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

Rebellion surfaces in Cong, NCP
Mumbai, March 31
Even before filing of nominations for the Lok Sabha elections is complete in Maharashtra, large-scale rebellion is being reported within the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party across the state.

NRI city to offer logistic boost
Major parties to open hi-tech offices in Jalandhar
Jalandhar, March 31
Almost the middle point of Punjab, Jalandhar is set to become the centre of political battle in the coming parliamentary elections. All the major political parties, including SAD, Congress, BJP and BSP, have announced to open their state-level sub-offices — providing logistic support to the candidates and campaigns --- in the NRI city, which is also a media hub of the state.

Varun Issue
BJP caught in cleft stick
New Delhi, March 31
To be or not to be with their Gandhi is the dilemma the BJP think tank is facing these days.

Bajrang Dal activists protest against the slapping of the National Security Act on Varun Gandhi in Hubli on Tuesday. — PTI


Pollscape

Overheard

Voter’s guide

Pollspeak



Bollywood actors Shakti Kapoor and Kiran Kumar campaign for a Congress candidate in Jabalpur on Monday. — PTI

Power equation to change as Karuna’s son may take plunge
Chennai, March 31
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's elder son MK Azhagiri is likely to contest the parliamentary elections from his hometown of Madurai, going by the lack of other aspirants for the seat following the submission of 140 applications by party functionaries seeking the seat for him.

YSR’s son-in-law in code row
Oppn BJP accuses him of using religious meetings to seek votes for Andhra CM
Hyderabad, March 31
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy’s evangelist son-in-law Anil Kumar is caught in a political storm for allegedly campaigning for his father-in-law and the ruling Congress during the religious gatherings.

Health first, votes later
Mandi Ahmedgarh, March 31
A large number of residents of Kanganwal, largest village of erstwhile Malerkotla estate, have said they will not vote for any candidate in the Lok Sabha elections till comprehensive diagnostics tests for all dreaded diseases, including hepatitis C and cancer, are conducted for the whole population.

Rahul begins with an ode to aam aadmi
Wardha, March 31
Criticising the previous NDA regime for inept handling of terrorism during its rule, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi today asserted that the party would always take care of ‘aam admi’ and the poor in the country.

Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi addresses his first election rally in Maharashtra at Nanded on Tuesday. — PTI

‘Miss Popular’, she controls levers of power here
Jammu, March 31
She may not be a diva from the tinsel town, but is definitely a celebrity. Such is her influence on the masses that politicians are lining up outside her house to seek her ‘blessing’ to bolster their political fortunes this season.

Bioscope

Congress candidate from Moradabad Mohd Azharuddin along with other party leaders, Pandit Desh Raj Sharma (R), Noor Bano and Parvez Hashmi, during a road show in Moradabad on Tuesday. — PTI

Workers of the BJP dance before the arrival of Chief Minister Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad late on Monday. — AFP

Boardroom queen dons new avtar
Mumbai, March 31
The high-flying executives of south Mumbai are not even known to vote in elections, forget about contesting them. So, when Meera Sanyal, country head of ABN Amro India, decided to take the plunge, she turned quite a few heads. But the banker is unfazed even while contesting as an independent from a constituency — South Mumbai — which is one of smallest constituencies of the country, though its contours have changed following the delimitation exercise and now its boundaries spread to the mill lands of Central Mumbai.

INLD-BJP alliance eyes Punjabi votes
Kurukshetra, March 31
The decision of the INLD to field state party president Ashok Arora from the Kurukshetra Lok Sabha seat is a clear indication that the BJP-INLD alliance is eyeing Punjabi votes in this sprawling constituency which has never favoured a Jat candidate.

Novel protest
Hyderabad, March 31
In a novel protest against creation of special economic zones (SEZs), some villagers in Mahaboobnagar district of Andhra Pradesh, whose lands were acquired for an SEZ project, have entered the poll fray to register their opposition.





