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Rajasthan Election 2018

Rajasthan polls: Religion big factor in Pokhran

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Rajasthan

Jaipur | Western Rajasthan’s Pokhran assembly constituency is set for a close fight on December 7 between a Hindu religious leader fielded by the BJP and son of Muslim ‘peer’ pitted against him by the Congress.

The BJP candidate, Pratap Puri, is the head of the Taratara ‘math’. The Congress’ Shale Mohammad is the son of Muslim religious leader Gazi Fakir, who has a large number of followers both within India and across the border in Pakistan.

Both Puri and Fakir hold considerable sway among their communities, making the Pokhran constituency in Jaisalmer district one of the state’s most hotly contested seats.

Uttar Pradesh chief minister and senior BJP leader Yogi Adityanath and Congress President Rahul Gandhi will address rallies in support of Puri and Mohammad, respectively, on Monday, setting the tone for the rest of the campaign in the region better known for the nuclear tests in 1998.

Puri expressed confidence that the BJP will win the Pokhran seat and blamed the Congress for making the contest “communal” by fielding a Muslim candidate against him.

Protection of Hindus and cows has always been an important issue, he said.

“Hindutva is in my veins and the party is going to win the election which has been made communal by the Congress by fielding a Muslim candidate against me,” the BJP candidate told PTI.

Religious leaders should be in politics for its purification, Puri (51), who hails from the influential Rajput community, said.

“The people are with the BJP because they have faith in the party’s policies and in leaders like Narendra Modi,” he said.

His Barmer-based ‘math’, which holds considerable influence in the entire Jodhpur division, is pulling out all stops to win over the electorate, conducting social and religious activities.

“We hold drug de-addiction camps, provide education to poor children and work for cow conservation, besides conducting several other social activities,” Puri said.

The Congress candidate, Mohammad, said his focus was core issues like drinking water and other basic amenities for people in Pokhran, which has a total electorate of 1.94 lakh.

“People here face difficulties in getting drinking water and fodder for cattle. The constituency lacks healthcare facilities and I am focusing on that,” he said.

Mohammad (41) had lost the 2013 assembly elections from the same seat to BJP’s Shaitan Singh with a margin of 34,444 votes.

Mohammad’s father, an octogenarian, boasts of a strong following in the Sindhi Muslim community and has several criminal cases against him.

There are an estimated 55,000 Muslim voters, 45,000-48,000 and Rajput voters in Pokhran. It also has around 35,000 Dalit voters, according to the candidates.

Pokhran is one of the two assembly constituencies of the desert district of Jaisalmer.

The second constituency, Jaisalmer, will also see a direct contest between BJP candidate Sang Singh Bhati and Congress’ Roopa Ram.

The BJP chose Sang Singh Bhati over its sitting MLA Chotu Singh Bhati, while the Congress has fielded Ram for the second time after 2013.

A total of 11 and 18 candidates are in the fray in Pokhran and Jaisalmer respectively.

Election Special

Over 1.74 lakh EVMs store fate of 8,500 candidates of five states

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EVM

New Delhi | The electoral fate of over 8,500 candidates of five states which went to polls recently is sealed in over 1.74 lakh EVMs which will be opened Tuesday. These electronic voting machines are now stored in over 670 strongrooms across Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram and Telangana.

A total of 1,74,724 EVMs were used at polling stations in the five states. The maximum 65,367 machines were used in Madhya Pradesh. A little over 8,500 candidates were in fray in the five states with 2,907 in Madhya Pradesh. After voting, the EVMs have been stored in strongrooms. According to the Election Commission, there is one strongroom earmarked for every assembly seat. EVMs which were kept as reserve or had developed snag are kept in a separate facility.

