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Sheila Dikshit To Contest From Delhi, Congress Names 6 Candidates: LokSabha Elections 2019

Sheila Dikshit, three-time Delhi Chief Minister, is among the candidates the Congress named today for six of the seven seats in Delhi for the national election, signaling that a tie-up with Aam Aadmi Party is no longer on the table. The party has left out just one seat, South Delhi, where its planned candidate Ramesh Kumar, the brother of 1984 anti-Sikh riots accused Sajjan Kumar, has provoked anger from Sikh groups.

The list is out just two days before nominations end for the Delhi election on May 12.

Kapil Sibal is missing from the list; the senior Congress leader and former union minister reportedly decided against contesting from his traditional seat Chandni Chowk. Sources say he was reluctant to fight in a triangular contest with the BJP and AAP, which may be the case for other seats too.

Sheila Dikshit, who took over as the chief of the Delhi Congress earlier this year, will contest from North East Delhi. Her predecessor Ajay Maken will contest as the Congress candidate from New Delhi.

The other candidates are Arvinder Singh Lovely from East Delhi, JP Agarwal from Chandni Chowk, Rajesh Lilothia from North West Delhi and Mahabal Mishra from West Delhi.

Sheila Dikshit was asked to choose where she wanted to contest and she reportedly preferred North East Delhi over East Delhi.

Arvind Kejriwal's AAP had announced names of candidates for all seven seats weeks ago, even when it was in the middle of hard negotiations with the Congress for a tie-up in Delhi.

One of the AAP candidates filed his nomination on April 18. The party stalled the nomination for three candidates in Delhi as talks continued for a joint fight against the BJP.

In the 2014 national election, the BJP won all seven seats in Delhi.

Talks between the two parties crashed over AAP's insistence that the Congress agree to share seats in Haryana, Chandigarh, and Punjab.

The Congress on Sunday announced its candidates for five seats in Haryana. This was after AAP named three candidates in alliance with Dushyant Chautala's JJP.

Do you think Sheila Dikshit will win?

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Priyanka Chaturvedi Switches To Shiv Sena From Congress.

Priyanka Chaturvedi, one of the Congress's most high-profile spokespersons, quit her party of 10 years and joined the Shiv Sena in less than 24 hours. Hours after she tweeted her resignation letter to Congress president Rahul Gandhi, she surfaced alongside Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and his son Aditya Thackeray.

"I gave ten years of my life to a political party at the end of which I felt extremely let down for not standing up on issues which are important for women's rights," said the 39-year-old, who gave the first hint of a rift with her party on Wednesday, when she tweeted about "lumpen goons" getting preference in the Congress over those who had "given their sweat and blood".

She was referring to the Congress's decision to take back a group of party workers who had been sacked after they allegedly manhandled her in September in Uttar Pradesh's Mathura when she was addressing a press conference.

The workers were reportedly taken back with a nod from Jyotiraditya Scindia, who, along with Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, is in charge of the party's campaign in UP.

Their return was announced in a letter from the UP Congress's "disciplinary committee", which was tweeted by a journalist and then retweeted by Priyanka Chaturvedi.

Last evening, she handed in her resignation letter to Rahul Gandhi. "In the last few weeks, certain things have convinced me that my services are not valued in the organization and that I have reached the end of the road. At the same time I also feel that the more time I spend in the organization will be at the cost of my own self-respect and dignity," she wrote.

Is Priyanka Chaturvedi's resignation a big loss for Congress?

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95 Seats Vote Today, All Of Tamil Nadu, Half Of Karnataka: LokSabha Elections 2019

More than half of the 95 seats voting in the second round of Lok Sabha elections today are in Southern India, representing nearly nine crore voters. People in 38 constituencies of Tamil Nadu, 14 of the 28 in Karnataka and the lone seat in Puducherry began queuing up early on Thursday in the second phase of the mammoth, seven-round general election in which opposition parties are trying to stop Prime Minister Narendra Modi from winning a second term. The main opposition Congress party and its allies need to win big in the southern states if they hope to oust the BJP.

Here is the 5-point guide to what is at stake in this key battle:

1. Karnataka is mostly a two-sided contest between the BJP and the ruling Congress-Janata Dal-Secular (JDS) coalition. Congress leader Siddaramaiah and JDS supremo HD Deve Gowda, who have shared a rocky equation for over 15 years, campaigned together this time in their attempt to pitch a united front against the BJP.

2. The ruling alliance is grappling with resentment among its workers over the seat-sharing agreement that has eaten into the two parties' share of constituencies. An adverse result could impact the longevity of the coalition government in the state.

