Monday, April 15, 2019

Baffling divide in voting pattern in Phase-I

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Exclusive report

Baffling divide in voting pattern in Phase-I
Bumper voting in North East, W. Bengal, Assam
Massive fall in Bihar, Uttrakhand
20% Less poll in Yavatmal-Washim, 15% less in Chandrapur

Harish Gupta

New Delhi, April 13

With the release of latest figures of polling on 91 Lok Sabha seats in Phase-I on April 11, by the Election commission today, startling facts have surfaced. 

Contrary to earlier reports, it has now emerged that 24% less voting took place in Bihar's four Lok Sabha seats that went to polls on April 11 compared to 2014. In Aurangabad alone, the voting was 31.50% less compared to 2014 and same happened in Gaya, Jamui and Nawada. Pollsters are unable to decipher the riddle of this huge collapse despite the alliance between BJP-JD(U)-LJP.
In Maharashtra's Yavatmal-Washim Lok Sabha seat, the voting was 20% less compared to 2014 polls when 81.27% came out. This time, the EC said 61.9% came out to vote. Similarly, 15% less voting was witnessed in Chandrapur this time, according to EC figures compared to 2014.

Same pattern was witnessed in Uttrakhand where voter was completely apathetic. The BJP had captured all the five seats in Uttrakhand as the polling was as high as 73.19 % in 2014. But this time, the voting was 59.89% only which is 14% less. In UP too, the voting was 1.50% less on eight seats.
But in contrast, bumper voting was witnessed in Assam, Manipur, Tripura, Manipur, Nagaland, West Bengal and even Odisha. In West Bengal's two seats 10% more votes were polled and same happened in Manipur. In Assam, 6% more voting took place indicating favourable climate for the BJP. In 2014 the voting was 72.29% while in 2019 it went up to 79%. Odisha witnessed a marginal rise in voting. But it indicates BJP's popularity in four seats. In Mizoram and Meghalaya the voting was less where the BJP is on a weak wicket due to various local factors and NRC. It was, however, surprising that even Arunachal Pradesh witnessed 7% less voting for two seats. Minister of State for Home Kiran Rijiju is contenting from Arunachal Pradesh (West). But the bumper polling in most parts of the North East suggest that BJP is on a comfortable wicket.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Moderate polling sends BJP into a Tizzy

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Moderate polling sends BJP into a Tizzy
Tough to retain 32 seats
Congress struggling to cross 7 seats mark
Regional parties dominate

Harish Gupta
New Delhi, April 12

If the moderate to low polling in most of the 91 Lok Sabha seats across 20 states is any indication, neither the BJP and nor the Congress has any reason to cheer. The BJP will be lucky to retain its tally of 32 seats it won during 2014 Modi wave in the first phase. The 2 to 5% less polling in the Hindi heartland of UP, Bihar and Uttrakhand and Maharashtra too has caused worries within the BJP core group. A steep fall of almost 10% less polling in Assam has jeopardized BJP's ambition of winning all five seats in the state. The BJP had won four seats in 2014 while the Congress one.
It is not if the BJP faced a rather tough battle to retain the windfall gains of 2014, the Congress was sailing easy. It won 7 seats out of 91 in 2014 and is struggling very hard to cross the figure. It won two seats in undivided Andhra Pradesh and is unlikely to get any seat this time. It did not win any seat in Maharashtra or Hindi heartland. The Congress' remaining five seats came from the North East. This time, except for Assam, it is unlikely to retain these seats due to rise of the regional parties in North East. Of course, it is back in the race in Maharashtra with its ally NCP in Maharashtra and giving the BJP-SS run for the money in all seven seats. Pollsters who keep track of voting patterns and conduct Exit polls but cannot come out with their forecast say that there is a bitter fight on three seats where anything can happen.
But the real battle is in UP where BJP is faced with strong SP-BSP-RLD combine on all the eight seats which the BJP had won in 2014. In four of these eight seats, the Congress has given tacit support to the Gathbandhan by putting up such candidates who will indirectly help the combine.
For example, in Ghaziabad, it put up Dolly Sharma, a Brahmin who will eat into Gen. V K Singh's votes while in Gautam Buddh Nagar, Arvind Singh Chauhan, a Thakur, will hurt BJP's Dr Mahesh Sharma. Similarly, in Kairana, Congress's Jat candidate will hurt the BJP's candidate while in Meerut BJP's Rajendra Agarwal will be badly hurt by Congress's Baniya candidate Harendra Agarwal. The Congress has not fielded any candidate in Baghpat and Muzaffarnagar from where Jayant Chaudhary and Ajit Singh were contesting.

