Sunday February 17, 2019
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Karnataka Votes Today, Will Set The Path For 2019

The poll is even more crucial for the Congress party: Karnataka is the last big state left under its control following a series of losses.

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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

Millions of voters in India’s southern state of Karnataka cast ballots Saturday to choose a regional government in a poll expected to set the stage for national elections next year.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party hopes to wrest the key state from the opposition Congress Party and sustain a streak of impressive wins since it swept to power in 2014.

The poll is even more crucial for the Congress party: Karnataka is the last big state left under its control following a series of losses.

“Psychologically, in the perception battle, that both the Congress and BJP are going to mount, this is going to be very, very critical,” said Neerja Chowdhury, an independent political analyst.

Springboard for BJP

A state of 60 million people, Karnataka is home to the Information Technology hub of Benguluru and was ruled by the BJP once before.

The runup to Saturday’s vote saw both Prime Minister Modi and Congress Party leader Rahul Gandhi swing through the state in a high decibel campaign.

Political analysts say a victory for the BJP will not just boost its prospects when it seeks a second term in office in 2019, it would also give it a key foothold in southern India. Although the party has expanded its presence significantly since it came to power in 2014, it remains largely confined to northern and western India.

A state of 60 million people, Karnataka is home to the Information Technology hub of Benguluru and was ruled by the BJP once before.
Counting of Karnataka polls will be done on 15th May, VOA

“It will acquire the reputation of a pan India party if it manages to get power in Karnataka,” Chowdhury said.

The race is expected to be a tight one. The BJP has been somewhat on the back foot in recent months as it comes under pressure for not delivering on key promises of firing up the economy and creating millions of jobs for India’s young people. It is also under criticism for failing to control fringe Hindu groups.

Political analysts say a defeat for the BJP would re-energize the opposition Congress party, which hopes to lead an alliance of regional parties against Modi next year and signal that it is on a revival path.

Do or die for Congress

On the other hand, a loss for the Congress would be a huge setback for the grand old party that has ruled India for much of the 70 years since independence.

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“For Congress it is a do-or-die battle, if they lose Karnataka, they would have lost every state that went to the polls since 2014,” said Sandeep Shastri, vice chancellor of Jain University and coordinator of Lokniti, a political research group. Compared with the 22 states that are now controlled by the BJP and its allies, Congress only rules four.

The polls will also gauge whether the popularity of the Indian leader goes beyond the Hindi heartland where he is credited with helping the party pull off several victories. Modi has won a reputation as a formidable campaigner, but his personal charisma remains untested in the south, where most people do not understand the Hindi language and where his election speeches had to be translated for the crowds.

Opinion polls have forecast that there may be no clear winner. Votes will be counted Tuesday. (VOA)

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BJP President Amit Shah States The Importance of Having Citizenship Bill

Asking opposition parties not to create obstacles in the construction of Ram temple, he told them to clear their stand on the issue

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BJP President Amit Shah on Sunday said that the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was “very necessary” and added that the government was working on building a consensus with stakeholders in the northeast.

Addressing the media here, Amit Shah also said that the government had brought the bill after much thought and Home Minister Rajnath Singh was holding consultations with various people to address the opposition to the issue.

“There are two sides of a coin. There are decisions that some like and some don’t… The fate of huge number of refugees can’t be kept hanging in the balance and we are firm on it,” he said.

Asked what would be the BJP’s stand if suggestions come to withdraw the Bill as it has created unrest in the entire northeast, Amit Shah said: “Home Minister is holding discussions with political parties. Discussion with some parties have already taken place. If consensus emerges, we will definitely move ahead but the Citizenship Bill is highly necessary for the country.”

The Bill seeks to grant Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who entered India before December 31, 2014.

Amit Shah
BJP President Amit Shah.

Political parties and civic groups in the northeast say if this is implemented, “outsiders” will overwhelm the local population.

The BJP President was also committed to build a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya.

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“The BJP wants the Ram Temple should be built at the same place in Ayodhya where Lord Ram was born. Our stand is clear. There is no confusion.”

Asking opposition parties not to create obstacles in the construction of Ram temple, he told them to clear their stand on the issue. (IANS)