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LIVE! Does Nitish Kumar's resignation signal the formation of a secular front?

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May 17, 2014

22:24  US to cut Nairobi embassy staff over terror threats:  The United States said today it was preparing cut staff levels at its Nairobi embassy because of the mounting threat of attacks in Kenya by Islamist militants. 

A statement from the US ambassador to Kenya, Robert F Godec, said the embassy was "continuously reviewing and updating its security measures, and expects to take additional steps in coming days, to include on US staffing."
22:24  Karunanidhi's wife hospitalised:  DMK chief M Karunanidhi's wife Dayalu Ammal was admitted to a private hospital tonight due to dehydration, party sources said. 

She was not keeping well since afternoon and was admitted to the corporate hospital later in the evening, they said without divulging details.
22:21  Libya army declares no fly zone over Benghazi:  The Libyan army imposed a no fly zone over Benghazi today in a direct challenge to a retired general who has been using airpower to press a campaign against Islamist militants there. 

Khalifa Haftar, who lived in exile in the United States before returning home to lead ground forces in the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi, heads what he calls a "National Army".
21:28  Will miss working with you on day-to-day basis: Obama to PM:  US President Barack Obama today called up Prime Minister Manmohan Singh soon after he demitted office and said he was one of the few public leaders whom he "admired" and that he would "miss" working with him on "day-to-day basis." 

During the farewell telephone call, Singh noted that the relationship had seen "transformation" over the last 10 years and expressed confidence that the Narendra Modi government would "do everything" to promote it further.
20:59  Does Nitish Kumar's resignation signal the formation of a secular front?:  By a correspondent:   

Is the resignation of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday the first sign that his Janata Dal-United may be moving towards an alliance with Lalu Yadav Rashtriya Janata Dal? 

Nitish Kumar has a tenuous majority in the Bihar assembly, after he pulled out of the alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party. 

Lalu's RJD has 22 members in the assembly and could provide stability. The JD-U is also hoping to convince the Congress to offer outside support. This could well be the beginning of a grand secular alliance that could take on the ascendant BJP when assembly polls come around next year. 

It could also be the seed for a pan-India secular alliance that may also include parties like the Trinamool Congress, AIADMK, Biju Janata Dal and other secular regional parties.   
20:55  President hosts dinner for Manmohan, cabinet colleagues:  President Pranab Mukherjee today hosted a dinner for outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his cabinet colleagues and treated them to mouth-watering Bengali delicacies like 'sorsey paturi' fish and Punjabi 'Kadi Pakora'. 

In the non-vegetarian menu, besides the fish, the President's favourite dish- 'Galoti Kebab', 'Murgh Nihari'- and other assortment of chicken and fish were served.
20:54  Security fears mount over Ukraine vote:  Ukraine's election body issued a stark warning today that it may be impossible to hold next week's crucial presidential election in the east, where a pro-Moscow insurgency is threatening to plunge the country into all-out civil war. 

The Central Election Commission called for the authorities in Kiev to take urgent action to ensure security in the east, saying almost two million people could be prevented from voting on May 25 because of the rebellion.
20:49  2 PLA Navy ships arrive at Eastern Naval Command base in Vizag:  Two Chinese Navy (PLA Navy) ships today arrived at the Eastern Naval Command headquarters here on a maiden "goodwill" visit which extends to three more countries apart from India.
20:20  LIVE! Modi at Dashashwamedh Ghat: We will clean Kashi, clean India :  Modi says if Kashi wants to be the cultural capital of Asia, the first step is to clean Kashi. The first step is to clean the Ganga and Kashi, it's a small step, but it will be the beginning of cleaning India. 

Cleaning the Ganga has been one on the party's manifesto for Varanasi.
20:14  "Ganga Maa calls us, is there any child who will clean the Ganga? Restore its glory? Their sacrifice will not go waste."
20:12  LIVE! Modi at Dashashwamedh Ghat: Ma Ganga has called me :  "I bow to this holy land of Varanasi. When I came to Varanasi I came as a candidate but when I filled my form I became a son of this place. Decisive mandate is a indicator of the people need for change," says Modi. "I am here because Ma Ganga has called me."
20:09  I'm a son of this land: Varanasi:   Narendra Modi: "Jo bina maange parose use Maa kehte hain, mujhe Banaras ki janta se maangne ka bhi saubhagye nahi mila. Is pavitra dharti ko naman karta hoon, aur yahaan key mat-daataon ka bhi naman karta hoon."

20:08  LIVE! Modi speaks at Dashashwamedh Ghat to chants of Jai Gange:   Narendra Modi addresses supporters after performing the Ganga aarti at the Dasashwamedh Ghat in Benaras. "I was stopped from speaking to you the last time I was here," he says, "and in spite of it, you have elected me to power."

Supporters shout Jai Gange, Har Har Modi at the ghat.
20:08  Will the Gandhis get SPG cover under Modi govt?:   Congress leaders are believed to be apprehensive about the new government. They believe it may be payback time and the government may be vindictive and discontinue the Special Group Protection to Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra. In addition, the Delhi Police special team provides security to Priyanka's husband, Robert Vadra.

The SPG Act says that protection to the members of family of the Prime Minister can be continued for a year, but with an executive order the government can withdraw the SPG cover to the Gandhi family.