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Rebellion surfaces in Cong, NCP
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, March 31
Even before filing of nominations for the Lok Sabha elections is complete in Maharashtra, large-scale rebellion is being reported within the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party across the state.

And poised to join the ranks of rebels are senior leaders of both parties including some sitting ministers in the Ashok Chavan government in Maharashtra. Prominent among the critics of the party leadership is Maharashtra’s Revenue Minister Patangrao Kadam who got the job after party colleague Narayan Rane revolted at not being given the post of the Chief Minister.

Kadam is unhappy that Narayan Rane’s son Nilesh has been fielded from the Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg Lok Sabha constituency. He has been eyeing the Sangli Lok Sabha seat for his son Vishwajeet Kadam. The only problem for Kadam is that Sangli’s sitting MP Pratik Patil has been re-nominated.

“Loyalists in the party are being taken for granted while rebels are being rewarded,” Kadam tells visiting reporters. In private Kadam’s supporters tell journalists how Rane has managed to bully his way with the Congress leadership. Right now it is not clear if Kadam’s son will contest as a rebel. But observers say some carrot would be dangled to the Kadams to prevent them from spoiling the chances of Patil at the hustings.

On the other, hand a section of the Congress rebels in Maharashtra scored a point against Minority Affairs Minister Abdul Rehman Antulay who has been renominated from Raigad. Well into his 80s, Antulay didn’t expect to contest the 2009 elections and his nomination seems to have come as a surprise even to his supporters. With the local Congress workers demanding a change of candidate, the party may field its spokesperson Hussain Dalwai from this constituency.

Another unhappy person is former Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil who was a contender for the Congress ticket from Nanded. But he has been denied a ticket from here. So far it is not clear from where Patil will contest the Lok Sabha elections. Also on election eve, senior Congress leader Govindrao Adik quit the party to join the NCP.

Yet another star candidate of the party, Union Minister for Non-conventional Energy Vilas Muttemwar, who is contesting again from Nagpur is facing trouble from rebels. In 2004 Muttemwar was only winner from Vidarbha which has 10 seats in the Lok Sabha.

In Pune, where the Congress has renominated sitting MP Suresh Kalmadi, his old opponents and sections of the NCP are said to be working for a prominent builder D S Kulkarni who bagged BSP’s ticket from this city.

Similar is the fate of the NCP where three of its sitting MLAs have revolted after being denied tickets. Jaisingrao Gaikwad from Beed, Sadashiv Mandlik from Kolhapur and Tukaram Gadakh from Ahmednagar who were denied re-nomination are threatening to contest as Independent candidates and damage the party’s prospects. However party leaders feel that things can be sorted out before the last date for withdrawal of nominations. “Such things happen during every election and the party holds talks with the rebels and tries to sort things out,” NCP spokesman Madan Bafna said.

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NRI city to offer logistic boost
Major parties to open hi-tech offices in Jalandhar
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 31
Almost the middle point of Punjab, Jalandhar is set to become the centre of political battle in the coming parliamentary elections. All the major political parties, including SAD, Congress, BJP and BSP, have announced to open their state-level sub-offices — providing logistic support to the candidates and campaigns --- in the NRI city, which is also a media hub of the state.

Apart from coordinating electioneering, these hi-tech offices equipped with computers, internet, phone and fax facilities, will also be used for media briefings and releasing press notes on day-to-day basis.

Talking to The Tribune, Jalandhar (urban) chief of SAD Gurcharan Singh Channi said the camp office of his party would be opened at Avtar Nagar near the Doordarshan Kendra on April 2.

“In the previous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, SAD leader Daljit Singh Cheema used to take care of the offices here. But this time, he is a party candidate from Anandpur Sahib and will be busy campaigning in his constituency.

So I would be managing the affairs at the proposed camp office of the party here along with a former SGPC president Kirpal Singh Badungar,” added Channi.

