New Delhi, May 23: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday led his Bharatiya Janata Party towards a resounding victory for a second term in office, as his message of nationalism, security, Hindu pride and a New India was wholeheartedly embraced by voters across large swathes of the country.
With the elections establishing the 68-year-old Modi as the most popular leader in decades, the partial vote count released by the Election Commission showed that BJP will surpass its 2014 performance.
BJP grabbed a victory bigger than in 2014 – a 300-plus figure with which BJP reached as a single largest party.
The BJP kept its core states – the Hindi heartland, Gujarat and Maharashtra – while posting fresh victories in Bengal, Odisha and the northeast. It has also scored a huge win in Karnataka – a state the Congress rules jointly with HD Kumaraswamy.
“Together we grow. Together we prosper. Together we will build a strong and inclusive India. India wins yet again! #VijayiBharat,” PM Modi tweeted.
Modi himself was leading in Varanasi with a margin of over 4.3 lakh votes while party president Amit Shah was ahead in Gandhinagar in their home state of Gujarat by over 5.5 lakh votes.
In the end, BJP’s prediction in the final stages of campaigning of “ab ki baar 300 paar” appeared coming true, as Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s campaign slogan of “chowkidar chor hai” found no resonance among voters.
Markets cheered the trends, as the benchmark BSE Sensex touched 40,000 for the first time and NSE Nifty breached the 12,000 level. The rupee appreciated 14 paise to 69.51 against the US dollar trade.
If the trends stay until final results, the BJP and its allies in the National Democratic Alliance will likely end up with 344 seats, up from 336 in 2014. The BJP, which is now tantalisingly close to the 300 mark in Lok Sabha, had won 282 seats on its own in the last election.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi — Many Congratulations for securing such a big victory for the BJP. I am thankful to the people,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted.
The results are a ringing endorsement of Modi’s popularity, his government’s achievements in the last five years and his campaign, which centred around national security following the Balakot air strikes, nationalism and Hindutva. He also relentlessly attacked the Congress Party for what he called its dynastic legacy, and blamed it for the country’s woes, including endemic corruption.
The opposition had criticised the BJP campaign as divisive and polarising.
Still, the trend shows that the Modi wave and the party’s brilliant election management swept across geographies, caste lines, age, gender and economic status.
In the politically critical state of Uttar Pradesh, where the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party combine had posed a stiff challenge, the BJP was leading in 59 of the 80 seats at stake. The SP was ahead in six and BSP in 11. Although the BJP had won 71 seats in the last elections, the performance is much better than what many exit polls had forecast.
The BJP state headquarters in Lucknow was drenched in saffron hue with jubilant party workers wearing saffron stoles, adorning ‘genda’ flowers around their necks and holding lotus cut outs. They also burst crackers and danced to drum beats as women supporters wore saffron attire and painted their nails in the same hue.
In a stark contrast, Congress, BSP and SP offices wore a forlorn look. Under the scorching sun, even shop owners selling campaign material outside the SP office sat in stunned silence as those gathered around the tea kiosks talked in hushed tones
The Congress Party was ahead only in one seat in Uttar Pradesh. Even, Gandhi was trailing BJP’s Smriti Irani in Amethi by nearly 20,000 votes but was clearly ahead in Wayanad in Kerala with a lead of more than 8.3 lakh votes.
“Congress party is feeling dejected and the trends are not in line with the expectations of the party. I would not jump to the results till complete counting has taken place,” Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill told reporters.
“If they (trends) hold, then Congress needs to introspect as to why its campaign failed to resonate with the people of the country,” he said.
The Modi wave not only swept through the Hindi heartland and Gujarat, as was expected, but also rippled through West Bengal, Odisha, Maharashtra and Karnataka. Only Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh appeared untouched. Even in Telangana, where it was expected to fare poorly, the BJP was ahead in four seats, the same as the Telangana Rashtra Samiti.
However, Andhra Pradesh threw up a shock in the Assembly polls, which were held simultaneously, voting out of power the Telugu Desam Party of Chandrababu Naidu, and electing Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress.