Sources say, this may prove to be spanner in the works for Rahul Gandhi when he takes off for foreign shores. Rahul may not be able to travel to abroad without SPG protection since the Narendra Modi-led BJP  Government has to be in the loop. What this means is that there may be leaks to the media if he wants to keep his visits private. A little birdie tells us that Rahul went to London to meet a special friend, the day Sonia Gandhi hosted a farewell dinner for Dr Manmohan Singh.
19:52  Kiran Bedi tweets: Varanasi and Uttar Pradesh on world map! The day UP changes India changes! All focus on the State will promote development and prosperity!
19:51  That's a picture of Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah at the Dashashwamedh ghat. 
19:50  LIVE! 60 minutes and counting... Modi performs Ganga aarti at Varanasi :  This is certainly a big day for Narendra Modi. Remember, on May 8, after being denied permission by the Varanasi district administration to perform Ganga Aarti, Modi had tweeted: "My profound apologies to Ganga Maa for not being able to perform Aarti today." This, then, is comeback time for Modi and how.

Meanwhile, the Ganga aarti continues...

Pic courtesy: ANI
19:41  Madhu Kishwar tweets: We are witnessing Bharat Ma's tryst with new destiny. Hopefully it will mark the end of the rule of Brown Sahibs.
19:39  Just in: Porbandar BJP MP Vitthal Radiadia hurt in fall from open jeep during victory procession in Gondal. Treated in Shri Ram hospital.
19:35   After steering his party to power, Narendra Modi will be formally elected as the leader of the BJP Parliamentary Party at its meeting in Delhi on May 20 ahead of taking oath as Prime Minister. 
19:18   Fan girl Madhu Kishwar tweets: Having battled long years without success as part of Swachh Ganga Abhiyan, feel optimistic now: Ganga Ma ke bhi din achhe aane waale hain!

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 

19:11  Modi is expected to head back to the airport at 8 pm. The Ganga aarti is yet to begin. The aarti invokes the fire god (Agni), Lord Shiva, Ganga, Sun (Surya),  Fire (Agni) and the universe.
19:08  Huge security at Dashashwamedh Ghat :  Party sources said that BJP supporters from adjoining districts like Chandauli, Bhadohi and Mirzapur are also likely to turn up in large numbers to accord a warm reception to their leader.

A large number of security personnel have been deployed at the Dashashwamedh Ghat where the Ganga Arati attracts huge crowds on a daily basis and which also witnessed a bomb explosion in 2010 which had killed two persons and left several others injured.

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 
19:06  Mythology of Dashashwamedh ghat:  The Dashashwamedh Ghat is the main ghat in Varanasi on the Ganga. It is located close to Kashi Vishwanath Temple and is probably the most spectacular ghat. Two Hindu mythologies are associated with it: According to one, Lord Brahma created it to welcome Lord Shiva. According to another legend, Lord Brahma sacrificed ten horses during Dasa -Ashwamedha yajna performed here, which is from where it gets its name. 
19:02  LIVE! Modi meets Ma Ganga: Aarti about to begin :   So, Modi is finally at the Dashashwamedh ghat. Security nightmare can hardly be seen in the crowd. He will perform the Ganga aarti along with Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah.

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 
18:52  Sharad Yadav: Ready to sink differences with RJD:  Updates: Who said what at this hour...

Sharad Yadav, JD-U: Ready to sink differences with RJD chief Lalu Prasad for forming secular alliance govt in Bihar

Kamal Nath, Congress: If govt cannot convey its perception to people, then Rahul cannot be hold responsible

Sanjay Raut, Shiv Sena: If Nitish Kumar can resign then why can't Prithviraj Chavan? People rejected him as well, he must resign on moral grounds.

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 
18:47  LIVE! Modi heads to Dashashwamedh Ghat, the last stop on his victory lap in Benaras:  Meanwhile, back in Varanasi, Modi is heading to the Dashashwamedh ghat for the Ganga aarti along with Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh. There is a giant poster of Modi at the ghat, while the purohits wait for him to arrive.  

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 
18:40  PMO gets ready to welcome new PM:  Dr Manmohan Singh, who gave in his resignation to President Pranab Mukherjee this afternoon, has directed his secretary R Ramanujan, an IAS officer, to receive Narendra Modi, the new prime minister-in-waiting, at the entrance of the Prime Minister's office at South Block.

Modi will reach the PMO soon after his swearing-in ceremony, which may or may not take place on May 21. (See our earlier post). As per protocol, Ramanujan along with one additional secretary and five joint secretaries will greet Modi with flowers.

The first informal cabinet meeting will take place in the Cabinet room of te South Block, which has been spruced up.
18:31  New JD-U govt, new CM tomorrow :  Sharad Yadav says a new government will be formed in Bihar and it will be a JD-U government. Yadav also said a new CM candidate will be decided tomorrow.

A few hours ago, Nitish Kumar gave in his resignation as the Bihar CM to the governor but did not ask him to dissolve the assembly.
18:21  If the December visit to the temple was to pray for his and his party's victory at the polls, this visit is a thanksgiving visit. 
18:18  Modi offers boxes of mithai to the lingam at the Kashi Vishwanath temple:   Narendra Modi at the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi with Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh. Next stop is the Ganga aarti at the Dashashwamedh ghat. Modi still offering prayers at the temple.'s Sheela Bhatt says that on December 20 the Hindi recounts that when Modi visited the famous Kashi-Vishwanath temple, which abuts the Gyanvapi mosque built by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, some young Muslim boys waved out and said, 'Modi uncle, salaam!'

It was Friday so they had gathered in the mosque for the Jumma Namaaz. The entrance to the mosque and temple are common. Both structures are divided by the Gyanvapi (well of wisdom).

