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Chhattisgarh

Modi appeals to left-wing extremists to shun violence, join mainstream

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday made an emotional appeal to left-wing extremists to shun the path of violence and join the mainstream of development.

 
Violence does not have any future, peace does: Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today made an emotional appeal to left-wing extremists to shun the path of violence and join the mainstream of development.
 
Addressing a large public meeting at Dantewada in Chhattisgarh, one of the hotbeds of Naxalism in the country, Mr Modi urged all misguided youth to cast aside their weapons and spend a few days with children who have lost their parents to incidents of left-wing extremism.
 
He said those children would inspire such youth to lay down arms forever. "The shoulders of youth should now bear ploughs, rather than guns," he said.
 
Mr Modi, who had an extensive interaction with children of Dantewada earlier in the day, said that those children had both the dreams and the confidence to achieve them. He said those children and the state of Chhattisgarh needed an atmosphere of peace for their dreams to be realized. 
 
Mr Modi pointed out that Punjab had successfully overcome violence, and expressed confidence that Chhattisgarh too would be able to overcome left-wing extremism.
 
He said Chhattisgarh had the potential to emerge as one of the most developed states in India. He added that the investment of Rs. 24,000 crore that would flow into the region, as a result of the memoranda of understanding (MoUs) signed at Dantewada today in his presence for projects in the railways and steel sectors, would bring about a big change in the lives of people. 
 
The Prime Minister said that employment for youth was the first and foremost requirement of all parts of India, and his Government was working to achieve that goal. He said India had successfully left behind its past of corruption and slow pace of development. He said the whole world had now recognized India to be one of the fastest growing economies. 
 
The Prime Minister, who had visited the Livelihood College before arriving for the public meeting, appreciated the initiatives for skill development being taken by the Government of Chhattisgarh. 
 
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh and Union Ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Vishnudeo Sai were amongst those present on the occasion. 
 
The MoUs signed today in the presence of Mr Modi include one between the government of Chhattisgarh, NMDC, IRCON and SAIL for a 140 km rail line between Rowghat and Jagdalpur at an estimated project cost of Rs 2000 crore.
 
An MoU was signed between the Ministry of Steel, government of Chhattisgarh, SAIL and NMDC fo a 3 million ton Ultra Mega Steel Plant with an investment of approximately Rs. 18,000 crore. 
 
The third MoU was signed between the Chhattisgarh government and NMDC for a slurry pipeline and a 2 MTPA pellet plant at Nagarnar in Bastar district with an investment of Rs 4000 crore.
 
The fourth MoU was signed between the Chhattisgarh government and SAIL for setting up a 1 MTPA pellet plant at Dalli-Rajhara, Balod district with an investment of Rs. 826 crore. 
 
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Earlier, at his interaction with students at Education City at Jawanga n Dantewada, Mr Modi called for development of the innate sporting talent that exists among the tribal youth. 
 
He said tribal youth could excel in the global sports arena. He added that sports was important for children, because it led to the development of sportsman spirit in society. 
 
Responding to questions from students, the Prime Minister said life should not be measured on a scale of success or failure. Talking about his own experiences, he said he had faced failure often in life. However he added that one could learn more from failure, than from success. He said one should be clear about one's goals, and have a firm resolve, in order to achieve success. 
 
The Prime Minister also visited 'Saksham' - a school for specially-abled children - and interacted with students there. 
 
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Chhattisgarh CM likely to be announced on Saturday

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The Congress is likely to announce the Chief Minister for Chhattisgarh on Saturday with the contenders to the post -- state party chief Bhupesh Baghel and Ambikarpur MLA T. S. Singh Deo -- meeting party President Rahul Gandhi in the national capital on Friday.
 
"We had a meeting with Gandhi over the issue and a decision on who will be the Chief Minister will be taken on Saturday," Deo told IANS after the meeting.
 
The meeting of the Chhattisgarh leaders with Gandhi at his residence followed that of Ashok Gehlot who has been named as the new Rajasthan Chief Minister and Sachin Pilot who has been named his deputy.
 
With multiple claimants to the Chief Minister's post in all the three states, there have been tussles between the rival camps, with each of them strongly staking their claims for the post. 
 
There was high drama both in case of selecting Kamal Nath and Gehlot as the respective Chief Ministers.
 
IANS
 

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Scindia, Gehlot, Pilot meet Rahul ahead of CM decision

Hectic parleys were on at Congress President Rahul Gandhi's residence on Thursday to choose the chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan where the party dislodged the BJP from power in the Assembly elections.

Rahul Gandhi.
Rahul Gandhi
Hectic parleys were on at Congress President Rahul Gandhi's residence on Thursday to choose the chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan where the party dislodged the BJP from power in the Assembly elections.
 
UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and her daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were also present during the consultations when party leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, who is a contender for the Chief Minister post in Madhya Pradesh, met Rahul Gandhi.
 
Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot, who are aspirants in Rajasthan, also met Rahul Gandhi.
 
Gehlot and Pilot reached Gandhi's residence one after the other to apprise the party chief of their views. Central party observer for Rajasthan K.C. Venugopal also met Gandhi. 
 
The meetings came a day after newly-elected Congress MLAs in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh passed unanimous resolutions authorising Rahul Gandhi to take a decision on who will lead the legislature party in the these states.
 
Scindia and Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Kamal Nath are contenders for the post of Chief Minister in Madhya Pradesh.
 
The Congress, which fell two short of the majority mark in the 230-member Madhya Pradesh Assembly, has staked claim to form the government with the support of Independents 
(Congress rebels), Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party MLAs. 
 
In Rajasthan the party got 99 seats and crossed the halfway mark with its ally Rashtriya Lok Dal in the 200-member Assembly
 
The Congress has registered a landslide victory in Chhattisgarh.
 
IANS
 

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Rahul to announce MP, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan CM names

Amid intense negotiations, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said that he will soon announce the names of Chief Ministers for Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

Rahul Gandhi.
Rahul Gandhi
Amid intense negotiations, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said that he will soon announce the names of Chief Ministers for Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
 
"We are taking inputs from different people in the party -- from party workers, MLAs... 
 
"We are getting a comprehensive answer to what the Congress party and others feel... of course you have to see a Chief Minister soon," he told reporters outside Parliament, as he left for his party office to meet Rajasthan contenders Sachin Pilot and former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who reached New Delhi earlier in the day. 
 