A total of 679 assembly seats in the five states were to go for election, but due to the death of a candidate in Rajasthan, polling was countermanded on one seat. The strongrooms will be opened on Tuesday in the presence of candidates or their representatives from where machines will be taken to counting centres. The results will set the tone for the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

These five Assembly elections would be crucial for the BJP as it gears up for the Lok Sabha election next year and is in power in three of these states — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. While the Congress is in power in Mizoram, Telangana Rashtra Samithi ruled Telangana before the Assembly was dissolved.

The BJP is trying for a fourth term in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and to retain power in Rajasthan. The three states also played a significant role for the BJP in the 2014 general election, when it had won 62 out of the 65 Lok Sabha seats in these three states.

The elections also hold significance for the Congress, which is out to challenge the BJP’s rule in the states even while protecting its last bastion in the North-East. Mizoram is the only remaining state in the North-East, which is not under the rule of BJP-led NDA. The eight North-East states together have 25 Lok Sabha seats.

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Rajasthan Election 2018

Election Commission orders repolling at booth in Rajasthan’s Karanpur constituency

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Jaipur | The Election Commission has ordered repolling at a booth in Karanpur Assembly constituency of Rajasthan’s Sri Ganganagar district on Monday.

The decision was taken after it came to notice that electronic voting machines (EVMs) were not cleared of mock poll when the actual polling began, election department sources said. Chief Electoral Officer Anand Kumar said repolling would take place at polling centre number 163 from 8am-5pm.

Kumar said there was a decline in the cases of repolling in the state this time. In 2013, repolling was conducted at eight polling centres spread across six constituencies. Voting in 199 out of 200 constituencies was held last Friday and the counting will take place on Tuesday.

Ramgarh constituency in Alwar district will go to poll later due to the death of BSP candidate Laxman Singh.

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Rajasthan Election 2018

Over 72 percent cast their vote in Rajasthan

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Rajasthan

Jaipur | Over 72 percent of the 4.74 crore registered voters had cast their vote by 5 pm in Rajasthan where elections were held Friday for 199 of the 200 assembly seats.

Polling was set to end at 5 pm but officials said those already in the queue at the booths by then were being allowed to vote. The voting percentage till this time was 72.37, according to the Election Commission website. The exact percentage was expected later. Polling began at 51,687 booths across the state at 8 am. The police reported a few clashed among supporters, but said polling was largely peaceful. Paramilitary jawans opened fire in the air to disperse miscreants trying to force their way into a booth at a village in Alwar’s Shahjahapur.

In Bikaner’s Kolayat, two groups clashed outside a polling booth and a vehicle was torched. In Sikar too there was a clash. Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, Pradesh Congress Committee chief Sachin Pilot and other leaders were among those who exercised their franchise. Raje (Jhalrapatan), Pilot (Tonk), former chief minister Ashok Gehlot (Sardarpura) are among the 2,274 candidates in the fray.

The election in Ramgarh constituency of Alwar district was put off following the death of Bahujan Samaj Party candidate Laxman Singh. The results will be out on December 11, along with those from the other four states which saw Assembly elections in the past few weeks.

Raje, who is the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate, is fighting against veteran BJP leader Jaswant Singh’s son Manvendra Singh in Jhalrapatan, the constituency she has represented since 2003. Manvendra Singh switched to the Congress just before the election, making the fight tougher for Raje this time. She had won 63 per cent of the votes cast in 2013, winning the seat by a margin of 60,896. Tonk, with a sizeable Muslim population, is a keenly-watched contest between Sachin Pilot and BJP candidate and Rajasthan Transport Minister Yoonus Khan, who is the saffron party’s only Muslim face in the elections.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had initially fielded sitting MLA Ajit Singh Mehta in Tonk. But in a change of strategy, the party dropped him and sent Khan to take on Pilot.

This is a maiden assembly election for Pilot, a two-time MP who is seen as a chief ministerial possibility if the Congress wins. He has represented Dausa and Ajmer Lok Sabha constituencies in the past. In about 130 constituencies, the contest appears to be mainly between the BJP and the Congress.

In the current House, the BJP has 160 seats and the Congress 25.

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