Like the Babri Masjid-Ram Mandir controversy in Ayodhya, the issue of the Kashi Vishwanath temple-Gyanvapi mosque is also in dispute and tension has erupted many times between Hindus and Muslims, but the local people's wisdom has finally prevailed over everything else and peace has been maintained in the mosque and temple, so far.

Modi was taken aback by the Muslim lads' greeting. The report claims that he, too, greeted them back saying, 'Waalaikum-as-salaam', meaning 'Peace be with you, too'. Some other reports noted he said, 'Thank you'.

Pic: Modi at the Kashi Vishwanath temple on December 20
18:05  Why Modi may not be sworn in on May 21:  Wednesday, May 21, was the day chosen by prime minister-elect Narendra Modi for his swearing-in ceremony outside the Rashtrapati Bhavan forecourt, the date having been arrived at as per astrological alignment and after checking Modi's horoscope.

But now there could be a hitch, it seems. May 21 was when former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by Tamil Tigers in Sriperumbudur in 1991.

Congress leaders are believed to have informally hinted at this to the new dispensation, and according to a highly placed source the NDA government will be sworn-in on a different day.
18:04  Narendra Modi at the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi with Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh.

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 
17:49  Ruj:  First reactions on Nitish Kumar quitting as Bihar CM from BJP's Rajiv Pratap Rudy, who won the Saran seat: Jo unhone-ne Modi-ji ka apmaan kiya tha uska jawaab janta ne unhe de diya ha.

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 
17:43  Recommendation to dissolve union cabinet with Prez :  Meanwhile, the union cabinet  today recommended dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha, drawing curtains to the term of the House which will go down in history as the most disrupted and wasted in Independent India.

The Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, met for the last time and decided to recommend dissolution of the current term of the Lok Sabha, a day after the results of the 16th Lok Sabha were out.

The recommendation was then handed over to President Pranab Mukherjee.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath later said the process to form the next Lok Sabha will commence after the Election Commission sends the notification of the newly-elected members.
17:38  Also read: BJP General Secretary Dharmendra Pradhan discusses Lalu, Nitish, and his strategy to bring Bihar in the BJP's fold: Nitish, Lalu misjudged Bihar's mindset.
17:36  'Decision to break from BJP absolutely correct':   That decision on breaking alliance with the BJP was absolutely correct, says Nitish for the benefit of detractors like JDU MLA Gyanendra Singh Gyanu, who said this morning that had the JDU stayed with the BJP they would have won all 40 seats. Nitish Kumar said the decision to break from the BJP was because of ideological differences.

17:25  Meanwhile, Nitish's nemesis, Narendra Modi has reached Varanasi.

Also read: Sankarshan Thakur's take on Nitish Kumar in his book Single Man in in an interview with
17:23  Nitish Kumar: The dreams shown to the youth... the promises made, if indeed 'achchey din' are here, then our best wishes that they come true. Now the situation is such that if someone speaks about ideology then he is made fun of.

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 
17:19  LIVE! Nitish: Have not sought dissolution of assembly:   Nitish Kumar, who has just quit as the chief minister of Bihar says, he takes full responsibility for the defeat in the polls. "I respect the mandate of the people. The polls this time were less about issues more about allegations. I had gone to the people for their votes on the basis of the work we had done in the state, but we did not get the mandate. The results of the polls will be analysed and discussed later within the party. My rivals indulged in mud slinging, while I focussed on development. Whatever dreams are being shown to the youth -- achhe din aa gaaye hain  -- let's see if the good days come back with Modi.

"There is polarization along communal lines in Bihar. I will continue to work for the people. I have not asked for the dissolution of the state assembly. Any coalition is welcome to form the government at the state.

The JDU has 118 seats in the 243 member cabinet.  "I have a majority in the assembly, yet I have chosen to resign on moral grounds," says Nitish. 
17:05  The JD-U legislative party will meet at 4pm tomorrow. Nitish Kumar has asked the governor to dissolve the assembly and seek a new mandate. 
16:57  Montek Singh resigns :  Planning Commission Dy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia resigns, resignations of other members in process. 
16:54  First reactions on Nitish Kumar quitting: This is just news coming in, we wont react to it immediately: Prakash Javadekar (BJP).

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 
16:51  Aaditya Thackeray: Modi's unparalleled effort made BJP win:  Aaditya Thackeray, who is the son of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray tweets: Our Heartiest Congratulations to the 1 man who put it never heard before effort to build this victory Narendra Modi-ji who will lead India.

For Narendra Modi-ji, it was never a Modi wave, it was only his unparalleled effort backed by solid work. No congratulations enough. We finally have something called a government, and that too belonging to the people! Janmat ki sarkar, Janpath ki nahi. Without the Blessings of Shri Balasaheb Thackeray, efforts of Uddhav-ji Thackeray, and the love of people 18 out of 20 MPs was not possible."
16:48  Gyanu: Partymen upset with Nitish:  Gyanu says partymen are upset with the JD-U's poor performance at the polls. So, toll so far: Nitish Kumar and Assam CM Tarun Gogoi. Gyanu says if JD-U had not split with BJP, they would have won all 40 seats in Bihar.
16:39   Nitish Kumar to address a meet at 5 pm. Bihar CM recommends to dissolve the Bihar assembly.
16:29  LIVE! Nitish meets Bihar governor to submit resignation :  Nitish meets Bihar governor DY Patil to submit his resignation. It is believed that Nitish did not meet anyone yesterday after the party's decimation in the polls.

Yesterday, BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, who used to be Nitish's deputy, had said that Nitish Kumar should take moral responsibility and resign. He has lost the confidence of the people.

