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Bihar Polls: Third phase ends with 53 per cent vote

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Patna: The third phase of Bihar’s staggered assembly polls ended on Wednesday evening, with 53.20 per cent of the 14.5 million electorate voting in 50 constituencies across six districts.

Additional Chief Electoral Officer R Lakshmanan said the exercise passed off peacefully, including in areas where Maoists are active. There were only minor clashes between rival political activists.

According to officials, more than 7.5 million people voted during the day in a battle that has pitted the BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi against the Grand Alliance of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

The voters on Wednesday included Nitish Kumar, his ally and RJD leader Lalu Prasad, BJP leader and former deputy chief minister Sushil Modi and BJP’s dissident MP Shatrughan Sinha.

After voting in Patna with his family, Lalu Prasad, a former chief minister, hit out at Modi.

“Modi is playing the communal card on reservation. People in the country never expected such words from the prime minister,” he said.

He was referring to Modi’s statement that the Grand Alliance was trying to put in quotas in jobs and educational institutions for Muslims.

Sushil Modi also voted in Patna. And so did Nitish Kumar and Shatrughan Sinha, a Bollywood veteran who has embarrassed the Bharatiya Janata Party by publicly praising Nitish Kumar.

When journalists asked him who he thought will win the Bihar battle, Sinha retorted: “Khamosh” (silence). The MP has been sidelined by the BJP in the election campaign.

Polling began at 7 a.m. in the districts of Patna, Saran, Vaishali, Nalanda, Bhojpur and Buxar. It got over at 4 p.m. in 10 constituencies located in Maoist strongholds. Elsewhere it ended at 5 p.m.

Nalanda is Nitish Kumar’s home turf, and is widely known as ‘Kurmistan’ due to the dominance of his Kurmi caste.

As in the first and second rounds of polling on October 12 and 16, serpentine queues formed at polling stations since early in the morning.

Officials said voters in over a dozen villages boycotted the polls to protest what they said was lack of development in their areas.

Lalu Prasad’s prestige was at stake on Wednesday as his sons Tej Pratap Yadav and Tejaswi Yadav were in the fray. They contested from Mahua and Raghopur respectively in Vaishali district.

The BJP is banking heavily on Dalits and other backward castes, including Yadav voters, besides most upper castes to get the winning votes. Its allies include the Lok Janshakti Party, Hindustani Awam Morcha and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party.

The JD-U has tied up with the RJD and Congress.

According to the Association for Democratic Reforms and the National Election Watch, 215 of the candidates in the third round-faced serious criminal charges, including those of murder.

The staggered elections to pick a 243-member Bihar assembly will end on November 5. The results will be known on November 8. The fourth round of polling will take place on November 1.

(IANS)

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Karnataka Polls: BJP On The Way to Win, Congress May Get Hard Defeat

Any party or grouping will need 113 of the total 224 seats to secure a majority in the Assembly. Polling did not take place in two constituencies on Saturday.

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A state of 60 million people, Karnataka is home to the Information Technology hub of Benguluru and was ruled by the BJP once before.
Congress may have to taste defeat in Karnataka, VOA

The BJP was on Tuesday set to return to power in its southern bastion Karnataka as its candidates crossed the half-way mark in vote count, stunning and ousting the ruling Congress and leaving the JD-S at the third spot.

Noisy celebrations broke out in party offices in Bengaluru, New Delhi and across Karnataka as Bharatiya Janata Party nominees were on the victory lap in 118 of the 222 constituencies which voted on Saturday.

This was a dramatic jump from the 40 seats the BJP won five years ago.

The Congress, desperate to retain power in the state amid shrinking appeal nationally, suffered major blows and was ahead only in 62 seats, with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah trailing in both the constituencies he contested: Badami and Chamundeshwari.

The Congress leader was way behind G.T Deve Gowda of the Janata Dal-Secular in Chamundeshwari, Election Commission officials said. And after leading initially, Siddaramaiah fell behind B.R. Sriramulu of the BJP in Badami.

In contrast, the BJP’s Chief Ministerial face B.S. Yeddyurappa was ahead of his Congress rival by more than 11,000 votes in Shikaripura.

Energy Minister and Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar said that the numbers indicated that his party was on the way out after five years in power.

Any party or grouping will need 113 of the total 224 seats to secure a majority in the Assembly. Polling did not take place in two constituencies on Saturday.

The BJP was overjoyed. “We are in a jubilant mood because we have crossed the half-way mark. We are confident of winning,” spokesman S. Shantharam told IANS.

BJP activists and leaders celebrated noisily in both Bengaluru and New Delhi, waving party flags and shouting slogans hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi, their main vote-getter, and party President Amit Shah.

There were also celebrations outside the residence of Yeddyurappa, who has been Chief Minister earlier too.

Of the 2,654 candidates in the fray for the May 12 Karnataka Assembly elections, at least 883 are crorepatis and 645 have criminal cases against them, said two watchdogs after analysing their affidavits filed with the Election Commission (EC).
Karnataka Polls counting suggests big win for BJP, wikimedia commons

The Janata Dal-Secular of former Prime Minister H.D. Dewe Gowda, which has been expected to play the role of a kingmaker in the event of a hung Assembly, was leading in 40 seats — the same number it won five years ago.

As the vote count progressed, BJP leaders became assertive, saying they were confident of taking power again in Karnataka while Congress leaders began to speak about the possibility of an alliance with the JD-S.

BJP leader and Union Minister Sadanand Gowda said that there was no question of any alliance.
Union minister Prakash Javadekar, who is in charge of Karnataka, met BJP President Amit Shah in New Delhi.

Analysts said the BJP was leading in Lingayat dominated seats and the JD-S in Vokkaliga dominated areas.

Expectations of a BJP victory in Karnataka lifted the key Indian equity indices during the mid-morning trade session on Tuesday.

Modi’s Performance: Survey Reports That Significant Number of People Rate Performance of Modi Government as Below Expectations

According to market observers, broadly subdued Asian indices and disappointing macro-economic inflation data points released on Monday capped some gains.

Sector-wise, healthy buying was witnessed in banking, capital goods, metals, consumer durables and automobile stocks.

The Sensex has so far touched a high of 35,993.53 points and a low of 35,498.83 points during the intra-day trade. (IANS)