Mon, 12 May 2014
Zee News exit poll: NDA 289, UPA 101, Others 148

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The ABP exit polls final predictions for 543 seats are:  


NDA 281, UPA 97, Others 161, AAP 4

21:03   LIVE! Zee News exit poll: NDA 289, UPA 101, Others 148

Meanwhile, the exit poll conducted by Zee News suggests:  

NDA 289   UPA 101  Others 148  AAP 5

20:56   ABP exit poll: NDA 276, UPA 90, Others 159 in 529/543

The ABP News Exit poll predictions in 529 out of 543 seats have a different story:  

NDA 276 UPA 90 Others 159 AAP 4

20:23   Times Now exit poll: NDA 249, UPA 148, Others 146

The Times Now exit poll predicts:  

NDA: 249   UPA: 148   Others: 146

20:02   EC identifies Cong, BJP, 8 others as defaulting parties
Election Commission (EC) has identified 10 political parties, including BJP, Congress and CPI, for "defaulting" on their submissions to it of their election expenditure statements for various Assembly polls held recently in the country.

Apart from the BJP, Congress and CPI, parties like AIADMK, IUML, Janata Dal (Secular), National People's Party, Rashtriya Janta Dal, United Democratic Party and Zoram Nationalist Party have been identified for not submitting their account statements for various Assembly elections, according to a final report prepared by EC today.
20:00   Modi thanks people, EC and `social media' at the end of polls
Minutes after the ninth and the final phase of the Lok Sabha elections concluded, BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi thanked the voters, the Election Commission and "the social media" in a series of tweets this evening.

"India has voted! Congratulations to the people of India on the successful completion of 2014 Lok Sabha elections," he said on Twitter at around 6:30pm.

Modi, who was seen taking on the Election Commission in the last phases, praised the poll body this evening: "I congratulate the EC & the entire election & security staff for their continuous efforts during the entire Election," a tweet said.
ABP news: Jharkhand: Out of a total of 14 seats, BJP: 12, Cong: 1, Others: 1

Lakshwadeep: Cong wins 1/1
Andaman: BJP wins 1/1
Puducherry: BJP wins 1/1
Chhattisgarh: Out of 11 seats, BJP: 10, Cong: 1

ABP News: Madhya Pradesh: BJP 26, Cong: 3
19:45   Cong manages 2 seats in Gujarat, BJP steals the show with 24
Highest ever turnout of 66.38 per cent recorded in this Lok Sabha poll; the last highest was 64.01 per cent in 1984.

ABP news: Gujarat: 26, BJP: 24, Cong: 2

CNN IBN: Tamil Nadu: 39 seats: AIADMK: 31, DMK: 7 Cong 1
19:42   BJP wins in Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Seemandhra
BJP wins in UP, Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Seemandhra.  
Times Now: Karnataka/ 28 seats: BJP: 18, Cong: 9, JDS: 1 
BJP's Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi says, the exit polls are reiterating that people want a break from corruption and want good governance.
CNN IBN Kerala: UDF (cong +) 11-14, LDF 6-9
19:23   LIVE! Exit polls: TRS sweeps Telangana, BJP+ sweeps Seemandhra
Seemandhra: Out of 25 seats: BJP+ 17, YSRCP: 8.
Telangana: Out of 17 sets: TRS: 9, Cong: 4, BJP+ 2, Left: 2
ABP NEWS: UP+BIHAR+MAHARASHTRA=  99 for NDA, 37 for UPA, 31 for Others, 1 for AAP. That's a total of 168/543
ABP News: Maharashtra/48  BJP+ 32, Cong+ 15, AAP: 1 
The India Today Group-Cicero, Lok Sabha projection:
BJP+ 261-283 seats
Cong+ 110-120 seats
Others: 150-162 seats
The India Today Group-Cicero projection for Haryana:
BJP: 7-9 seats CONG: 0-2 seats OTHERS: 0-2 seats
The India Today Group-Cicero projection for Rajasthan:
BJP: 21-25 seats CONG: 0-4 seats OTHERS: 0-1 seats
18:56   WB: TMC: 20/42
Times Now: West Bengal: Of the 42 seats: TMC gets 20, Left: 15, Cong 5, BJP: 2

ABP News: Bihar out of 40 seats: BJP; 19, LJP: 2, RJD: 10, Cong: 4, JDU: 5

ABP's UP and Bihar predictions: 120/543 UP +Bihar
NDA: 67, UPA: 22

18:45   BJP sweeps Bihar, UP
Congress is expected to draw a blank in Delhi, AAP may get 2 seats at the most, says CNN IBN.