The JD-U has parted ways with the BJP last year over Narendra Modi's elevation, a move that many believed had backfired spectacularly.
16:24  MLA questions Nitish's decision to breakaway from BJP:  Earlier today, JDU MLA Gyanendra Singh Gyanu blamed the party's leadership, including Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for breaking its alliance with the BJP.

"When the JDU split with the BJP in November, I told Nitish Kumar that the upper caste vote bank is tilting towards the BJP. He brushed aside my suggestion. Today my fears have come true," Gyanu said.

Gyanu had earlier too expressed unhappiness over the selection of the candidates for the Lok Sabha polls.

The JDU managed to win just two seats in Bihar with the BJP coming out as the big winner in the state. -- CNN IBN

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 
16:21  LIVE! Bihar CM Nitish Kumar resigns over poll debacle:   Just in: Bihar CM Nitish Kumar resigns over poll debacle. The JD-U has managed just two seats in the polls. Some MLAs had questioned Nitish's decision to breakaway from the BJP. Bihar has 40 Parliamentary seats. 
16:19  Tight security arrangements in Varanasi today:  Tight security arrangements have been put in place here in view of Modi's scheduled visit later in the day with a special team of Gujarat Police carrying out inspections of all the spots which he was likely to pass through.

"Modi is likely to arrive at Babatpur Airport at around 1645 hours after which he would leave for Police Lines via helicopter.From Police Lines, his cavalcade will leave for Kashi Vishwanath Temple where he will offer prayers before reaching Dashashwamedh Ghat to take part in Ganga Aarti", Media coordinator for BJP's Kashi Prant unit Sanjay Bharadwaj said         

He said there was no information as to whether any other prominent BJP leaders would be accompanying Modi but added that such a possibility could not be ruled out.
16:05  AAP's poster on their winning candidates. 
16:04  Parties which scored a big ZERO at the polls :  Over 1,650 political parties including big names like BSP, CPI, DMK and National Conference drew a blank in the Lok Sabha elections that saw BJP storming to power at the Centre with a landslide victory.

Currently, there are 1,687 registered political parties in the country. Out of more than 8,200 candidates, who were in the fray, as many as 5,007 candidates were fielded by various parties and remaining were independents.

Out of these, 541 candidates have secured a place in the Lower House riding on tickets from 35 different political parties, while three contestants have won as independents.

The 2014 Lok Sabha election results have taken a lot of parties and trend-watchers by surprise with many prominent names among them failing to open their accounts.

Among the parties who scored a zero include -- BSP, DMK, NC, CPI and MNS. RLD and Asom Gana Parishad also failed to open their respective accounts in the hustings.
15:57  President of France Francois Hollande looks forward to meeting and working with the next PM and Govt of India.
15:56  "BJP is united, it's unfair of media to speculate on senior leaders like Sushma Swaraj and LK Advani. They are happy in the party," says Jaitley.
15:51  'Estimate was BJP would get 250 seats':  "Our estimate was that BJP would get 250 seats. Huge anti-incumbency and the hope provided by Modi were huge factors in the BJP win. Local factors were responsible," says Jaitley.

Jaitley lost to Capt Amarinder Singh.  He says that the party and Narendra Modi will decide if he becomes a minister. And that he himself has not decided his role in the party.

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 
15:44  LIVE! Jaitley: Enormity of BJP win has diluted my loss :  Arun Jaitley speaking to CNN IBN says the enormity of the party's win is so large that his loss has been diluted. He says he wouldn't call choosing Amritsar a mistake. "I won't attribute my loss to Amarinder, I won't blame Akalis for my loss."

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 
15:39 was the first to ask Sonia if Dr Singh would be PM:  As Dr Singh steps down as the prime minister, as manmohan singh steps down, read our 1999 diary. It's the first time anyone asked Sonia Gandhi if Manmohan Singh would be PM.  Read

Also see our 2004 story, where Sheela Bhatt broke the news that Sonia would not be PM.
15:35  Modi to perform aarti at Dashashwamedh ghat :  It will be a big evening for Benaras and for its people who gave him a three lakh winning vote margin win over AAP's Arvind Kejriwal. Modi will head to the Dashashwamedh ghat where he will perform the spectacular Ganga aarti.

A vindication of sorts for Modi, who was refused permission by the EC to attend the aarti before Varanasi went to vote. 

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 
15:25  LIVE! Modi to reach Varanasi at 4:30 pm and head for Ganga aarti:  Narendra Modi is running late by over a hour-and-a-half. He is expected to reach at 4:30 pm instead of 3 pm.
15:22  The fall guy who forgot to get up:  Manmohan Singh and the lessons his history holds for Narendra Modi. Read 
15:08  Varanasi DM Pranjal Yadav hands over the winning certificate of Narendra Modi to BJP leaders Rameshwar Chaurasia and Kaku Bhai. 
15:05  Do this nation proud, Mr Modi, heal it, build it and be true to your word:  And so it is over. A passionately fought election where people openly took sides, debated and campaigned. Read Suparn Verma's column for Rediff.

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 
15:02  What the Chinese think of Modi:  The sweeping victory of the Narendra Modi-led BJP has been seen in neighbouring China as possibly providing a platform for a big change in India-China relations. Lan Jianxue, a strategic expert at the Foreign Ministry-affiliated China Institute of International Studies and formerly a diplomat at the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi, told The Hindu in an exclusive interview that Modi could open the door to more Chinese investments as well as leave "an achievement in history."  Read

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 
15:00  Congress spokesperson Janardan Dwivedi says, "The Congress has been defeated, we accept this defeat. Wish Modi-ji the best for his future endeavors."
14:57  Which party got what vote share :   As per Election Commission figures, the BJP has come out with flying colours in these elections winning 282 seats on its own, while it got nearly 17.16 crore votes accounting for 31 per cent vote share.

