Thu, 10 March 2022
'Bulldozer baba': Yogi's new sobriquet

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23:31   'Bulldozer baba': Yogi's new sobriquet
As the counting of votes in Uttar Pradesh elections began Thursday morning, a meme in Hindi started doing the rounds on social media -- 'A massive road accident in Uttar Pradesh as a bulldozer decimates an oncoming speeding bicycle'.

By the evening, the politically loaded meme -- which conveyed that the Samajwadi Party (bicycle being its polls symbol) has been routed by the might of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath (or 'bulldozer baba') went viral on social media.

Adityanath, who is generally referred to as 'Maharaj ji', earned this new sobriquet of 'bulldozer baba' during the current elections due to his frequent reference of the heavy machine which his dispensation deployed to raze the ill-gotten property of criminals and mafia in the state.

As the election results and trends showed a clear Bharatiya Janata Party majority in Uttar Pradesh, party supporters in several parts of the state joined victory celebrations with bulldozers.

In Lucknow, Varanasi and Adityanath's own Gorakhpur, enthusiastic party supporters were seen taking out victory processions on bulldozers and chanting slogan 'bulldozer baba zindabad (long live bulldozer baba)' in praise of Adityanath.

Outside the BJP office in the state capital of Lucknow, some excited supporters were spotted riding on a bulldozer with saffron flags to celebrate the party's victory in the elections.

Sumant Kashyap, an ardent BJP supporter, had fixed a toy bulldozer on his headgear.

In Gorakhpur, from where Adityanath was in fray, supporters took out a victory procession with a fleet of bulldozers with BJP flags affixed on them to express their happiness.

They were shouting slogans like 'bulldozer baba zindabad' and 'goonj raha hai ek hi naam bulldozer baba Jai Shri Ram'.

Similarly in Varanasi, BJP supporters hit the streets with bulldozer, raising slogans in favour of Adityanath.

Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma said in a statement that people have set off a 'bulldozer of votes' over staunch dynasts, casteism, criminalisation and regionalism of the opponents.

Adityanath gets 'baba' reference in his name as he is the head of Gorakhnath temple in Gorakhpur.

He invoked bulldozer in his several election speeches,, saying these heavy machines have gone for 'maintenance' during the polls and would again roll out after the party returns to power.

In some rallies, bulldozers were seen parked at the venue of Adityanath public meetings in different places.   -- PTI
22:37   UP Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya loses to SP
Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya lost the Uttar Pradesh Assembly poll contest to Samajwadi Party's Pallavi Patel by 7,337 votes from the Sirathu constituency in Kaushambi district on Thursday.

According to the Election Commission's (EC) website, Maurya polled 98,941 votes, while Pallavu Patel, the elder sister of Union minister Anupriya Patel, got 1,06,278 votes.

Maurya had won the Sirathu seat in 2012, but had not contested the 2017 polls.

His defeat came as a surprise as the Bharatiya Janata Party, along with its allies, is set to register a huge poll victory to retain power in Uttar Pradesh.  -- PTI
22:18   Farmers' front couldn't win even 1 seat in Punjab
The Sanyukt Samaj Morcha, a political outfit of several farmer bodies, failed to make an impact in the political space during the 2022 Punjab assembly polls.

Farmer leader Balbir Singh Rajewal-led SSM could not win any seat in Punjab where the Aam Aadmi Party registered a comprehensive victory.

Euphoric over the success of their 'morcha', which continued for over a year at Delhi borders against the Centre's now-repealed three farm laws, several farm groups had decided last December to take the electoral plunge to bring about a political change.

They fought the February 20 polls in alliance with Haryana Bharatiya Kisan Union (Chaduni) leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni-led Sanyukt Sangharsh Party.

Rajewal, a prominent farmer leader who stood against the farm laws, was the leader of the SSM and shot into limelight following the repeal of the contentious laws.

Rajewal had then said it was due the demand and 'enormous pressure' of the people of Punjab that the farmer bodies' decided to enter politics.

Rajewal, 79, unsuccessfully contested from Samrala assembly seat.

Despite claims of getting immense support from people on the ground, the SSM appeared to have struggled in the polls.

Moreover, prominent farmer organisations like Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan), the largest outfit in the state, and BKU (Dakaunda) did not align with the SSM while two SSM candidates withdrew from contesting the polls claiming lack of support.

SSM's Rampura Phul candidate Jaskaran Singh retired and announced support forthe AAP candidate while Mansa nominee Gurnam Singh too withdrew from the contest.

All the candidates fielded by the SSM filed their nominations as Independents as the SSM could not get itself registered as a political party during filing of nomination papers.

Later, the EC approved 'Sanyukt Samaj Morcha' as name of the political party subject to fulfilling certain conditions for the formal registration.

Though the SSM demanded a common symbol of 'tractor' for its independent candidates, it was allotted 'cot' as the party symbol.

Farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, started protesting at Delhi border points -- Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur -- on November 26, 2020 against the three contentious farm laws.

The laws were repealed by Parliament on November 29, 2021 but farmers continued their protest over their pending demands such as a committee for legal guarantee for MSP and withdrawal of police cases against farmers, among others.

The protest was suspended on December 9 after the government agreed to fulfil the pending demands.   -- PTI
21:43   Cong will be combative Oppn in UP: Priyanka
After it suffered a crushing defeat in the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, Congress general secretary in-charge of the state Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Thursday said party workers and leaders worked hard but failed to convert that into votes, and asserted that the Congress would continue to fulfil its duty as a combative opposition.

Despite an aggressive campaign pitch by Priyanka Gandhi, the Congress failed to make an impact in the polls and won one while was leading on another out of the 403 assembly seats.

'The vote of the people is paramount in a democracy. Our workers and leaders worked hard, established the organisation, fought on the issues of the people. But, we were not able to convert our hard work into votes,' Priyanka Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi.

'The Congress party, for the betterment of UP and the people, will continue to fulfil the duty of a combative opposition by following a positive agenda,' she said.   -- PTI
Photograph: Sandeep Pal
Photograph: Sandeep Pal
21:38   Aditi Singh, who left Congress for BJP, squeaks through in Rae Bareli
Aditi Singh, who had quit as a sitting Congress MLA to join the BJP ahead of the 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, on Thursday won the Rae Bareli Sadar seat, according to official results. 

Aditi Singh, a second generation politician, is the daughter of the late Akhilesh Singh, a former five-term MLA from Rae Bareli Sadar, not long ago considered a Congress bastion. 

Aditi got 1.02 lakh votes after an intense electoral fight with nearest rival Ram Pratap Yadav of the Samajwadi Party who polled 95,254 votes, the Election Commission website showed. 

Her victory margin was 7,175 votes, according to the EC. 

The Congress's Manish Singh got 14,954 votes and stood third among the contestants while the BSP's Mohammed Ashraf managed 9,331 votes, while 2,281 voters opted for NOTA (none of the above) option on the EVM, it showed. 

The seat had gone to polls on February 23. 
21:35   Ex-ED officer Rajeshwar Singh wins from Sarojini Nagar
Former ED officer and BJP candidate Rajeshwar Singh won the Sarojini Nagar seat in Uttar Pradesh's capital Lucknow with a margin of over 32,000 votes against his nearest Samajwadi Party rival. 

Singh posted a picture of him receiving the certificate of election from EC authorities from his official Twitter handle (image alongside) and said it was the victory of the people of his constituency. 

However, the Election Commission website update at 9.30 pm showed Singh was leading with a margin of nearly 50,000 votes over Mishra and the result was in progress.

Mishra is considered to be a trusted lieutenant of Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav. 

Singh was serving as the joint director of the federal probe agency at its zonal office in Lucknow and he took voluntary retirement from service, which was approved by the Centre in January. 

The Enforcement Directorate officer, who turns 49 tomorrow, began his civil service career with the Uttar Pradesh police, in which he served for about 10 years. The next 14 years of his service were in the ED, which he had joined on central deputation in 2007. 

"I would say that this victory of the party in Uttar Pradesh is a victory of the ideology of the BJP. The ideology of the country first. The other parties we were fighting had the ideology of family first, mafia first, criminals first," Singh said. "We are heading for a SP-free Uttar Pradesh...the party (SP) will be wiped off from the state now," he told PTI. 

Singh said he will want to work for women and the youth. 