But on the remaining two seats, the Congress has put up strong candidates - Imran Masood in Saharanpur and Naseemuddin Siddiqui in Bijnor.
The division of votes may help the BJP here. Of the four seats in Bihar, the BJP won all the three seats and 4th went to ally LJP. This time, it is contesting only one seat and gave two to the JD (U). Thus the BJP will have to struggle hard to retain 32 seats rather than gaining.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Modi invoked new rule to keep “Family” out

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Modi invoked new rule to keep “Family” out

No two tickets in one family

Birender Singh, Jagdish Mukhi, Sinha upset

Harish Gupta

New Delhi, April 9

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not only strictly implemented the rule that no leader above the age of 75 years be given the Lok Sabha but also invoked a new “No Family Promotion” clause as well.
If 16 senior party leaders including L K Advani, M M Joshi, Sumitra Mahajan, Kariya Munda and others were denied tickets, no new family member or two members of the same family will be given the tickets.
Many senior party leaders have become victims of Modi's this new rule too. Modi had made it clear to even BJP's Gandhis - Maneka and Varun- that only one of them will get the ticket and the other family member should work for the party. Both are sitting MP s of the Lok Sabha and Maneka Gandhi is is a Minister in the Modi government. It transpires that party president Amit Shah and Surface Transport & Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari pleaded that exception should be made in her case. It was also pointed out that Anurag Thakur and Dushyant Singh have been given tickets while Vansundhararaje scindia is sitting MLA. The rule may be made applicable in new cases. Modi made it clear no new family kith & kin will get the ticket if father or mother is active in politics. It was due to this very rule that Assam Governor Jadgish Mukhi had to eat the humble pie. Jagdish Mukhi, a senior Delhi BJP leader wanted Lok Sabha ticket for his son to be given a Lok Sabha from Delhi. But he was told that he would have to quit the post and declare political retirement. Similarly, Minister for Steel Chaudhary Birender Singh is hugely disappointed that his son was refused entry into the electoral arena. His son Birjender Singh is an IAS officer and wants to join the BJP to fight from Rohtak or Hisar. But the BJP was not in a mood to allow senior leader Birender Singh to quit to make room for his son when he is still 73 years. Even his wife is an MLA from Haryana. Therefore, he should wait for sometime. Modi's new policy that no two persons will be given ticket made several others unhappy. R K Sinha, a sitting BJP MP of the Rajya Sabha and close confidante of PM Modi wanted his son Rituraj Sinha to be fielded from Patna Sahib Lok Sabha seat. The seat had fallen vacant after Shatrughan Sinha became a rebel and denied the ticket. When Sinha met senior BJP leaders and tried to convince them that Rituraj will win the seat due to various factor, he was told that “family rule clause” is preventing the ticket to his son. Sensing the PM's tough stand, the leaders from states revised their proposals and withdrew all proposals to give tickets to kith & kin.


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Indecision in BJP delays tickets in Delhi, Punjab, Chandigarh

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Indecision in BJP delays tickets in Delhi, Punjab, Chandigarh
Sitting MP s on Chopping Block 

Harish Gupta
New Delhi, April 7

The BJP leadership is in a serious dilemma as to what it should do in Delhi, Punjab, Chandigarh and remaining two seats in Haryana. In all, the BJP has announced 406 candidates for the Lok Sabha polls and announcement for the 31 seats has been withheld. This include all the seven LS seats in Delhi, three out of 13 in Punjab, lone seat in Chandigarh and two in Haryana.
The leadership wants to do a major surgery in Delhi as there is huge anti-incumbency against some of the seven sitting M Ps.
Sources in the party say that at least three sitting Lok Sabha MP s may be shown the door including Meenakshi Lekhi, Lok Sabha MP from New Delhi, Udit Raj from North West and and Mahesh Giri from East Delhi. Gautam Gambhir is set to get the nomination from New Delhi after he made his maiden entry in the party a few days ago. Udit Raj has been voicing his concerns against some of the policies of the party. Though he was brought with big fan fare. But his performance in the constituency was a matter of concern. The third victim could be Mahesh Giri from East Delhi. Union Cabinet Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan may be shifted to East Delhi and a new face may enter Chandni Chowk where Kapil Sibal may be a common Opposition candidate if there is an alliance between AAP-Congress.
The BJP leadership is extremely worried in Delhi despite claims of massive Modi wave and wants to bring new faces to avoid any anti-incumbency. A Congress-AAP alliance will surely give the BJP run for the money as Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal continues to command following among the poor sections of the society. His hard bargaining with the Congress to concede seats in Haryana, Punjab and Goa in lieu of three seats in Delhi is delaying the process.
But many in the BJP feel that this shows party's weakness and sending a wrong signal. In all likelihood the party may announce its candidates for the remaining seats of Haryana, Punjab and Delhi within the next 48 hours.