Similarly, Punjab Congress president Mohinder Singh Kaypee said a sub- office of PPCC would be set up at Congress Bhawan at Rajendra Nagar within a few days. The facility would also be sending the complaints regarding the violation of the model code of conduct to Election Commission and Chief Electoral Officer of Punjab Kusumjit Sidhu, he added.

Not to be left behind, the state BSP general secretary Satish Bharti said the party was hunting for some proper place for opening their state-level election office in the city. Rajya Sabha member and state BSP president Avtar Singh Karimpuri would come to Jalandhar for formally inaugurating the facility. State co-convener of BJP media cell Rajat Mahendru said Punjab BJP chief Prof Rajendra Bhandari has directed the party men to find a suitable place for setting up the new office.

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Varun Issue
BJP caught in cleft stick
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 31
To be or not to be with their Gandhi is the dilemma the BJP think tank is facing these days.

Though the Mayawati government slapped NSA on Varun Gandhi— the controversial youth leader who is virtually dictating headlines these days — yesterday, the saffron party does not propose to make an issue out of it, even in UP, claimed sources.

In fact, the entire issue has put BJP in a cleft stick, with its Prime Minister in waiting LK Advani and his team constantly repeating that ‘the CD is doctored, but we distance ourselves and disapprove of whatever has been said in it’. Putting the onus of responsibility on the Election Commission to prove the authenticity of the controversial CD, the BJP has tried to project itself as an outsider, even as it sits on the ringside directing the play, feel analysts.

Notably, the party has cautioned its leaders to avoid making comments on the issue as it could invite action from the EC. The way the BJP has been handling the total episode is very similar to its reaction to the arrest of Pragya Singh Thakur by the Maharashtra Anti-terrorist Squad in connection with the Malegaon blasts. At that time too, the BJP spoke in two voices. On the one hand, BJP president Rajnath Singh firmly backed Pragya, declaring that no Hindu could be a terrorist. However, Advani and party general secretary Arun Jaitley were initially reluctant to speak anything in defence of Pragya. Later, after much coaxing, Advani wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stating that Pragya was being physically tortured in prison. Jaitley of course has preferred to stay mum on these two major controversies, which have left the BJP red-faced.

According to sources, a BJP faction feels that the Varun controversy has hijacked Advani’s campaign around the ineptitude of the UPA government to provide a development-oriented terror free government. Some of the leaders are pretty miffed with Varun and even her mother Maneka Gandhi for taking the whole thing to such a confrontational level.

So by playing down the Varun episode, Advani is campaigning hard to project himself as a ‘strong leader’, opine analysts. However, the BJP’s ‘parent body’ RSS and other Hindu bodies have come out in open to defend Varun. VHP spokesman Surernda Jain today said flayed invoking of NSA against the young leader.

There was nothing in his utterances to invite NSA. Even if we assume that whatever is in the CD was actually said by Varun Gandhi what is there in it which threatens national security,” he questioned. The Sangh is organsing a public reception for the new RSS chief Mohanrao Bhagwat here tomorrow and VHP sources indicated that the man will devote considerable time delving on the Varun Gandhi issue.

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Power equation to change as Karuna’s son may take plunge
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, March 31
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's elder son MK Azhagiri is likely to contest the parliamentary elections from his hometown of Madurai, going by the lack of other aspirants for the seat following the submission of 140 applications by party functionaries seeking the seat for him.

If Azhagiri decides to contest the Lok Sabha elections, power equations within the DMK with respect to national politics will dramatically change and the DMK leader's son is likely to eclipse former Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran, who had patched up with his grandfather recently. Even if Maran manages to secure Central Chennai and win again, Azhagiri is certain to hog the limelight in Delhi after the elections. Maran can be secure only if Azhagiri changes his mind at the last minute and nominates someone of his choice for the Madurai seat.

So far, 140 DMK functionaries have submitted applications with the DMK leadership seeking nomination for the party's South Zone organising secretary and DMK chief's son Azhagiri. Another factor which adds weight to Azhagiri's nomination is the lack of application from any other party leader for the seat till date.