Times Now: Odisha: Out of 21 seats, BJD: 15, Cong: 5 

Bihar out of 40: BJP: 28, JDU: 10, Cong 2

ABP NEWS: Out of 80 seats, BJP: 46, Cong+ 8, BSP: 13, SP: 12
18:36   LIVE! Exit polls: BJP wins in Assam, Arunachal, Delhi
CNN IBN exit poll figures:

Assam: 8/14 seats to BJP
Cong 5

Punjab BJP-SAD: 6/9
AAP: 1-3 seats

Delhi: BJP: 5-7/7
AAP: 0-2/7

18:35   Cong top brass to hold consultations on post poll strategy
After facing a difficult election, Congress top brass including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party chief Sonia Gandhi are expected this evening to deliberate on the strategy ahead.

The Congress core group, headed by Gandhi, will be holding consultations at a time when exit polls would be out, giving indications of the shape of things to come when results are declared on May 16.

While BJP under its Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is upbeat about the prospects, Congress leaders are claiming that UPA III is coming to power.

Only last week, Finance Minister P Chidambaram had said that Congress has a "very good chance" of forming a government under its leadership with some allies. His remarks had come amid talk of an "enlarged" UPA-III to stop Narendra Modi from coming to power.

A senior party leader had floated the idea of an "enlarged" UPA-III taking on board new allies and keeping open the issue of leadership to stop Modi from becoming the Prime Minister.
18:24   LIVE! WB 79%, UP 55%, Varanasi 55%... and going up, says EC
Polling percentages according to Deputy Election Commissioner Vinod Zuthi:

West Bengal 79.03% so far, expected to go up
Azamgarh 57% as compared to 44.19% in 2009
Varanasi 55.34% as compared to 43.34% in 2009
Uttar Pradesh 55.29% so far, expected to go up.
Just in: Mukul Sinha, the lawyer, who consistently took on Gujarat govt on Godhra, post-Godhra riots and fake encounters, passes away. RIP.
Polling has ended at Varanasi. No incidents of violence were reported. 
"I met the future PM today. The environment is in favour of Modiji and the NDA," says PA Sangma of the National People's Party.
17:02   LIVE! Was wearing same kurta when Rahul was here: Ajai Rai
Vicky Nanjappa @ Varanasi:  Congress candidate from Varanasi Ajay Rai has come up with a reason for wearing a Congress pin on his kurta. Rai told, "The symbol is always pinned to my kurta. This was the same kurta I was wearing the day Rahul came here. When I wore the kurta this morning I did not realise the symbol was still there. Nobody pointed it out, not even at the polling booth," says Rai.

An FIR has been filed for poll code violation against Rai. Rai said he has contacted his legal team who will respond to the notice issued to him by the election commission of India.

Follow latest poll updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
16:53   Over 67 pc polling in WB till 3 pm amidst stray violence
Amidst stray violence in which 13 people were injured, over 67 per cent of the electorate today voted in West Bengal till 3:00 pm in the 17 Lok Sabha constituencies in the fifth and final phase of the polls.
16:52   My sons Oedipus complex
Every mother wants to be loved. But is it possible my boy loves me a little too much? The first-person piece on Salon. Read
16:45   'NRI honeymoon murder suspect Dewani not yet fit for trial'
Indian-origin businessman Shireen Dewani, extradited to South Africa from the UK to face murder charges in the killing of his Indo-Swedish wife, today appeared in a court briefly with his lawyers successfully arguing that he was not yet fit to stand trial.

Dewani, 34, wearing a dark suit and tie, made a brief appearance before Cape Judge President John Hlophe for a pre-trial conference.