It now transpires that the BJP leadership is undecided whether to field a Jat candidate from Rohtak or a non-Jat. Chief Minister Manoharlal Khattar feels that a non-Jat be pitted from Rohtak as the non-Jats are against Hoodas.
The BJP failed to win three seats in Haryana during the massive Modi wave and Rohtak was one of them. In Punjab, the BJP-Akalis alliance is in serious trouble where Capt. Amrinder Singh of Congress is very strong.
A search for candidates by the BJP in Amritsar, Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur is on.

Search for CVC begins,

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Search for CVC begins, 
Modi govt. Invites applications 
Harish Gupta
New Delhi, April 8
The country may be in the midst of General Elections. But the Modi government has initiated the process of selecting the new Chief Vigilance Commissioner. The current incumbent K V Chowdhary is set to retire in June after completing four years in office. The number two in command T M Bhasin is also set to retire in June itself. The third Vigilance Commissioner Sharad Kumar has two years to go. But the government has decided to seek applications for the post of the CVC.

The Department of Personnel under the Ministry of Personnel under the PM Narendra Modi has decided to seek applications for the key post. The CVC is country's watch dog and has power to superintendence over the CBI. It also monitors Enforcement Directorate, another body which probes economic offenses.

The CVC shot into prominence recently when it dealt with the controversial case of CBI director Alok Verma and special director Rakesh Asthana which hogged countrywide attention. It was first time in the history of the CBI that its director was removed unceremoniously on the recommendations of the CVC probe. It was in this contest that the importance of the CVC gained considerably.

The CVC shall hold office for a period of four years from the date he or she takes over or until attains the age of 65 years whichever is earlier. The Central Vigilance Commission consists of a CVC and two Vigilance Commissioner.

According to the notification issued by the ministry, the interested persons will have to write 300 word essay to indicate their suitability. The applicant should be of outstanding merit and impeccable integrity and should have knowledge and experience of at least 25 years in the relevant field. A CVC or VC is a person who hails from the all India services like the IAS, IPS, IfoS or in any civil service of the Unioin or in a post having knowledge and experience in matters relating to vigilance, policy making and administration including police and related services. Even a person holding an office in a corporation established under any Central act and person having experience in banking, insurance , finance etc.

Obviously, a decision with regard to these appointments will be taken by the next government which will come to power after May 23.

The Central Vigilance Commissioner and the Vigilance Commissioners are appointed by the President on recommendation of a Committee consisting of the Prime Minister (Chairperson), Union Home Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in the House of the People.

Pollsters predict NDA win

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Pollsters predict NDA win
big losses for BJP, Congress may double its tally
BJP+Sena may lose seats in Maharashtra

Harish Gupta

New Delhi, April 9

More than two dozen opinion polls conducted across the country by leading news channels have said that the BJP will emerge as a single largest party and NDA will get anywhere between 261-310 Lok Sabha seats.

Barring TV9-C Voter, Zee24-Taas and ABP News, all other channels and pollsters havr predicted a clear majority for the NDA. In all 25 poll surveys have been conducted between January to April 8 this year and different yardsticks have been applied by different news channels.

No doubt, most pollsters have shown that BJP's own seat share will fall from 282 which it won in 2014. But they say these surveys were done in March and developments during the on-going seven phases cannot be taken into account.

In Maharashtra, most of these pollsters say that BJP-Shiv Sena alliance won't be able to their tally of 41 seats out of 48 in Maharashtra. While Republic TV-Jan Ki Baat says the tally will come down to 36, Rajat Sharma owned India TV gives 34 seats leaving 13 for the UPA and one to others. The News Nation gives 33 seats to the NDA.

These pollsters say that the swing voters who constitute more than five per cent change their preferences as poll campaign start picking up.