Azhagiri himself did not rule out his contest from the seat, when reporters queried him. The DMK interview for aspiring candidates in constituencies of South Tamil Nadu, including Madurai, had been fixed for April 2. Azhagiri had made it clear that he would attend the interview on that date which will discourage other aspirants from seeking the seat. Even if any other leader applies for the seat, it is unlikely that he will be preferred to Azhagiri.

The DMK leader's son has been running party affairs from Madurai for more than two decades, even though official confirmation came only recently when he was nominated the South Zone organising secretary. Most of the state Ministers and DMK MLAs hailing from South Tamil Nadu are his choices.

The DMK has contested the Madurai seat only twice in the past and had allocated the seat to its allies most of the time. The DMK was not confident of winning in the temple town in the past as it was a bastion of AIADMK founder MGR, who had become the darling of Madurai people ever since he donned the role of “Madurai Veeran”, a legendary Dalit hero who is worshiped as a deity in the area.

The AIADMK tasted its first electoral victory from the Dindigul constituency, which was a part of Madurai before its bifurcation. MGR himself contested from Madurai city when he became the Chief Minister in 1977. However, the DMK had become confident of winning the seat after its thumping win by a margin of 40,000 in the recent byelection to the Thirumangalam assembly seat near Madurai.

Azhagiri's entry into the election race will add to the already long list of Karunanidhi's family members in active politics. The DMK leader's nephew, 'Murasoli' Maran, was the first and the chief's son M K Stalin is already the Local Administration Minister and treasurer of the party, next only to Karunanidhi and general secretary K Anbazhagan.

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YSR’s son-in-law in code row
Oppn BJP accuses him of using religious meetings to seek votes for Andhra CM

Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, March 31
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy’s evangelist son-in-law Anil Kumar is caught in a political storm for allegedly campaigning for his father-in-law and the ruling Congress during the religious gatherings.

The opposition parties, particularly the BJP, have alleged that Kumar had been making open appeals to people at religious meets to pray for the victory of Rajasekhar Reddy and the ruling party.

“This is a blatant case of violation of the model code of conduct,” the state BJP President B Dattatreya said. Thirty-eight year old Kumar, a Brahmin who had converted to Christianity, is married to CM’s only daughter Sharmila. Incidentally, the CM himself is a devout Christian.

Acting on complaints from the representatives of opposition parties, the election authorities are examining the tapes of his speeches. Meanwhile, the seizure of huge sum of money from some pastors attending one of his meetings in Karimnagar town recently has further added to the controversy. Some BJP activists had beaten up the pastors staying at a lodge in Karimnagar and seized over Rs10 lakhs from them. They alleged that the money was meant for distribution among voters. According to media reports, Kumar, while addressing Christian religious leaders from Adilabad and Karimnagar districts, sought God's blessings for his father-in-law who is seeking a second term as the CM.

The local election officials recorded the proceedings and sent the tape to Karimnagar district returning officer Dayanand. After analyzing the tapes, the official will send his report to the state Chief Electoral Officer IV Subba Rao for further action.

Kumar was in the news in December last year when he organised a massive Christian congregation in the state capital. The opposition parties had then questioned the source of funding for the grand Christmas celebrations. Kumar began preaching over a decade ago under the aegis of Anil World Evangelism but shot into limelight after his father-in-law took over the reins of the state in 2004.

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Health first, votes later
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, March 31
A large number of residents of Kanganwal, largest village of erstwhile Malerkotla estate, have said they will not vote for any candidate in the Lok Sabha elections till comprehensive diagnostics tests for all dreaded diseases, including hepatitis C and cancer, are conducted for the whole population.

At least 20 persons have died of hepatitis C virus, suspected to be present in the incubation phase among a large number of residents, during the past one month.