Dewani's mental condition has improved since he has been receiving treatment at Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital, the Western Cape High Court heard. "I am informed that he has been fully co-operative and that his condition has improved," Dewani's lawyer lawyer Francois van Zyl told the court.
16:39   LIVE! Defence ministry recommends Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag as next army chief
Defence Ministry recommends Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag for next Army Chief; Recommendation sent to Appointments Committee of Cabinet.
Vicky Nanjappa @ Varanasi: Varanasi has recorded a polling percentage of 45.2 per cent until 3 pm. The voting pattern remained consistent all through the day and crowds are still flocking in to cast their vote.

Follow latest poll updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
16:24   AAP attacks EC for not taking action against media houses
The Aam Aadmi Party today attacked the Election Commission for not taking action against "erring" media houses for showing Narendra Modi's video speech on the polling day, which is a violation of the Model Code of Conduct and termed it as an "ostrich approach".

"Aam Aadmi party is shocked to see the gross violation of the MCC by media houses and the ostrich approach of EC today wherein TV News channels have been broadcasting Narendra Modi's live speeches.

"The whole of India is aware that Modi is a contestant in Varanasi and broadcasting his political speeches today amounts to influencing the voters of Varanasi. Aam Aadmi party hopes this complaint will wake the EC from its stupor and the people will witness consummate action instantaneously," AAP said in a letter to the Election Commission.
16:06   Boko Haram leader releases video showing missing Nigerian schoolgirls
Boko Haram released a new video on Monday claiming to show the missing Nigerian schoolgirls, alleging the teenagers had converted to Islam and would not be released until all militant prisoners were freed.

The group's leader, Abubakar Shekau, speaks on the video obtained by AFP for 17 minutes before showing what he said were the girls, in Muslim dress and praying in an undisclosed rural location.

A total of 276 girls were abducted on April 14 from the northeastern town of Chibok, in Borno state, which has a sizeable Christian community. Some 223 are still missing.
16:05   A Chinese-Pashto dictionary, more than 30 years in the making
A break from poll news, for this nice story: How do you say "passion' in Pashto? Or in Chinese, for that matter? These and other vocabulary dilemmas will be resolved easily, thanks to a soon-to-be-released Chinese-Pashto dictionary that took almost four decades to complete.

16:00   Bye bye Bikram, EC nod for new Army chief
The Election Commission today gave the go-ahead to the Defence Ministry to initiate the process of appointing the next Army chief, an issue that is caught in a controversy because of BJP's opposition.

In a communication sent to the Defence Ministry this morning, the EC cited its March 27 order which makes it clear that appointments, promotions, tenders and procurements of defence forces are not covered under the Model Code of Conduct in the ongoing elections as well as any other election in the future, sources said.

The incumbent Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh will retire on July 31 and as per the tradition, the successor is to be appointed two months ahead of that.
15:40   Indian election and the lessons the west can take from Narendra Modi's popularity
Western policy-makers have ignored the rising of the lower middle class across India, reports Jason Burke for the Guardian. Read
Congress core group to meet this evening after polling ends for Lok Sabha elections.
15:10   On a mission to vote
Sisters of Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata queue up to vote. Voting was by and large peaceful except in West Bengal where 13 people were injured in a clash between CPI(M) and Trinamool Congress supporters in North 24 Parganas district. Pic/Abhiroop Dey Sarkar
15:07   LIVE! CBI forms SIT to probe Saradha scam
CBI constitutes Special Investigation Team under a joint director to probe multi-crore rupees Saradha chit fund scam. The Supreme Court verdict had asked the CBI to probe into the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam. Investors who had been cheated by the ponzi schemes now want a court-monitored CBI probe in the issue.

Chit fund Sufferers' Unity Forum (CSUF), an umbrella organisation protesting and safeguarding interests of the duped investors, demanded a court-monitored investigation in Saradha Group chit fund scam as it involved many high profile names, some of them from the state's ruling Trinamool Congress.

Investors from Assam, West Bengal and Odisha were duped of Rs 10,000 crore.
15:00   Yogendra Yadav writes to EC about vote rigging in Gurgaon
AAP's Yogendra Yadav has written to the EC about large-scale vote rigging in the Gurgaon constituency.

Yadav is the AAP's Gurgaon candidate. AAP had also complained about rigging in the Amethi and Sultanpur polls on May 7, but the EC had dismissed the allegations. 

