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Oil Tanker leak takes six lives, 20 more critical


In a shocking incident at least six people died and over 20 are in critical condition after gas leaked from a parked vehicle in a company premises in Gujrat’s Surat. The incident occurred in the Sachin GIDC area of the city early on Thursday morning. Most of the early casualties were those who were sleeping near the parked tanker. Soon after the incident, the fire services were sent an SoS and they rushed to the spot immediately. They managed to close the lid from where the gas was leaking and thus contained the gas leak.

The mill where the mishap occurred is identified as Vishwa Prem Mills. The incident occurred at about 5 AM.

According to sources, the gas leak occurred while the chemicals were being transferred into a drain. The gasses emitted from the tanker engulfed the whole area. The people suffered breathlessness and fell unconscious. The rescue workers have shifted the patients to the nearby hospital, where they are being treated. The condition of several persons is stated to be critical.

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Gujarat CM Rupani resigns ahead of the end of term


In a major political development, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Saturday tendered his resignation to Gujarat Governor Acharya Devvrat at his residence, Raj Bhavan in Gandhinagar. The BJP leader confirmed that he has resigned from the top post.

“I am resigning from the post of the Chief Minister. I thank PM Modi and the party for giving me an opportunity to work for five years,” Vijay Rupani told the reporters at Raj Bhavan.

“I am just a worker of the organisation and will continue to be so. For the upcoming state Assembly elections, definitely our PM Modi will be the face,” Rupani said, when asked who will be the face for the elections, as he and the party earlier had declared that the 2022 elections will be led by him.

“I will accept whatever responsibility the party gives me,” said Rupani.

Vijay Rupani took the state’s Chief Ministerial position on August 7, 2016, and is representing Rajkot West in the Gujarat Legislative Assembly. It is learnt from sources that the party will declare Rupani’s replacement by Sunday. Most likely his replacement could be deputy chief minister Nitin Patel.

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Gujarat is a setback for BJP, but will it make party more humble?


For the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to have struggled to cross the 100-seat mark in Gujarat when it was boasting about bagging 150 is suggestive of an undeniable downward turn in its popularity ratings.

Considering that it tried all the tricks in the book, including several dirty ones, to cross the winning line showed that the party was uneasy about the outcome from the start, although Gujarat is Narendra Modi’s home state and few would have normally expected the locals to move decisively against a Gujarati Prime Minister.

But the fact that the previously unheralded Congress did reasonably well by adding to its 2012 tally of 61 seats was a sign that for the first time in more than two decades, the BJP was facing a challenge. The increase in the number of seats won by the Congress, and the fall in the BJP’s, underlined the fact that but for the relentless campaign undertaken by Modi and almost his entire cabinet, the BJP would have been hard put to win.

Along with the intensity of the campaign, with the Prime Minister concentrating so much on one state when he went only a few times to Himachal Pradesh, which also went to the polls, what was also noteworthy was the eagerness with which he latched on to the Congress maverick, Mani Shankar Aiyar’s gaffe about calling Modi names to assert that any slur on the Prime Minister is an insult to Gujarat.

Arguably, neither Modi’s claim of personally representing the state’s asmita or pride, nor his preposterous charge against his predecessor, Manmohan Singh, about conspiring with Pakistan had any noticeable impact on the mindset of the voters. In all probability, the outcome would have been the same even otherwise. But what these unprecedented outbursts, including the one about Aiyar having planned a “supari” operation to eliminate Modi, showed was that the BJP had the scare of its life during the elections.

The nervousness may have been all the greater because the party could not have expected the Congress to put up a fight. Although the Grand Old Party (GOP) always had a 40 per cent vote share in the state, there had never been any expectations about its prospects because of its moribund condition with hardly any organisational muscle or effective local leaders capable of drawing crowds.

However, perhaps to its own — and certainly to the BJP’s surprise — Rahul Gandhi’s entrance made a dramatic difference. For the first time since it went out of power, the Congress could seriously think of regaining it. Even if in the end, the HAJ factor made up of Patidar leader Hardik Patel, backward caste leader Alpesh Thakor and Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani did not make as much of an impact as was earlier thought, it proved that it was possible to mobilise the disaffected elements in the state against the seemingly all-powerful ruling party.

It cannot be said for certain whether the Congress will be able to sustain this combination of ambitious first-timers in politics — two of whom do not belong to it — for any length of time, especially when the prize for which they came together has eluded them. Besides, the Congress does not have anyone based in the state who can keep them together with a focussed agenda. One cannot expect Rahul Gandhi to continue playing the role of a unifier once the battle drums are silenced.

For the Congress, therefore, it is almost back to square one in Gujarat as the state has once again slipped out of its grasp and it will have to re-engage all over again in building the party’s ground level base. But the big takeaway nevertheless for the GOP is that, first, it has succeeded in giving the BJP a scare which no one would have thought possible in 2014, or earlier when the Congress lost four assembly elections in a row; and, secondly, that the party can now look forward with considerable confidence to next year’s elections in the three BJP-ruled states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, where it may not be possible for Modi and BJP president Amit Shah to stave off the anti-incumbency factor as well as they have done in Gujarat.

