-trick victory. The Congress’s Bindu Krishna finished second with 3,23,100 votes while the BJP’s S Girijakumari polled 90,528 votes. Sampath had a head-start in Attingal. He was loved as the son of K Anirudhan, a popular leader. Yet the Congress alleged that he had done very little to develop the constituency despite representing it for three straight terms. The Congress candidate effectively employed a strategy to upset the communal equations that had benefited Sampath. The BJP also energised its cadre by deploying one of its known faces as a candidate. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/24/sampath-fails-to-charm-attingal-the-fourth-time.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/24/sampath-fails-to-charm-attingal-the-fourth-time.html Fri, 24 May 2019 09:26:48 GMT CPM holds on to national party status, CPI misses out New Delhi: By securing two seats from Tamil Nadu, the Communist Party of India [Marxist] (CPM) will be able to hold on to its national party status. However, the Communist Party of India (CPI) will lose the national status. As per the Election Commission, a party has to meet at least one of the three criteria to get the national status The party should be able to win 6 per cent of the total valid votes in at least four states in the last held elections (Lok Sabha/ state assembly). Apart from this, at least four members should be elected to the Lok Sabha. Not less than two per cent (11 members) of the total number of Lok Sabha seats (543) should win in the last held Lok Sabha polls. They should be elected from at least three different states. They should be recognised as a state party in at least four states. The CPM is holding on to the national tag due to the third clause – they are recognized as state parties in Kerala, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Tripura. This will continue till 2029. Though the CPI has lost the national status, it will come into effect only in 2021. https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/24/cpm-cpi-lok-sabha-elections.html https://english.manoramaonline.com/in-depth/lok-sabha-elections-2019/2019/05/24/cpm-cpi-lok-sabha-elections.html Fri, 24 May 2019 09:48:34 GMT