Follow latest poll updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
14:51   Five-member EC if NDA comes to power
If NDA returns to power, the speculation is that the Election Commission will be made into a five-member body. There has been criticism over its style of functioning during the poll season especially a lack of coordination and communication. The NDA feels that the three-member body of EC should be enhanced to five members for smooth functioning.

Follow latest poll updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
14:44   Slow-moving queues, shoddy arrangements irk Varanasi voters
Vicky Nanjappa @ Varanasi: Some polling booths in Varanasi have witnessed protests over poor arrangements and voters slips not being distributed.

Polling started at 7 am and as the day progressed the number of people at the booths increased.

Many said voting slips had not been delivered home and after searching through the list many found their names.

The other issue was complaints about the heat and how the authorities had not even bothered to provide water or covered areas where people would have to queue up.
14:17   LIVE! TMC goons push Students' Federation of India activist into pot of boiling oil
A Students' Federation of India activist was pushed into a pot of boiling oil allegedly by Trinamool Congress supporters in Barrackpore.

Chandan Das, 27, escaped with burns on his hands but suffered serious head injuries after he was mercilessly beaten up when he managed to save himself from the oil.

The incident happened in the Srikrishnapur area within Amdanga assembly segment of Barrackpore parliamentary constituency in North 24 Parganas district.

The accused were alleged TMC activists."He is not bleeding but his head is swollen and he can't rest his head anywhere. He is suffering from extreme pain and we suspect he has suffered internal haemorrhage," said Ipika mandal, Das's fiance, who took him to the district hospital at Barasat.

In another incident in the same Lok Sabha constituency, two CPI(M) councilors of Kanchrapara municipality could not cast their votes after TMC supporters allegedly threatened to kill them if they ventured out to the polling station."They said they would slit our throats," said 76-year-old Jyotsna Roy, a councilor for 20 years.
14:12   'No everlasting peace in J&K without Kashmiri Pandits'
"No matter how many homes I own in Delhi, or any part of the world, as far as I am concerned, there is only one home and that is what was left in Kashmir in the 1990s."  Prasanna D Zore meets Rahul Pandita, a Kashmiri Pandit and author of Our Moon Has Blood Clots, a book that chronicles the plight of his community in the strife-torn Kashmir Valley. Must read.
14:09   Modi to attend Telangana formation day on June 2
Narendra Modi will be attending the Telangana formation day on June 2 in Hyderabad along with senior BJP leaders, say highly-placed BJP sources.

The final decision will be taken after the Lok Sabha poll results as the new government will be in the midst of a Parliament session. BJP sources however confirmed that the new government will take the credit of Telangana even if K Chandrasekhar Rao is administered oath of office as Chief Minister.

The Telangana Rashtriya Samithi wants to have the oath taking ceremony in Karimnagar to avoid Hyderabad.

Follow latest poll updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
14:00   FIR registered against Ajai Rai
Just in: The Sigra Police have registered an FIR against Congress candidate Ajai Rai in Varanasi. The police will probe the poll code violation by Rai who sported the Congress symbol while voting this morning.

Follow latest poll updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
13:58   4 dead, 8 injured in firecracker unit in Sultanpur
Just in: Four people been killed, while eight have been injured in a fire-cracker making unit in the Jaitapur village in Dhammaur constituency of Sultanpur. Of the eight injured, four are children. The cracker-making unit was in a home.
13:56   Digvijaya's romance may get in the way of RS leader of opposition
Who will be Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha? Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ambika Soni and Digvijaya Singh are in the race for Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. 

Digvijaya is caught up with this second marriage controversy with a Rajya Sabha TV anchor, which may get in the way of becoming LoP. If Ghulam Nabi Azad gets elected to the Lok Sabha, then selection of LoP will certainly go to Rajiv Sukhla as he is close to Rahul Gandhi.

The Congress has 64 Rajya Sabha MPs. Dr Manmohan Singh (82) has five years more to serve as RS MP, but he does not want to be burdened by heavy tasks such as the Leader of  Opposition.
13:41   LIVE! Rahul Gandhi to be leader of opposition?
Sumitra Mahajan, SS Ahluwalia and Anath Kumar are the three names doing the rounds in BJP circles for the position of Speaker of the Lok Sabha.