The BJP gave the poll ticket to Singh for the Sarojini Nagar seat over state minister Swati Singh and her husband Dayashankar Singh, the BJP state vice president. 

A total of 14 candidates contested the polls from this seat. 

-- PTI
20:54   Poll results show support for BJP policies: Modi
Lauding Bharatiya Janata Party workers for ensuring an early Holi by making BJP victorious in four states, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said the election results highlight people's stamp of strong approval for the party's pro-poor and pro-active governance model.

"It is a day of zest and festivities and this enthusiasm is for India's democracy," Modi said, while addressing BJP workers at the party's headquarters following its win in four state polls, and described it as 'jeet ka chauka'.

He said Uttar Pradesh has given many prime ministers but for the first time it has reelected a chief minister after he had served a full term.

The prime minister said that governance delivery has been made better and transparent in the last few years, while delivering the poor their rights.

Modi further said, "BJP karyakartas had promised me that Holi would begin from 10th March this year, and they have kept their promise. These workers worked 24X7 and were successful in winning the trust of the people across states."

"BJP's vote share has increased in Manipur, Uttar Pradesh and Goa, even after being incumbent. All exit polls were proven incorrect in Goa, and the people of Goa have given us the chance to serve them for the third consecutive time," he said.

In Goa, he said, the BJP has emerged as the single largest party and even after being in power for 10 years, the number of BJP seats in the state has increased.

"BJP has created a new history in Uttarakhand too," he said, while referring to the BJP winning for the second consecutive time.   -- PTI
JP Nadda with Pushkar Dhami
JP Nadda with Pushkar Dhami
20:27   BJP wins majority in Uttarakhand assembly
The Bharatiya Janata Party has crossed the halfway mark and attained a majority in the Uttarakhand assembly. 

According to the latest Election Commission trends, the BJP has won 40 seats and is leading in 7 seats. 

The Congress has won 16 seats and is leading on three seats.

The halfway mark for the Uttarakhand assembly is 35.
19:54   Sonu Sood's sister loses to AAP in Moga
Actor Sonu Sood's sister Malvika Sood, who was contesting from Moga in Punjab on a Congress ticket, has been defeated by the Aam Aadmi Party's Dr Amandeep Kaur Arora by over 20,000 votes. 

As per the Election Commission of India, the AAP candidate bagged the seat with a margin of 20,915 votes. 

Dr Arora won 59,149 votes, followed by Malvika Sood with 38,234 votes. 

Last month, Malvika, who joined the Congress party on January 10, had said that she was hopeful of winning the assembly elections.
19:44   Modi arrives at BJP victory celebrations
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives at the Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters in Delhi.

The party emerged victorious in Goa, Manipur, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.

Modi will addresses party workers at the headquarters.  -- ANI
19:07   'Will Kejriwal allow Mann to run Punjab?'
The Aam Aadmi Party has swept the Punjab assembly elections, and is expected to win around 90 of of 117 seats, a margin that has surprised political observers and rivals alike.

After Delhi, Punjab is the first state where AAP will form a government.

What went in AAP's favour? How did the party bag an absolute majority by completely overshadowing the entrenched parties in the state -- the Congress, the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Party?

Malvinder Singh Mali, political analyst and former advisor to Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu, spoke to Syed Firdaus Ashraf/ on AAP's rise and the Congress's decline in Punjab. Read the interview here. 
Smriti Irani and Rahul Gandhi at Parliament House
Smriti Irani and Rahul Gandhi at Parliament House
19:04   Don't think Rahul can learn from mistakes: Smriti
BJP's Smriti Irani reacts to Rahul Gandhi's tweet conceding defeat in the assembly elections. "I don't think he has the 'damkham' (strength) to learn from his mistakes. In UP it was said that Priyanka will infuse new life into the party, instead she destroyed it," Union Minister Smriti Irani on Rahul Gandhi's, 'we'll learn from our mistakes' tweet.

Congress is now at an all time low, being in power only in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. It is ahead in only 1 seat and 1 win in Uttar Pradesh with a vote share of just 2.3 per cent -- notwithstanding the high-decibel campaign by the Gandhi siblings Rahul and Priyanka.
BJP workers celebrate the party's spectacular win in UP
BJP workers celebrate the party's spectacular win in UP
18:56   Goa: BJP claims support of MGP, three Independents
The BJP which is poised to retain power in Goa by winning half the seats claimed on Thursday evening that the MGP and three Independents have agreed to support it. 

 The BJP has won 20 out of 40 seats, while the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) has won two seats. 

 Speaking at a press conference after poll results became clear, Goa BJP chief Sadanand Tanavade said that the party had received letters of support from the MGP and three Independents. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant gave credit for the victory to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

 "We will go for government formation as per the party's decision," he said. The party managed to increase its vote share and seats in this election without entering into any alliance, Sawant noted. PTI
Mamata Banerjee broke away from the Congress to form the TMC in 1998
Mamata Banerjee broke away from the Congress to form the TMC in 1998
18:53   TMC asks Congress to merge with it
TMC on Thursday asked Congress to merge with it and fight against BJP under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee after its rout in the assembly poll in five states where votes were counted on Thursday. 

This drew a sharp retort from the grand old party which accused it of being an "agent of BJP". 

 Asked to comment on the party's poor show in Goa, TMC leaders said the party is satisfied with the votes it secured given the fact that the party had opened its unit in the coastal state a few months ago. 

 BJP is racing to a second straight win in politically crucial Uttar Pradesh and is dominating the score chart in Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur, while the Aam Aadmi Party won a landslide victory in Punjab and wrested the state from the Congress, diminishing the party even further. 

 Congress is now at an all time low, being in power only in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. It is ahead in only two seats in Uttar Pradesh with a vote share of just 2.3 per cent -- notwithstanding the high-decibel campaign by the Gandhi siblings Rahul and Priyanka. 

 "From the results, it is proven that Congress is now just limited to two states. Congress has failed to fight against the BJP. "TMC has shown how you can put up a fight against the BJP and defeat it (in Bengal). It is high time that Congress merges with TMC and fights under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee," senior TMC leader and state minister Firhad Hakim said. -- PTI
18:50   Shah, Nadda reach BJP HQ for victory lap
Union Home Minister and BJP leader Amit Shah arrives at BJP Headquarters in Delhi. The party emerged victorious in Goa, Manipur, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. 

BJP national president JP Nadda has also reached the party headquarters in Delhi. 

Shah on Thursday said the BJP's "grand victory" in Uttar Pradesh is the result of the people's faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's welfare programmes for villages, the poor and farmers. He also said that the state's people have put their stamp on Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's good governance and an administration free from fear and corruption. 

 In a series of tweets, the senior BJP leader also expressed his gratitude to the people of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa for reposing their faith in the BJP. The BJP is set to return to power in politically crucial Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa as results for the assembly elections in the four states along with Punjab are declared on Thursday. The Aam Aadmi Party is posed to form its first government in Punjab.
18:30   For Yogi Adityanath fans
Uttar Pradesh CM tweets this picture of himself saying, "Thank you. Gratitude and thanks."

With results of the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls pouring in, the BJP has won on 50 seats and is leading on 218, while its rival Samajwadi Party is leading on 123 seats.
18:14   Everyone had their eyes on UP: Yogi
Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath arrives at the BJP office in Lucknow where he is received by a huge crowd of party workers. "The 7-phase election in the state were conducted peacefully. It sets a great precedent. Everyone had their eyes on UP, given the vastness of the state. 
"I am thankful to the people for making us win with majority...Under PM Modi's leadership we will be forming govts in UP, Goa, Manipur, and Uttarakhand," Adityanath said. 
Kapil Sibal is one of the dissenting Congress leaders
Kapil Sibal is one of the dissenting Congress leaders
17:56   G-23 to meet in 48 hours over Cong poll debacle
Upset with results and rapid decline of Congress in the recent Assembly Elections, G-23 leaders will meet in the next 48 hours, a senior leader tells ANI.

The Congress has lost in all five states - Manipur, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Goa and Punjab .

The party has decided to convene a Congress Working Committee meeting soon to introspect the results, Congress General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala said today while conceding defeat. 

After the loss of 2019 Lok Sabha elections, several Congress leaders believed that party-level reforms were need of the hour. Amid the thinning base of the grand-old party, leaders demanded a democratic set up within the national party as it struggled to have a leader, post-Sonia Gandhis resignation.