The Lok Sabha trends were staggering for BJP in the Hindi-speaking states, including those where Congress had won in the recent Assembly elections: in Madhya Pradesh, BJP was ahead in 28 out of 29 seats with a vote percentage of nearly 60; in Rajasthan it was leading in all but one of 25 seats; similarly in Chattisgarh, BJP was ahead in nine compared to Congress’ 2 seats.
Haryana also is expected to send nine BJP MPs out of 10.
“The people on the ground are not buying the narrative of the opposition that people are under threat. People are doing well that they are looking forward to the next government of Narendra Modi. We have to realise that Modi’s government inherited very weak economy and he done very phenomenal job (in the last five year),” BJP’s Amit Malviya said.
In Odisha, the BJP made huge gains, forging ahead in six of the 21 seats while the Biju Janata Dal was ahead in 15. In 2014, the BJD had won 20 seats and BJP took one. Odisha also held simultaneous Assembly polls, in which the BJD is set to return to power, indicating that the voters chose smartly, opting for the status quo in both state and centre.
BJP and its ally Janata Dal (United) were ahead in 16 seats each in Bihar out of 40 at stake.
The Trinamool Congress Party was leading in 22 of 42 seats of West Bengal while BJP was ahead in 19, up from two it held in 2014. The Left was wiped out in the state, once its citadel.
The DMK was ahead in 20 seats in Tamil Nadu while the AIADMK was leading in only two. In Kerala, the Congress-led UDF was ahead in 18 out of 20 seats.
As the trends came in, pointing to another tenure of Modi as prime minister, celebrations broke out in the BJP’s party offices across the country with people dancing to the sounds of drums and distributing sweets.
The trends of the ruling party’s leads were in sync with the exit polls, most of which predicted that the NDA would be on course to retain power for a second term.
In 2014, the BJP won 282 seats, leaving the Congress with an all-time low of 44 seats against the 206 it won in 2009.
The counting exercise is on in over 4,000 counting centres amid concerns raised by opposition parties over alleged tampering of EVMs. They have asked the Election Commission to ensure transparency in counting.
Election Commission officials said results are expected only by late evening.
The voting was staggered between April 11 and May 19 in which around 67 per cent of the nearly 900 million eligible people exercised their franchise to elect 542 members of the Lok Sabha from a total of 8,049 contestants. For the first time in Lok Sabha polls, the EC is tallying the vote count on Electronic Voting Machines with voter verified paper audit trail slips in five polling stations in each assembly segment of a parliamentary constituency. It will effectively mean that out of nearly 10.3 lakh polling stations, the EVM-VVPAT matching will take place in 20,600 such stations.
In case of a mismatch, the results based on paper slip count will be considered as final.
Out of the 543 Lok Sabha seats, elections were held in 542 constituencies as the EC had cancelled polls to the Vellore constituency on the ground of excessive use of money power.
Victory of democracy: Modi
Monitor News Desk
New Delhi, May 23: Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the people over the BJP’s landslide win in the national elections today, saying it was a victory of “democracy”. On the occasion, he also made three promises to the people – never to do anything with “ill intention”, “never do anything to make a personal fortune” and “every pore, every cell in my body will work non-stop to ensure that the country keeps moving forward”.
The BJP’s performance has exceeded its tally of 2014 today, crossing the 300-mark just three hours into counting. Overall, the NDA has won or is leading in nearly 350 seats – the counting is still on. In 2014, the party won 282 seats, the NDA had won 336. It was the first time in more than three decades that a single party won majority on its own.
The party’s victory, the Prime Minister said, has created a new narrative. “All parties have to introspect” he said.
Targeting the caste-based politics practised in large swathes of the country, he said, “There are only two castes left. These are… the poor. The second – those who remove poverty”.
Uttar Pradesh — the state where caste has been a key component in politics for decades — has given a huge mandate to the BJP for the second time in a row.
In 2014, the BJP and its ally Apna Dal had won 73 of the 80 seats in the state. This time, in face of a challenge from the Grand Alliance of Mayawati and Samajwadi Party of Akhilesh Yadav, the BJP has won or is leading in 61 seats.