Dr Murli Manohar Joshi is not being considered for this post since he's already 80 years old.

Congress which has reconciled itself to sit in the Opposition, is likely to have Rahul Gandhi as the Leader of Opposition, while the deputy leader will be Jyotiraditya Scindia if he gets elected. But Rahul Gandhi himself would prefer a woman MP like Renuka Choudhary who has the twin advantages of oratory and experience.
13:24   AAP leader in Varanasi arrested for distributing cash
Aam Admi Party leader at Varanasi, Rajesh Rishi, has been arrested by the police when he was trying to distribute cash to buy votes. The police are investigating the case.
Vicky Nanjappa @ Varanasi: Standing in queue, voters say that while the campaign is over publicity cannot influence them. Many in Varanasi are sure Modi will win, but say the margin of his victory is important. The BJP's Varanasi office downplays Joshi's comment about the Rai issue being a small one. Joshi was not being sarcastic, says the BJP and Rai is too small to be given any importance.  
12:54   Nitin Gadkari gets clean chit on investments in Purti Group
Nitin Gadkari has got a clean chit from the finance ministry over his investments in the Purti Power and Sugar Limites. The income tax issued a statement on Monday paving the way for his induction into the Union Council  of Ministers in the event of NDA forming government. This comes as a great relief to Gadkari.

Gadkari had come under attack over investments into his company Purti Power and Sugar Limited and its shareholding pattern. Media reports have claimed that Gadkari was the chairman of PPSL until he resigned and now holds only 310 shares in the company. Now, people close to him control Purti shares.

Quoting Registrar of Companies records, media reports said that three major shareholders of Purti Group - Vidya Buildcon Private Ltd, Sanobar Infrastructure Private Ltd and Roller Multitrade Private Ltd - were registered in an office situated on the second floor of a building in Mumbai's Fort area. It was, however, found that the office was the headquarters of various companies belonging to the well-known Somani Group.

PPSL is currently headed by Sudhir Wamanrao Diwe as its managing director since April, 2005. He was a tehsildar in Nagpur district and came on deputation as the personal assistant of Gadkari during the latter's tenure as PWD minister. He also became Gadkari's personal secretary before taking over the reins of Purti Group.
The scorching sun has not deterred the people of Varanasi from voting. The Election Commission is keeping a close watch on people who may try to convey a political message in contravention of electoral norms.
Voters standing in queue for nearly an hour say there has been so much hype surrounding Varanasi and it would be an absolute shame if they did not reciprocate.
12:15   Why is Manish Sisodia still in Varanasi, asks EC
Vicky Nanjappa @ Varanasi: "What is Manish Sisodia still doing in Varanasi? A team of the Election Commission of India which is probing the matter says it got information about the presence of Sisodia and some Aam Admi Party workers in Varanasi.

The presence has been noted despite the EC making it clear that no outsider will remain in Varanasi after the campaign is over.

AAP workers however have told the EC that he is not here to influence voters but is meeting an ailing relative. The EC is observing this case further.

Follow latest poll updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
12:10   Birth and breeding versus experience
The Gandhi family's arrogance increased over years of inheriting power. The founder, Jawaharlal Nehru, was impatient and angry with superstition, stupidity and slowness. He was much loved for his leadership of the country, and could in the public eye, do no wrong.

His descendants became accustomed to being treated as royalty, and their manners reflected this. The Nehru-Gandhi dynasty has given India three prime ministers who ruled for 37 years.

Others ruled for 30 years, of which the current one has held the position for ten years, when he was fully under the control of the family. Therefore, the family has exercised power over India for 47 of the 67 years since Independence.

12:06   What was it that Ajay Rai did at polling booth?
If you've just joined us, Congress candidate Ajay Rai today landed in a controversy after he went to vote wearing his election symbol on his kurta, prompting Election Commission to launch an inquiry into the matter while BJP and Aam Aadmi Party demanded action against him. "We have called for the CCTV footage of the polling booth and action will be taken after examining the same," Special Election Observer Praveen Kumar said.

Kumar also said that flashing of election symbol at the booth is violation of Section 130 of the Representation of Peoples Act and a report will be sent after inquiry into this matter to the Chief Election Commissioner. A report has also been sought from the local administration into the matter.