In August 2020, 23 senior Congress leaders wrote a letter to interim party chief Sonia Gandhi requesting immediate and active leadership, organisational rejig. In the letter, they sought an overhaul within the party in view of frequent failures at Lok Sabha and state elections. 

Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kapil Sibal, Manish Tewari, Anand Sharma are among the group of 23. 

Sibal had said at a press conference that the G-23 grouping is "not a Jee Huzur 23" and will continue to put forth the views and will continue to repeat the demands.

AAP celebrates a clean sweep in Punjab
AAP celebrates a clean sweep in Punjab
17:47   Punjab loss due to anti-incumbency under Capt: Cong
Congress could not overcome the anti-incumbency of 4.5 years under the leadership of former Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh and thus people of the state voted for Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for change, said Congress General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala on Thursday.

"In Punjab, Congres presented a new leadership through Charanjit Singh Channi who is son of the soil, but the entire anti-incumbency of 4.5 years under Captain Amarinder Singh could not be overcome and hence people voted for AAP for change," Surjewala said addressing a press conference here today. 

In Punjab, Aam Aadmi Party is on course to three-fourths majority having won 37 seats and is leading on 54 seats in 117 member assembly. Congress has won four seats and is leading on 15, SAD has won one seat and is leading on two seats, BJP has won one seat and is leading on one more and BSP is leading on one seat. The independents have won one seat. Bhagwant Mann is the chief ministerial face of the AAP in Punjab.

Congress went into the polls having battled factionalism and anti-incumbency. The party changed its chief minister in September last year even as new Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu hinted about his own chief ministerial ambitions. 

The Congress finally declared Charanjit Singh Channi, the first Dalit Chief Minister of Punjab, as its chief ministerial candidate days before the polling on February 20.

The Shiromani Akali Dal, which had broken off its alliance with BJP over three farm laws which were eventually repealed, tied up with Bahujan Samaj Party for the assembly elections.

It is the first time that BJP fought over 65 seats in Punjab. It tied up with former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh's Punjab Lok Congress and SAD (Sanyukt) led by SS Dhindsa. BJP leaders have talked of putting up a strong performance in the polls.  -- ANI
17:45   Investors' wealth jumps over Rs 10.83 lakh cr in 3 days
Equity investors have become richer by over Rs 10.83 lakh crore as stocks extended their rising streak for the third consecutive session on Thursday.

The 30-share BSE benchmark Sensex soared 817.06 points or 1.50 per cent to close at 55,464.39. In three days, the benchmark has gained 2,621.64 points. 

 Tracking the ongoing rally in equities, the market capitalisation of BSE-listed companies jumped by Rs 10,83,103.27 crore in three sessions to stand at Rs 2,51,93,934.31 crore.
17:43   Charanjit Singh Channi -- the 111-day CM
Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi loses Bhadaur (by 37,558 votes) and Chamkaur Sahib (by 7942 votes) as per official EC trends. 

Till some months ago, Charanjit Singh Channi was just another minister in Amarinder Singh's Congress government. And when the party decided to replace the veteran leader as the chief minister in Punjab, Channi wasn't even in the list of obvious front-runners.

 But after the Congress made the surprise decision, Channi took to his new role as CM with enthusiasm, announcing sops, featuring in full-page newspaper advertisements and even participating in a game of hockey.

 Though Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu, who played a major role in Amarinder Singh's ouster, continued with his pitch to be declared the party CM's face as the assembly polls neared, the Congress picked Channi. 

 His credentials as Punjab's first Dalit CM appeared to help.

 Over 30 per cent of the state's population is Dalit. 

 The Congress fielded Channi from two seats -- Chamkaur Sahib in Rupnagar and Bhadaur in Barnala, a move which showed how much the Congress was banking on him. 

He lost from both, and the party received a drubbing from the Aam Aadmi Party. Channi, who appeared to come from nowhere to centre stage for about four months, is now headed back to relative obscurity.
17:08   Goans have shown faith in Modi: Fadnavis
BJP leader and Goa election in-charge Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday said that Goans have shown faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"The people of Goa have given us a clear majority. We will get 20 seats or even 1-2 seats more. People have shown faith in PM Modi," said Fadnavis.

 Exuding confidence in forming a BJP government in Goa, Fadnavis said that Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) would also be allying with BJP in Goa along with other Independent candidates.

"Independent candidates are coming with us. MGP is also coming with us and taking all together, we will form our government", BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis.

In Goa, where predictions were for a hung assembly, due to a multi-cornered contest with parties including the BJP, Congress, Trinamool Congress, and AAP.

In 2017, Congress had emerged as the single largest party in the state, winning 17 seats but the BJP, which won 13 seats, managed to form the government with the support of the Goa Forward Party and the MGP which had won three seats each, and two independents. -- ANI

Tally: BJP: 18 leads, 2 Wins, Cong: 5 leads, 6 Wins, AAP: 1 lead, 1 win

16:46   SAD patriarch Parkash Singh Badal loses Lambi
SAD patriarch and former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal lost to AAP's Gurmeet Singh Khudian from his traditional Lambi seat in Punjab's Muktsar district, according to results declared on Thursday. Badal, 94, the oldest candidate in the fray, was defeated by Khudian by a margin of 11,396 votes. The Aam Aadmi Party is heading for a landslide victory in Punjab. PTI
16:45   Warne's body arrives in Melbourne
This is a break from election news, to tell you that the late Australian spin legend Shane Warne's body arrived at his home city Melbourne from Bangkok in a private jet on Thursday.

Warne's body was flown to Melbourne in a coffin wrapped in the Australian flag. The private jet landed at around 8:30pm local time. He will be given a state funeral on March 30 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. 

 "A private jet carrying the Australian cricket legend's body touched down at Essendon Fields Airport in Melbourne at around 8.30pm on Thursday night. The charter flight was moved into a private hangar," '' reported. 

 "Fans and friends, including Warne's personal assistant Helen Nolan, were at the airport to greet the private plane," the report added. Warne, who is credited with reviving the art of leg-spin bowling by taking 708 wickets in 145 Tests in an illustrious career spanning 15 years, died at the age of 52 in Koh Samui, Thailand on March 4. 

 The news of his death sent shock waves across the cricket fraternity. Following his demise, Warne's body had been taken to the mainland city of Surat Thani and then to the capital city of Bangkok. An autopsy confirmed he died of natural causes following a suspected heart attack and there was no foul play involved. His family will hold a private funeral before the public service, which is expected to have an attendance of over one lakh people. PTI
AAP's CM candidate Bhagwant Mann with his mother
AAP's CM candidate Bhagwant Mann with his mother
16:39   AAP wins 59 seats in Punjab crossing halfway mark
The Aam Aadmi Party crossed the halfway mark in Punjab, winning 59 seats and leading in 33, according to the poll results declared by the Election Commission so far. 

 In the 117-member Assembly, a party needs to get 59 seats to form the government. As per the data available at 4 pm, the ruling Congress won nine seats and was leading in nine other seats. On the other hand, the SAD-BSP and the BJP-led alliances faced a rout in the polls.
Congress leader Harish Rawat
Congress leader Harish Rawat
16:26   Sonia to hold CWC meet to introspect defeats
Reactions from the Congress on their losses in all five states. 

Congress leader RS Surjewala: "The results of 5 states have come against the expectations of the Congress party but we accept that we failed to get the blessings of the people. Sonia Gandhi has decided to convene Congress Working Committee meeting soon to introspect the results. We've only lost elections, not our courage. We'll keep fighting till we win and will return with new strategy."

Congress leader Harish Rawat: "Our efforts were a little less to win over the public of Uttarakhand. We were sure that people will vote for a change, there must've been a shortage in our efforts, I accept it and take responsibility for the defeat." 
16:15   Adityanath leading by over 50,000 votes
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has strengthened his lead over his nearest rival in the Gorakhpur Urban assembly constituency, while his deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya is trailing in Sirathu. 

 Adityanath has so far polled 80,510 votes, while his nearest rival Subhawati Shukla of the Samajwadi Party (SP) has got 28,536 votes, according the Election Commission (EC) website. He was leading by over 51,000 votes. 

