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

Tigers’ shadow over TN
Chennai, March 13
After implementing almost all his 2006 Assembly election promises, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi is not talking about the number of colour TV sets distributed, PDS rice at Re 1 per kg or the free gas connections and stoves now.

Orissa splitsville & the Left’s 24-Karat man
New Delhi, March 13
When a relatively young Prakash Karat took over the CPM reins from veteran Harkishan Singh Surjeet, he was hailed as a leader who carried no burden of corruption or political wheeling dealing.

Reel run: Andhra’s demigods set for clash
Hyderabad, March 13
A high-voltage “star wars” is set to unfold in Andhra Pradesh with political parties roping in a galaxy of film personalities for the poll campaign. Cine glamour has been an integral part of Andhra politics since the emergence of NTR, the demigod of Telugu cinema, who had stormed to power within nine months of floating the Telugu Desam Party, a feat unparalleled in the country’s electoral history.

STAR WAR: Chiranjeevi vs Junior NTR

STAR WAR: Chiranjeevi vs Junior NTR









GRAPHICS:
HP Constituencies



LONG WAIT: Party ticket seekers and workers at the AICC headquarters in New Delhi
LONG WAIT:
Party ticket seekers and workers at the AICC headquarters in New Delhi on Friday. — PTI

For 30 yrs, this beach guy has truly been a ‘dream MP’
Panaji, March 13
Sniggered at in Goa Congress circles and the butt of jokes among the local media fraternity, Arsenio D’Silva has been trying unsuccessfully for over 30 years for a nomination from the party to contest elections. For every popularly elected MP is a long winding queue of those who didn’t manage a ticket, and D’Silva (59) is one such. Hope appears to be his only friend with another general election around the corner. An executive committee member of the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC), he has been filing his candidature for the north Goa seat since the 1977 general election. “I have also been filing my candidature to contest the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections right from the 1970s, but the party never gives me a ticket,” D’Silva said.





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Tigers’ shadow over TN
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, March 13
After implementing almost all his 2006 Assembly election promises, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi is not talking about the number of colour TV sets distributed, PDS rice at Re 1 per kg or the free gas connections and stoves now. Instead, the veteran DMK leader is reminding voters about AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa’s rhetoric against LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran in 2002 in the Assembly.

This is the trend which marks the poll campaign in Tamil Nadu, where everyone is blaming each other for their animosity against the LTTE in the past. Even TNCC president K V Thangabalu is denying that the Congress-led government at the Centre helped the Sri Lankan government in its war against the Tigers. His denial clearly reflects the ground realities in Tamil Nadu before the Lok Sabha elections. Even the Congress leader thinks that supporting a war against the Tigers will be perceived as a crime by the people of Tamil Nadu. Jayalalithaa’s appeal to voters during her fast on March 9 "to teach a lesson to the UPA government which has played a key role in Tamils’ genocide by providing weapons, funds and training to the Sri Lankan army" leaves no one in doubt about the central issue of the election campaign in Tamil Nadu.

Never before in Tamil Nadu has the Sri Lankan Tamils issue played a decisive role in elections.

Even in the 1984 general election, just after the anti-Tamil riots in Colombo, the island Tamils issue was not a poll plank, since a sympathy wave following former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination swept the polls.Now, the shadow of the Sri Lankan Tamils’ plight is looming large over the May 13 general election, with reports of deaths and suffering of Tamils reaching Tamil Nadu every hour.

The visuals of mangled bodies of Tamil children and women shown on Tamil TV channels and in newspapers is heightening the anger against the Sri Lankan government, which started the military offensive.The Opposition in Tamil Nadu is precisely looking to deflect this anger towards the UPA during the coming general election.

The response to MDMK leader Vaiko’s assertion at every meeting that the hands of the Congress and its allies were stained with the blood and tears of Sri Lankan Tamils shows that the Opposition is succeeding in its attempt.The announcement of Sri Lankan Air Vice-Marshal Donald Pereira on December 9, 2005, that the island air force runway at Palaly was repaired with expert assistance and finance provided by India is being referred to by the Opposition now.

The supply of Indira radars, co-ordinated communication network between the Indian and Sri Lankan navies, Rs 500 crore financial assistance to the island government at a low interest of 2 per cent and training to the Sri Lankan military have become the focal points of the Opposition campaign.

As a result, despite the DMK government’s populist measures and people’s approval of the UPA government’s performance, the Congress and the DMK are scouting for more parties to strengthen their alliance.

