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Congress confident of crossing three-digit mark in Lok Sabha elections

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At the end of the fourth phase of polling, Congress is confident of crossing the three-digit mark in the 17th Lok Sabha polls.

According to an internal assessment, Congress will significantly improve its tally compared to the 2014 election when it bagged just 44 of the 543 seats. That was its lowest tally in any Lok Sabha election, beating the previous low of 114 seats in 1999.

In 2014, Congress failed to open its account in 13 states, including Gujarat, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi and Odisha, and could not cross the double-digit mark in any state. It did not get Leader of Opposition status as it failed to win 10% of total seats of House.

On the other hand, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) became the first political party to secure an absolute majority on its own in 30 years by winning 282 seats.

The Congress’s evaluation for 2019 indicates gains in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab. But it is not expecting a good showing in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Delhi and the North-East.

The internal assessment is based on feedback from the ground in several Lok Sabha constituencies across the country, a Congress functionary familiar with matters said. The party is expected to revise its assessment after the final phase of polling on May 19. Votes will be counted on May 23. On record, Congress said people were voting for change and the fall of the BJP government at Centre was imminent, as evident from statements of PM Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah.

“Our first and foremost assessment comes from Modi’s desperation and nervousness… Sometimes, he indulges in abusive language against Congress president Rahul Gandhi, second day he says he is going to bring down an elected government in West Bengal through defection, and on the third day… he and his home ministry indulges in absolute rubbish of questioning Rahul Gandhi’s citizenship,” party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said. “It seems he is trying to hold on to every straw to somehow stop his boat from sinking.” Surjewala said the party’s second assessment comes from the observations of workers on the ground. “That is extremely encouraging and shows massive gains for Congress and allies and consequent losses for BJP,” he said.

He said the third assessment comes from online and physical surveys that have established the observations of workers on the ground.

When contacted, BJP refused to make any comment on it

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To outdo AAP, Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari promises big cuts in water, electricity bills

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Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari on Monday said his party would give five times more relief to electricity and water consumers than the AAP government, if voted to power in the national capital.

He also questioned Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal about his medical treatment expenditure and why did he not get himself treated at a mohalla clinic.

According to a reply to an RTI application filed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), after coming to power in Delhi in 2015, Kejriwal had spent Rs 12,18,027 on treatment in private hospitals, which was paid by the general administration department of the Delhi government, Tiwari said.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had spent Rs 13,25,329 on medical treatment for himself and his family members and ministers Gopal Rai and Imran Hussain had spent Rs 7,22,558 and Rs 2,46,748 on medical treatment respectively, he claimed.

“Why does Kejriwal not provide the real information about the facilities in the mohalla clinics and hospitals of the Delhi government, on which he issues costly advertisements? “If you do not trust the medical services of your government, why are you leaving people at their mercy? It clearly shows that the AAP government has completely failed,” Tiwari told reporters.

He said the information received through the RTI application had proved that if the medical care provided by the mohalla clinics and the Delhi government hospitals was reliable, Kejriwal, his cabinet colleagues and their family members would not have gone to private hospitals for treatment.

“The people of Delhi will never forgive the chief minister for playing with their health,” the BJP leader said.

No immediate reaction was available from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

Tiwari was also asked whether his party was in favour of announcing subsidies for water and electricity consumers.

“The BJP is not against subsidies. In fact, if we come to power, we will give five times more relief to water and electricity consumers,” he said.

In an interview to a newspaper, Delhi BJP leader Vijay Goel had said, “The BJP will not give subsidies, but create such an environment that electricity will be cheaper.” Kejriwal had thanked the BJP on Sunday for making its intentions clear that it would withdraw the electricity subsidy announced by his government if voted to power in Delhi, saying it would give a chance to people to choose between “two conflicting models”.

Subsequently, Goel had said once the saffron party came to power in Delhi, it would provide electricity at cheaper rates than the AAP government.

However, Tiwari clarified that the BJP was not against subsidies.

The Assembly polls are due in Delhi early next year.

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BJP’s Pankaja Munde, attending her 5th rally in a day, collapses on stage

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Maharashtra Women and Child Welfare Minister Pankaja Munde fainted on the dais while addressing a campaign rally at Parli in Beed district on Saturday.

She was taken to a nearby hospital and was recovering, a BJP spokesperson said.

Munde is pitted against her estranged cousin and NCP leader Dhananjay Munde from Parli constituency in the October 21 state assembly elections.

Attending her fifth rally in the town on the last day of campaigning, she collapsed while speaking.

BJP workers and her sister and Beed MP Pritam Munde, who was present, rushed to her help.

BJP spokesperson Keshav Upadhaye said Munde’s hectic campaigning schedule could have taken a toll on her health.

She was taken to a local hospital and was recovering, said Shirish Boralkar, another party spokesperson.

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Arvind Kejriwal calls on citizens to fund education of poor kids

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Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday urged Delhiites to step up and offer financial support to bright underprivileged students in the city’s government schools.

Addressing a press conference, the CM said a city-based family has decided to bear the cost of education of Vijay Kumar, who is now a student of IIT-Delhi. Kumar (16) cleared his Class 12 from a government school this year and had availed the IIT-JEE free coaching scheme offered by the city administration.

“You all have already heard of Vijay’s achievements. He had availed the Delhi government’s ‘Jai Bhim Mukhyamantri Pratibha Vikas Yojana’ which is a free coaching scheme for aspiring students like him, who dream big but do not have resources. After hearing about Vijay’s case, Varun Gandhi and his family decided to fund his education at IIT-Delhi. Their gesture will inspire others to contribute to society too,” Kejriwal, who himself is an IIT graduate, said at a press conference.

Kumar’s mother is a homemaker and father is a tailor. “Instead of donating money to a temple, making a talented kid realise his dream of IIT is a much bigger service to god. I urge people who can afford to volunteer for such deeds,” Kejriwal said.

Varun Gandhi, a businessman, who was accompanied by his mother, said his family has always valued education and celebrated excellence. “We have our own business and instead of running after brands, we choose to support those who have potential. My brother and I have been toppers of Delhi Univeristy’s Sri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC). Prior to this, we have offered electric wheelchairs to the differently abled students in SRCC and also financed the coaching of an IAS aspirant,” said Gandhi.

Social welfare minister Rajendra Pal Gautam also pledged to pay for the tuition fees of 20-year-old Shashi who got admission in Lady Hardinge College after availing the free coaching scheme of the Delhi government.

Buoyed by the success of its ‘Jai Bhim Mukhyamantri Pratibha Vikas Yojana’, the AAP government had earlier decided to extend it to needy students from general category and other backward classes. Thirty-five underprivileged students, who got free coaching under the scheme, had cracked the JEE Main and NEET examination this year.

Five of them secured admissions to leading technical and medical institutions such as Lady Hardinge College, IIT-Delhi, Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology, National Institute of Technology Delhi and Banaras Hindu University.

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