 In Sirathu, Deputy Chief Minister Maurya was behind SP's Pallavi Patel by a thin margin of 82 votes. -- PTI
AAP workers distribute sweets in Amritsar
AAP workers distribute sweets in Amritsar
15:51   Humbly accept people's verdict: Rahul Gandhi
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi concedes defeat. "Humbly accept the people's verdict. Best wishes to those who have won the mandate. My gratitude to all Congress workers and volunteers for their hard work and dedication. We will learn from this and keep working for the interests of the people of India," Gandhi said. 

No lessons learnt from earlier losses. 
15:44   TMC scores a big zero in Goa
The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC), which contested the Goa Assembly elections for the first time this year, failed to make a mark in the coastal state. 

As per the latest data of the Election Commission of India (ECI), the TMC was not leading in any seat in Goa, where counting of votes was underway on Thursday. 

 The TMC's key candidates, including Goa party chief Kiran Kandolkar, his wife Kavita Kandolkar, party nominee Churchill Alemao (who quit the NCP to join the TMC) and his daughter Valanka were trailing in their respective constituencies. 

"We accept this mandate with all humility. We commit ourselves to work harder to earn the trust and love of every Goenkar. No matter how long it takes, we will be here and we will continue to serve the people of Goa," the TMC's Goa unit said on its Twitter handle. 

 According to the ECI's data at 3.15 pm, the TMC so far secured 5.22 per cent of the votes while its ally Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) got 7.65 per cent of the votes. 

 The TMC candidates were on second and third positions in a few constituencies. 

It took a plunge into Goa's electoral politics a few months before the polls, held on February 14, and contested in 26 seats in alliance with the MGP, the state's oldest regional outfit. 

Kiran Kandolkar last month claimed that their political consultant I-PAC abandoned the party candidates after the state Assembly polls. The TMC's Goa unit chief had said he was upset with I-PAC head Prashant Kishor. PTI
15:40   Akhilesh has fought better than before: Pawar
NCP chief Sharad Pawar on the results: "The people of Punjab defeated BJP and Congress and gave a mandate to Aam Aadmi Party. There was anger against PM Modi in the hearts of Punjab farmers... BJP will have to wait for 2.5 years in Maharashtra. 

"SP chief Akhilesh Yadav is not at fault, he contested on his own. He shouldn't think about the polling results as he has higher stature in this country. He has fought better than before."
15:36   Thank you, lord
A self-proclaimed atheist when Arvind Kejriwal was a student at IIT Kharagpur (and that's him in our quiz at the 12:47 pm post), the politician Kejriwal is a firm temple goer. After the winning Punjab, the chief convenor of the Aam Aadmi Party prayed at Hanuman temple in Delhi. 
15:19   After win in Punjab, Kejriwal stakes claim to India
'Punjab waalo tussi kamaal kar ditta', we all love you, Punjab. The results are a massive 'inquilaab', big seats have shaken up," AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal addresses people in Punjab.

"We will fulfill the dream of Baba Bhimrao Ambedkar and Shaheed Bhagat Singh. Now people have got an alternative in politics and the people of Punjab have given an opportunity to that alternative.

"Gaali ka jawaab gali se nahin dena. We want to bring a politics of love and work," Kejriwal said sharing the stage with the Delhi deputy CM Manish Sisodia. 

"We will build an India where children won't have to go to Ukraine to study, people will come to India for education. Revolution first came in Delhi, then in Punjab. Now, the entire country will witness this revolution," Kejriwal said. 
Motichoor laddoos being prepared for distribution by BJP workers in Mumbai
Motichoor laddoos being prepared for distribution by BJP workers in Mumbai
15:08   Majithia, Sidhu lose, Mann wins by over 58,000 votes
Shiromani Akali Dal's Bikram Singh Majithia loses from Amritsar East by a margin of 14,408 votes. 

Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu loses from Amritsar East by a margin of 6,750 votes.

AAP CM candidate from Dhuri, Bhagwant Mann wins with a margin of 58,206 votes.

Manipur CM N Biren Singh on assembly elections result: We'll take time to stake a claim to form govt, let the results be out. Our national leaders will decide on CM face, we'll focus on PM Modi's mantra of inclusive development
Goa CM Pramod Sawant with the PM
Goa CM Pramod Sawant with the PM
15:00   Will form govt in Goa with other parties: Cong
Even as the BJP is emerging as the single largest party in Goa, the Congress on Thursday expressed confidence that it will form the next government in the coastal state with the help of other political parties, saying that the final results are yet to be announced. 

 As per the Election Commission of India's (ECI) latest data for all the 40 Assembly seats in Goa, the BJP has so far won five seats and is leading in 15 others. The Congress has won three seats and is leading in eight. 

 Talking to reporters outside a counting centre, Goa Pradesh Congress Committee's working president Aleixo Sequeira said the final tally is yet to be announced, so it is premature to say that the BJP has won the election.

 "Lead is not everything. The final results are yet to come. We will form the next government with the help of other political parties and Independents," he said. 

 Two independent candidates have so far emerged victorious in Goa. 

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) are leading in two seats each, while the Goa Forward Party (GFP), the Revolutionary Goans Party and one independent candidate are leading in one seat each.
14:40   Mann to take oath in Bhagat Singh's village
Aam Aadmi Party chief ministerial candidate Bhagwant Mann on Thursday said the oath-taking ceremony of the new Punjab cabinet will be held at Khatkarkalan in Nawanshahr district, the ancestral village of legendary freedom fighter Bhagat Singh. 

"The oath-taking ceremony will not be held at Raj Bhawan, but at Khatkarkalan. The date will be announced later," Mann said addressing party workers and supporters at Dhuri after the AAP appeared set for a clean sweep in Punjab having taken lead in 91 of the 117 assembly seats after initial rounds of counting of votes. 

He also said that no government office will carry photograph of the chief minister. 

Instead, photos of Bhagat Singh and Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar will be put on walls in government offices. 

Appealing to people to work unitedly, he said those who did not vote for the APP need not worry as the government will work for all sections of the society. 

The thrust areas for his government would be improving the condition of schools, health infrastructure, bringing back industry, making agriculture profitable, and improving sports infrastructure. He said sports tracks and stadiums will be set up in all villages. -- PTI
14:39   Channi loses by 37,000 votes!
Charanjit Singh Channi has lost from Bahadur to the AAP candidate by 37,000 votes.

AAP leads in 90 seats. 
Goa CM and Amit Shah campaign in the state
Goa CM and Amit Shah campaign in the state
14:30   3 Independents pledge support to BJP in Goa
Goa: Three Independent candidates extend support to BJP. 
-- Manuel Vaz  from Cortalim, Alexio Reginaldo from Curtorim and Dr Chandrakant Shetye from the Bicholim constituency. 

BJP: 18, Cong: 11, AAP: 2, MGP+ 4, Others: 2

The halfway mark in the 40-seat assembly is 21. 
Eight people, including four farmers, were killed in the violence
Eight people, including four farmers, were killed in the violence
14:13   BJP leads in Lakhimpuri Kheri!
BJP candidate from Nighasan, where the Lakhimpur Kheri violence had taken place in October, is leading in the elections, counting of which is underway. 

BJP's sitting MLA Shashank Verma had polled 53,785 votes over his nearest rival R S Kushwaha of the Samajwadi Party (SP), who got 33,810 votes till 1.15 pm, according to the Election Commission. 

 The BJP was leading in all the eight Assembly seats in Lakhimpur Kheri district with the SP appearing in contention only in Kasta, where the margin was less than 2,000 votes. 

 Lakhimpur Kheri had been one of the key attack points of the Opposition parties such as the SP, Bahujan Samaj Party and Congress against the BJP in the run up to the polls. 

 Eight people, including four farmers, were killed in a violence that erupted in the Tikunia area of the district on October 3 last year. 

 Union Minister Ajay Mishra's son Ashish Mishra is one of the key accused in a case related to the killing of farmers. He was granted bail by the state high court last month. 