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Orissa splitsville & the Left’s 24-Karat man
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 13
When a relatively young Prakash Karat took over the CPM reins from veteran Harkishan Singh Surjeet, he was hailed as a leader who carried no burden of corruption or political wheeling dealing. But it was also widely believed that he would find it tough to match the skills of his predecessor to influence a plethora of parties who dot the political firmament today.

And when Karat led the Left Front out of the UPA in July 2008, his critics recalled the pragmatism of Surjeet saying, “The last two years have only exposed Karat’s lack of political skills suited for the new age coalition politics, an art his predecessor, Harkishen Singh Surjeet, so well and truly mastered.” The Left baiters also confidently claimed that Karat has pushed the CPM into political isolation and oblivion. Just a week ago political commentators were predicting: “The CPM faces heavy anti-incumbency and serious inner party dissensions in Kerala. It has become highly unpopular in West Bengal. This time it will truly be wiped out. At best it can win 20-20 seats.”

But just one successful move of breaking the 11-year old BJD-BJP alliance has silenced all these critics. What’s more, they are taking a serious note of the Third Front, which was formally launched at Tumkur near Bangalore on Thursday.

Also, the dismissive comments of the BJP now sound hollow. The saffron party is surely shaken because it is proving to be the immediate target of the CPM. First, they called the Third Front as zero front. Then they claimed that the amalgamation wouldn’t last long and constituting units would split up after the elections. But according to analysts, the BJP has an extra reason to feel slighted. Almost all the parties the party was hoping to tap have joined the Third Front. A CPM insider explained the party strategy in detail. He divided the period before withdrawing support to the government into three phases. “In the first phase, we kept our flock together in spite of efforts by forces inimical to us to drive a wedge in the unity. In the process we succeeded in influencing UPA allies like DMK, Lalu Prasad, Ram Vilas Paswan and even Sharad Pawar who categorically told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh not to sacrifice the government for the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal,” said an insider.

Congress saw through the game and rushed to Amar Singh to save its government and temporarily succeed in isolating the CPM.

The third phase saw Karat meeting BSP chief Mayawati in Lucknow, consolidating alliances with Chandrababu Naidu and TRS and building bridges with Jayalalitha and force Manmohan Singh to seek a vote of confidence.

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Reel run: Andhra’s demigods set for clash
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, March 13
A high-voltage “star wars” is set to unfold in Andhra Pradesh with political parties roping in a galaxy of film personalities for the poll campaign.

Cine glamour has been an integral part of Andhra politics since the emergence of NTR, the demigod of Telugu cinema, who had stormed to power within nine months of floating the Telugu Desam Party, a feat unparalleled in the country’s electoral history.

Nearly 26 years after NTR heralded the politics of glamour, another reigning star, Chiranjeevi, has donned political robes, hoping to repeat NTR’s magic.

While the revival of “Telugu pride” became NTR’s main political plank, “change and social justice” are the new mantras of 53- year-old Chiranjeevi, a Padma Bhushan awardee who has acted in 148 films in a career spanning three decades.

His actor brothers, Pavan Kalyan and Nagendra Babu, and brother-in-law Allu Aravind, a noted producer, are assisting him in the campaign and formulation of policies.

In a bid to counter Chiranjeevi’s star power, TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu has roped in NTR’s family members, all associated with the film industry, to revive his party’s prospects, particularly in the face of large- scale migration to Chiranjeevi’s camp.

NTR's actor-son N Balakrishna and grandson “Junior NTR”, a mass hero, have already hit the campaign trail and are conducting road shows across the state.

Besides, NTR’s elder son N Harikrishna, actor-producer and Rajya Sabha member, and grandsons Kalyan Ram and Taraka Ratna, also actors of considerable following, are pitching in to participate in the campaign.

After losing power in the 2004 elections, Naidu, who is NTR’s son-in-law, has been making conscious efforts to get closer to the NTR family. His only son Lokesh was married to Balakrishna’s daughter Brahmani last year, further cementing the family ties.

Naidu has already declared that his party would give the party ticket to some of the members of the fans’ associations of Balakrishna and Junior NTR.

Popular actress Roja, president of the TDP’s women’s wing, who is known for her fiery speeches, is adding punch to the poll campaign, targeting her co-star Chiranjeevi.

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For 30 yrs, this beach guy has truly been a ‘dream MP’

Panaji, March 13
Sniggered at in Goa Congress circles and the butt of jokes among the local media fraternity, Arsenio D’Silva has been trying unsuccessfully for over 30 years for a nomination from the party to contest elections.

For every popularly elected MP is a long winding queue of those who didn’t manage a ticket, and D’Silva (59) is one such. Hope appears to be his only friend with another general election around the corner.