The alliance, which has a huge support base among the scheduled castes, backward castes and the Muslims, are likely to get less than 20 seats.
“We had gone to the people to know about their decisions… today, crores of people have filled this fakir ki jholi (poor man’s bag)… this is democracy’s biggest incident,” PM Modi said, addressing hundreds of workers at the party headquarters in Delhi.
Defeated Rahul mulls resign?
New Delhi, May 23: Conceding defeat, Congress president Rahul Gandhi Thursday congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP for their landslide victory in the Lok Sabha polls, and said his party will continue to fight the ideological battle with the saffron party.
Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters, he said the Congress Working Committee will meet soon and decide on whether he should resign as party chief following the electoral debacle
The Congress could manage to add only a few seats to its 2014 Lok Sabha tally of 44 seats.
“I congratulate Narendra Modiji and BJP for their electoral victory. People of India have decided that Narendra Modi will be the PM again and I fully respect that,” Gandhi said.
“The Congress will continue to fight its ideological battle with BJP unitedly,” he added, asking the party workers not be afraid.
Gandhi also congratulated Smriti Irani on her victory in Amethi constituency in Uttar Pradesh from where he had won for three consecutive terms since 2004. (PTI)
Narendra Modi: Thank you India! The faith placed in our alliance is humbling and gives us strength to work even harder to fulfil people’s aspirations.
Benjamin Netanyahu: Congratulations, my friend @Narendramodi, on your impressive election victory! The election results further reaffirm your leadership of the world’s largest democracy. Together we will continue to strengthen the great friendship between India & Israel. Well done, my friend!
Rahul Gandhi: I accept the verdict of the people of India. Congratulations to the winners, Mr Modi & the NDA.
Mamata Banerjee: Congratulations to the winners. But all losers are not losers. We have to do a complete review and then we will share our views with you all. Let the counting process be completed fully and the VVPATs matched
Imran Khan: I congratulate Prime Minister Modi on the electoral victory of BJP and allies. Look forward to working with him for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia
Arvind Kejriwal: I congratulate Sh Narendra Modi for this historic win and look forward to working together for the betterment of the people of Delhi.
Amit Shah: This win is a victory for the whole of India. The youth of the country is a triumph of the hopes of the poor, the farmer. This grand victory is a triumph of public confidence in Prime Minister Modi Ji’s five-year development and strong leadership.
Omar Abdullah: Congratulate the BJP & NDA for a stellar performance. Credit where credit is due PM Modi Sahib & Mr Amit Shah put together a winning alliance & a very professional campaign. Bring on the next five years.
Mehbooba Mufti: Congratulations to Narendra Modi ji for a historic mandate. Today surely belongs to BJP and its allies. Time for Congress to get an Amit Shah.
Shah Faesal: Congratulations to @narendramodi @BJP4India for the landslide win. The mandate must be respected. We in J&K are hopeful that tempers will be allowed to calm down.
4 militants killed in Shopian gunfight
Srinagar, Jun 23: Four militants were Sunday killed in a gunfight with security forces at Daramdora village in Panzar area of south Kashmir’s Shopian district.
Providing details of the gunfight, a police spokesman said that on credible input, a cordon and search operation was launched by police and counter-insurgency forces at Panzar area in Shopian.
“During searches, militants fired upon the search party. The fire was retaliated leading to an encounter,” said the spokesperson.
“In the ensuing encounter, four militants were killed and the bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter,” he said.
A police official identified the slain militants as Rafi Hassan Mir of Kralchak Shopian, Suhail Ahmad Bhat of Batmuran Shopian, Showkat Ahmad Mir of Rajpora Pulwama and Azad Ahmad Khanday of Bamnoo Pulwama.
He said among the four slain militants, Showkat had a “long history of crime records since 2015”.
He, the spokesperson said, was initially part of militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen.