 Ajay Mishra, though a central minister, was not part of the BJP's star campaigner list in Uttar Pradesh and was less visible in the party's public reachout programmes in Lakhimpur Kheri, his native district. Amid continued attacks on the BJP over the October violence, Mishra had even skipped rallies of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in the district. PTI
14:05   Catching them young
A 1.5-year-old child, Navya, dresses up as UP CM Yogi Adityanath and carries a toy bulldozer, as she arrives at BJP office in Lucknow along with her father.
14:01   Condolences to Rajdeep, says Malviya
BJP's Amit Malviya on India Today TV: "My condolences to Rajdeep. It must be a sad day for him. He can take heart in Punjab results"

Rajdeep Sardesai responds saying, "Read my piece in HT that predicted a BJP win in UP. Just because I am not Godi media don't question my journalism." (Read the column here)

Rahul Kanwal mediates saying 'let's not fight'.
Atanasio Monserratte
Atanasio Monserratte
13:56   Parrikar's son loses by just 674 votes
Independent candidate Utpal Parrikar, the son of Goa's former chief minister Manohar Parrikar, lost to BJP's Atanasio Monserratte from the Panaji Assembly seat on Thursday.

After the end of last round of counting, Monserratte won by 674 votes, an election official said. 

"I gave a good fight," Utpal Parrikar, who bagged 5,857 votes, said while leaving the counting station.

Monserratte polled 6,531 votes, while Congress candidate Elvis Gomes got 3,062 votes. After the BJP refused ticket to Utpal Parrikar, he contested the election as an independent. 

Monserratte said the BJP cadres in the state capital Panaji did not accept Utpal Parrikar in the party.

"I am disappointed as far as results are concerned. BJP cadre didn't work for me but for the Opposition candidate. I fought BJP and Congress. It's due to the support of a few workers and supporters that we managed to retain the seat.

"I feel BJP cadre hasn't accepted me into the party. I look at it in that way. If he (Utpal Parrikar) can get so many votes, it's just because the cadre shifted their votes to him. BJP leadership here didn't manage to do damage control," Monserratte said. 
13:50   Bhagwant Mann gets Jaadu ki jhappi from mom
AAP CM candidate Bhagwant Mann and his mother Harpal Kaur share an emotional moment as they greet the party workers and supporters in Sangrur. 

Mann is leading from Dhuri by over 55,000 votes as per official EC trends.

AAP is leading in 90 seats in Punjab. The Congress is miles away with leads in 16 seats. 

Capt Amarinder Singh concedes defeat. "I accept the verdict of the people with all humility. Democracy has triumphed. Punjabis have shown true spirit of Punjabiyat by rising and voting above sectarian and caste lines. 
Congratulations to @AAPPunjab and @BhagwantMann."

13:17   Yogi watches TV at home, leads by 15,000 votes
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was heading for a landslide victory and leading by around 15,000 votes from Gorakhpur Urban seat on Thursday. 

According to updated Election Commission figures, Adityanath has secured 21,221 votes while his nearest rival Samajwadi Party's Subhawati Shukla had got 6,628 votes. BSP's Khwaja Shamsuddin has secured 1,477 votes while Chandra Shekhar of Azad Samaj Party has bagged 1,386 votes. Chetna Pandey of the Congress was struggling with 272 votes while AAP's Vijay Kumar Shrivastava had secured 93 votes, according to the updated figures. 

 A total of 191 NOTA votes was polled so far in the key constituency. Adityanath, contesting his first assembly election, did not seem to be getting much fight from rivals on the Gorakhpur seat. 

 While Adityanath was watching the poll outcome from his official residence in Lucknow, his supporters at the Gorakhpur Math and also at the party office had already started celebrating his and the BJP's victory in the state. 

 A large number of party workers had already gathered at BJP's party office at Beniganj in Gorakhpur. They were raising slogans like "Modi-Yogi zindabad" and "Jai Shri Ram". 

Some of them also burst crackers and took out a small march. A lot of people had also gathered at the Hindu Sevashram in Gorakhnath temple. They have been watching the election results on big TV screen.
13:12   BJP bulldozer can finish a cycle: Hema Malini
BJP MP Hema Malini reacts to the party's leads/win in UP: "We already knew our government will form. We have worked for every developmental aspect, which is why the public trust us... nothing can come in front of a bulldozer, as it can finish everything within a minute, be it cycle or anything else."
13:10   Channi trails from his seat
Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi trails in Bhadaur (by 22,843 votes) and Chamkaur Sahib (by 2671 votes) as per official EC trends.
13:00   Will form govt with MGP, Independents: Goa CM
Goa CM and BJP leader Pramod Sawant says the party will form the government in Goa. "We will take MGP and independent candidates with us," Sawant says. 

Leads: BJP: 18, Cong: 11, AAP: 2, MGP+ 4, Others: 2
12:54   A telling picture of the Congress leadership as the party lies decimated
A metaphor for Emperor Nero fiddling while Rome burns?

This image of Rahul Gandhi grinning over a sundae was tweeted by Youth Congress National President Srinivas BV, yesterday. 

The Congress party has lost in all five states. 
12:49   Humbly accept mandate of people of Punjab: Sidhu
With the AAP all set to sweep the Punjab polls, state Congress chief Navjot Sidhu on Thursday said the party humbly accepts the mandate of the people of the state. He also congratulated the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party. 

 "The voice of the people is the voice of God . Humbly accept the mandate of the people of Punjab . Congratulations to Aap !!!" he said in a tweet.

 According to latest trends, the AAP was leading in 89 of the 117 assembly seats. The trends indicated that the ruling Congress has been decimated in Punjab while the SAD, which contested the polls in alliance with the BSP, has failed to make much impact. PTI
12:47   Who's this man?
This is a picture from an Indian chief minister's college ID. Guess who this is. (Clue: He's in the news today).
12:43   The BJP bulldozes a win
Sunil Deodar, BJP national secretary tweets this image, writing: 

"Kamal ne chalaya bulldozer
Dharashayi hue parivarvadion ke tevar"
The lotus rides the bulldozer,
The attitude of the family-run parties lies fallen. 

The BJP is leading in four of five states. AAP has taken Punjab. 
A losing partnership
A losing partnership
12:35   Two-time Punjab CM Amarinder Singh loses
Former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has lost in his Patiala Urban constituency.

The two-time Chief Minister lost to his Aam Aadmi Party rival Ajit Pal Singh Kohli.

In the previous election in 2017, his victory margin had been 49 per cent.

Arvind Kejriwal's AAP is heading for a landslide win in Punjab, with the ruling Congress far behind.
12:31   EC lifts ban on celebratory processions
Celebrations at BJP office in Bengaluru, Karnataka as official trends show the party sweeping elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and leading in Manipur. 

Nobody seems to remember there is a ban on victory processions. 

The Election Commission of India today announced that viewing the current status of Covid-19 in polled states, the Election Commission has decided to relax the guidelines on victory processions during and after the counting and has withdrawn the blanket ban on victory processions.

"However, this relaxation will be subject to existing instructions of SDMA and preventive measures, imposed by concerned district authorities."
12:25   BJP Goa to meet governor today
BJP leaders to meet Goa Governor PS Sreedharan Pillai today to stake claim for government formation in the state. 
12:23   Congrats Punjab, for this revolution: Kejriwal
Delhi CM and AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal tweets this image as the party sweeps Punjab: "Iss Inquilab ke liye Punjab ke logon ko bahut bahut badhai (Congratulations to the people of Punjab for this revolution)," Kejriwal said beaming with the party's CM face Bhagwant Mann. 

The party leads in 89 seats and is set to form government. 
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra led from the front but it couldn't win states
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra led from the front but it couldn't win states
12:19   Congress stages protest in Delhi over losses in 5 states
When you lose, blame EVMs. 

Congress workers on Thursday staged a protest alleging "tampering with Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs)" outside the party office in Delhi as the party is trailing in all five poll-bound states as per the latest official trends by the Election Commission. 

Congress leader Satej Patil said the party was expected to form government in Punjab. "We expected the Congress to form government in Punjab, but we didn't get required numbers. We have to introspect about it. In Goa, Congress is leading on 16-17 seats, it'll be the single largest party and we'll seek support in case numbers aren't enough," Patil said in New Delhi. 

 According to early trends, Aam Aadmi Party is leading in Punjab with the majority whereas Bharatiya Janata Party is leading in all the other states including Manipur, Goa, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh.
12:06   BJP parliamentary board meeting likely today
The BJP parliamentary board, its apex organisational body, is likely to meet later on Thursday to review the party's performance in assembly polls in five states as initial trends projected a thumping victory for the party in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. 

 Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to address party workers at the BJP headquarters in the evening, sources said. 

 As votes were counted for elections to five states on Thursday, early trends showed the BJP set for victory in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and was ahead in Manipur and Goa. The Aam Aadmi Party appeared set for a landslide win in Punjab. 