The Indian National Congress, which has been left with just 44 seats, has managed to get 10.7 crore votes or about 19.3 per cent share.

On the vote share front, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has interestingly come third with 4.1 per cent vote share or 2.3 crore votes, but it has got zero seats in its kitty. Its candidates came second on 34 seats.

Samajwadi Party is also not far behind with 3.4 per cent vote share, although Mulayam Singh Yadav-led party could manage to win only five seats.

On the other hand, Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress has got 34 seats with about 3.8 per cent vote share.

The number of seats won by Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK is even larger at 37, although vote share stands at 3.3 per cent.

At the same time, CPI(M) with a similar 3.3 per cent vote share has managed to win just nine seats.

See HD Kumaraswamy's reaction to losing
14:55  Shivraj Singh Chouhan slams AAP :  MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan: They get deceived by the balloons in which they pumped the air themselves. Remember those giving 12% vote to AAP in MP and Rajasthan.

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 
14:17  Where, then, does the Congress go from here? :  A case of  diminishing IQ for the Gandhis?

In 1906, an Allahabad lawyer named Motilal Nehru wrote to his son Jawaharlal, then a student at Harrow, "I think I can without vanity say that I am the founder of the Nehru family. I look upon you, my dear son, as the man who will build upon the foundations I have laid and have the satisfaction of seeing a noble structure of renown rearing up its head to the skies."

Read Ramachandra Guha's column
14:13  LIVE! BJP Parl body to hold meetings, polls of Guj MLAs to choose CM:  Rajnath Singh: "Now that people have chosen Modi-ji to be PM, we have to conduct meetings and polls of our Gujarat MLAs to choose next CM."

In effect, the BJP's Central Parliamentary Board authorises Rajnath Singh for ushering in the process of choosing the new CM of Gujarat. Thavarchand Gehlot appointed observer.
14:08  3% votes, but only 3 seats for independents in LS-2014:  Independent candidates may have won just three seats in the just-concluded Lok Sabha polls, but they have garnered close to three per cent vote share -- higher than parties like Aam Aadmi Party, NCP and CPI.

However, the winning percentage remains dismal for independents as there were more than 3,000 in the fray and less than 0.1 per cent of them could manage to win.

Three independents, who have made to the Lower House of the Parliament, include Naba Kumar Sarania (Hira) from Kokrajhar in Assam, while two others are from Kerala -- comedian Innocent and advocate Joice George.
13:59  Only 22 Muslims in 16th Lok Sabha:  Muslim representation in the 16th Lok Sabha has hit an all-time low at 22. This is the worst in the history of Indian Parliament with the previous low being in 1957 when there were only 23 Muslim MPs. Read more
13:56   That's a picture of Dr Singh submitting his resignation to the president. "The President requested Dr Singh to continue in office till the new government assumes office," Venu Rajamony, Press Secretary to President.

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 
13:53  Modi to media at the  BJP parl body meet: Aap toh mere apne hain..milta rahoonga....
13:50  LIVE! Key BJP meet on May 20 to decide on leader of parl board :  Rajnath puts senior leaders in charge of states: Ravi Shankar Prasad in charge of Andhra Pradesh, Rajiv Pratap Rudy in charge of Arunachal Pradesh.

Key BJP meet on May 20, 12 pm, BJP parl party meeting will elect the leader. Allies will be invited that day. No decision on oath taking ceremony.

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 

Pic: Modi-Sushma bonhomie at the meet
13:43  Rajnath thanks party workers for BJP win :  Rajnath Singh opens the presser. He says the BJP parliamentary board thanked Narendra Modi for his vision in leading the party's Lok Sabha campaign. Like Modi, Rajnath Singh thanks the party workers who worked towards the win and the people who voted for the BJP. He says no political party has been able to carve an individual stature for itself at the national level away from the Congress party. It is only the BJP which has been able to do that, says Rajnath.

Rajnath Singh reads out the resolution passed at the parl board meeting.

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 
13:38  While we wait for Modi to address the meet: Our 1998 interview with Narendra Modi when he was the party's general secretary. Read
13:36  LIVE! BJP parl board meet ends, Modi to address presser now :   BJP parliamentary board meeting ends. Sushma Swaraj and Narendra Modi sitting next to each other. Modi set to address a presser now.  

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 
13:22  Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari will meet RSS leaders after the felicitation at the BJP HQ.

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 
13:20  Modi's mega Ganga Aarti this evening at Varanasi:  Meanwhile, Modi is likely to leave for Varanasi at 3 pm where there will be another victory rally. In the evening he will attend a Ganga aarti. Remember, the EC had prevented him from holding an aarti on May 8.  

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 
13:16  Dr Manmohan Singh resigns as PM:   PM Manmohan Singh submits his resignation to President Pranab Mukherjee. CWC meet on Monday to take stock of situation. That is also when Sonia and Rahul are believed to be tendering in their resignations from all party posts. The party has so far said that the magnificent loss at the polls was a collective responsibility and not Rahul's alone.

The cabinet also passed a resolution thanking the PM.
13:10  LIVE! Manic about cleanliness Modi brushes mithai crumbs away before meet begins :  Got a quick glimpse of Modi's mania for cleanliness. As Modi, Rajnath Singh and LK Advani fed each other mithai, a few crumbs fell on the table.  It was only Modi, among the three who brushed aside the crumbs, before taking his seat.'s Sheela Bhatt had said that Modi kept his desk, his home and surroundings spic and span.