“Showkat, as per police records, was wanted by law for his complicity in a series of crimes including attack on security establishments and civilian atrocities. Several crime cases were registered against him including Case FIR No. 113/2016 of P/S Rajpora pertaining to firing on a guard post at Sheikhard, Case FIR No. 02/2017 of P/S Rajpora pertaining to the lobbing of grenade on security forces, Case FIR No. 20/2017 of P/S Rajpora pertaining to firing on civilians Bashir Ahmad Dar and Altaf Ahmad at Qasabyar in which Bashir Dar succumbed and Altaf was seriously injured, Case FIR No. 21/2017 of P/S Rajpora pertaining to civilian atrocities and Case FIR No. 01/2019 of P/S Rajpora pertaining to killing of a policeman Sameer Ahmad,” said the spokesperson.
Showkat Mir, he said, was “instrumental in the recruitment of Azad Ahmad, Rafi Hassan and Suhail Ahmad who had recently joined the militant fold.”
“Pertinently with the efforts of police and security forces, it was a clean operation. No collateral damage happened during the encounter,” he added.
“Incriminating materials including arms and ammunition was recovered from the site of encounter. All these materials have been taken in the case records for further investigation and to probe their complicity in other terror crime cases,” he said.
Meanwhile, thousands of people participated in the funeral processions of the slain militants at their respective villages.
The curious case of SMC’s ward no. 30
SMC Comm attaches, officer says ‘some confusion’
Srinagar, Jun 23: An acting Srinagar Municipality ward officer with a tainted past, who was recently attached for allowing at least a dozen illegal constructions in his area, is back in his ward because of his connections up in the official hierarchy.
Mehraj-ud-Din Buja, the incharge ward officer of ward 30, was attached after the SMC Commissioner Khurshid Ahmad Sanai visited the former’s area on June 19 and found at least a dozen illegal constructions going on.
A source in SMC said the Commissioner immediately ordered demolishing of the constructions and attached Buja along with the concerned building inspector.
A few days later, Buja, however, managed to get back to the ward even as the corporation’s higher-ups have no explanation of his wrongdoings, the source said.
“On records, he may be a small-rung official but he has connections all the way up. How else can one who was caught ran-handed accepting bribe be able to become a ward officer of the most money generating areas in Srinagar,” the source said.
The ward which Buja is overseeing generates the highest revenue for SMC and includes Raj Bagh, Wazir Bagh, and Jawahar Nagar areas, the residential colonies that have lately been in news for mushroom growth of commercial constructions.
Buja is no ordinary guy outside his office as well. He is the chairman of Adhara Auqaf Gousia, the board that manages the shrine of Dastgeer Sahab here in Srinagar.
Buja, interestingly, has managed to stay in the ward for over a year-and-a-half, during which at least 30 other ward officers were transferred, the source added.
His rendezvous with higher-ups in the corporation, the source said, has made him sideline his tainted past with utmost ease.
In October 2014, when GN Qasba was Commissioner SMC, Buja was caught red-handed by Vigilance Organisaton Kashmir (VOK) accepting a bribe of Rs 65,000 for allotting a shop to one Srinagar resident.
VOK, on receiving a complaint from the shopkeeper Abdul Rehman Reshi, had placed a trap to catch Buja.
He, as per the official documents of the case, had demanded a bribe of Rs 2 lakh from the complainant and was caught by the VOK team receiving the first installment of Rs 65,000 in a restaurant right outside the SMC head-office in Karan Nagar here.
Interestingly, Buja, whose designation then was Junior Building Inspector, was working as a Head Assistant in the Revenue Section of the head office.
Two years later, in 2016, the Housing and Urban Development Department had ordered Buja’s prosecution for “commission of offences punishable under section 5(1) (d) r/w 5 (2) J&K P.C.Act Svt.2006 and Sections 109 & 161 RPC in case FIR No. 39/2014 P/S VOK.”
While the case was on, why and how was Buja promoted from a junior building inspector to an acting ward officer of vital ward 30 remains a question that no one in SMC has an answer for.
Meanwhile, a second source said that for allowing any deviation or illegal construction, the concerned SMC officials have designated rates.