Follow latest poll updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
12:02   MM Joshi: Modi wave is working, any doubts?
Vicky Nanjappa @ Varanasi: Back in Varanasi, Murli Manohar Joshi who has just voted says he is confident that the BJP will perform exceedingly well in the entire country.

Joshi sought to play down the controversy surrounding his candidature from Varanasi.

He said all is well and the BJP is winning big. To a question if he saw a Narendra Modi wave in the country, Joshi said, "Modi wave is working, do you have any doubt?"

Follow latest poll updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
12:01   Myth and mock show mingle at a shopfront in eastern UP
The lozenges Jugni Lal sells are lumps of stained sugar twirled into counterfeit wrapping. His cardamoms are hard and dry as pebbles. He sells, among other things, crumbled, flea-ridden jaggery and dal that looks like grit.
11:56   LIVE! EC: Action will be taken against Ajay Rai
Umesh Sinha, Chief Electoral Officer for Varanasi, says that the District Magistrate was informed about a party's sticker being displayed on a laptop, and action will be taken against the defaulter. The DM has been directed to carry out the investigation and action will be taken against Ajay Rai.

Follow latest poll updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
11:50   Over 41 per cent polling recorded in West Bengal till 11 AM
Over 41 per cent voter turnout was recorded till 11 am in 17 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal in the fifth and final phase today. "On an average 41.2 per cent polling was recorded in the first four hours of polling," state Chief Electoral Officer Sunil Gupta said. Stating that voting was peaceful, Gupta said the polling percentage was very good in the first four hours and a large number voters were in queue in most polling stations.

Follow latest poll updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
11:44   The flight of the backward castes
A  majority of the Jatavs are still with Mayawati in U.P., and most Yadavs with the SP, but there has been a shift in allegiance among the other Dalit and OBC communities. Read
11:43   28 per cent voting was recorded by 11 am in Varanasi
Among those who exercised their franchise was sitting BJP MP Murli Manohar Joshi, who cast his vote in Ardali Bazaar area and exuded confidence that BJP would win with a huge majority in these elections.

The senior BJP leader, who has vacated this seat for Modi this time and has moved on to Kanpur, said there were no doubts about Modi's win from Varanasi.

When asked about the 'Modi wave', Joshi said there was a "wave of change" everywhere under the leadership of Modi. Asked which seat Modi should retain between Varanasi and Vadodara, he said this decision would be taken by Modi himself.
11:40   Is Narendra Modi really an OBC?
It is unusual to see Narendra Modi highlight his OBC status -- something he has never done in his long political career. Read
11:23   LIVE! MM Joshi defends Ajay Rai: Everyone takes their hand to poll booth, can't cut it off
"Party which is winning with huge majority should not bother about such small things," says BJP's Murli Manohar Joshi, on Ajay Rai wearing his party symbol. "Everyone takes their hand into a poll booth, should we cut it off?" he asks.

MM Joshi had won Varanasi in 2009 but had to leave his seat for Narendra Modi.

Follow latest poll updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
11:14   Sorcar Jr pins hope on conjuror Modi
Minus the regalia he adorns while on stage -- or, indeed, while going to file his nomination papers as the BJP candidate from Barasat -- PC Sorcar looks hatke, almost aberrant. Unless, of course, you are sitting across the table from him by when you notice his kohl-lined eyes behind large gold-rimmed glasses and the thin, upturned moustache, dyed jet-black like the neatly back-brushed hair. Read

Follow latest poll updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
11:13   The BJP and the mainstreaming of majoritarianism
Mukul Kesavan on the unashamed shrillness of Modi's dog whistle politics. Read
11:05   Ajay Rai embarasses Cong
Vicky Nanjappa @ Varanas: Sensing stringent action, Ajay Rai the Congress candidate from Varanasi has taken a softer stance while defending his action of wearing the Congress symbol while he voted. It was not intentional and was done unknowingly, he told reporters in Varanasi.

Earlier this morning his statement was, "I was just wearing the symbol and not showing it like Modi. I am a candidate and I have a right to wear my symbol on my heart."