For the BJP, the realisation must have dawned that the euphoria of 2014 is gone. Modi may still draw crowds, but it is possible to give him the jitters. It is unlikely that either he or his party will continue to make their arrogant claims about ushering in a Congress-mukt (free) India any longer. It will also help the party if the setback leads to a toning down of the haughtiness which has been its hallmark in the last few years.

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BJP retains power in Gujarat but just barely


The ruling BJP was on Monday set to retain power in Gujarat, just edging past the half-way mark in one of the most bitterly contested elections that saw the Congress improve its tally compared to five years ago.

Election Commission officials said the Bharatiya Janata Party, on course for its sixth consecutive win, had bagged 58 seats and was leading in 41 while the Congress had won 50 and was forging ahead in 27 more.

Smaller parties and independents had won three seats and were leading in three.

While the BJP celebrated all across Gujarat and in Delhi, the 99-seat tally was far less than the 150 BJP President Amit Shah had set for the party to win and 16 less than what it got in 2012 despite intense campaigning by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Congress, its campaign led by its now President Rahul Gandhi, was poised to finish with a tally of 77, 16 more than what it bagged five years ago.

Outside Parliament, a beaming Modi flashed a V sign to celebrate the victory in his home state. Senior BJP leaders taunted Rahul Gandhi and said the result proved that the people had embraced the Gujarat model of development.

But the BJP’s overall vote share in the state plunged from 60.11 per cent notched in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls to 49 per cent, indicating a sharp erosion in support base in a state which the party considers its fortress.

The vote share of the Congress, which joined hands with Patidar leader Hardik Patel, Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani and OBC leader Alpesh Thakore, soared from 33.45 per cent of 2014 to 41.5 per cent.

Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani brushed aside reports of BJP’s waning support, saying the winner was always the king. “Jo jeeta wo hi Sikander.”

As the vote count began across Gujarat at 8 a.m., at one point the Congress leads went past the BJP’s, giving a scare to the ruling party and sending the stock markets plunging down.

The BJP, however, managed to recover lost ground and eventually went past the half-way mark of 92 seats needed to control the 182-member House.

Chief Minister Vijay Rupani (Rajkot West) and Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel (Mehsana) trailed to the Congress early in the day before bouncing back and winning. While Rupani won by 50,412 votes, Patel’s victory margin was 7,951 votes.

The BJP also held on in most seats affected by the Patidar agitation demanding job quotas, provoking community leader Hardik Patel to complain about faulty Electronic Voting Machines.

While the BJP dominated over the Congress in South, Central and North Gujarat, the Congress held the upper hand in the sprawling Saurashtra/Kutch region.

The BJP also proved its sway over urban centres while the Congress seats came mostly from rural regions.

All Congress Chief Ministerial contenders lost — Shaktisinh Gohil (Mandvi), Arjun Modhwadia (Bokhiria) and Siddharth Patel (Dabhoi).

But the BJP suffered a setback in Unjha constituency which includes Modi’s hometown Vardana where he grew up.

The Gujarat election was held on December 9 and 14 and was marked by a viciousness that pitted Prime Minister Modi against the Congress, including his predecessor Manmohan Singh.

Modi had been the Gujarat Chief Minister from 2001 until he became the Prime Minister in 2014. It was the first Assembly election in Gujarat after Modi shifted to New Delhi.

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We accept people’s verdict: Rahul Gandhi


Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Monday accepted the party’s loss in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat and congratulated the new governments in both states.

“The Congress party accepts the verdict of the people and congratulates the new governments in both states. I thank the people of Gujarat and Himachal with all my heart for the love they showed me,” Gandhi tweeted.

The Bharatiya Janata Party is poised to win both states.

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BJP loses Modi’s hometown in Gujarat


The BJP has retained its grip over Gujarat but lost Unjha constituency to the Congress that includes Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s hometown of Vadnagar.

Congress’ Asha Patel defeated outgoing BJP MLA Patel Narayanbhai Lalludas by a margin of over 19,500 votes in the traditional stronghold of the Patidar community. While Patel polled 81,797 votes, her BJP rival got 62,268.

In 2012, Lalludas defeated Patel by nearly 25,000 votes.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi, the party’s star campaigner, had extensively campaigned in Unjha during his Navsarjan Yatra. On his visit to the region, Gandhi also prayed at the Umiya Mata temple, close to Vadnagar — where Modi was brought up.

Weeks before the election process began in Gujarat where the BJP has been in power for the last 22 years, Modi inaugurated Umiya Dham Ashram in Haridwar for the pilgrims from the region visiting the Hindu holy city on the bank of the Ganges.

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Will BJP victorious in Gujarat? Why BJP can’t rely on exit polls


Keenly battled Gujarat elections are over and all exit polls suggested victory for BJP, though the margin of majority is different. But still there are some doubts in political circles regarding BJP winning Gujarat. It seems there are 2 main reasons for this. In fact these are the same reasons when Vajpayee’s NDA government lost it to UPA in 2004 despite exit polls favoring Vajpayee’s NDA and all media channels buying BJP’s “India shining” campaign. Below are those 2 reasons that were attributed to the failure of 2004 exit polls and it seems these reasons are appropriate for current scenario too.