3. It is much more complex in Tamil Nadu which has a four-cornered contest. The ruling AIADMK-led alliance including the BJP and a host of smaller state parties are up against a coalition led by its longtime rival DMK that includes the Congress and the Left. The AIADMK spin-off TTV Dhinakaran's AMMK or Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam and actor-turned-politician Kamal Hassan's MNM or Makkal Needhi Mariam are the two other parties.

4. Tamil Nadu is also holding by-elections for 18 assembly constituencies most of which the ruling AIADMK must win in order to stay in power. It is also the first election in several decades when the two main parties don't have their iconic leaders J Jayalalithaa, who died in 2016 and M Karunanidhi, who died in 2018.

5. The elections in Tamil Nadu are once again mired in allegations of voters being bribed. The election in the Vellore Lok Sabha constituency was canceled after a huge haul of cash.

Will the BJP win seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha election in Tamil Nadu?

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Ramdev's U-Turn: Backs Narendra Modi As PM Again With 'Vote For BJP' Call

Yoga guru Ramdev today gave a fresh endorsement for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a move seen as a U-turn from his position a few months ago. The 53-year-old, who accompanied Union minister Rajyavardhan Rathore as he filed his nomination for the Jaipur Rural Lok Sabha seat, called on people to vote for the BJP in the national elections.

Highlighting the BJP's focus on nationalism and national security, the yoga teacher sought a stronger mandate for PM Modi, whom he once termed his "close friend".

"To make India a world economic and political superpower in next 20-25 years, we have to make Modi stronger. In his hands, the country is safe; the future of our jawans is safe, honor and respect of women is safe and farms of farmers are safe," Ramdev said.

PM Modi is the only one who can protect the nation, Ramdev, said, calling the prime minister "the pride of Bharat Mata".

He also targeted the Congress party over its basic minimum income scheme, NYAY. "Now is the time to punish them. 'Nyay' will happen now at every booth and will be delivered by the public. Voters will do justice now," Ramdev said.

Once a staunch supporter of the ruling BJP, he had distanced himself from the party a few months ago. In September, a special youth conclave, Ramdev was asked whether he would campaign for the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections 2019.

"Why would I?" he had shot back. "I have withdrawn myself politically. I am with all parties and I am with no parties," he said at the conclave that featured celebrities, leaders, and influencers.

More recently, Ramdev said it would be difficult to say who will be the next prime minister. The statement, given in December, was seen as a huge rebuff to PM Modi.

Ramdev had supported the BJP national election campaign in 2014 and was closely associated with the party. A year later, he was named BJP-ruled Haryana's brand ambassador and granted cabinet minister rank. He was allotted a car with a beacon, security personnel, and an escort vehicle whenever he visited the state.

Is India really changing under PM Modi?

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Yogi Adityanath, Mayawati Punished For Poll Code Violation

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has been barred from campaigning for the next three days for his communal comments by the Election Commission, which recently faced opposition allegations that it is soft on leaders of the ruling party violating the Model Code of Conduct. The commission also took action against Mayawati, barring her from campaigning for 48 hours for her provocative speech in Deoband.  

In 2014, the Commission took action against BJP chief Amit Shah and Samajwadi Party's Azam Khan for hate speech.

Its action this time came on a day the Supreme Court pulled it up for failing to take action in cases of Model Code violation and questioning if it was even aware of its powers to force errant political leaders to fall in line.

Within a couple of hours, the poll body - which earlier issued notices to Yogi Adiyanath and Mayawati -- ordered a ban, invoking special powers under Article 324 of the Constitution.

At a recent meeting in Deoband, Mayawati had warned the Muslim community not to "split votes" between the Congress and her alliance. Appealing to caste or communal feelings to secure votes is a no-no under the model code, which is a series of dos and don'ts for political parties ahead of elections.

Days later, hitting out at Mayawati, Yogi Adityanath said, "If the Congress, the SP and the BSP have faith in Ali, then we too have faith in Bajrang Bali" - a comment that triggered outraged protests from the opposition. While Ali is revered by Muslims as Prophet Mohammad's successor, Bajrang Bali is another name for Lord Hanuman.

Asked about the opposition criticism during an interview today, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora told that while there are options like barring the candidate from the polling process, "I don't think sending an advisory to a person who is a Chief Minister of biggest state, that too in black and white - that is a slap on the wrist".

He, however, added that the Commission now has the full transcript on Yogi Adityanath's "Ali, Bajrang Bali" comment. "We will be taking a call tomorrow," he added.

Earlier today, the Supreme Court - which was hearing an appeal seeking action against political parties using use religion and caste to seek votes - was extremely upset when the Election Commission's representative said, "We don't have any powers. We can't bar them from contesting. We can de-recognize them".  

Do you agree with the EC's decision?

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