In Madhya Pradesh, state Congress chief and veteran MP Kamal Nath and Jyotiradhitya Scindia are the two contenders for the hief Ministerial post, while Bhupesh Baghel has emerged as the front-runner in the race in Chhattisgarh, where the Congress won a landslide victory.
 
On Wednesday, Gandhi through an audio message, congratulated the party workers for the victory in the assembly elections in the three states and urged them to reveal their choice of Chief Minister.
 
"I want to ask you an important question: Who should be the chief minister? Please mention just one name. I'm the only person who would know whom you are naming. No one in the party will know. Please speak after the beep," he was heard saying. 
 
IANS
 

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Rahul to decide on Chhattisgarh chief minister

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Like in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, Congress President Rahul Gandhi will decide on the Chief Minister's name in Chhattisgarh after a meeting of the newly-elected Congress MLAs.
 
Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who is the Congress observer for the meeting of the newly-elected legislators, told reporters shortly after his arrival here that the there is a procedure which the party always follows for such elections. 
 
"We have to consult the MLAs, seek their consensus and then only a decision will be taken."
 
The meeting is likely to authorise Gandhi to take the final call. 
 
Asked about the possibility of state unit chief Bhupesh Baghel being made the chief minister, Kharge said: "Don't ask about single names. We have a procedure."
 
To another query about reports of confusion on the issue because of presence of four contenders, he said, "No confusion. Our people are united, solid. They know each other, they understand each other. So this problem will not arise."
 
In Chhattisgarh the Congress scored a landslide victory decimating the ruling BJP by winning 68 seats in the 90-member assembly.
 
IANS
 

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Eight of 13 BJP Ministers lose seats in Chhattisgarh polls

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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s rout in the Chhattisgarh Assembly elections took the scalps of several party heavy weights, including eight ministers, while Chief Minister Raman Singh won by a narrow margin.
 
The eight ministers who lost their seats are Amar Agarwal, Prem Prakash Pandey, Kedarnath Kashyap, Rajesh Moonat, Ramsewak Paikra, Dayaldas Baghel, Bhaiyalal Rajwad and Mahesh Gagda.
 
Home Minister Ramsewak Paikra in Raman Singh-led government, which faced defeat in the state where the BJP was in power for the last 15 years, lost Pratappur seat to Congress' Premsai Singh Tekam. 
 
Culture and Tourism Minister Dayaldas Baghel lost Navagarh seat to his nearest Congress rival Gurudayal Singh Banjare.
 
Commercial Tax and Urban Development Minister Amar Agarwal faced defeat at the hands of Congress's Shailesh Pandey in Bilashpur constituency, while Higher Education Minister Prem Prakash Pandey lost Bhilai Nagar seat to Congress' Devendra Yadav.
 
Tribal and Scheduled caste Minister Kedarnath Kashyap lost Narayanpur seat to his Congress rival Chandan Kashyap, who bagged 58,652 votes and secured victory with a margin of 2,647 votes, while Public Works Department Minister Rajesh Moonat was defeated in Raipur West seat by Congress's Vikash Upadhyay.
 
Labour and Sport Minister Bhaiyalal Rajwade lost Baikunthpur seat to his Congress rival Ambika Singh Deo, while Forest and Law Minister Mahesh Gagda was defeated in Bijapur seat by Congress' Vikram Mandavi. 
 
The BJP, however, had denied ticket to Women and Child Development Minister Ramsheela Sahu. Ajay Chandrakar, Brijmohan Agarwal and Punnulal Mohle won from their respective seats. 
 
Counting of votes in the elections to the 90-member Assembly began at 8 a.m on Tuesday decided the fate of 1,269 candidates, including that of Chief Minister Raman Singh, who sent his resignation to the Governor before the final results were declared.
 
Around 76.35 per cent turnout was recorded in the two-phase polls held on November 12 and 20. It was a little less than the previous 2013 polls when 77.40 per cent of voters had exercised their franchise.
 
In the last Chhattisgarh Assembly election, the BJP had won 49 and Congress 39, while one seat each was bagged by the BSP and an Independent.
 
IANS
 

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Raman Singh resigns as Chhattisgarh CM

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Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh resigned on Tuesday taking moral responsibility for the BJP's stunning defeat in Assembly elections.
 
He told the media that he had sent his resignation to the Governor.
 
"I take moral responsibility for the defeat," Raman Singh, who was Chief Minister for 15 years, said as it became clear that the Congress was headed for a thumping victory in the 90-member Assembly.
 
He said he would continue to serve the state while in the opposition ranks.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 

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Congress may be heading for landslide win in Chhattisgarh

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The Congress appeared to be heading for a landslide victory on Tuesday in Chhattisgarh, dealing a major blow to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Election Commission officials said.
 
After the first round of voting, Congress candidates were ahead of their rivals in 61 of the 90 seats in the battle for an Assembly where the half-way mark is 46.
 
BJP candidates were ahead in 21 constituencies. While Chief Minister Raman Singh managed to reverse the trend after initially trailing to the Congress, all his cabinet Ministers were way behind their rivals.
 
The alliance of Janta Congress Chhattisgarh of former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi and the Bahujan Samaj Party were leading in seven constituencies.
 
In the outgoing Assembly, the BJP had 49 members and the Congress 39. The BJP has ruled Chhattisgarh since 2003.
 
IANS
 

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Delhi HC upholds trial court convictions in 1984 anti-Sikh riots

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The Delhi High Court on Wednesday upheld a trial court conviction of 89 people for rioting, burning houses and breaching curfew in Trilokpuri area in east Delhi during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
 
Justice R. K. Gauba dismissed the appeals of the convicts who had challenged a 1996 judgment of a Sessions Court which had convicted the 89 arrested on November 2, 1984.
 
According to the FIR lodged in connection with the Trilokpuri killings, 95 people died in the rioting and 100 houses were burnt, said senior advocate H. S. Phoolka, who has been representing the riot victims.
 
The 1984 riots followed the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by two of her Sikh bodyguards. Hundreds of innocent Sikhs were killed, mainly in Delhi.
 
Among the 89 convicts, some died during their appeals and the case against them has abated, police had earlier said.
 
Convicting all the 89 for various offences including rioting, the trial court sentenced them to five years in jail.
 
IANS

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Around 72% turn out in Chhattisgarh phase-II polls

 
72% voter turnout in 2nd phase of Chhattisgarh assembly polls
As many as 71.93 per cent of the electorate cast their votes in the second and final phase of Chhattisgarh Assembly elections on Tuesday, taking the overall turnout in the two phases to 74.17 per cent so far.
 