An executive committee member of the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC), he has been filing his candidature for the north Goa seat since the 1977 general election.

“I have also been filing my candidature to contest the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections right from the 1970s, but the party never gives me a ticket,” D’Silva said.

While it may appear that filing for a party ticket is a routine exercise, there is a financial implication that cannot be ignored. “You have to pay the GPCC of Rs 10,000 to file candidature for a Lok Sabha ticket and Rs 5,000 for an Assembly ticket in the Congress party,” D’Silva said.

But that’s not where it ends.

“I make at least two or three trips to Delhi every time to lobby with the central leadership. You have to try and meet the party leaders in Delhi. All this costs. But I am a landlord from Cansaulim. Money is not an issue for me. I spend Rs 200,000 each election to follow up my application,” he said.

And there are yet other hazards, which one has to weather and manoeuvre. “You also have to spend money on entertaining state leaders. Pay for their lunch, breakfast and other expenses I should not be telling you about,” he said.

D’Silva claims the Congress in Goa has as a matter of habit forgotten to recognise and honour its members who’ve stayed loyal to the party for decades.

“Today there is place only for defectors at the top in the Congress in Goa. The names of habitual defectors like Ramakant Khalap and Vishnu Wagh are being discussed for the north Goa seat,” D’Silva complains.

While Khalap was a senior leader in a regional party, which he quit to become a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) minister before joining the Congress, Wagh has an even longer list of political flings.

“Look, Congress Chief Minister Digambar Kamat was a powerful minister in the BJP government. Our present Home Minister Ravi Naik was officially Deputy Chief Minister in the BJP regime,” he said.

Goa Congress president Subhash Shirodkar, however, said: “We follow a democratic, transparent process while granting tickets. The names are shortlisted with the consent of the state Congress unit and then sent to Delhi for endorsement,” he said. — IANS

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Pollscape

Different strokes

A eunuch, a Haryanvi folk singer and a man who vies to break Lord Shiva’s record of marrying the same woman six times, these probable candidates of Panthers Party may not win a seat in the Lok Sabha polls from Delhi but will sure provide colour in the coming elections. The party is also planning to field two women and two Dalits from general category, a decision which the party’s Delhi unit president Sanjay Sachdeva describes as the “bringing together of all three -- male, female and eunuchs.” Sita Kinnar, convener of Kinnar Front which is the only All India organisation of eunuchs in the country, will contest elections from the West Delhi constituency. — PTI

Tirupur tale

As the general election nears, the printing of flags of various political parties is in full swing in Tirupur in Tamil Nadu.

Known as India’s Manchester, the place accounts for a sizeable chunk of the country’s textile printing.

The workers here specialise in printing of images of party leaders and their symbols on T’shirts and caps.

The recession has hit their business too and a majority of them are eagerly waiting for the final list of candidates to be released, which will bring more orders. — ANI

Spiritual desires

Two spiritual leaders have voiced their desire to contest from the Nashik Parliamentary seat.

Mahamandaleshwar Swami Shantigiri Maharaj said he has decided to jump into the fray after his followers asked him to fight against the corrupt politicians.

Earlier, Acharya Mahamadaleshwar Mahant Sudhirdas Maharaj had announced his poll candidature from the Nashik seat on the BSP ticket. — PTI

Ballot classes

Are you a student eager to vote but without any idea how to get registered as an elector? Don’t fret. Your college will now have a facilitation centre where you get the form, get it verified by the authorities and submit it there too. In a meeting with the representatives of six universities, Delhi’s chief electoral officer on Friday proposed that such centres should be set up immediately to encourage the youth to come forward and vote. According to a survey, the number of voters in the age group of 18-19 was 4,03,914 but the city's population in this same group was much higher at 7,25,600. This shows that youth in this age group are highly under-represented. — IANS

— Illustrations: Sandeep Joshi

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Pollspeak

The BJP-led NDA, if voted to power at the Centre, will introduce POTA within three days of assuming power.

— BJP spokesperson Dhananjaya Kumar

— CPM general secretary Prakash KaratWe want a federal state. We are against the centralisation of power in Delhi.

— CPM general secretary Prakash Karat

Ninety per cent of people from the plains in Sikkim are migrants with fake documents. We will not tolerate this.

— Sikkim National People’s Party President Biraj Adhikari

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VOTER’S GUIDE

  • How can EVMs be used in areas where there is no electricity?
    The EVM does not depend on electricity. It runs on alkaline batteries.
  • What is the maximum number of votes which can be cast in an EVM?
    It can record a maximum of 3,840 votes

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