SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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I N D I A     V O T E S

Nefarious netas: Parties fail to raise guard
New Delhi, March 12
The Congress today approved the candidature of controversial MP from Assam MK Subba for contesting the forthcoming general election from Tezpur. Subba’s “nationality” became one of the major controversies marring the 14th Lok Sabha that saw several lows, including the cash-for-votes scam.

Will Nitish go the Patnaik way?
Patna, March 12
With the Biju Janata Dal in Orissa parting ways with the BJP, speculation is rife in political circles of Bihar whether Nitish (JD-U) will also go the Navin Patnaik way. Some people are also discussing whether the JD(U) can afford to break its alliance with the BJP now or in the future (assembly poll).

Behenji doesn’t believe in ‘frills’
MayawatiLucknow, March 12
The Bahujan Samaj Party is perhaps the only national party having an ambitious plan of contesting over 500 seats across the country but no public relations mechanism to do so. With the broad Lok Sabha poll schedule out, every political party in the fray has started chalking out its strategy.









GRAPHICS:
Haryana Constituencies



Canvassing material being manufactured at a process house in Ahmedabad
Canvassing material being manufactured at a process house in Ahmedabad. — PTI

Style gurus rave about Gandhi genes
New Delhi, March 12
There are many Indian politicians who take care to dress up well these days, but guess who are the clear favourites of designers? Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her MP son Rahul and her homemaker daughter Priyanka. The three have an impeccable sense of style and elegance runs in their blood, say designers.





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Nefarious netas: Parties fail to raise guard
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 12
The Congress today approved the candidature of controversial MP from Assam MK Subba for contesting the forthcoming general election from Tezpur. Subba’s “nationality” became one of the major controversies marring the 14th Lok Sabha that saw several lows, including the cash-for-votes scam. A petition was also filed against Subba in the Supreme Court, alleging that he was not an Indian but a Nepali citizen and had become an MP through fraudulent means. The issue is currently pending in the apex court.

The last House also witnessed as many as 11 members expulsion, which Constitution experts say, is unprecedented. Shocking lawmakers and people alike, BJP MP Babubhai Katara from Dohad in Gujarat was axed for being involved in a human trafficking case that came to light around two years back.

Three years ago, 10 members of the House, including one from the Rajya Sabha, were also held guilty of accepting money for raising questions in what come to be infamously known as the cash-for-query scam. The scam was exposed through a sting operation by a news channel.

All this while MPs Mohammed Shahabuddin and Rajesh Ranjan, alias Pappu Yadav, were in jail in connection with criminal cases.

In fact the National Election Watch (NEW), launched by the association of Democratic Reforms, recently came out with an interesting list of 20 constituencies in the country that were “worst affected by criminalisation in the outgoing Lok Sabha”.

The list had constituencies with elected MPs having charges of murder, attempt to murder, extortion, rape, kidnapping and decoity against them. It included five MPs from Bihar, four from Uttar Pradesh, two from Madhya Pradesh and one each from Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. BJP MP from Amritsar Navjot Sidhu is among the list released by NEW. The polls observer group says the trend is continuing and major parties like the Congress, the BJP and the Samajwadi Party have nominated candidates with criminal background for the forthcoming general elections as well. “Out of 24 candidates declared by the Congress on March 4 for Uttar Pradesh, we found four with criminal background,” says ADR National Coordinator Anil Bairwal.

“Information of candidates declared by the party was collected and their names matched with existing database of NEW, which is based on affidavits filed by these candidates in earlier elections. Out of list of 24 candidates declared for UP, NEW was able to find affidavits for 19 candidates filed in previous elections. Out of these 19 candidates, four have criminal background,” explains Bairwal. Out of affidavits of 28 BJP candidates scrutinised by NEW, eight and out of 24 Samajwadi Party candidates six were found as ones with criminal background.

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Will Nitish go the Patnaik way?
Sanjay Singh
Tribune News Service

Patna, March 12
With the Biju Janata Dal in Orissa parting ways with the BJP, speculation is rife in political circles of Bihar whether Nitish (JD-U) will also go the Navin Patnaik way. Some people are also discussing whether the JD(U) can afford to break its alliance with the BJP now or in the future (assembly poll).

This speculation is not baseless. People closely observing the attitude and style of governance of the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government in Bihar for the past three years have reason to doubt the continuance of the JD(U)’s alliance with the BJP for a long time.