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 
13:05  Poor loser Mayawati blames Amit Shah for UP loss :  And if there ever was a sore loser, it's BSP chief Mayawati, whose party didn't win a single seat in UP.

She says it was Amit Shah's inflammatory speeches that affected the atmosphere in UP.

The BJP received 42% votes in UP, which means that 58% of people didn't support BJP. "I appreciate that the Dalit community has managed to protect its movement from the onslaught. But BSP has not lost much in vote share. Upper caste votes which were to come to the BSP went to the BJP due to their disinformation.

"But the Dalit community is not effected by the so called wave. Though though we didn't get any seats, in UP we have got more votes than we did in 2009. In the number of votes, we are the 3rd largest party in India."
12:55  Modi touches Advani's feet at meet :  BJP prez garlands Narendra Modi at the meet. At the meet on the agenda will also be who will be the new CM of Gujarat. Representation of allies in the cabinet will also be discussed. Feeding each other mithai, the BJP begins its meet. Modi was the one who took the initiative to hug Advani and touch his feet. Sushma Swaraj seated to Modi's right doesn't seem her usual ebullient self.

On the other side of the paradigm, PM Dr Manmohan Singh is at the Rashtrapati Bhawan to give in his resignation.  Read: The 1999 feature on Rediff that predicted that Dr Singh would be the Chosen One

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 
12:48  LIVE! Advani feeds mithai, hugs Modi at BJP's parl board meeting :   Right now, at the BJP headquarters Modi is attending a meeting of the Parliamentary Board where crucial decisions on government formation will be taken. The party has to decide when to call a meeting of the newly-elected MPs to formally choose Modi as the Parliamentary Party leader to be followed by a meeting of the NDA where he will be elected as leader of the coalition.

LK Advani feeds mithai and hugs Narendra Modi at the meeting. Also there are Sushma Swaraj and other senior leaders.

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 
12:31  Sonia, Rahul may offer to resign:   Meanwhile, the buzz is that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi may offer to resign from party posts. All Congress ministers have anyway tendered their resignations.

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 
12:25  LIVE! Showered with rose petals Modi says credit goes to party workers, people of India:  BJP senior leaders Ravi Shankar Prasad, Vijay Goel at the HQ.

Amid chants of Modi Modi, the PM designate says, "Nobody thought the lotus would bloom in Delhi, but it is because of your hard work (BJP workers) that this has been possible. The credit should go not to Modi, but the to lakhs of BJP workers who worked hard to made it possible. It is the hard work of generations who wanted to make this possible. It is the victory of those who sacrificed their lives to make this possible."

This comes as a slap on the face for the Congress and other detractors who have said that Modi is bigger than the party.

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 
12:20  LIVE! Showered with rose petals Modi thanks party workers at BJP HQ:   Vote of thanks from Modi at the BJP HQ: "The victory is the result of the hard work of the thousands of BJP workers. I thank the people of this country who have voted the party to power."

Nitin Gadkari, Balbir Punj, Ananth Kumar, Rajnath Singh flanked Modi as he gave his vote of thanks.

It's a short speech, more a vote of thanks than a speech, but since his victory, Modi has never missed the opportunity of thanking the party and the ground-level worker.
12:20  Sushma Swaraj is also at the BJP HQ. The party's parliamentary board meeting is set to begin now. 
12:12  LIVE! Modi showered with rose petals at BJP HQ: Victory result of hard work :  Narendra Modi has reached the BJP HQ. Wearing a garland of roses,Modi thanks the workers for his victory and congratulates everyone on the results. The cavalcade passed through all the Congress bastions -- Janpath, Akbar Road and Motilal Nehru Marg on his way to Ashoka Road.
12:09  UPA2's final cabinet meets, PM to submit his resignation to the president shortly. The PM has already gone to meet President Mukherjee.
The cabinet has recommended the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha.
12:05  Hawker outside BJP HQ wants Modi to help them:   Ram Kumar Singh, a Delhi slumdweller sells daalmot just outside the BJP HQ and hopes to make Rs 500 today as he expects the crowd to keep swelling. He said he was a Narendra Modi supporter and voted the BJP. He wants the PM-designate to legislate a law for hawkers so that police does not harass them. Out of the Rs 500 which Singh hopes to earn today, Rs 200 will be spent on bribing the cops.'s Prasanna Zore from outside the BJP HQ. 
11:52  LIVE! Modi's motorcade will pass Congress HQ on the way to BJP HQ:  Narendra Modi will leave for Varanasi at 3 pm, but considering the pace at which the motorcade is moving, it's unlikely he will make it on time. Modi, it is believed, flew in by a Adani aircraft.

The Delhi police may have a sense of humour -- Modi's motorcade will pass Teen Murti (former Gandhi-Nehru home) and 24 Akbar Road, the Congress HQ.  
11:48  LIVE! Bumper-to-bumper traffic at Modi's victory motorcade in Delhi :  Narendra Modi is now at Dhaula Kaun. The rally is headed to Central Delhi -- Janpath, Ashoka Road, Teen Murti. Conservative estimates put the number of people at the rally at around 20,000. The roads are blocked with bumper-to-bumper traffic -- all BJP supporters.