Amid allegations of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) tampering and malfunctioning in several areas, the Election Commission (EC) said over 71.93 per cent turnout was recorded till 6 p.m.
 
The final figures in the state, where polling in the second phase covered 72 seats spread across 19 districts, are likely to go up as the data was still being collated, the EC said.
 
In 2013, the total voter turnout was recorded at 77.42 per cent. This time around, the figure stands at 74.17 per cent so far. 
 
The first phase of election in 18 constituencies across eight Maoist-affected districts of the state took place on November 12 and saw 76.28 per cent voting. 
 
As per EC officials, "very few" EVMs (electronic voting machines) and VVPATs (voter verifiable paper audit trail) had to be replaced during the entire voting process. 
 
Officials said only 0.44 per cent of ballot units, 0.46 per cent of control units and 1.86 per cent of VVPATs, had to be replaced.
 
EVM malfunctioning was reported from several booths across Dhamtari, Jashpur, Raipur, Ambikapur, Khallari, Raigarh Patan, Sihawa and Korba, with the Congress accusing the state's ruling BJP of "electoral malpractices" and "attempting to disrupt" the poll process. 
 
A Congress delegation led by P.L. Punia met the EC officials in the national capital over the alleged "attempts to misuse and tamper with EVMs in Chhattisgarh".
 
Punia said the BJP, "wary of losing the polls, was trying to influence the poll process through malpractices". 
 
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The Congress also demanded suspension and arrest of BJP candidate Siddhnath Paikra in Samri seat of Balrampur district for "distributing money" to voters. 
 
"Is malfunctioning of EVMs a mere coincidence or a conspiracy to vitiate the poll process," asked state Congress chief Bhupesh Baghel in the state capital Raipur. 
 
The EC rejected the allegations of widespread malfunctioning of the voting machines and asserted that faulty EVMs were promptly replaced without any disruption to the voting process. 
 
Regarding the seizure of EVMs from the possession of a poll official named Ved Prakash Mishra in the Korea district, the EC officials said that it was a "reserve EVM" and no vote had been recorded on that machine.
 
The state, carved out of Madhya Pradesh in 2000, for the first time witnessed a three-way contest with the ruling BJP fighting it out with the opposition Congress and the Ajit Jogi-Mayawati-led alliance emerging as a formidable third front. 
 
A total of 1,079 candidates were in the fray, with both the Congress and the BJP contesting all the 72 seats. 
 
The Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is contesting on 25 seats and its ally and former Chief Minister Jogi's Janta Congress Chhattisgarh (J) in 46 seats. 
 
The Aam Aadmi Party has fielded candidates in 66 constituencies in the state where the BJP is in power since 2003. 
 
An electorate of over 1.5 crore, including over 77 lakh male and over 76 lakh female voters, were eligible to vote. 
 
Among the prominent faces in the fray in the second phase for the Congress were Baghel (Patan), Leader of Opposition in the Assembly T.S. Singh Deo (Ambikapur) and former Union Minister Charandas Mahant (Shakti).
 
For the BJP, the list included state Ministers Brijmohan Agrawal (Raipur City South), Rajesh Munat (Raipur City West), Amar Agrawal (Bilaspur), and Prem Prakash Pandey (Bhilai Nagar).
 
For the alliance, Jogi is contesting from Marwahi, his wife Renu Jogi from Kota, and his daughter-in-law Richa Jogi, a BSP nominee, from the Akaltara seat.
 
Elaborate security arrangements, including deployment of helicopters and drones, were put in place for the balloting which took place at over 19,000 polling stations. 
 
Extra security was put in place in Maoist-affected Gariaband, Dhamtari, Mahasamund, Kabirdham, Jashpur and Balrampur districts.
 
The results will be declared on December 11.
 
IANS
 

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Voting ends for final phase of Chhattisgarh Assembly polls

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Polling for the second and final phase of Chhattisgarh Assembly elections entailing 72 constituencies spread across 19 districts ended on Tuesday, with over 60 per cent of the over 1.5 crore electorate exercising their franchise.
 
According to the Election Commission, over 60 per cent turnout was recorded at the official closure of voting at 5 p.m. However, the figure is likely to go up with people still standing in queues in many booths.
 
The first phase of election in 18 constituencies across eight Maoist-affected districts of the state took place on November 12 and saw 76.28 per cent voting.
 
The results will be declared on December 11.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 

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Polling begins for last phase of Chhattisgarh Assembly elections

 
Chhattisgarh: 2nd phase of polling begins
Amid tight security, polling began at 8 a.m. for the second and concluding phase on Tuesday for 72 seats spread across 19 districts to elect a new Chhattisgarh Assembly, officials said.
 
A total of 1,079 candidates are in the fray, and both Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are contesting all the 72 seats. The Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is in the fray for 25 seats and its ally and former Chief Minister Jogi's Janta Congress Chhattisgarh (J) is vying in 46 seats. 
 
The Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has fielded candidates in 66 constituencies.
 
An electorate of over 1.5 crore, including over 77 lakh male and over 76 lakh female voters, are eligible to exercise their franchise. There are nearly 1,000 voters from the third gender.
 
The BJP is in power in the state since 2003.
 
IANS
 

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Second and final phase of Chhattisgarh Assembly polls on Tuesday

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A three-way contest is in the offing as Chhattisgarh goes for the second and concluding phase of Assembly polls on Tuesday for 72 seats spread across 19 districts, with the ruling BJP wrestling it out with the opposition Congress and the Ajit Jogi-Mayawati-led alliance emerging as a formidable third front.
 
A total of 1,079 candidates are in the fray, and both Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are contesting all the 72 seats. The Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is in the fray for 25 seats and its ally and former Chief Minister Jogi's Janta Congress Chhattisgarh (J) is contesting 46 seats. 
 
The Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has fielded candidates in 66 constituencies.
 
Polling will be held from 8 a.m to 5 p.m in all 72 seats where an electorate of over 1.5 crore, including over 77 lakh male and over 76 lakh female voters are eligible to exercise their franchise. There are nearly 1,000 voters from the third gender.
 
Elaborate security arrangements including use of helicopters and drone have been put in place for the polls to take place at over 19,000 polling booths and over a lakh security personnel have been deployed.
 
For the Maoist-affected Gariaband, Dhamtari, Mahasamund, Kabirdham, Jashpur and Balrampur districts, extra security arrangements have been made.
 