This sort of a poll violation attracts a jail term of up to two years and has caused a great deal of embarrassment to the Congress. Sources say he was pulled up by top brass and hence the soft statement on the controversy.- Special observer in Varanasi, Praveen Kumar says that the footage is now being sent to Delhi. The higher ups will observe it and take a final call, he also said.

Follow latest poll updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
10:59   LIVE! Ajay Rai likely to be slapped with FIR for showing hand symbol
Vicky Nanjappa @ Varanas: An FIR is likely to be filed against Ajay Rai based on the recommendation of the Election Commission of Indiam the Election Commission currently is viewing the footage of Rai sporting the Congress symbol as he cast his vote.

The district administration too has sprung into action and says it will probe Rai for this poll code violation. The District Magistrate told the media in Varanasi that they would share the footage with the local police who will in turn will have to file an FIR for poll code violation.

Follow latest poll updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
10:31   4 power cuts in 4 hours leave Varanasi voters fuming
Vicky Nanjappa @ Varanasi: Barely four hours into polling, Varanasi has already witnessed four unscheduled power cuts. 

"This is really disgusting." says Geeta, a voter at the Mahavir Mandir polling booth. 

"Whoever wins should address this issue. All through the day Varanasi witnesses at least 8 to 10 power cuts and worse, all these are unscheduled."

Follow latest poll updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
10:27   Ajai Rai's action was an offence: EC
Vicky Nanjappa @ Varanasi: Election Commission officials say that Ajai Rai's actions of sporting his party symbol after voting is an offence. 

The EC has sought video footage of Ajay Rai casting his vote. 

Further action will be initiated after the footage is observed, EC sources informed. 

The officials will also question the polling booth officials as to how they let Rai vote while sporting his party symbol.

Follow latest poll updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
Vicky Nanjappa @ Varanasi: After being driven away from polling booths for sporting party colours, polling agents have returned in plain clothes.

Follow latest poll updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
10:18   20 per cent polling in Varanasi
Varanasi has recorded 20 per cent voter till 9 am. 

Voters have been making their way to the polling booths early to beat the heat. 

The polling is expected to pick up as the day progresses. 

The voting experience for the residents of Varanasi has been smooth so far.
10:02   No missing names, no violence reported in Varanasi
Vicky Nanjappa @ Varanasi: The holy city may witness a high voter turn out this time. In at least 10 booths, people were seen standing in queue since 6am. Some wanted to be the first ones to cast their vote. Others just wanted to beat the heat by coming in early.

No missing names in voters lists so far. Also, there have also not been reports of violence as yet.

Follow latest poll updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
Indrani Roy @ West Bengal: Sporadic violence has been reported from various parts of West Bengal

Follow latest poll updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
Indrani Roy @ West Bengal: 21 people have been shot at by miscreants in Haroa, Bosirhat city in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal. The attack happened when a group of people was on their way to vote.

Follow latest poll updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
09:36   EC shooes away SP worker working on laptoop with Mulayam sticker
Vicky Nanjappa @ Varanasi: More controversy. A Samajwadi Party agent was sent out of a polling station as he was working on his laptop which had the sticker of SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh. The agent was sent out of the polling booth.

Follow latest poll updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
09:32   Modi was showing his symbol, I am just sporting it: Ajai Rai
Vicky Nanjappa @ Varanasi: Ajay Rai, the Congress candidate from Varanasi who triggered a controversy on Monday morning by sporting his party symbol after voting, now says that he did nothing wrong. 

"I am a candidate and am allowed to wear my party symbol. There is a difference between my incident and that of Modi's. He was showing the symbol, I was just sporting it."

Follow latest poll updates on Twitter: @RediffElections 
09:28   EC cracks down on polling agents
Vicky Nanjappa @ Varanasi: The ‎‎‎Election Commission really seems to be cracking the whip in the last phase of polling.

The poll body has cracked down on poll agents across all polling booths in Varanasi. 

Polling agents, in a desperate bid to promote their candidate, were seen very close to booths beyond the permissible limits.

The EC flying squad has warned all workers to stay outside the polling booths, failing which strict action will be taken.

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09:23   Ajai Rai's pin on kurta lands him in trouble
Vicky Nanjappa @ Varanasi: The BJP is up in arms against Congress candidate Ajay Rai for sporting the Congress symbol as he came out of the polling booth. 