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 

Pic: Supporters outside the BJP HQ at Ashoka Road/NV Reuben
11:34  LIVE! Modi will end day in Delhi with a meeting with President Mukherjee:  Once the formalities are completed, the grouping will approach President Pranab Mukherjee to convey to him the election of their leader and appoint him as the Prime Minister. Modi had led BJP to a massive victory in the elections with the party alone getting 282 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha. The NDA got 336 seats.

Pic: Supporters outside the BJP HQ
11:24  Leela Group boss Capt Nair passes on :  And another stalwart passes on...

Capt. C P Krishnan Nair, founder of The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts, died this morning in Mumbai. He was 93.

Read: Capt Nair, Leela Group's boss, shares his success story

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 
11:15  Amit Shah awaits Modi at BJP HQ:'s A Ganesh Nadar reports: Amit Shah, the man responsible for 71 of the 80 seats in UP, has reached the RSS office in Delhi. He will join Narendra Modi for the Parliamentary Board meeting at 12:30 at the BJP HQ.

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 
11:13  Rajnath, Gadkari greet Modi at Delhi airport :  Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari were among senior BJP leaders to welcome Narendra Modi at the airport. The motorcade is still outside the airport, inching its way through the sea of supporters.

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 
11:09  Modi Modi Modi :  Security nightmare as Modi steps out of his car. Crowds cheer 'Modi Modi', wave BJP flags, as the motorcade inches its way to the BJP HQ at Ashoka Road.

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
11:06  Multi-layered security along Modi's victory rally :  A multi-layer security cover has been put in place in the city with hundreds of policemen and NSG commandos deployed for Modi's victory rally today.

Policemen will be manning the security arrangements en route the road show and security personnel will be stationed on high-rise buildings on the route to spot any suspicious activities.

Snipers have been deployed and anti-sabotage checks have been carried out on the route, which has been sanitised.

Police and NSG commandos sanitised the 11, Ashoka road BJP headquarters and a multi-layered security apparatus has been put in place around it.

"Elaborate police arrangements have been made everywhere on the route and at the place of the function where public is gathering especially at the BJP headquarters.

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections   
10:59  LIVE! Narendra Damodardas Modi reaches Delhi, flashes victory sign to adoring crowds :  And on to the other Modi --Narendra Damodardas Modi -- India's next PM -- arrives in Delhi. He's just stepped out of the IGI airport. Thousands at the airport, mostly adoring BJP workers, gather around taking pictures on their mobiles. Modi has stepped out of his car. He has been given SPG protection. Immediately after reaching Delhi, he flashes the victory sign.
10:54  Man of steel Russi Mody passes away :  Russi Mody, the former chairman and managing director of Tata Steel passed away last night in Kolkata. He was 96. A Padma Bhushan awardee, Mody joined Tata Steel in 1939 and and became Joint Managing Director in 1972. He was popular particularly among the younger generation of TISCO engineers.

Russi had once accompanied Einstein on piano while Einstein played violin. He is known for wolfing down 16-egg omelettes and dining with workers on the shop floor when he was young. After retiring from Tata Steel in March 1993, the then Prime Minister of India, Shri P V Narasimha Rao appointed Mody as Joint Chairman of Indian Airlines and Air India the man who also made Steel.

RIP man of steel.

Read our 2012 interview with Modi.
10:38  Modi flying in to Delhi in Adani plane:  Narendra Modi flying in to Delhi from Ahmedabad in a 6-seater chartered aircraft owned by Adani. Crowds wait at T3.

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections   
10:38  Narendra Modi, always active on Twitter, said this last evening. "No words will be enough to salute the youth of India. They led from the front in the elections & rose above non-issues like caste & creed."

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections   
10:35  The BJP Parliamentary Board will meet today. Meanwhile, Modi is expected to reach IGI airport any time now. From there, there will be a victory parade -- cars, trucks, tempos -- to the BJP HQ at Ashoka Road.
10:29  LIVE! Delhi makes way for Modi: Roads to avoid today :   If you're in Delhi, here's the route Narendra Modi's procession will take today. So, steer clear.

A procession has been planned in lieu of the party's victory in the Indian elections 2014, that is expected to leave from IGI International Airport Terminal 3 at 11 am, and end at Ashoka Road, New Delhi.

The most affected areas will be the NH 8 that connects Delhi and Gurgaon, Dhaula Kuan, Central Delhi area (Janpath, Ashoka Road, Teen Murti). Time affected would be after 10 am, when the below restrictions are put in place till late afternoon.Route of the procession:IGI Airport Terminal 3 - Service Road -- Central Spine Road -- Aerocity -- Sanjay "T' Point -- National Highway No. 8 -- Dhaula Kuan Flyover -- Sardar Patel Marg --11 Murti -- Mother Teresa Crescent -- Roundabout Teen Murti -- Teen Murti Marg -- R/A GKPO -- Akbar Road -- R/A Moti Lal Nehru Place -- Janpath -- Windsor Place -- Ashoka Road BJP Heaquarters.

For more details check the Traffline site.

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections   
10:26  PM delivers emotional farewell speech:  Dr Singh's deadpan, but emotional speech, his last as the prime minister of  this country. Arun Jaitley's blog on May 13 praised the PM saying: "Prime Minister goes out with dignity and grace. He will remain an elder statesman and a man of credibility to guide the nation. Only if he had stood up at the right time and disagreed he would have been regarded with still a greater honour."