The pollsters and BJP friendly channels are not giving more than 235 seats to the BJP while others say that BJP will not cross 220 seats.
These polls also predict that the Rahul Gandhi-led Congress will improve its tally from 44 to anywhere between 70-85 seats.
One channel has given 100 plus seats to the Congress and 143 to UPA.
Most pollsters say that SP-BSP combination is set to take away a big chunk - 36 seats out of 80 seats in UP. But in Bihar, the BJP has not much to worry about. The RJD and the Congress will be limited to just nine seats, say opinion polls.

The polls suggest that Jagan Mohan Reddy's YSR Congress and the K Chandrasekhara Rao's Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) will be big winners.
Now no opinion poll can be conducted and pollsters can collect data but show exit/opinion polls only on May 19 – the last day of polling.

Maharashtra opinion poll
Polling agency
08/04/19 Times Now-VMR 38 10
05/04/19 Republic TV - 36 12
Jan ki Baat
06/04/19 India TV- CNX 34 13
27/03/19 ABP Majha 37 11
Mar./19 News Nation 33 15
Country's Opinion poll
Date Polling agency Others
08/04/19 Times Now-VMR  283 143 135
04/04/19 Republic TV           310 122 111
       Jan Ki Baat
06/04/19 IndiaTV-CNX           285 126 132
08/04/19 Newsx Polstrat   299 126 118
01/03/19 TV-9-C voter           261 143 139
01/03/19 Zee 24 Taas           264 165 114
01/01/19 ABP News- Cvoters  233 167 143

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Rahul Mantra: Win More Contest Less

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

Bullet points

Rahul Mantra: Win More Contest Less

Congress to contest 396 LS seats

Alliances clinched across India

Sacrificing seats to defeat Modi
Brings More aggression and Prompt reaction

Harish Gupta

New Delhi, April 6

The congress had contested 464 Lok Sabha seats in 2014 and secured 44, its lowest tally ever.
It had no ally in the entire country except Maharashtra, Bihar, Kerala and adjustments in Jharkhand.

However, this time, the party will be contesting around 396 seats and has alliances in most of the states which matter for the party. If it is able to stitch alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi and neighbouring state of Haryana, the tally may come down but winnaibility of seats will be enhanced to some extent. and has strong allies in some of the states including. Interestingly, it may not have a direct alliance in Andhra Pradesh and contesting all the 25 seats. But it will help CM N Chandrababu Naidu in cutting into anti-TDP votes. In fact, TDP may gain as anti-TDP votes will be divided among the Congress, YSR Congress and the BJP. Another consolation point for the Congress is that TRS did not enter into any alliance with the BJP leaving options open for it in a post-poll scenario.
The Congress has strong allies in Maharashtra and left 23 seats for NCP and Swabhiman Pakshe and BAV. Similarly, it is positioning itself to focus on more on Karnataka and Kerala to enhance its seat and vote where. In Both these states the Congress had secured 9 and 8 Lok Sabha seats respectively. Congress president Rahul Gandhi took a decision to enter into an alliance with Janata Dal (S) and sacrificed the post of the Chief Minister to ensure that BJP's tally is brought down from 18 seats. The Congress-JD (S) together are targeting to take the tally to at least 16-18 seats. Similarly, Rahul Gandhi's decision to contest from Wayanad is aimed at enhancing Congress tally and relatively be free for campaigning across the country and spend too much time in Amethi. In Bihar, the Congress contested 12 seats in 2014 and secured 2. But it came down to contesting 9 in 2019 so that it could get 4-5 seats and contain BJP-JD (U)-LJP juggernaut to win 32 seats again. In Tamil Nadu, the Congress contested all the 39 seats on its own in 2014 and drew a blank. Now it hopes to reap the harvest in alliance with the DMK by contesting only 8 seats. In UP, the Congress may not be in alliance with SP-BSP and got only two seats. But it is contesting only 51 seats and pitted candidates on some seats who will indirectly help the SP candidates. The Congress hopes to gain in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Uttrakhand, Jammu & Kashmir and North East including Assam.
Rahul Gandhi has brought new blood and aggression in the party and faces like K.C. Venugopal, Randeep Surjewala, Dipak Babaria, Shaktisinh Gohil, Avinash 
Pandey, Jitendra Singh, Rajeev Satav, Sushmita Dev, R.P.N. Singh, Gaurav Gogoi etc to name a few.
"Unlike Soniaji, he is hands-on “CP” a term used for Congress president. Under Rahul's leadership, the party is very prompt in rebutting BJP charges, setting the agenda and use of social media.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Shatrughan Sinha considered from Varanasi