Authorities of the state and the union government Heath Department have not yet woken up from slumber. Villagers contributed money to save some youths suffering of hepatitis C, but with little results. There are some cases in which families of patients have sold their assets for treatment at multi-specialty hospitals, but they could not be saved as the disease was detected at an advanced stage.

Had the health authorities bothered to undertake screening tests for the population and detected virus at an earlier stage, these lives could have been saved, said the villagers.

The failure of the Public Health Department to provide germ-free drinking water and the Health Department to take preventive measures have been cited to be main reasons behind the deaths.

Villagers, including civic body members, said they did not remember if the authorities have ever bothered to get the drinking water tested for purity.

Investigations by this correspondent have revealed that the population of over 5,000 residents of Kanganwal village in Sangrur district has been living under fear after about 20 persons died. A majority of the deceased were found to be suffering from hepatitis C. As many as 124 out of 188 persons examined at a camp organised by Full Ford Company in association with the local Hind Hospital a few months ago, had tested positive for the dreaded virus.

Villagers led by Parkash Chand, a member of the civic body, said a large number of people have died in the recent past. Though senior medical authorities and political leaders visit the village, none of them bothered to inquire about the reason behind the deaths.

Harbans Kaur, a widow, did not know whom to contact to save her son Sukhwinder Singh, who has been tested positive for hepatitis C. She has already lost two sons due to this dreaded disease. Though villagers have contributed some money for the treatment, they cannot afford the interferon therapy.

The villagers said candidates and their supporters instead of taking up the matter with the authorities preferred to beg votes from other villages and leave us at the nature’s mercy. “If they don’t have time to solve our problems, we too have no time for them,” said villagers.

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Rahul begins with an ode to aam aadmi

Wardha, March 31
Criticising the previous NDA regime for inept handling of terrorism during its rule, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi today asserted that the party would always take care of ‘aam admi’ and the poor in the country.

Addressing a huge gathering at the launch of party poll campaign here, Rahul said the UPA government has fulfilled its election promises by providing job for 100 days to the labourers under Employment Guarantee Scheme.

The Congress-led government at the Centre launched mid-day meal scheme for schoolchildren and waived off crop loan and interest on farm loan to debt- ridden farmers, particularly in Vidarbha region, which faced agrarian crisis, he asserted.

The scion of Gandhi family did not spare the Opposition on electioneering and said, “Last time, the BJP had coined a popular slogan “India Shining” but when we reached out to villagers, the rural population was not only surprised but was unaware of any such thing or feeling.” Attacking Opposition for describing Manmohan Singh as a weak PM, Rahul said under the leadership of Manmohan Singh, the country has achievements on many fronts be it nuclear deal with the US or employment opportunities to the youth in the country.

Rahul said the NDA regime had sent its minister to Kandhar to release arrested terrorists when the Indian flight was hijacked. “After the terror attack in Mumbai, it was the PM Manmohan Singh who put pressure on Pakistan to admit the involvement of its men in the attack,” said the youth leader. Congress has always adopted policies to advocate secularism and to unite people against caste and religion, while the Opposition has always indulged in dividing the country in the name of religion, he added.

Chief Minister Ashok Chavan referring to a speech of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in which he told to repeat Gujarat pattern in Maharashtra, said people want Gujarat of Mahatma Gandhi and not that of Narendra Modi. — PTI

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‘Miss Popular’, she controls levers of power here
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Tribune News Service

Jammu, March 31
She may not be a diva from the tinsel town, but is definitely a celebrity. Such is her influence on the masses that politicians are lining up outside her house to seek her ‘blessing’ to bolster their political fortunes this season.

If 56-year old Saroj Kumari, alias Saira Haji, the president of Jammu and Kashmir Kinnar Samaj, is to be believed, even Shamima Dev Azad, better half of the former Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had approached her before the last Assembly elections, asking her contest on a Congress ticket.