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections   
10:16  Aspirations vote out old slogans:  An extraordinary mix of unprecedented hype, unbridled hope and unparalleled hard work enabled Narendra Modi to secure a magnificent mandate for the BJP and the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance today, far surpassing even the most optimistic opinion poll and exit poll surveys that had predicted a 272+ tally for the NDA. Read more

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections   
10:11  The full text of the PM's speech:   My Fellow Citizens,           

I address you today for the last time as Prime Minister of India.            
Ten years ago, when I was entrusted with this responsibility, I entered upon it with diligence as my tool, truth as my beacon and a prayer that I might always do the right thing.            

Today, as I prepare to lay down office, I am aware that well before the final judgment that we all await from the Almighty, there is judgment in the court of public opinion that all elected officials and governments are required to submit themselves to.            

Fellow citizens, each one of us should respect the judgement that you have delivered.  The just concluded elections have deepened the foundations of our democratic polity.            

As I have said on many occasions, my life and tenure in public office are an open book.  I have always tried to do my best in serving this great nation of ours.            

In the last ten years, we as a country have seen many successes and achievements that we should be proud of. 

Today, India is a far stronger country in every respect than it was a decade ago.  I give credit for these successes to all of you.  However, there is still vast latent development potential in our country and we must collectively work hard to realize it.            

As I leave office, my abiding memory will be the love and kindness that I have always received from you.  I owe everything to this country, this great land of ours where I, an underprivileged child of Partition, was empowered enough to rise and occupy high office. 

It is both a debt that I will never be able to repay and a decoration that I will always wear with pride.            

Friends, I am confident about the future of India.  I firmly believe that the emergence of India as a major powerhouse of the evolving global economy is an idea whose time has come.  Blending tradition with modernity and unity with diversity, this nation of ours can show the way forward to the world.  Serving this nation has been my privilege.  There is nothing more that I could ask for.            

I wish the incoming government every success as it embarks on its task and pray for even greater successes for our nation.            

Thank you. 
Jai Hind.              
10:09  LIVE! PM's farewell address to India: Have always tried to do my best :  "India is a far stronger country today than it was a decade ago. The credit goes to you. India will emerge as a powerhouse.  My abiding memory will be the love and kindness that I have always received from you.

I, an  underprivileged child of Partition, could rise to high office, it is a debt I will never be able to repay. It is a decoration I will always wear with pride. I wish the incoming government every success," the PM says. 

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections   
10:06  The Prime Minister says, " Today as I prepare to lay down office, there is a judgment in the court of public opinion. The just concluded elections have deepened the foundations of our democracy. Have always tried to do my best in serving the state and nation."
10:04  PM's farewell address to the nation before he officially demits office. "I address you today for the last time as PM. I took up the responsibility with due diligence. My public life is an open book. We respect the decision the voters have taken. We have seen many achievements in the last 10 years. I am a child of the Partition, and it is this country that has given me the opportunity to rise to the prime minister of the nation."
09:47  PM's to address the nation before submitting resignation to President :  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will address the nation at 10 am before submitting his resignation to President Pranab Mukherjee.

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections   

09:26  At BJP meet, party to take a call on govt formation :  After Narendra Modi's roadshow in New Delhi, he will attend the BJP parliamentary board meet where the party will take a decision on government formation.

He is expected to meet the RSS top brass after the meet, reports Times Now.

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections   
09:17  Modi leaves Gandhinagar, to have a grandshow in Delhi :  After an emphatic win yesterday, Prime Minister designate Narendra Modi leaves Gandhinagar for New Delhi. He is expected to arrive in the national capital around 10 am, where he will be received by BJP President Rajnath Singh.

The BJP has planned a grand roadshow from the Delhi airport to the party headquarters at 11, Ashoka Road.

Follow latest updates on Twitter: @RediffElections   
03:21  Obama invites Modi to visit Washington:   United States President Barack Obama on Friday night congratulated Narendra Modi for his electoral victory during a telephone call and invited him to visit the US at a mutually agreeable time to further strengthen the bilateral ties.

"The president invited Narendra Modi to visit Washington at a mutually agreeable time to further strengthen our bilateral relationship," the White House said following the maiden telephonic conversation between the two leaders.

The phone call was stated to be brief. Modi, during his US visit would be eligible for an A-1 visa, State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said.   "The Prime Minister of India will be welcomed to the US. As head of government, Modi would be eligible for an A-1 visa," she said.

In 2005, the US state department had revoked a visa that Modi had for travelling to the US on the ground of alleged human rights violations after the 2002 Gujarat riots.
01:26  As head of government, Modi would be eligible for an A-1 visa:  Narendra Modi, all set to become the new prime minister of India afterthe BJP's big win in the elections, will be granted a US visa upon taking office, U S state department spokesperson Jen Psaki. Psaki has said.

"The Prime Minister of India will be welcomed to the United States. As Head of Government, Mr. Modi would be eligible for an A-1 visa.'The heads of state and heads of government are eligible for A1 visas under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act.
00:23  Obama calls up Modi on his 'emphatic electoral victory':  US President Barack Obama tonight congratulated Narendra Modi for his emphatic electoral victory during a telephone call in which they discussed Indo-US strategic partnership and the global economic situation. Obama told Modi that the largest democracy in the world had given a decisive mandate.

The US leader also expressed the hope that under Modi's leadership, India would play a significant role on the global stage. In Washington, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the prime minister-elect is welcome to visit the US, which has denied him visa since 2005 in the wake the Gujarat riots.

Hours after the results of the elections were out, the White House exuded confidence that the India-US relationship under a Modi Government would make further progress.

"The Prime Minister of India will receive a visa to travel to the United States. We look forward to working with the new government and the new Prime Minister. I don't anticipate any problem in that regard," Carney said when asked about the visa issue.
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