Carved out of Madhya Pradesh in 2000, the state, where the BJP is in power since 2003, is witnessing a three-way poll battle for the first time.
 
Jogi -- who ruled the state for the first three years as a Congress Chief Minister, later floated his own outfit and aligned with the BSP and the CPI -- is perceived to impact the poll battle where the vote share difference between the BJP and the Congress was less than one per cent in 2013.
 
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In 2013, the BJP with 41.04 per cent vote share had won 49 seats while the Congress won 38 seats with a vote share of 40.29 per cent in the 90-member Assembly.
 
Among the prominent faces in fray in the last phase are state Congress chief Bhupesh Baghel (Patan), Leader of Opposition in the Assembly T. S. Singh Deo (Ambikapur) and former Union Minister Charandas Mahant (Shakti). 
 
For the BJP, the list includes state ministers Brijmohan Agrawal (Raipur City South), Rajesh Munat (Raipur City West), Amar Agrawal (Bilaspur), Prem Prakash Pandey (Bhilai Nagar), Dayaldas Baghel (Nawagarh) and state party president Dharamlal Kaushik (Bilha). 
 
For the alliance, Jogi is in the fray from Marwahi, his wife Renu Jogi is contesting from Kota, while his daughter-in-law Richa Jogi is a BSP nominee from the Akaltara seat.
 
The high-decibel poll campaign which ended on Sunday, saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP President Amit Shah, Chief Minister Raman Singh and his Uttar Pradesh counterpart Yogi Adityanath raising the pitch for the party.
 
For the Congress, which looking to unseat the BJP, President Rahul Gandhi led from the front targeting Modi and the Raman Singh government over corruption and agrarian distress. 
 
Besides flaying Modi for demonetisation, Gandhi also dared the Prime Minister to speak up over the Rafale deal which the Congress calls to be India's "biggest defence scam". 
 
The BJP's campaign centered around attacking the Congress over dynasty politics, with the Nehru-Gandhi family being the focal point of both Modi and Shah's attack. 
 
The first phase of election in 18 constituencies across eight Maoist-affected districts of the state took place on November 12 and saw a 76.28 per cent voting despite the rebels threatening people to stay away from the poll process. 
 
The results will be declared on December 11.
 
IANS
 

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Campaigning concludes for second phase of Chhattisgarh polls

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Campaigning for the second and final phase of the Assembly polls in Chhattisgarh concluded on Sunday, with political bigwigs including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Raman Singh and Congress President Rahul Gandhi raising the heat in the state where the BJP has been in power since 2003.
 
A total of 1,079 candidates are in the fray for the 72 seats spread across 19 districts in the second phase.
 
Addressing a rally in Mahasamund, Modi ridiculed the erstwhile Manmohan Singh-led UPA regime as a "remote-controlled government", and said that Raman Singh's BJP government, ruling the state since 2003, could do real work only after the BJP took power at the Centre in 2014. 
 
Besides Modi, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh addressed public rallies at Lailunga, Dharamjaigarh and Takhtpur. Chief Minister Raman Singh addressed public meetings at six places.
 
The state is for the first time witnessing a three-way electoral contest with arch-rivals Congress and the BJP battling it out, with the alliance of Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi's Janta Congress Chhattisgarh potentially turning out to be the third force.
 
The BSP is contesting for 25 seats and its ally the Janta Congress Chhattisgarh for 46 seats. 
 
The Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has fielded candidates in 66 constituencies.
 
The first phase of the election in 18 constituencies across eight Maoist-infested districts of the state took place on November 12 and saw 76.28 per cent voting despite Maoists threatening people to stay away from the poll process. 
 
The BJP, seeking a fourth straight term in power, has 49 seats in the outgoing Assembly, the Congress 38 and the BSP one in the 90-member Assembly.
 
IANS
 

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Modi says Congress looted India, asks Chhattisgarh to vote for BJP

 
People know how Sitaram Kesri was ill-treated by Congress: Modi
Accusing the Congress of hindering Chhattisgarh's development and defrauding India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday urged the people to vote the BJP to power for a fourth straight term in the state.
 
Addressing an election rally here on the last day of campaigning for the second phase of Assembly polls, Modi attacked the Congress for "lying, misleading and defrauding" the country for 50 years and "destroying" four generations of people through their misrule. 
 
In his nearly 45-minute speech, Modi dedicated most of his time for attacking the Congress and the Nehru-Gandhi family and elaborated how his government, since 2014, has ushered in all-round development across the country. 
 
Hitting out at the Congress over dynasty politics, Modi accused the Nehru-Gandhi family of not allowing Dalit leader Sitaram Kesri to complete his term as party chief and "threw him out on the footpath" to make way for Sonia Gandhi. 
 
"The country knows that Sitaram Kesri, a Dalit, was not allowed to complete his five-year-term as Congress president. He was thrown out of office and into the footpath to make way for Sonia Gandhi as the new party chief," said Modi, and again challenged the Congress to appoint a non-Gandhi as party president for five years. 
 
Without taking names, he also took pot-shots at Congress veteran P. Chidambaram, who in response to Modi challenge on Saturday, had listed the names of Congress presidents from outside the Gandhi family. 
 
"One of the family's courtiers has come out with a list (of presidents from outside the Nehru-Gandhi family) but then were they allowed to complete their terms?" he asked. 
 
He ridiculed the erstwhile Manmohan Singh-led UPA regime as a "remote controlled government", and said Raman Singh's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, ruling the state since 2003, could do real work only after the BJP took power at the Centre in 2014. 
 
"The first 10 years of the Raman Singh government were spent fighting the negative forces. The remote-controlled government in Delhi did not allow Raman Singh to work for his state. It was only after 2014 that he could work to bring in development in the state." 
 
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Comparing Chhattisgarh to an 18-year-old adult, Modi said the Assembly elections were no ordinary polls.
 
"Do you want to give an opportunity to people who ruined the lives of earlier generations of the state?" asked Modi, warning the people against voting for the Congress. The BJP, he said, was the answer for Chhattisgarh's progress.
 
Referring to Congress President Rahul Gandhi's pledge to waive farm loans if his party came to power in the state, Modi said the Congress' days of getting votes by "lying and misleading people" were over. 
 
"It has been almost a year since your party came to power in Karnataka but what happened to your promise of waiving loans of farmers?" 
 