“Last year Shamima Dev Azad, wife of Ghulam Nabi Azad had offered me the party ticket. But then the Amarnath agitation happened and I wasn’t sure of joining politics,” claims Saira.

Living in her own world, Saira is not dying to join politics but at the same time hasn’t closed the option of taking the proverbial plunge to change the rotting system.

“We have no relatives, so question of harbouring dishonest feelings doesn’t arise at all. Though I am literally flooded with offers to contest elections, I have to weight my options before I decide,” she said. Those who cannot convince her to join their party, ask her to at least campaign for them. Saira says that there was no harm in either campaigning or contesting the polls but she has to be sure about the candidate or his party.

“I can even contest as an independent if my people want me to. If a member from our community like Shabnam from Bundelkhand can become an MP, why cant I,” she remarks. She, however, has a grudge against successive governments in the state for their indifferent attitude towards eunuchs.

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Boardroom queen dons new avtar
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, March 31
The high-flying executives of south Mumbai are not even known to vote in elections, forget about contesting them. So, when Meera Sanyal, country head of ABN Amro India, decided to take the plunge, she turned quite a few heads. But the banker is unfazed even while contesting as an independent from a constituency — South Mumbai — which is one of smallest constituencies of the country, though its contours have changed following the delimitation exercise and now its boundaries spread to the mill lands of Central Mumbai.

In a recent interaction with reporters, Sanyal said the November 26 terrorist attack in Mumbai has spurred her to jump into fray. “This city is going from bad to worse. I won’t let it happen. I am contesting the elections to improve Mumbai,” says the woman, who hasn’t quit her job yet and is on a long break.

And the support seems to be pouring in, especially from the corporate world. Heads of various companies have spoken in her favour. Pitted against sitting MP Milind Deora of the Congress and Mohan Rawle of the Shiv Sena, Sanyal is banking on family and friends to help her out in the poll campaign. Her husband, Ashish, is her campaign manager. Sanyal’s poll plank is typical of the tax-paying class. Mumbai, she insists, pays Rs 95,000 crore as taxes to the country, so the city must get a fair share of development projects.

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INLD-BJP alliance eyes Punjabi votes
Bhanu P. Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Kurukshetra, March 31
The decision of the INLD to field state party president Ashok Arora from the Kurukshetra Lok Sabha seat is a clear indication that the BJP-INLD alliance is eyeing Punjabi votes in this sprawling constituency which has never favoured a Jat candidate.

The INLD had fielded Abhey Singh Chautala, son of INLD supremo Om Prakash Chautala, from this constituency in 2004, but he lost to sitting MP Navin Jindal and Arora being a Punjabi, got the party nomination.

This multi-caste constituency has a sizeable number of Punjabi, Sikh and Saini votes whose support is crucial for any candidate to sail through.

Former Transport Minister Ashok Arora, who was elated over the allotment of the party ticket, expressed confidence that he would win with the support of all castes and the full backing of the INLD and BJP cadres.

“The caste factor is not important in this constituency and the BJP cadre is fully behind me and working wholeheartedly for my success,” he claimed while talking to The Tribune.

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Novel protest

Hyderabad, March 31
In a novel protest against creation of special economic zones (SEZs), some villagers in Mahaboobnagar district of Andhra Pradesh, whose lands were acquired for an SEZ project, have entered the poll fray to register their opposition.

As many as 15 candidates filed their nominations as independents for Mahaboobnagar Lok Sabha seat on Tuesday. The constituency in the backward Telangana region is going to polls on April 16. The villagers of Polepalli, where a pharmaceutical SEZ is coming up, have been on a warpath ever since their lands were acquired for the project. — TNS

