Congress suffered a major blow when its state unit chief Arjun Modhwadia and Leader of Opposition Shaktisinh Gohil, both contenders for the CM post, lost their seats
Ahmedabad: Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday led the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a decisive win in Gujarat for a third time in a row with the party securing absolute majority clinching 103 seats of the 162 results declared for the 182-member assembly and leading in 13 seats, reports PTI.
Arch rival Congress, out of power in the state for the last 22 years, won 53 seats and its candidates are leading in seven more.
NCP of Sharad Pawar, which fought the election in alliance with Congress, has won two seats and JD(U) one.
Others have won three seats, including one by Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) of former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel.
Congress suffered a major blow when its state unit chief Arjun Modhwadia lost the Porbandar seat to Babu Bokhiria of BJP by 17,146 votes, while Leader of Opposition Shaktisinh Gohil was defeated by Minister of State for fisheries Purushottam Solanki of the saffron party by 18,554 votes in Bhavnagar rural constituency.
Both were strong contenders for chief ministership in the event of Congress coming to power.
However, Shankar Singh Vaghela, Congress spearhead in the poll campaign and former state Chief Minister, managed to win Kapadvanj seat defeating Kanubhai Dabhi of BJP by a margin of 6597 votes.
Gujarat Parivartan Party president Keshubhai Patel scored a facile victory in Visavadar in Saurashtra defeating BJP's Kanubhai Bhalala by over 42,000 votes.
Though BJP registered an emphatic victory, five of its ministers fell by the wayside.
Those who lost included Agriculture Minister Dileep Sanghani (Amreli), Health Minister Jaynarayan Vyas (Siddhpur), Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Fakirbhai Vaghela (Vadgam), Minister of State for Forest and Environment Kiritsinh Rana (Limbdi) and Minister of State for Agriculture Kanubhai Bhalala (Visavadar).
It appears to be a near repeat performance by both BJP and Congress who had won 117 and 59 seats respectively in the last polls.
Disproving predictions of a close contest, Himachal Pradesh lived to its reputation of voting out the party in power, giving the ruling BJP, which suffered from severe infighting and rebel candidates, only 26 seats, while Congress won 36 seats
Shimla: Riding an anti-incumbency wave and staving off corruption charges against its veteran leader Virbhadra Singh, Congress on Thursday wrested power from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Himachal Pradesh with a wafer-thin majority of 36 in the 68-member Assembly, reports PTI.
Disproving predictions of a close contest, the state lived to its reputation of voting out the party in power, giving the ruling BJP, which suffered from severe infighting and rebel candidates, only 26 seats.
The Independents, mostly BJP and Congress rebels, won five seats while Himachal Lokhit Party (HLP) floated by BJP dissidents won one seat.
In the last elections in 2007, the BJP had won 41 seats and Congress 23.
78-year-old Virbhadra Singh, a five-time chief minister who was given the reins of the party on the eve of elections and who ran a spirited campaign, won from Shimla (Rural).
Singh, against whom BJP had levelled allegations of corruption during his tenure as Steel Minister in Delhi in the campaign, is again a strong contender for the Chief Minister's post, political observers say.
He also appears to have emerged unscathed from the CD case filed by the Dhumal government in which charges were framed against him leading to his resignation from the Union Government.
While Chief Minister PK Dhumal won from Hamirpur constituency, his four cabinet colleagues Narinder Bragata, Khimi Ram, Krishan Kumar and Romesh Dhawala lost the elections.
The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill would cover those involved in procurement of weapons, raising funds for terrorist activities and counterfeiting Indian currency
New Delhi: Offences that threaten India's economic security including circulation of counterfeit currency will now be a terrorist act, as a bill in this regard was cleared by Parliament on Thursday, reports PTI.
The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2012, passed by the Rajya Sabha by voice vote amid a walk out by Left parties, JD-U and RJD, also provides for extended period for ban on an association from current two years to five years. Lok Sabha has passed the bill earlier.
Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said an individual, group of individuals and an association who are involved in counterfeit currency circulation will be covered under the law and is not against innocent people.
The other salient features of the bill include expansion of the definition of terrorist act to include acts that involve detention, abduction, threats to kill or injure, or other actions so as to compel an international or inter-governmental organisation to comply with some demand.
The bill would cover those involved in procurement of weapons, raising funds for terrorist activities and counterfeiting Indian currency. It would also cover offences by companies, societies or trusts.
That apart, courts would be given additional powers to provide for attachment or forfeiture of property equivalent to the counterfeit Indian currency involved in the offence or to the value of proceeds of terrorism involved in the offence.
Seeking to allay apprehensions expressed by members, Minister of State for Home RPN Singh said the amended law will not be misused. "This bill is against terrorism and terrorists. I assure that the bill is religion neutral...Terrorism is not just about guns, it is also about attack on a country's economy," he said.
The CPI-M had moved an amendment seeking to take trade unions out of the purview of this Act but it was negated by a majority 79 members out of 107 present. 28 members voted in favour of the amendment.
The amendment moved by BJP to include NGOs under it so that their foreign funding also comes under scanner for its misuse in terrorist activities was withdrawn.
The junior Home Minister said that terrorism is on rise and affecting economic security. Hence, the bill has been amended to curb economic offences in line with the suggestions of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a 34-member global body, that chalks out policies to counter financial frauds.
India is among six Asian countries who are member of the FATF, he said.
Allaying apprehensions of some members, the minister said there is no "gender bias" and both male and female individuals involved in a terrorist act would be covered under this law.
He assured members that the bill will not be used against innocent individuals. "There are no such clauses and we are not giving enormous power to police. There are so many safeguards, there are no chances to misuse," he said.
Interrupting the minister's reply, members of CPI, CPI(M) and JD-U sought further clarification on the bill, while two of them - one each from BJP and CPI-M - moved amendments.
CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury wanted to know reasons for bringing back three provisions like enhancing period for which an association involved in terrorist acts will be declared unlawful, which were part of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) and were opposed.
Responding to his query, Singh said, "This bill has nothing to do with other laws (like POTA). It is to prevent counterfeit currency that is weakening our economy."
Shivanand Tiwari (JD-U) said even POTA was religion neutral but the 'draconian' law was misused, while D Raja (CPI) asked the government to "defer the bill for wider consultation before passing it in hurry."
To this demand, the Minister said, "All recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee are taken into consideration."
During the discussion, a number of members mainly from JD-U, RJD, CPI and CPI-M expressed serious apprehensions over the law granting extra powers to police and the possibility of its misuse against members of a particular community, caste and trade unions.
Several members also asked the government not to pass the bill in haste and have a rethink. They demanded that the bill be sent to the Select Committee for seeking views of members of various parties by holding wider consultations.
Some members also termed the law as "draconian", saying it will become another tool in the hands of police to harass innocents.
Naresh Agrarwal (SP), Sabir Ali (JD-U), MP Achuthan (CPI), AA Jinnah (DMK) and Ram Vilas Paswan (LJP) were among those who opposed the bill.