Hi­machal polls on Nov 9, Guj dates soon: EC

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - METRO - (with in­puts from Prawesh Lama)

How­ever, the elec­tions for the 68-mem­ber Hi­machal as­sem­bly and the 182 mem­ber Gu­jarat as­sem­bly could be­come a test of pub­lic sup­port for the goods and ser­vices tax (GST) that trig­gered protests by traders in Gu­jarat.

Con­gress vice pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi has given in­di­ca­tions of the party’s poll planks, at­tack­ing the NDA govern­ment over an eco­nomic slow­down, lack of em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, hasty rollout of the GST and the plight of farm­ers, labour­ers and small traders and busi­ness­men.

Also, talk has gath­ered pace about Rahul Gandhi tak­ing over as the pres­i­dent of the Con­gress af­ter Di­wali.

Should that hap­pen the two states will be his first for­mal lead­er­ship test.

The BJP has put up a brave front cit­ing how the In­dian econ­omy is the fastest-grow­ing in the world and obliquely hinted at its re­turn to old themes.

Vic­to­ries for the BJP could em­bolden the Cen­tre to stick to its fis­cal con­sol­i­da­tion path and go for other bold re­forms, es­pe­cially in the labour sec­tor, an ad­verse poll out­come could put pres­sure on the govern­ment to opt for pop­ulism, es­pe­cially with eight states go­ing to polls next year that would set the mo­men­tum for 2019 gen­eral elec­tions.

In Hi­machal, the odds are stacked against the Con­gress, with chief min­is­ter Virb­hadra Singh fac­ing charges of cor­rup­tion and a re­cent in­ci­dent of rape of a mi­nor girl on the out­skirt of Shimla rais­ing ques­tions about the govern­ment’s han­dling of the law and or­der sit­u­a­tion.

The grand old party has a more daunt­ing task in Gu­jarat where it won its last as­sem­bly elec­tions in 1985.

The party suf­fered a big jolt re­cently when Sankarsinh Vaghela, a pow­er­ful re­gional satrap, quit t he Con­gress re­cently to launch a third front in the state.

Jail of­fi­cials at Dasna said the cou­ple were pray­ing since the morn­ing and burst into tears as soon as the judg­ment was an­nounced.

“When we went to Ra­jesh, he hugged me and burst into tears. He said that jus­tice has been de­liv­ered,” said DR Mau­rya, jail su­per­in­ten­dent. He said the cou­ple was likely to be re­leased on Fri­day af­ter the prison au­thor­i­ties re­ceived a copy of the court or­der.

Sources in the CBI said they would de­cide the next course of ac­tion af­ter study­ing the ver­dict.

The high court ver­dict caps a se­ries of twists and turns in the trial of a case that gripped the na­tion. Within weeks of the mur­der, the Ut­tar Pradesh po­lice drew flak for do­ing a shoddy job and al­legedly tam­per­ing ev­i­dence. Then chief min­is­ter Mayawati then handed over the case to the CBI.

Two CBI in­ves­ti­ga­tors reached dif­fer­ing con­clu­sions on the ba­sis of more or less the same ev­i­dence.

The first team led by Arun Ku­mar claimed a break­through on the ba­sis of “sci­en­tific ev­i­dence”, pri­mar­ily narco-anal­y­sis test re­ports, and ar­rested three men— Tal­war’s com­pounder Kr­ishna and two do­mes­tic helps work­ing in the neigh­bour­hood, Ra­jku­mar and Vi­jay Man­dal. But the agency even­tu­ally failed to build a case against them.

An­other team probed the par­ents but it too failed to build a case, fil­ing a clo­sure re­port in 2009 that named Ra­jesh Tal­war as the sole sus­pect based on cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence but re­fused to charge him due to lack of ev­i­dence.

But a spe­cial CBI court re­jected the fed­eral agency’s claim that there was not enough ev­i­dence, and or­dered pro­ceed­ings against the Tal­wars.

In a 208-page or­der on Novem­ber 25, 2013, CBI judge Judge Shyam Lal pro­nounced the Tal­wars guilty of both mur­ders and de­struc­tion of ev­i­dence. That ver­dict was re­versed on Thurs­day.

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