The Prime Minister denied that his government waived Rs 3.5 lakh crore of corporate loans of a handful of industrialists. 
 
"It is them who gave out indiscriminate loans and allowed the banks to be looted. Between 2006 and 2014 they gave out loans equal to the amount that was given after independence till 2006. It is our government which dared to enact tough laws and seized billions of rupees worth of properties of the fraudsters who have absconded." 
 
Modi dared the Congress to select someone capable as party president who does not belong to the Nehru-Gandhi family. 
 
As many as 72 constituencies spread across 19 districts go to the polls in the second and final phase of Assembly elections on Tuesday. The first phase for 18 seats was held on November 12.
 
IANS
 

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In Chhattisgarh, Rahul dares Modi to speak up on Rafale, promises farm loan waiver

File photo of Rahul Gandhi
File photo of Rahul Gandhi
Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to break his silence on the Rafale "scam" and assured poll-bound Chhattisgarh of complete waiver of farm loans if his party comes to power in the state.
 
Addressing election rallies in the state, Gandhi tore into Modi and the Raman Singh-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) regime in the state over a host of issues, particularly corruption and crony capitalism.
 
Ridiculing Modi for his assertions of being the country's "chowkidar" (watchman), Gandhi said the entire country knows the "chowkidar has turned into a thief".
 
"Modi keeps on making speeches and addresses election rallies but doesn't utter even a word on Rafale. The entire country knows that you did the deal to enrich your industrialist crony. The entire nation is now saying 'chowkidar chor hai' (watchman is a thief).
 
"At least now say something about Rafale, tell the people how you stole money from Indian Air Force (IAF) and gave it to your friend," said Gandhi addressing a rally in Darima in Surguja district.
 
He charged the ruling BJP with creating two Chhattisgarhs, one of the rich and the other of the poor and exploited. He promised that farmers' loans would be completely waived within 10 days of his party coming to power in the state.
 
"Chhattisgarh was created so that its natural resources can be utilised for the welfare of the people but now we have two Chhattisgarhs -- one of the rich, of those wearing suit-boot, and the second of the masses -- poor, marginalised, farmers and workers. 
 
"We don't want two Chhattisgarhs, we want justice," said Gandhi, addressing a rally in the erstwhile princely state of Koriya.
 
Claiming that Rs 3.5 lakh crore of corporate loans were waived by the Centre, Gandhi demanded a reply from Modi as to why not even a rupee of farm loans was waived off. 
 
"I had asked Modi why he was not writing off loans given to the poor farmers, but he never bothered to reply. So from here I declare that within 10 days of coming to power in the state, we will waive off loans of each and every farmer," said Gandhi. 
 
He said the waiver of farm loans will be offset by recoveries from alleged "fraudsters" like Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi who, with the help of Modi government, allegedly defrauded banks of billions of rupees.
 
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Sharpening his attack on Modi over demonetisation and the Rafale deal, Gandhi alleged that "thieves, with the help of Modi, laundered their black money into white through demonetisation".
 
"Modi now doesn't talk about corruption because the entire nation knows that the 'chowkidar' (watchman) himself is the thief," said Gandhi, accusing the Prime Minister of "only lying before the masses". 
 
Gandhi attacked Chief Minister Raman Singh over a Rs 5,000-crore chit-fund scam and a Rs 36,000-crore scam in the public distribution system (PDS).
 
"In the PDS scam, Rs 36,000 crore was siphoned off. A diary was seized where it was written that the money was given to CM Madam and Dr. Saheb. I want to ask Singh who are these CM Madam and Dr Saheb?" 
 
The Congress leader also alleged that Chief Minister's son Abhishek has undisclosed offshore accounts as per revelations in the Panama Papers.
 
Addressing another rally in Jashpur, Gandhi alleged the "Rafale deal was done by Modi to give Rs 30,000 crore to his industrialist crony".
 
He also promised setting up of food processing units in all the blocks in the state so that farmers could easily sell their produce and get the right price, and their sons and daughters jobs in these factories.
 
He also flayed the Singh regime for unemployment, saying despite thousands of vacancies in various government departments and institutions, youth were not employed due to corruption.
 
Gandhi said the difference between the Congress and Modi was that his party always strove to fulfill its promises.
 
"Unlike Modi, who makes tall promises only, never to fulfil them, we make promises knowing we will fulfil them," he said exuding confidence that his party would come to power in the state.
 
The second phase of Chhattisgarh Assembly polls in 72 constituencies spread across 19 districts will held on November 20. 
 
The first phase of polling in 18 constituencies across eight Maoist-affected districts was held on November 12. The results will be declared on December 11.
 
IANS
 

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Will waive all Chhattisgarh farmers loans: Rahul

File photo of Rahul Gandhi
File photo of Rahul Gandhi
Charging the ruling BJP with creating two Chhattisgarhs, one of the rich and the other of the poor and exploited, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday assured farmers that their loans would be completely waived within 10 days if his party came to power after the assembly elections in the state.
 
Campaigning for the second phase of the polls here, Gandhi targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi over crony capitalism and Chief Minister Raman Singh and his family for corruption. 
 
"Chhattisgarh was created so that it natural resources can be utilised for the welfare of the people but now we have two Chhattisgarhs - one of the rich, of those wearing suit-boot and the second of the masses, poor, marginalised, farmers and workers. 
 
"We don't want two Chhattisgarhs, we want justice," said Gandhi, addressing a rally in this erstwhile princely state. 
 
Claiming that Rs 3.5 lakh crore of corporate loans were waived off by the Centre, Gandhi demanded Modi answer why not even a rupee of farm loans had been waived. 
 
"I had asked Modi why was he not writing off loans given to the poor farmers, but he never bothered to reply. So from here I declare that within 10 days of coming to power in the state, we will waive off loans of each and every farmer," said Gandhi. 
 
He said the waiver of farm loans will be offset by recoveries from alleged "fraudsters" like Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi who, with the help of the Modi government, had allegedly defrauded banks of billions of rupees.
 
Sharpening his attack on Modi over demonetisation and the Rafale deal, Gandhi alleged that "thieves, with the help of the Modi government, laundered their black money into white through demonetisation".
 
"Modi now doesn't talk about corruption because the entire nation knows that the chowkidar (watchman) himself is the thief," said Gandhi, accusing the Prime Minister of "only lying before the masses". 
 
Gandhi attacked Chief Minister Raman Singh over a Rs 5,000 crore chit fund scam and a Rs 36,000 crore scam in the public distribution system.
 