1. Gujarat always able to win most of the votes in urban areas, be it Gujarat or other states. Mainly middle class and upper middle class have been strong forte for BJP. On the other hand, Congress has most of their vote bank in rural and remote areas. It is very difficult for media and psephologists to catch the exact pulse of these remote voters. The same happened in 2004 when most of the samples are taken in urban and semi-urban areas. So these rural voters can actually turn the tide against BJP

2. This reason is a bit far-fetched. Whenever there is a complete positive propaganda on a particular party in media, usually voters don’t reveal their exact decision for several reasons. For example, when most of the media in US predicted Hillary Clinton’s victory, there was a silent wave for Trump. Some analysts later remarked that these voters might have hesitated to reveal their decision of voting for Trump to the media and psephologists. With Rahul Gandhi tagged as “Pappu” and voting for Congress being tagged as anti-national in some media, voters may prefer to not to reveal their decision.

The above are 2 reasons that were extrapolated to Gujarat elections from the analysis of “Why 2004 exit polls failed?”. Even after exit polls, Rajya Sabha BJP MP Sanjay Kakade has claimed that their party would not win enough seats to form the next government in Gujarat. On the other hand, Hardik Patel stated Congress will win 100 seats.

Anyway, its just few more hours to get to know the final answer.

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Exit polls predict BJP win in both states


Exit polls predict BJP win in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat states

Almost all exit polls predicted clear victory for keenly-contested Assembly elections in Gujarat. Most of them predicted more than 100 seats for the BJP in Gujarat comfortably above the 92-seat majority mark in the 182-seat Assembly. BJP has been in power for close to two decades now in Modi’s home state. It seems clear that BJP enjoys an edge in Gujarat. Results of various exit polls are as below:

India today99-11368-82
Sahara Samay110-12065-75
Today's Chanakya13547
India news110-12065-75

Even in Himachal Pradesh, all exit polls point in same direction. BJP expecting land slide victory here.

Himachal Pradesh has total of 68 seats.

ZEE news5117
India Today47-5513-20
Times Now5116
ABP news3829

Though in Himachal Pradesh, Congess is no where near BJP, in Gujarath it is trailing by a small margin. Most of the BJP leaders commented that there is no reason for not believing these exit polls as they all showing similar direction and pattern, but the final number of seats may vary. But Congress leaders responded that exit polls have been proven wrong many times. Hardik Patel commented that Gujarat will undergo a “Mahaparivartan”. Final results will be out on 18th December.

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Former CM of Gujarat Anandiben to become Governor of TS and AP


Former Chief Minister of Gujarat Anandiben Mafatbhai Patel will reportedly be appointed as the Governor of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana relieving E S L Narasimhan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is allegedly considering to give a significant position in Centre to Narasimhan. Speculations are rife that either he will be bestowed with a position in National Security Council or will be conferred with an advisory role.

It may be recalled that Anandiben succeeded Modi as the chief minister of Gujarat. If Anandiben is not picked, a senior BJP leader Shankar Murthy from Karnataka seemingly is in the race to become the Governor of the Telugu speaking states. Kumudben Joshi was the only woman governor in the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh. Anandiben will be only the second woman governor for AP and first for TS.

The Union government is working on filling up the existing vacancies at Raj Bhavans in almost seven states in the country. The Telugu Desam party leader in Telangana, Mothukupalli Narasimhulu will be most likely named as governor of one of the seven states. BJP leaders are contemplating on replacing Dalit governor Kovind with another dalit Narasimhulu in Bihar. In case otherwise, they might as well appoint him as the Governor for a north-eastern state.

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“Gujarat has lessons for KCR”


CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury cautioned TRS government in Telangana not to create situation where Gujarat Patel like movement emerges in the new born state by pursuing anti-people policies. Yechuri, who was in Hyderabad, expressed dissatisfaction over the way chief minister government was functioning in Telagana. The CPM leader was obviously referring to the feeling of left out among the members of SC, ST, OBC and Minority groups.

“Telangana has got substantial population of SCs, STs, BCs and other minority communities. TRS government should fulfill the aspirations before discontentment erupts among these vast mass of marginalized section,” he said.

Yechuri , flanked by T-CPM secretary Tammineni Veerabhadram,said the agitation for OBC status by the Patel community had exposed chinks in the “Gujarat model” which Modi was attempting to thrust at national level.
“That a well-to-do community like Patidars hit the streets on agitation for reservations shows the the high degree of discontent among the people. This is clear indication to the fact that Gujarat model was faulty and not inclusive. It benefited only a few,” he said.

Yechuri alleged mismanagement of the Gujarat society by Gujarat government then by Modi and now by his predecessor. The Patidar anger in Gujarat should serve as a wake-up call to the KCR regime which had failed to live up to the expectation of the people, he warned.

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