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‘I apologised to Supreme Court, not PM Modi. Stand by chowkidar chor hai slogan’: Rahul Gandhi

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Congress president Rahul Gandhi said on Saturday he will stand by his “Chowkidar Chor Hai” jibe as it is a reality and continue using the slogan again Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Rahul Gandhi said during a press conference in New Delhi that he apologised to the Supreme Court as he felt he had made a mistake.

“There is a process is going on in the Supreme Court and I made a comment attributed to SC so I apologised. I did not apologise to the BJP or Modi ji. ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ will remain our slogan,” he said.

As he launched another attack on the Prime Minister, he took on the issues of unemployment and agrarian crisis and criticised Modi for “insulting” India’s armed forces.

Rahul Gandhi said that it is clear that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is losing in the Lok Sabha election 2019 and is conducting a “panicky campaign”.

“More than half of the elections are over and there is clear cut feeling that Modiji is losing … Our general assessment is clearly saying that BJP is losing the elections,” Rahul Gandhi said.

“The reality is that Modiji is losing the elections and it’s visible on his face,” he said.

The main issues facing the country, he said, were unemployment and the crisis facing the farmers of the country but the Prime Minister said nothing about the concerns of the common people.

“The biggest issue right now is unemployment and the way Modi ji has destroyed the economy. The country is asking that Modi ji you promised us two crore jobs, what about that? He doesn’t speak a word on jobs or farmers as he has nothing to say,” Rahul Gandhi said.

Hitting out at the Prime Minister, Gandhi said: “Modiji’s entire strategy is to distract. We have fought four to five elections with him. We have fought against him in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. As soon as he realises that he is not going to win then he brings something new like he brought seaplane in Gujarat.”

The Congress does not politicise the army, Rahul Gandhi said, and it is not anyone’s property as Prime Minister Narendra Modi questioned the Congress’ claims that the UPA government had carried out six surgical strikes during its tenure.

“The army, air force or navy are not the personal property of Narendra Modi ji like he thinks. When he says that surgical strikes during the UPA were done in video games then he is not insulting Congress but the army,” Gandhi said.

The Congress president’s remarks come a day after the Prime Minister said during a public meeting in Rajasthan’s Sikar that the party which questioned the surgical strikes is now saying “me too, me too”.

The issue of surgical strikes has been a regular refrain in PM Modi’s electoral speeches after the IAF’s air strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammad training facility at Balakot in Pakistan following the February 14 Pulwama suicide bombing in which 40 CRPF jawans had lost their lives. He had even asked the first-time voters to dedicate their vote to Balakot.

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Sushma Swaraj congratulates PM Narendra Modi on ‘big win’ in Lok Sabha elections

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Senior BJP leader and Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj on Thursday congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi and thanked the people on the BJP’s “big victory” in the Lok Sabha polls.

Riding on a massive Modi wave sweeping through most parts of India, the BJP was set to return to power as it led in 295 seats while the Congress trailed far behind with 50, according to trends released Thursday by the Election Commission for all 542 seats that went to polls.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi — Many Congratulations for securing such a big victory for the BJP. I am thankful to the people,” Swaraj tweeted.

With its allies, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance could win 343 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha. In the last election, the NDA had 336 seats while BJP accounted for 282.

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Lok Sabha election results: 2019 is more like 1977 and 1980 than 2014 elections

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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has firmly established itself as the dominant pole of Indian politics in the 2019 general elections.

If the current trends hold , the 2019 verdict will have a close resemblance to the results of the 1977 and 1980 elections in terms of the dominance of one political party in India. Data scarped from the Election Commission of India (ECI) website shows that at 11:03 am, around 19% of the total votes had been counted in the country. The BJP is leading in 288 parliamentary constituencies (PCs) with a vote share of around 40%, nine percentage points more than what it had in 2014.

No political party in India has had such a high level of vote share after the 1984 elections, which were held in an extremely polarised environment months after the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. The Congress had a vote share of 48.1% and it won 415 PCs in the 1984 elections.

The 2019 results, if the current trends hold, will be closer to what the Janata Party and the Congress achieved in the 1977 and 1980 elections. In 1980, the Congress won 353 PCs with an all-India vote share of 42.7%. In 1977, it was the Janata Party which got 295 PCs with a vote share of 41.3%.

The 2019 verdict, or what it looks like as of now, also has some regional exceptions to the overall trend, like in 1977 and 1980. Even though the Janata Party swept the northern region of the country in 1977, the Congress performed really well in Andhra Pradesh (41 out of 42 PCs) and Karnataka (26 out of 28 PCs). Similarly in 1980, the Congress could win only 4 PCs in West Bengal despite winning the majority of seats in almost all major states.

As of now, the BJP and its partners in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) are either leading or making major advances in all major states except Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, which are voting clearly for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhgam (DMK) led alliance and YSR Congress Party respectively.

The Congress, despite adding around four percentage points to its 2019 vote share has not been able to make any significant gains in terms of seats. Also, the party has suffered major reverses in the Hindi heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh where it defeated the BJP in the 2018 assembly elections.

After the 2014 elections, when the BJP crossed the half way mark in the Lok Sabha with just 31% vote share, lack of opposition unity was seen as a key factor behind the party’s victory. With the BJP all set to cross the 40% vote share mark, the opposition will have to reinvent its chemistry with the electorate rather than just arithmetic.

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Supreme Court dismisses new petition on verifying all votes with VVPAT, says ‘let country elect its government’

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a new petition that sought matching of all voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) slips with electronic voting machines (EVMs) during the counting of votes on May 23.

Calling the petition a “nuisance”, the court said, “We won’t entertain such a plea over and over again. Can’t come in the way of people electing their representatives. Let country elect its government.”

A vacation bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra refused to entertain the plea filed by a Chennai-based organisation ‘Tech for All’ saying that a larger bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had already dealt with the matter and passed an order, news agency PTI reported.

The apex court had on May 7 dismissed a review plea filed by 21 Opposition leaders led by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu seeking that random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs be increased to 50 per cent.

The top court had on April 8 directed the Election Commission to increase random matching of VVPAT slips with EVMs from one to five polling booths per assembly segment in Lok Sabha polls, saying it would provide greater satisfaction not just to political parties but also to the entire electorate.

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