"In the PDS scam, Rs 36,000 crore was siphoned off. A diary was seized where it was written that the money was given to CM Madam and Dr. Saheb. I want to ask Singh who is this CM Madam and Dr Saheb?" 
 
The party chief also alleged that the Chief Minister's son Abhishek has undisclosed offshore accounts as per revealations in the Panama Papers.
 
The second phase of Chhattisgarh Assembly polls in 72 constituencies spread across 19 districts will held on November 20. 
 
The first phase of polling in 18 constituencies across eight Maoist-affected districts was held on November 12 . The results will be declared on December 11.
 
IANS
 

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Modi challenges Congress to appoint a non-Gandhi as its chief

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Exploiting to the hilt Congress leader Shashi Tharoor's remarks that a "Chaiwala" (tea-seller) became Prime Minister because of Jawaharlal Nehru's commitment to democracy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday attacked the Congress challenging it to appoint a non-Gandhi as party president for five years.
 
He said the Congress was not ready to credit people for this but only his dynasty.
 
"Do a little thing, if you respect democracy. If a chaiwala or Modi became the Prime Minister because of your faith in democracy, policies, role in constitution and due to Nehru, make any good Congress leader the president of your party for at least five years. Then I will accept that Nehruji had such a commitment to democracy that has led to a dedicated Congress leader becoming the president of the party," Modi told Congressmen addressing a public meeting in Chhattisgarh's Ambikapur. 
 
The Prime Minister's attack came after Tharoor while re-launching his book "Nehru: The Invention of India" on November 13, had said that a chaiwala became the Prime Minister because of Nehru's commitment to democracy and institution building that provided for a democratic framework.
 
Modi said it would be good for the country if a person outside the Nehru family became president of that party.
 
"I know it will be good when the country gets out of dynastic politics. But, they are not ready to give credit for this to the 125 crore people of this country that a chaiwala became the Prime Minister. 
 
"They do not want to give credit to BJP and Modi. This is the result of their undemocratic thinking. For this too, they want to give its credit to Nehru," he added. 
 
Attacking the Congress policy during the division of Telangana, Modi said: "Atalji (former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee) created Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. 
 
"It was a peaceful division and both the states are progressing rapidly today. But look at what the Congress did at the time of creation of Telangana." 
 
He accused the Congress of not fulfilling the majority of its promises made to the people during Digvijay Singh's tenure as Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister for two years at the time of the state's division and Ajit Jogi's three years' regime as Chhattisgarh Chief Minister. 
 
"What did the Congress governments do for the people of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh when they were in power in these states? 
 
"The work that the BJP did, didn't happen during Congress's regime. It all happened because of Modi and Raman Singh. 
 
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"Now, a home is being given in the name of a woman which was earlier given in the name of her husband and son. Now people get free LPG connection for which they earlier sought an MP or Minister's help," he said. 
 
The Prime Minister said that "four generations of Congress" ruled but they have nothing to tell the people. 
 
"Today, they are demanding our four years' report card. We are everyday giving a report card of what we have done in the last four years. 
 
"Congress nationalised the banks in the name of poor but what is the reason that the poor did not have any access to banks? What is the reason that the poor did not have even a bank account? When we came to power, we empowered the poor, opened their bank accounts," Modi said. 
 
He said that the BJP is the only party which does not discriminate in the name of caste. "Government's motto is welfare of all, not a select few. Our mantra is 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' and we are committed that fruits of development reach every citizen."
 
Thanking the people of Bastar region for turning out in large numbers to cast their votes during the first phase of the Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh that concluded on November 12, Modi appealed to them to break that record by voting in maximum numbers in the second phase of the polls on November 20.
 
"By voting in first phase polls, the people gave a befitting reply to those who spread fear among them showing gun and exploding bombs and attempt to strangle democracy," he said. 
 
IANS
 

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Over 70% vote in Chhattisgarh's red corridor

 
First phase of polling ends in Chhattisgarh Assembly elections
Defying Maoist threats, over 70 per cent voted on Monday in 18 Maoist-affected Assembly constituencies of Chhattisgarh in the first phase, marking the start of five state elections dubbed the 'semi-final' before the Lok Sabha battle next year.
 
The Election Commission said the final figure would be higher as data was still being collated.
 
"Over 70 per cent voters cast their vote... The final figure may touch the last election's figure of 75 per cent as data is still being obtained," Senior Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha told the media here.
 
The Maoists, who had warned citizens against taking part in the poll process, detonated an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in Katekalyan in Dantewada district, minutes before the voting began, narrowly missing a foot patrol of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
 
In a later gun battle with the rebels, two CRPF personnel were injured in Pamed in Bijapur district. Security personnel also found IEDs near a polling station in Bijapur and in Sukma district. 
 
The militants have carried out multiple attacks in the last few weeks, killing several people including a BSF officer and a journalist. 
 
The constituencies which went to the polls on Monday were Narayanpur, Dantewada, Bijapur, Konta, Mohla-Manpur, Antagarh, Bhanupratappur, Kanker, Keshkal, Kondagaon, Khairagarh, Dongargarh, Rajnandgaon, Dongargaon, Khujji, Bastar, Jagdalpur and Chitrakot.
 
The BJP had lost 12 of these 18 seats in 2013. 
 
The prominent faces in the first phase include Chief Minister Raman Singh, pitted against Congress' Karuna Shukla in his home turf Rajnandgaon. 
 
Shukla, a niece of late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, switched to Congress from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2014. 
 
Polling in 10 constituencies -- Narayanpur, Dantewada, Bijapur, Konta, Mohla-Manpur, Antagarh, Bhanupratappur, Kanker, Keshkal and Kondagaon -- started at 7 a.m. and ended at 3 p.m. 
 
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Voting in Khairagarh, Dongargarh, Rajnandgaon, Dongargaon, Khujji, Bastar, Jagdalpur and Chitrakot started an hour later and ended at 5 p.m.
 
Amid the polling, Prime Minister Narendra Modi kickstarted the campaign for the second phase of voting in Chhattisgarh by addressing an election rally in Bilaspur. 
 
The Congress has promised farm loan waiver, minimum support price for crops as per the Swaminathan Commission recommendations and special women police stations. 
 
Hoping to retain the state for a fourth straight term, the BJP has promised to give Rs 2 lakh interest-free loans to women to start business; distribute free books and uniforms to students till Class 12; form a journalist welfare board and to build a Film City in the state.
 