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

special report
Shatrughan Sinha considered from Varanasi  
Joint Opposition candidates against Modi planned 

Priyanka in the reckoning too 

Harish Gupta

New Delhi, April 4

The Opposition parties are seriously considering fielding a strong joint candidate from Varanasi against Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the ensuing Lok Sabha polls. The poll in Varanasi will be held on May 19 and last date for nominations is April 29. Except for the BJP no party has announced its candidate from the Varanasi seat. Even the Samajwadi Party which had made some announcement, has withdrawn its candidate. The BSP has opted out of the race and gave the seat to the Samajwadi Party as part of the seat sharing arrangement.
Highly placed sources in the Congress told Lokmat today that parleys have been going on to find a common ground to corner the BJP in Varanasi and not to allow a cakewalk to Modi who had won the seat by a margin of more than 3.50 lakh votes in 2014 Lok Sabha polls. This was largely because there was a 4-corner contest. This time, a common candidate be pitted against Modi to avoid splitting of anti-BJP votes.

If these sources are to be believed two names are under serious consideration for the Varanasi seat-- Priyanka Gandhi and Shatrughan Sinha. Though Shatrughan Sinha has already declared his intentions to contest from Patna Sahib which he represents in the Lok Sabha as BJP MP. But there is a suggestion that he shifts to Varanasi instead of Patna Sahib and become a joint Opposition candidate. He has personal rapport with SP chief Akhilesh Yadav who had earlier offered that his wife Poonam Sinha contest from Lucknow against the BJP stalwart Rajnath Singh on the SP ticket. Shatrughan Sinha is reported to have discussed this issue with Rahul Gandhi. However, details on this issue are not immediately known.
In addition to Shatrughan Sinha, a proposal is also afoot to field Priyanka Gandhi from the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat. Though she is campaigning in UP East but she can galvanize not only the party cadre but the entire area if she is fielded from Varanasi. Priyanka Gandhi had said in a lighter vein the other day in response to a question, “Do you want me to contest from Varanasi.”
Even Shatrughan Sinha was coy when asked by Lokmat today at his residence.He said, “A lot of people want me to contest from Varanasi. But it is not for me to comment. It is for the party to decide.”
A final decision in this respect will be taken sometime next week.


Wednesday, April 3, 2019

BJP axes 15th leader above 75 years age

by Harish Gupta, National Editor, Lokmat Group

BJP axes 15th leader above 75 years age
No Decision on Sumitra Mahajan yet
Malini Gaur in Race 

Harish Gupta

New Delhi, April 2

With the denial of ticket to 15th leader Lilabhai Vaghela who was 83 years old by the BJP high command in Patan, Gujrat, the last of the legends Sumitra Mahajan is miffed over the delay in announcing her candidature. The 8th term Lok Sabha MP from Indore and Speaker of the Lok Sabha is waiting with bated breath for the green signal to contest 9th time from the coveted seat.

The BJP veteran was so upset that she chose to stay away from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Mai Bhi Chowkidar’ event in Indore on Sunday last. Until the event it was widely believed that the “Tai” as she is popularly known in the BJP, will get the ticket. Her argument convinced some of the BJP leaders that Speaker is not a government post but a Constitutional one and 75 year rule should not apply in this case.

But the the fact that the BJP has showed the door to 15 leaders so far who were above the age of 75 years, Indore is the only seat where BJP has not declared the candidate. Sumitra Mahajan's absence from the “Mai Bhi Chowkidar” event has triggered speculations that all is not well.
Though some other BJP leaders, including Indore-V MLA Mahendra Hardia and Indore-III MLA Akash Vijayvargiya too skipped the program, it was Sumitra Mahajan's absence that triggered speculations about the possibility to becoming the 16th victim of the rule.

A miffed Mahajan has not even added the prefix Chowkidar to their official twitter handle in support of the PM Narendra Modi’s Mai Bhi Chowkidar call. She is among the handful of such leaders. May be, she has got wind of the impending decision and staying away from media glare for the past sometime.

This development has, however, elated the supporters of Indore Mayor Malini Gaur in the party. She is a BJP loyalist and brought laurels to the city by getting the Cleanest City of the country for the past two years. The Prime Minister is very happy with her performance and wants to elevate her. She was not given the MLA ticket when the Assembly polls took place as party general secretary Kailash Vijayvergiya gave it to his son. Now he has been told to confine himself to West Bengal.

The last date of filing nomination papers is April 29 for Indore, where polling will be held on May 19.