Ajay Rai was seen with the Congress symbol pinned to his kurta while casting his vote. 

This is objectionable, the BJP says whose prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi had been pulled up for something similar.

The BJP has decided to complain to the EC.

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09:23   EC pulls up BJP polling agents
Vicky Nanjappa @ Varanasi: Meanwhile, a flying squad of the Election Commission has taken strong exception to polling agents of the BJP wearing saffron caps and T-shirts. 

The incident occurred at the Mahavir Mandir polling booth.

‎The EC team pulled up the workers and asked them to leave the place immediately.
Vicky Nanjappa @ Varanasi: The Aam Admi Party, which has deputed 250 self styled sleuths to monitor the elections at Varanasi, has urged the people to end corruption and crony capitalism. 

Tweeting from its official handle, the AAP says: 'Todays polling will play a crucial role in the process ending corruption and crony capitalism in our country. Please go vote.'

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Vicky Nanjappa @ Varanasi: "Banaras ki ek ray, Ajay Rai," says the Congress candidate from Varanasi after emerging from the polling booth.

At the polling station, when voters were asked about the outsider tag of Narendra Modi, they say he will retain Varanasi as this would help him politically. 

"Modi has proven himself to be development friendly and Uttar Pradesh needs that badly. Modi symobolises change and this is above the outsider tag," said one of the voters

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09:09   ‎Brisk voting at Varanasi
Vicky Nanjappa @ Varanasi: ‎Brisk voting at Varanasi. Looks like the 2009 polling percentage of 42 per cent will be surpassed. 

Murli Manohar Joshi sitting MP from Varanasi expected to cast his vote shortly.

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09:07   Varanasi turns into fortress
Vicky Nanjappa @ Varanasi: Massive security arrangements have been made in Benaras. 

Around 25,000 police personnel and 20,000 central forces are patrolling the holy city, which has over 16 lakh voters.‎ 

Senior police officials have been asked to inspect the situation personally. 

Election commission officials, flying squads and micro observers too are on the job to ensure fair polling.

CCTV cameras have been fitted in all 1562 polling booths. Videographers are recording the proceedings in 300 booths
08:47   Day after riots, Meerut schools remain shut today
A day after cases against 200 persons were registered in connection with a communal clash that left seven injured here, authorities ordered the closure of all schools in the city in Uttar Pradesh. 

Security was, meanwhile, intensified here where an uneasy calm prevailed following Friday's clash between two communities over the construction of a water kiosk near a mosque in Teergaran area. 

Members of a community opposed the installation of the kiosk, saying it was near their temple too and the queue of people would disturb the peace of the premises. 

But people from the other community did not agree and installed the water kiosk there, following which a scuffle took place between the two rival groups.

The scuffle blew out of proportion and people started shouting slogans against the other community. 

Some vehicles and kiosks were set afire, and members from each side pelted bricks and stones. There were also reports of firing. 
08:39   EC keeps hawk eye on Varanasi polling
Vicky Nanjappa @ Varanasi: EC says no campaign material will be allowed 100 meters near the booth. Unwarranted assembly of people will not be allowed. Only one polling agent per candidate allowed at the booth. 

‎EC officials say that all EVMs in Varanasi have been checked and are working fine. 

"We have gone out of our way to ensure a free and fair poll," says special observer Praveen Kumar. 

"All security measures are in place. More importantly we want all to get a chance to vote and there should be no violence."
08:28   Last round of polling begins; all eyes on Varanasi
The marathon Lok Sabha elections, one of the most bitterly fought in recent memory, will come to a close on Monday as polling began in 41 constituencies in three states where stakes are high for BJP and regional parties Trinamool Congress, SP and BSP. 

Over nine crore voters are expected to decide the fate of 606 candidates, including BJP's Prime Ministerial nominee Narendra Modi and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal (both Varanasi) and SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav (Azamgarh) in Monday's ninth and final phase of polling. 

Campaigning in the election that started on April 7 came to an end yesterday with Rahul Gandhi taking the battle to Modi's turf in Varanasi while other top leaders including Modi and UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav addressing last minute meetings.
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