Top party leaders, including Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and party president J P Nadda, will be attending the parliamentary board meeting, which is likely to be held after the results of assembly polls become more clear, they said. PTI
12:04   It's early holi in UP for BJP
In UP, its celebration time for the BJP. Jubilant BJP workers play holi at the party office in Lucknow and raise slogans of "UP mein ka ba? UP mein Baba", as official trends show the party sweeping the polls. CM Yogi Adityanath is leading from Gorakhpur Urban by over 12,000 votes, as per latest trends.

Leads: BJP: 262, SP: 121, CONG: 3, BSP: 4, OTHERS: 7. Total seats: 403

The Samajwadi Party has asked its workers to stay put at local assembly election offices till the counting of votes ends. 
11:57   State will now be know as Uthta Punjab: AAP
AAP's Punjab co-in charge Raghav Chadha: Punjab has proven that it likes the pair of Arvind Kejriwal-Bhagwant Mann and no other party. All other parties tried to defame us and called Kejriwalji a terrorist, but the public proved that he is a 'shikshak-wadi'.

Chadha added, "Punjab will not be known as 'Udta Punjab' from now onwards, but 'Uthta Punjab'... all the credit goes to AAP workers. They didn't see day or night, summer or winter and continued working for the party. AAP will work for everybody progressively."
11:51   Sweet victory
Street celebrations by AAP supporters over the party's stupendous victory in Punjab. Even though these are leads, the AAP is set to form government in the state. Mooh mithaa time for the party which worked hard in Punjab snatching victory from a fragmented Congress. 

AAP is leading in 90 seats in Punjab with the Congress way behind at 13. 
11:44   UP Dy CM Maurya trailing from Sirathu
Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya is trailing from Sirathu seat by about 400 votes on Thursday, according to poll trends. After the initial round of counting, Maurya secured 6,345 votes while his nearest rival SP's Pallavi Patel got 6,710 votes, according to the EC.
11:42   Our focus was on Punjab: AAP
AAP leader Manish Sisodia as party sweeps Punjab: "Punjab has given a chance to Kejriwal's model of governance. Today, his model of governance has been established at the national level. This is the victory of the 'Aam Aadmi' (common man)." 

Punjab leads:  AAP 89, Cong: 13, BJP+ 5, SAD+ 9, Others 1

On the party's performance in Goa and Uttarakhand: "We had fielded candidates in Goa, Uttarakhand and UP, but somewhere the focus was on Punjab. Gradually people in these states will also start to believe in our party."
11:35   BJP closing in on half-way mark in Goa, CM now in lead
The Bharatiya Janata Party in Goa is inching closer to the half-way mark as early trends of the counting of votes showed the party leading on 18 Assembly seats.

The Election Commission of India's data at 10.30 am showed the BJP leading on 18 Assembly seats out of the total 40 seats in the state. While the BJP is leading on 18 seat, Congress was ahead on 13 constituencies. 

The incumbent Chief Minister Pramod Sawant is leading by over 300 votes so far in Sanquelim Assembly seat, official data at 10:30 am said. 

The majority mark in the state is 21 Assembly seats. Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party is leading on five seats, ECI data showed while Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is also leading on one seat as well.
11:05   BJP likely to score hat-trick in Goa with MGP
The ruling BJP in Goa looks all set to score a hattrick in the coastal state with the support of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), political observers said, as vote counting trends of the February 14 elections indicated a hung House. 

As per the latest trends for all the 40 Assembly seats in Goa, BJP was leading in 18 seats, while Congress was ahead in 13 seats. 

MGP was ahead in 5 seats, AAP in 1 and Independents were ahead in three seats. 

 As no party will reach the 21-seat mark on its own, MGP will decide who will form the next government in Goa, a senior political analyst said. 

Indications are that it will side with BJP in return for Deputy CM's post and key portfolios, he added. CM Pramod Sawant was trailing in Sanquelim constituency, while health minister Vishwajit Rane, a prominent contender or the CM's post, was leading in Valpoi constituency.

 The ruling BJP is seeking a third straight term in power in the coastal state, while the opposition Congress may not get the numbers to avoid a repeat of the 2017 fiasco when it failed to form government despite emerging as the single largest party. PTI
An AAP supporter with a Kejriwal doll
An AAP supporter with a Kejriwal doll
10:58   'AAP will be Cong replacement across India'
Raghav Chadha of the AAP makes an important statement: "We have been saying from day one that AAP will form the government with absolute majority. The throne of people who ruled Punjab for decades is shaking. In future, Arvind Kejriwal will be BJP's principal challenger, AAP will be Congress' replacement." 

Leads: Congress 12, AAP 88, BJP+ 5, SAD+ 11, Others 1
10:55   BJP crosses halfway mark in UP, Uttarakhand
BJP crosses the majority mark in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand in early trends; AAP sweeps Punjab. 

UP: BJP+ 254,  SP+ 106, Congress 4, BSP 6, Others 3

BJP: 41, Congress: 25, Others: 4

Punjab: AAP: 88, Congress: 13, SAD+ 11, BJP+ 5, Others 1

Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was leading from Gorakhpur Urban seat by about 4,000 votes on Thursday. After the initial round of counting, Adityanath secured 5,540 votes while his nearest rival SP's Subhawati Shukla got 1076 votes. 
10:32   Sensex celebrates BJP leads
With the BJP leading in four states, the Sensex jumps over 1400 points, trading at 56,050; Nifty trading at 16,745. 
10:28   BJP takes comfortable lead in Uttarakhand
The ruling BJP was ahead of the Congress in Uttarakhand with its party candidates leading in 33 seats on Thursday, according to early trends available. 

Prominent candidates trailing in their respective seats include Congress veteran Harish Rawat, who was trailing behind Mohan Singh Bisht of the BJP by 2,713 votes in Lalkuan and Subodh Uniyal of the BJP trailing behind Om Gopal Rawat of the Congress in Narendra Nagar. 

 Yashpal Arya, who had returned to the Congress from the BJP ahead of the polls, was also trailing behind BJP's Rajesh Kumar in Bajpur by 18587 votes. Pritam Singh of the Congress was leading in Chakrata by 1805 votes against Ramsharan Nautiyal of the BJP.

The polling was held in the state on February 14 with more than 65 per cent of the electorate casting their votes. The ruling BJP is seeking a second consecutive term in office this time, something which has never happened in the state's 21-year history. Routed in the 2017 assembly polls with a tally of 11 seats against the BJP's 57, the Congress is trying to stage a comeback.

Prominent candidates who contested the polls are Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, his cabinet colleagues Satpal Maharaj, Bansidhar Bhagat, Subodh Uniyal, Arvind Pandey, Dhan Singh Rawat and Rekha Arya, besides state BJP president Madan Kaushik.

Leads: BJP 43, Congress 23, Others 4
10:14   We hope results will be positive too: AAP on Punjab
First reaction from AAP on the Punjab trends: "We can witness positive trends in Punjab, and we hope the results will also be positive. I thank the people of Punjab for voting for change," Delhi minister and AAP leader Gopal Rai said. 

AAP has crossed the majority mark with an early lead in 84 Assembly constituencies in Punjab.
10:11   Channi, Amarinder, Badals trail in Punjab
Punjab: Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, trailing behind its nominees in many seats, according to early trends. Channi was trailing in both Chamakur Sahib and Bhadaur seats. 

Former chief ministers Parkash Singh Badal, Amarinder Singh and Rajinder Kaur Bhattal were also trailing. 

SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal was also behind in his Jalalabad seat.

Leads: Congress 18, AAP 84, BJP+ 4, SAD+ 9

10:07   Leads and trails in key seats
UP: Bharatiya Janata Party's Aditi Singh leading in Rae Bareli Assembly constituency, as per EC

Uttarakhand: BJP's Pushkar Singh Dhami and Congress's Harish Rawat trailing from Khatima and  Lalkuwa constituency, respectively, as per EC.

UP: Samajwadi Party's Akhilesh Yadav leading in Karhal Assembly seat, BSP and BJP in second and third spots respectively.

UP: Shivpal Singh Yadav, who has been given ticket by Samajwadi Party, trails from Jaswantnagar Assembly constituency.