“For a plinth 15,000, for one storey residential construction anything between Rs 30,000 to 50,000 is charged. If it is a commercial construction, the prices go up according to the size of it,” the second source said.
Asked about him getting attached on June 19, Buja told The Kashmir Monitor “that the matter was sorted.”
“There was some confusion regarding the permission which has been cleared now,” he said, adding “I was about to be suspended but God saved me and the (suspension) order was not passed.”
SMC Commissioner, Khurshid Ahmad Sanai, referred this reporter to his private secretary Manzoor Ahmad.
Manzoor confirmed that Buja was attached, however, refused to comment when asked how he had resumed his work as the ward officer.
Asked how a tainted official was given the position, Manzoor said he “will speak with the Commissioner about the matter.”
Three brothers addicted to Heroin narrate how emboldened peddlers have become
Srinagar, Jun 23: In the male ward of drug de-addiction centre at department of psychiatry at SMHS hospital here, the 15 beds have had full occupancy in the last fortnight.
Out of the 15 patients admitted, three are from the Rajouri district.
Belonging to the same family, the three stare out while their terrified kin shuffle from one bed to another attending to their needs.
It’s for the first time that the centre has seen a family with three drug-dependents.
As the official data fails to recognise the severity of the issue, the three males Umar (35), Sahil (20), and Riyaz (30), who are addicted to heroin, confessed that Rajouri is witnessing a sharp uptick in drug-addiction.
What’s more shocking is that the number of drug-peddlers exceeds the number of addicts, who deliver the drugs to the latter’s home.
A recent death in their village due to heroin overdose created panic among the family. Fearing peer criticism and social backlash, they confided in a boy in their neighborhood who recently received treatment from SMHS.
At the hospital, while Umar was being taken to the bathroom by his wife, Riyaz calls out to his mother in a slurred speech. Yasir, who is writhing in body pain, is surrounded by his brother and sister.
Umar, clad in white Khan-dress is a vegetable vendor by profession. His chronic addiction to heroin led him to a financial crunch.
“Every evening, I gathered with my friends at a deserted spot near my home. We got packets of various types of powder, vials of liquid mixtures, some water, and some needles and syringes. We prepared the fix, took a shot and then lied down, letting the drug take effect,” he said.
On the adjacent bed, Sahil, a college dropout, has chiseled features and has grown a stubble. Two years into addiction, he sold his two cars and bikes.
“It cost me around five to six lakh till now. For the last four months, I had switched to heroin for an instant kick. In our village, procuring my daily fix of heroin is as easy as buying a pack of cigarettes,” he said.
Riyaz, while agreeing with him, added, “Those who find it difficult to fund their drug habit become putty in the hands of peddlers and end up moonlighting as their conduits.”
He said: “A small quantity of heroin costs around 1000-2000 rupees. When someone in our circle didn’t have the money, we shelled out 500 rupees each and bought the stuff.”
Riyaz recalls how the sudden death of a 35-year-old Hameed, a shopkeeper he knew, rocked him to the core.
“Hameed shared meals with me on the day he passed away. Heroine took his life. We spent our childhood together,” he said in an incoherent manner.
A counsellor wishing anonymity said: “So entrenched is the drug-supply network that the patients need to be surrounded by a set of family members in the hospital all the time. This is to avoid the trap waiting to snare them once they are out of the protected environment home.”
Seconding him, Dr Yasir Rather, neuro-psychiatrist and de-addiction specialist at the hospital, said: “There is no fear in drug peddlers. Patients report that they can order drugs like heroin on just a phone call and drug peddler will drop it at their home. It appears as if ordering a packet of heroin is easier than ordering pizza.”
“Deaths are happening frequently, due to overdose, we see so many young people nowadays on ventilators of SMHS hospital,” the doctor said.
Asked what needs to be done, he added: “Laws are there but need to be implemented in letter and spirit. Also, the parents as well as school and college administrations need to be vigilant.
“We also need to mobilize Islamic scholars and all religious leaders to talk about it.”
(Note: The names of the patients and the person who died due to drug overdose have been changed to conceal their identity.)