Although his government was formed with the support of 55 BJP MLAs (the Deputy CM is also from that party), Nitish Kumar has been pursuing his own agenda in the governance of Bihar from day one. Be it the empowerment of women and the extremely backward castes (EBCs) through reservation in three-tier panchayat bodies and urban civic bodies and jobs of school teachers, special schemes for the uplift of Mahadalits ( downtrodden among the Dalits) and other schemes for the welfare of the minorities and Muslims, it has been the claim of the JD(U) that these were the brainchild of Nitish Kumar.

That these schemes have brought dividends to Nitish in terms of votes and he has also succeeded in reaching out to the Muslim minorities in a systematic manner has been vindicated by the victory of the NDA candiates in all seven byelections held in Bihar (two Lok Sabha and five Vidhan Sabha) during his tenure. The JD(U) winning the Muslim-dominated Manihari assembly seat of Katihar district in the byelection gave further credence to the Muslim’s growing comfort level with the Nitish Kumar government.

Setting aside considerations important in Bihar elections like caste, community, sympathy,etc , the voters of Manihari voted for Nitish’s candidate. The victory of BJP candiate Shahnawaj Hussain from the communally sensitive Bhagalpur Lok Sabha constituency in the byelection is also attributed to the Bihar Chief Minister.

The Muslims in Bihar have reason to be happy with the Nitish Kumar government as he had done certain things which no other party or government, including Lalu Yadav, had done for them. The communal riots of Bhagalpur in 1989 is said to have played a major role in the Muslims distancing themselves from the then ruling party-- the Congress--- not only in Bihar but also at the national level.

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Behenji doesn’t believe in ‘frills’
Shahira Naim
Trubune News Service

Lucknow, March 12
The Bahujan Samaj Party is perhaps the only national party having an ambitious plan of contesting over 500 seats across the country but no public relations mechanism to do so.

With the broad Lok Sabha poll schedule out, every political party in the fray has started chalking out its strategy. While Samajawadi Party is busy dolling up its portal and reorganising the media cell, the BJP has gone a step further with its prime ministerial candidate LK Advani aggressively resorting to online campaigning. Almost on a daily basis, the parties are dispatching press releases wherein mediapersons are being provided a list of telephone numbers on which their leaders can be contacted for clarifications or additional information.

However, far away from this ‘mad rush’ is the BSP that prefers to remain an enigma. For the party, communication seems to a one-way process. The media releases issued by it have no names or telephone numbers. Even in times of election, the party office remains deserted with no flow of information whatsoever. As a matter of fact, with fortress-like high stonewalls, the permanently closed iron gates of the structure appears too formidable for anyone to enter uninvited.

Ever since the Lok Sabha elections were announced and the Chief Election Commissioner and his team came visiting Lucknow to review the poll preparations last week, hundreds of official hoarding of the state Information Department have been brought down in a huff.

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Style gurus rave about Gandhi genes

New Delhi, March 12
There are many Indian politicians who take care to dress up well these days, but guess who are the clear favourites of designers? Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her MP son Rahul and her homemaker daughter Priyanka.

The three have an impeccable sense of style and elegance runs in their blood, say designers. While politicians like Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah (National Conference), Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda (Biju Janata Dal), and Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia (both of the Congress) are also noticed for their attire, there are few who seem to beat the Gandhi family.

Veteran designer Ritu Kumar feels 62-year-old Sonia Gandhi - mostly clad in handloom cotton and silk saris - looks classy and elegant. Moreover, saris reflect her individuality.

Leena Singh of Ashima-Leena duo says Sonia Gandhi presents the true picture of an Indian woman. “She knows that she has a national image to carry and that she portrays very well,” Singh said.

Younger designers root for the Gandhi scions.

“Priyanka’s dressing sense is very meticulous and neat. She looks sober yet elegant in whatever she wears. I believe she has inherited this from her mother. I guess it is in their genes,” designer Amit GT said.

"It’s the same with Rahul also. He is fairly attractive and one of the most eligible bachelors around and when you look at him, he comes across as a very simple person with a bit of sophistication,” he added.

Designer Jai of the duo Parvesh-Jai agrees. “He mingles his khadi and linen with modern day “purani” jeans to come up with a real cool look. Also he pays attention to his eyewear - it’s very sleek with a little golden tinge to give him an intellectual look,” he said.