09:55   SAD chief Sukhbir Badal trailing in Jalalabad
Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal is trailing behind the AAP candidate in Punjab's Jalalabad constituency on Thursday, according to initial poll trends. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Jagdeep Kamboj is leading by a margin of 827 votes in the constituency in Fazilka district. Counting of votes for 117 assembly seats in Punjab is underway. PTI
09:54   AAP crosses halfway mark in leads in Punjab
Punjab: Congress170, AAP 78, BJP+40, SAD+ 90 Others 10.

The AAP has crossed the halfway mark of 59 in Punjab.

Congress' Navjot Singh Sidhu was trailing at second place, SAD's Bikram Majithia trailing in Patiala Assembly constituency, and Punjab Lok Congress leader and former Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh place in after results of the second round of counting. Charanjit Singh Channi was trailing from Chamkaur Sahib. 
09:49   Equity indices open in green
Equity indices opened in green on Thursday with Sensex up by 1,092.16 points and Nifty up by 315.90 points.The 30-scrip BSE Sensex was up by 1,092.16 points or trading at 55,739.49 and up by 2.00 percent at 9.33 am. Similarly, 50-scrip NSE Nifty was trading at 16,661.25 at 9.33 am, up by 315.90 points or 1.93 percent.
09:48   Amarinder Singh trailing in Patiala Urban seat
Two-time Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh is trailing in his pocket borough Patiala Urban seat by 3,575 votes on Thursday, according to initial poll trends. Aam Aadmi Party candidate Ajit Pal Singh Kohli was leading from the Patiala Urban seat. Counting of votes for 117 assembly seats in Punjab is underway.PTI
09:43   UP bigwigs lead from their seats
Uttar Pradesh: The BJP was leading in 176 seats as against 78 of its nearest rival Samajwadi Party in the initial rounds of counting of votes in Uttar Pradesh.

Among those leading included Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath from Gorakhpur, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav from Karhal, Shivpal Yadav from Jaswant Nagar, and Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya from Sirathu.

 Counting of votes for the 403 assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh began on Thursday morning with a three-layer security in place and cameras installed at all counting centres. In the initial rounds, postal ballots were counted.
Carrying a people's mandate
Carrying a people's mandate
09:40   BJP leads in 4 states, AAP ahead in Punjab
Leads so far:

Uttar Pradesh (403 seats)
BJP+ 176 SP+ 78

Punjab (117 seats) 
AAP: 63
Cong: 17

Uttarakhand (70 seats) 
BJP: 30
Cong: 24

Goa (40 seats)
BJP: 18
Cong: 16

Manipur (60 seats)
BJP: 23
Cong+: 7
Others: 16

09:31   Goa CM trailing, Cong leads from his seat
Goa CM and BJP candidate from Sanquelim, Pramod Sawant trailing by 400 votes, Congress leading from the seat. 

Goa (40 seats) Leads
BJP: 18
Cong: 16
09:24   Congress will win almost 48 seats in Uttarakhand: Rawat
Congress leader and former state Chief Minister Harish Rawat on Thursday asserted that his party will comfortably win the Uttarakhand Assembly elections by bagging almost 48 seats. 

 Talking to ANI, Rawat said, "I am confident of the victory of Congress in Uttarakhand. Everything will be clear in the next 2-3 hours. I have faith in the people of the state. I believe Congress will get close to 48 seats." 

 The counting of votes for the recently held elections for the 70-member Uttarakhand Assembly commenced at 8 am on Thursday. The counting started at 8 am and all the results would be declared later in the day.
The exit polls on Monday predicted a close race in Uttarakhand, with many of them giving an edge to the BJP to form the government.
Some exit polls have also predicted that Congress would finish ahead and cross the halfway mark in the 70-member Assembly.
09:20   Test not complete: Akhilesh thanks party workers
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav thanked party workers as counting is underway in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections 2022. 

Early leads show the BJP is ahead in UP.

"The test is yet to be complete. The time has come now for decisions. My heartfelt thanks to every worker, supporter, leader, office bearer and well-wishers of the Samajwadi Party and alliance for being alert and active, day and night, at counting centers," Yadav tweeted, referring to the controversy over allegations that some elements tried to take away electronic voting machines, or EVMs, from a strong room in UP.

"Sepoys of democracy return only with a certificate of victory," Yadav said.
09:18   AAP leads in 51 seats in Punjab
 Counting of votes for 117 assembly seats in Punjab began on Thursday amid tight security arrangements. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was leading in 51 seats. 

09:04   Channi offers prayers
Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi (in yellow turban) offers prayers in Chamkaur Sahib Gurudwara along with his family as results start trickling in for the assembly elections.
09:00   Trends: BJP crosses 100 in UP, AAP leads in Punjab
The BJP is ahead of the Samajwadi Party-led alliance in Uttar Pradesh and the AAP and Congress are neck-and-neck in Punjab in very early trends based on postal ballots as votes are being counted in five states. 

 The BJP is hoping to retain power in four states - Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur. In Punjab, the ruling Congress faces a big test. 

Leads: UP: BJP 109, SP 68, BSP 2, Others 1

Punjab: Cong 19, AAP 35, BJP 2, SAD 8
The winner gets these giant laddoos
The winner gets these giant laddoos
08:56   Hung or AAP? Counting begins in Punjab
Counting of votes for 117 assembly seats in Punjab began on Thursday amid tight security arrangements. 

 As many as 7,500 personnel have been deputed for the counting process which began at 8 am at 66 locations across the state, officials said. 

 A three-tier security measure has been set up with the deployment of 45 companies of Central Armed Police Forces at the counting centres. Officials said CRPC section 144 has been imposed in all the districts and gathering of people outside the counting centres has been prohibited. Polling in the state was held on February 20. 

 The Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP, which emerged as a major contender in the multi-cornered contest, is looking to get its first full state to rule while the Congress aims to retain power. 

 Various exit polls have predicted that the Aam Aadmi Party will form the next government in Punjab but a few have also forecast a hung assembly.

 As many as 1,304 candidates, including 93 women and two transgenders, were in the fray. The state recorded a voter turnout of 71.95 per cent. It was the lowest compared to the voting percentage observed in three previous assembly elections.
08:54   260 contestants await electoral fate in Manipur
Counting of votes polled in the Manipur assembly elections began at 8 am on Thursday under tight security and strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols, officials said. 

 Polling for 60 assembly seats was held in two phases on February 28 and March 5. 

 The counting, underway in 12 dedicated centres across the northeastern state, will decide the electoral fate of 265 candidates, including nominees of the BJP, Congress, National People's Party and Janata Dal (United). 

 Various exit polls have predicted a win for the BJP in the state with the party slated to secure seats ranging from 23 to 43, while the Congress is seen winning between four and 17 seats. -- PTI
A polling officer checks an EVM in Uttarakhand
A polling officer checks an EVM in Uttarakhand
08:53   65% voter turnout in Uttarakhand, counting begins for 70 seats
What's happening in Uttarakhand: Counting of votes for the 70 assembly seats in Uttarakhand began on Thursday amid tight security arrangements.

The polling was held in the state on February 14 with more than 65 per cent of the electorate casting their votes. 

 The ruling BJP is seeking a second consecutive term in office this time -- something which has never happened in the state's 21-year history. 

 Routed in the 2017 assembly polls with a tally of 11 seats against the BJP's 57, the Congress is trying to stage a comeback.

 Several political heavyweights are among a total of 632 candidates awaiting what electronic voting machines (EVMs) hold in store for them.

 Prominent among them are Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, his cabinet colleagues Satpal Maharaj, Bansidhar Bhagat, Subodh Uniyal, Arvind Pandey, Dhan Singh Rawat and Rekha Arya, besides state BJP president Madan Kaushik. 

 Important Congress leaders whose fate will be decided include former chief minister Harish Rawat, former minister Yashpal Arya, state Congress president Ganesh Godiyal and Leader of Opposition in the fourth assembly Pritam Singh.
08:51   3-layer security ring for counting votes in UP
What's happening in UP:
VVPAT (voter-verified paper audit trail) slips of five machines will be counted in every Assembly constituency. The official said cameras have been installed at all counting centres. 

"Adequate AROs (assistant returning officers) have been deployed in every Assembly constituency for interruption-free counting," the senior official said, adding the necessary Covid protocol is also being maintained.

Security arrangements have been put in place and senior officials are maintaining a close watch on the counting process, especially after some political parties raised some objections, he said. 