Also contesting is Mayawati's BSP, which has aligned with the Chhattisgarh Janata Congress of former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi and the Communist Party of India.
 
Twelve of the 18 seats are reserved for Scheduled Tribes (STs) and one is reserved for Scheduled Castes (SC) category.
 
The second and final phase of polling in Chhattisgarh will be held on November 20. The vote count will take place on December 11.
 
In 2013, the Congress won 39 seats garnering 40.3 per cent of the vote share while the BJP won 49 seats with a 41.04 per cent vote share. 
 
IANS
 

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Defying Maoists, 65% vote in Chhattisgarh first phase polls

 
First phase of polling held in Chhattisgarh Assembly elections
Amid sporadic violence by Maoists, nearly 65 per cent of the electorate voted on Monday till 3 p.m. in 18 constituencies in the first first phase of Assembly polls in Chhattisgarh that marks the start of five-state elections widely seen as a 'semi-final' ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha battle.
 
According to the Election Commission, over 20 lakh of the 31 lakh electorate had voted across eight insurgency-hit districts. Polling in 10 constituencies in the Maoist hub in Bastar ended at 3 p.m. and in the rest at 5 p.m.
 
The highest turnout was recorded in Mohalla-Manpur in Rajnandgaon district at 67 per cent followed by 62 per cent in Kanker in Kanker district.
 
Maoists detonated an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in Katekalyan in Dantewada district, minutes before the polling began, narrowly missing a foot patrol of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
 
In a later gun battle with the rebels, two CRPF personnel were injured in Pamed in Bijapur district. 
 
Security personnel also recovered IEDs planted by Maoists near a polling station in Bijapur and in Sukma district. 
 
The rebels have given a poll boycott call and have carried out multiple attacks in the last few weeks, killing several people including a BSF officer and a journalist. 
 
As the voting progressed, the Congress alleged "rampant" rigging of EVMs in Bastar area but the poll panel rejected the charge. 
 
The poll panel rejected the charges saying "certain sources were spreading rumours of EVM malfunctioning and rigging". The panel said it promptly replaced over three dozen EVMs and 61 VVPAT machines due to technical snags. 
 
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has ruled Chhattisgarh for the past 15 years.
 
Over 31 lakh voters, including over 15 lakh men and in excess of 16 lakh women, were eligible to exercise their franchise in 4,336 polling booths on Monday with 190 candidates in the fray.
 
The constituencies which went to the polls were Narayanpur, Dantewada, Bijapur, Konta, Mohla-Manpur, Antagarh, Bhanupratappur, Kanker, Keshkal, Kondagaon, Khairagarh, Dongargarh, Rajnandgaon, Dongargaon, Khujji, Bastar, Jagdalpur and Chitrakot.
 
The BJP lost 12 of these 18 seats in 2013. 
 
Amid the polling for the first phase, Prime Minister Narendra Modi kickstarted the campaign for the second phase by addressing an election rally in Bilaspur. 
 
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The prominent faces in the first phase include Chief Minister Raman Singh, pitted against Congress' Karuna Shukla in his home turf Rajnandgaon. Shukla, a niece of late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee switched to Congress from the BJP in 2014. 
 
The Congress has promised farm loan waiver, minimum support price for crops as per the Swaminathan Commission recommendations and special women police stations. 
 
Hoping to retain the state for a fourth straight term, the BJP has promised to give Rs 2 lakh interest-free loans to women to start business; distribute free books and uniforms to students till Class 12; form a journalist welfare board and to build a Film City in the state.
 
Also contesting is Mayawati's BSP which has aligned with the Chhattisgarh Janata Congress of former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi and the Communist Party of India.
 
Twelve of the 18 seats are reserved for Scheduled Tribes (STs) and one is reserved for Scheduled Castes (SC) category.
 
The second and final phase of polling in Chhattisgarh will be held on November 20. The vote count will take place on December 11.
 
In 2013, the Congress won 39 seats garnering 40.3 per cent of the vote share while the BJP won 49 seats with a 41.04 per cent vote share. 
 
Pundits are viewing this round of Assembly polls across the five states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Mizoram and Telangana as a 'semi-final' before the country plunges into the Lok Sabha battle.
 
IANS
 

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CRPF team narrowly escapes Chhattisgarh blast

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Minutes before the first phase of the Chhattisgarh Assembly polls began on Monday, Maoists detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) here that narrowly missed a CRPF foot patrol, the authorities said.
 
The IED went off just 700 metres from polling booth number 183 in Nayanar village in Katekalyan area, a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officer said.
 
The attack happened around 6.20 a.m., just 40 minutes before the voting process began here along with nine other seats in the Maoist-infested region. 
 
"There was no injury or loss to the polling team. Voting started as per schedule," said the officer.
 
It was the fifth Maoist attack in 17 days in the Left-wing extremism (LWE) affected state, police said, adding that the attacks were part of an attempt to disrupt elections to the 90-member Chhattisgarh Assembly.
 
Amid tight security, voting at 10 of the 18 seats scheduled for the first phase began at 7 a.m. These were Narayanpur, Dantewada, Bijapur, Konta, Mohla-Manpur, Antagarh, Bhanupratappur, Kanker, Keshkal and Kondagaon. It would end at 3 p.m. 
 
Polling in the remaining eight seats which began at 8 a.m. would continue till 5 p.m. All 18 constituencies are known Maoist-hubs.
 
Maoists on Sunday detonated an IED, killing a Border Security Force Assistant Sub-Inspector in Kanker district when the troopers were on foot patrol.
 
The Left-wing extremists have asked people to boycott the elections.
 
On November 8, a Central Industrial Security Force head constable and four civilians were killed when the insurgents blew up a mini bus they were returning in after buying vegetables and groceries here.
 
Doordarshan cameraman and three Chhattisgarh Police personnel were killed in a Maoist ambush here on October 30. 
 
On October 27, the Maoists fired on a CRPF contingent in Bijapur killing four troopers.
 
IANS

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First phase of polling underway in Chhattisgarh

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Polling in eight constituencies began at 8 a.m. on Monday and it was underway from an hour earlier in 10 others in the first phase of voting to elect a new Chhattisgarh Legislative Assembly, officials said.
 
Amid tight security, voting for 10 of the 18 seats began at 7 a.m. and will end at 3 p.m. Polling in the remaining eight seats began at 8 a.m. and will continue till 5 p.m.
 