Priyanka had taken the fashion world by storm last year when she walked into Parliament in a white shirt and stylish black trousers with a broad belt to hear her brother Rahul’s speech during the crucial trust vote debate.

She hit the headlines for breaking the stereotype of saris and salwar-kameez clad women in Parliament.

“She doesn’t stick to one dressing style and experiments a lot with her attire. We have seen her in every outfit and she has carried them all with poise and confidence. She is a youth icon,” said designer Alpana of label Azara.

Apart from the Gandhi family, Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia also rank high among Indian designers.

“Sachin dresses up brilliantly. He experiments a lot with colour and you can see him in bright coloured shirts,” said designer Rahul of label Sirali.

Designer Rina Dhaka also votes for Pilot. “He is extremely good looking and he looks good in everything. The best part about him is that he is a dynamic politician who knows his subject very well,” Dhaka said.

Style guru Muzaffar Ali of the label Kotwara likes Jyotiraditya Scindia and feels he “looks confident and poised in his bandhgalas and waistcoats”.

“His whole persona is majestic and speaks a lot about his character,” Ali said.

Designer Samanth Chauhan agrees. “Jyotiraditya mostly wears bandhgalas. I have met him personally and I know that he is very conscious about the right kind of fabric and fit,” said Chauhan. — IANS

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Pollscape

Babudom to netagiri

Andhra Pradesh is all set to see many former bureaucrats seeking to test their electoral fortunes in the coming Lok Sabha and state assembly polls.

While many of these former IAS officials chose to contest the polls after retirement, some quit the service mid-way to take a political plunge. And, it will be a record-of-sorts if all these ex-babus get nominated by the respective parties and contest the elections. So far, the candidature of former bureaucrat N Jayaprakash Narayan, who floated his own Lok Satta Party over two years ago, has only been officially declared. Narayan will contest the April 16 elections from Kukatpalli constituency in Greater Hyderabad. Eight-month-old Telugu Megastar Chiranjeevi-led Praja Rajyam Party has as many as seven former IAS officers seeking to try their luck in the electoral battle.

Grand old men

The next Lok Sabha will miss the towering presence of two Parliamentarians -- AB Vajpayee and Somnath Chatterjee -- who witnessed the blooming of Indian Parliamentary system in the past 40 years. BJP patriarch Vajpayee and Lok Sabha Speaker Chatterjee, the senior-most and the only two ten-term MPs in the 14th Lok Sabha, will not be contesting the general elections this time for different reasons. While ill-health prevents Vajpayee, who mesmerised the Lower House with his eloquence, from fighting the polls, Chatterjee has already declared that he will keep away from active politics from now. If elected, nine-term MPs former Defence Minister George Fernandes and Congress' Giridhar Gamang, who are only junior to Vajpayee and Chatterjee in Parliamentary experience, will be the senior most leaders in the Lok Sabha.

Heritage concern

An NGO involved in heritage conservation has asked all major political parties to include the preservation of the cultural and natural heritage in their poll manifestos.

This is for the first time that INTACH, an NGO which works in the field of heritage conservation, including monuments, is reaching out to political parties asking them to include the subject in their election agendas. The NGO feels that approaching political parties at election time was the easiest way to bring people’s attention to the issue of protection and conservation of the heritage.

Poll khol

The Election Commission has asked poll officials to maintain a daily, partywise log of model code violations by politicians and political parties. Besides a meticulous watch over public rallies and campaigns, the commission has suggested that details of violations be put in the public domain for easy access by the media and activists.

Communal and religious references in the election campaign, character assassination, use of religious places for election purposes and bribing of electors are some of the commonly reported cases of violation by candidates, according to the commission.

— Illustrations: Sandeep Joshi

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Pollspeak

PDP patron Mufti Mohd SayeedThe NC has no moral authority to talk about the Kashmir resolution. Its plea for a dialogue with separatists is mere hogwash.

— PDP patron Mufti Mohd Sayeed

We cannot simply sit idle and pass comments on what our leaders should do. We have to step into politics

— Kabir Suman, cultural crusader of West Bengal who has decided to contest

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Voter’s GUIDE

  • What’s the minimum age for becoming an LS candidate?
    Not less that 25 years on the date of scrutiny of papers
  • I am not a registered voter. Can I contest the elections?
    No, you have to be registered as a voter in the current electoral rolls to contest the elections

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