 A three-layer security has been set up. This includes the central police forces, provincial armed constabulary and the state police. the official said. Police said 250 CAPF companies have been deployed. 

A CAPF company usually has around 70-80 personnel. As many as 625 gazetted officers of the UP Police, 1,807 inspectors, 9,598 sub-inspectors, 11,627 head constables and 48,649 constables have also been deployed, the officials added. 

 The model code of conduct for the elections had come into force on January 8. While the BJP is trying to retain its power, the Samajwadi Party has emerged as a major contender in the elections. 

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav had on Tuesday accused the ruling BJP of trying to "steal votes" and claimed that a truck carrying EVMs was "intercepted" in Varanasi. 

 The Election Commission clarified that the machines were for the training of officials on counting duty and were not used in elections. All exit polls after the end of voting on March 7 had shown the BJP returning to power in Uttar Pradesh.
08:48   Akhilesh, Goa CM, Sidhu leading in their seats
Dismissing pre-poll surveys that showed that the Bharatiya Janata Party had an edge in Uttar Pradesh elections, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav on Monday claimed that the ruling party will be wiped out from the state when the results are declared on March 10.

Meanwhile, leads in Punjab: Of the 117 seats, Cong 18, AAP 23, BJP 2, SAD 6.
08:41   One Nation One Election is a good suggestion but... CEC
CEC Sushil Chandra: "31,000 new polling booths were created for the Assembly polls. We created 1,900 polling booths that were run by women and large women participation was seen due to this. In 4 out of 5 states, the percentage of female voters were higher than that of male voters.

"One Nation One Election is a good suggestion but this needs a change in the Constitution. The Election Commission is fully geared up and is capable of holding all the elections simultaneously. We are ready to hold elections only once in 5 years." 
08:38   Make us win, Manipur CM prays
Manipur CM N Biren Singh offers prayers at Shree Govindajee Temple in Imphal, on verdict day for Assembly elections. 
08:34   Goa Congress moves SC
Goa Congress, seeking disqualification of 10 MLAs who defected to BJP in 2017, goes to Supreme Court.
08:31   BJP leads in 53 seats in UP: India Today
BJP is ahead in 53 seats in UP, says India Today. 

In the 403-member Uttar Pradesh assembly, the majority mark is 202 and the exit polls predicted that the BJP is poised to comfortably return to power with its allies for an unprecedented second term with most of them stating that the party's tally would be less than that in 2017 elections when it had scored a landslide victory. 

The Samajwadi Party (SP), which fought the polls with RLD and some other parties, would improve its performance, the exit polls predicted.

Leads: BJP: 53, SP: 41, BSP: 1, Others: 1 
08:25   Goa CM Pramod Sawant prays
Goa CM Pramod Sawant offers prayers at Sri Datta Temple as the countdown begins for the results of the Goa Assembly polls. 

The multi-cornered contest in Goa could lead to a hung assembly verdict, exit polls predicted with some of them putting the BJP ahead but some also stating that Congress would the single-largest party close to the halfway mark in 40-member state assembly.
Counting of postal ballots gets underway at a counting center in Gurdaspur
Counting of postal ballots gets underway at a counting center in Gurdaspur
08:22   Postal votes: Congress ahead in Punjab, U'khand
Congress ahead in Punjab, Uttarakhand in early leads (postal votes). 
08:20   Every political party is the same for EC: CEC
"During the ban on election rallies due to the Omicron wave, the EC took MCC violations seriously. Around 2,270 FIRs were filed for violation of COVID norms as well as MCC violations in all 5 states. Every political party is the same for EC," said Sushil Chandra, Chief Election Commissioner.
08:16   What the exit polls said
Several exit polls on Monday forecast a clear majority for the Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh and the Aam Aadmi Party in Punjab with some of them giving an edge to the saffron party in Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur.
08:15   AAP leader Bhagwant Mann offers prayers
AAP leader Bhagwant Mann offers prayers at gurdwara Gursagar Mastuana Sahib, Sangrur. Counting of votes for 117 Assembly constituencies in Punjab began at 8 am. 

 Exit polls predicted a clear victory for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the 117-member Punjab Assembly with the scale of the party's victory varying across various surveys.

Several surveys predicted Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP, which is in power in Delhi, getting a landslide victory.
Sushil Chandra, Chief Election Commissioner
Sushil Chandra, Chief Election Commissioner
08:11   Counting begins, no question of EVM tampering: EC
Sushil Chandra, Chief Election Commissioner says the questions raised on an EVM in Varanasi was meant for training purpose. "The ADM's mistake was that he did not inform political parties about the movement of EVMs for training purposes as per standard operating procedure," the CEC said. 

"When questions were raised by some parties, we showed them the number displayed on that EVM. It didn't match with EVMs that were sealed and kept in the strong room for counting. They were satisfied after this. No EVM on which votes are cast can be taken out from the strong room

"There is no question of EVM tampering. EVMs are continuously used since 2004, in 2019 we have started using VVPAT at every polling booth. EVMs are sealed in the presence of political party agents."

The EC said all strong rooms, where polled EVMs are kept, are under three-layered security with an inner cordon manned by Central Armed Forces. Concerned candidates have been watching the strong room arrangements through CCTV coverage of 24x7. In poll going States, District Administration has imposed sec 144 CrPC around the counting Halls to ensure that peace and tranquillity is not disturbed.
08:05   Exit polls: UP gets a second term
In the 403-member Uttar Pradesh assembly, the majority mark is 202 and the exit polls predicted that the BJP is poised to comfortably return to power with its allies for an unprecedented second term with most of them stating that the party's tally would be less than that in 2017 elections when it had scored a landslide victory. 

The Samajwadi Party (SP), which fought the polls with RLD and some other parties, would improve its performance, the exit polls predicted.
07:55   Fate of five state governments to be decided today
The political fervour goes high as all eyes are on the counting of votes of Assembly elections in five States including Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Manipur, Punjab and Uttarakhand on Thursday.

The elections occurred in 690 assembly constituencies in the above-mentioned five states. Further counting will also take place for the by-polls held in Majuli in Assam. The counting of votes will start at 8 am with postal ballots. The counting of electronic voting machines (EVM) will commence at 8.30 am.
00:13   'Grave mistake' to think Covid is over: UN chief
As the world marks two years of the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than six million people globally, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday cautioned that it would be a 'grave mistake' to think the crisis is over and voiced concern that nearly three billion people are still waiting for their first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.

'Two years ago, the lives of people around the globe were upended by a virus. COVID-19 spread quickly and relentlessly into every corner of the world shutting down economies, choking off transportation networks and supply chains, closing schools, separating people from their loved ones, and plunging millions of people into poverty,' Guterres said in his message on two years of the pandemic.

He noted that due to 'unprecedented public health measures' and the extraordinarily rapid development and deployment of vaccines, many parts of the world are bringing the pandemic under control.

'But it would be a grave mistake to think the pandemic is over,' he said.   

More than 446 million cases of COVID-19 have been recorded worldwide in the two years since the pandemic began and more than six million people have died, with countless more grappling with worsening mental health, Guterres said.

The UN chief voiced concern over the scandalously unequal distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

'Manufacturers are producing 1.5 billion doses per month, but nearly three billion people are still waiting for their first shot,' he said, adding that this failure is the direct result of policy and budgetary decisions that prioritise the health of people in wealthy countries over the health of people in poor countries.

'This is a moral indictment of our world. It is also a recipe for more variants, more lockdowns and more sorrow and sacrifice in every country. Our world cannot afford a two-tier recovery from COVID-19,' he said.

'Science and solidarity have proven to be an unbeatable combination. We must re-dedicate ourselves to ending this pandemic for all people and all countries, and closing this sad chapter in humanity's history, once and for all,' he said.

As global crises, particularly the Russia-Ukraine war, continue unabated amid the pandemic, Guterres said nations must keep their eyes on the target of vaccinating their populations.

"Despite the numerous other global crises, we must reach our goal of vaccinating 70 per cent of people in all countries by the middle of this year, he said.

Governments and pharmaceutical companies need to work together to multiply the number of countries able to produce tests, vaccines and treatments by sharing licenses and intellectual property, and providing the necessary technological and financial support.

"At the same time, we need strong national vaccine-delivery systems at the ready including efforts to counter disinformation and get vaccines into arms," he added.   -- PTI