The 10 seats where voting started at 7 a.m. are Narayanpur, Dantewada, Bijapur, Konta, Mohla-Manpur, Antagarh, Bhanupratappur, Kanker, Keshkal and Kondagaon. 
 
Polling stations opened an hour later in Khairagarh, Dongargarh, Rajnandgaon, Dongargaon, Khujji, Bastar, Jagdalpur and Chitrakot.
 
All the 18 constituencies are known as Maoist hubs.
 
More than 31 lakh voters, including 15 lakh males and 16 lakh females, are eligible to exercise their franchise in 4,336 polling booths. 
 
A total of 190 candidates are in the fray including BJP veteran and Chief Minister Raman Singh, who is being challenged by Karuna Shukla, a former BJP leader and a niece of late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who joined the Congress in 2014.
 
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has ruled Chhattisgarh for the past 15 years.
 
IANS
 

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Polling begins in Chhattisgarh Assembly elections

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Amid tight security, polling began at 7 a.m. on Monday in 10 of the 18 constituencies in the first phase to elect a new Chhattisgarh Assembly, officials said.
 
The electoral exercise in these 10 constituencies will end at 3 p.m. Polling will take place in eight other places from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday.
 
The 10 seats where early voting is being held are Narayanpur, Dantewada, Bijapur, Konta, Mohla-Manpur, Antagarh, Bhanupratappur, Kanker, Keshkal and Kondagaon. 
 
Khairagarh, Dongargarh, Rajnandgaon, Dongargaon and Khujji constituencies in Rajnandgaon district and Bastar, Jagdalpur and Chitrakot in Bastar district will see polling from 8 a.m.
 
All the 18 constituencies are known as Maoist hubs.
 
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has ruled Chhattisgarh for the past 15 years.
 
IANS

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Maoists kill BSF trooper in Chhattisgarh

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BSF Assistant Sub-Inspector Mahinder Singh was killed on Sunday in Chhattisgarh's Kanker district when Maoists exploded hidden explosives when the troopers were on foot patrol, authorities said.
 
The attack came a day ahead of the first phase of Assembly polls in the state and occurred in an area which will see polling for the state Assembly on Monday. It was the fourth Maoist attack in 16 days in Chhattisgarh.
 
The slain trooper, a resident of Rajasthan, was part of a Border Security Force (BSF) team which ran into the concealed Improvised Explosive Devises (IED) near the Koyali Beda forested area.
 
"Over six IEDs exploded in one go when the BSF men reached the area. Mahinder Singh suffered critical injuries. He was flown to hospital in Raipur where doctors declared him dead," Kanket Superintendent of Police K.L. Dhruva told IANS.
 
The official said the BSF team left its base camp at Udanpur on Saturday morning in search of Maoists who have asked people to boycott Monday's election.
 
In another incident early on Sunday, a Maoist was killed in a gun battle with security forces in Bijapur district's Bedre forest area, said police. The dead Maoist was in combat dress.
 
"A team of Special Task Force (STF) was on an anti-Maoist operation when the incident took place. A rifle was recovered from the spot," a police officer said.
 
On November 8 a Central Industrial Security Force Head Constable and four civilians were killed when the Maoists blew up a mini-bus in which they were returning to their camp after buying vegetables and groceries in Dantewada district.
 
A Doordarshan cameraman and three Chhattisgarh police personnel were killed in a Maoist ambush, also in Dantewada, on October 30. On October 27, the Maoists fired on a contingent of Central Reserve Police Force in Bijapur, killing four troopers.
 
Police said the Maoist attacks were part of an attempt to disrupt elections to the 90-member Chhattisgarh Assembly. Voting will take place on November 12 and 20 and the results will be declared on December 11. 
 
Over 500 additional companies of security forces, including paramilitary, have been deployed in Chhattisgarh to boost security during elections.
 
IANS
 

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Amid Maoist attacks, Chhattisgarh readies for election

Amid threats of Maoist violence, 18 of the 90 constituencies in Chhattisgarh will go to the polls on Monday to elect a new Assembly in the first phase of a battle in which the Congress is desperate to end 15 years of BJP rule.

Amid threats of Maoist violence, 18 of the 90 constituencies in Chhattisgarh will go to the polls on Monday to elect a new Assembly in the first phase of a battle in which the Congress is desperate to end 15 years of BJP rule.
 
The election, widely seen as a 'semi-final' ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, will also see a formidable third factor in an alliance stitched by Mayawati's BSP with the Chhattisgarh Janata Congress of former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi and the CPI.
 
A total of 190 candidates are in the fray in the 18 constituencies spread over eight districts where Maoists have been active for over a quarter century.
 
Chief Minister Raman Singh is seeking a fourth consecutive term and his main opponent is BJP-turned-Congress leader Karuna Shukla, a niece of late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
 
In the high stakes battle, Shukla, a former BJP Lok Sabha member, has taken on Raman Singh on his home turf Rajnandgaon.
 
The other constituencies that will see voting are Khairagarh, Dongargarh, Dongargaon, Khujji, Mohla-Manpur, Antagarh, Bhanupratappur, Kanker, Keshkal, Kondagaon, Narayanpur, Bastar, Jagdalpur, Chitrakot, Dantewada, Bijapur and Konta.
 
Twelve of them are in the insurgency-hit Bastar region and six in Rajnandgaon district. 
 
A total of 4,336 polling booths have been set up for the first phase of the state polls. There are 31,79,520 voters, including 16,21,839 males, 15,57,592 females and 89 of the third gender.
 
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Nearly one lakh security personnel, including paramilitary forces, have been deployed across the state for the first phase. 
 
These are in addition to the existing paramilitary personnel and 200 companies of state forces engaged in anti-Maoist operations in the tribal-dominated state. 
 
Indian Air Force and BSF choppers have also been pressed into service.
 
The Maoists, who have asked people to boycott the elections, have triggered several attacks in the last few days killing several people including a BSF trooper on Sunday. 
 
The campaign which ended on Saturday witnessed Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath raising the pitch for the saffron party. 
 
Leading his party's charge, Congress President Rahul Gandhi attacked the BJP over corruption, agrarian distress and unemployment. 
 
The second phase of the Chhattisgarh elections will be held on November 20 and the votes will be counted on December 11 along with the Assembly polls of Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Rajasthan. 
 
Pundits are viewing this round of Assembly polls as a 'semi-final' before the country plunges into the 2019 Lok Sabha battle.
 
IANS

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