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Pollscape

Deep cut

They are the ones who gave politicians and cine stars a larger than life image. However, now the cutout making industry, which created giant lifelike images, has shrunk in the state and is dying a silent death. With the advent of computer-generated vinyl hoardings of virtually any size, painters and carpenters, who created huge works of art, are facing unemployment. Though there are no official figures available, film industry sources and political outfits said the industry that was once worth Rs 50 crore in Tamil Nadu has shrunk drastically. At one time, some 100 cutouts per week could be found in different parts of the state with average outlays of Rs 150,000 per site. “In the days gone by, a hoarding would cost at least Rs 25,000 to cover costs of painting and mounting and needed almost 10 days to complete. Our work would stay on for months in cinemas and roadsides,” N Marichamy said. Once he used to earn almost Rs 1,500 a day during the busy season. Now, he sustains himself by painting buildings and earns less than Rs 200 a day, if he gets hired. — IANS

Playing safe

Sections of the BJP might be exulting in the attention their party’s Pilibhit candidate Varun Gandhi is getting after his inflammatory speeches. But there is one place where the he won’t be welcome - Madhya Pradesh, where the party’s election in charge is Sushma Swaraj. The senior BJP leader made it clear to party workers that they should not hope that Varun Gandhi, now behind bars and booked under the National Security Act, would be campaigning for them in the state. The reason: The party does not want to polarise votes and threaten its chances in certain constituencies. “We are in the government here (Madhya Pradesh), and the government doesn’t use this (kind of) language. We don’t have to do any such thing which can be termed as “aa bail mujhe maar (which can harm us),” Swaraj told party workers. — IANS

Chinese angle

“Do you have something for political luck? Something to help me get a ticket to contest?” That’s the oft-heard question these days as politicians and wannabe MPs, agonising over electoral prospects throng feng shui shops hoping to woo lady luck. “With feng shui, one can improve chances of getting more from life. You can arrange the environment in such a way that the balance falls in your favour. Many politicians are showing a deep interest in this and have come to me seeking advice,” feng shui master Mohandeep said. Feng shui is an ancient Chinese system of aesthetics. It believes in using laws of astronomy (heaven’s luck) and the earth luck to improve life by charging positive qi, or physical energy. “Many people from the Shiv Sena and the BJP come to me. There are two or three persons from the Congress also,” he said, adding that Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam, known for his stint on reality TV, is also among his regular clients. — IANS

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Overheard
2,975 booths very sensitive

GUWAHATI: The Election Commission has categorized 2,975 polling station as ‘very sensitive’, 6,635 ‘sensitive’ and 440 ‘hypersensitive’ in the insurgency-hit Assam where election will be held in two phases (April 16 and April 23) in 14 parliamentary constituencies under heavy deployment of paramilitary forces. Helicopter services will be kept handy in case of any emergency during the polling process in the state where 75 companies of central paramilitary forces will be deployed exclusively for smooth conduct of elections. — TNS

Catch ’em young

MUMBAI: With a view to educating and encouraging the youth to exercise their franchise in the Lok Sabha elections, a “Youth Lead” event will be organised by Mount Carmel Church on its premises in suburban Bandra on April 4. “Youth Lead is a mela for young people to encourage them to vote and get involved in society. There will also be a setting of music, games, chat shows, contest and food courts. We have invited “Jaago Re”, “Agni”, “Vote Indian”, “Yuva Satta” and other NGOs to set up their stalls so that they could provide valuable information about the candidates and elections,” Father Warner, who is associated with the church, said. — PTI

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Voter’s guide

Can a person confined in a jail vote in an election?

Such a person can’t vote if he is confined in a prison, whether under a sentence of imprisonment or transportation or otherwise, or is in the lawful custody of the police

Can a person contest the LS elections from as many constituencies as he likes?

No. He can’t contest from more than two constituencies

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Pollspeak

If Sanjay Dutt’s case was to be treated as a rarest of rare case, many others convicted for heinous offences would have pleaded with the SC to treat their cases as the rarest cases citing this as a precedence

— BJP General Secretary Arun Jaitley

I have full faith in God. He’ll protect me

— Assam Health Minister and Congress spokesman Himanta Biswa Sarma on why he did not wear a helmet during his motorbike rally.

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