SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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

Battlefield K’taka: Cong ammo ready
Eager to regain foothold, party banks on veterans
New Delhi, April 1
In a signal to the warring factions of its Karnataka unit to let bygones be bygones, the Congress party has decided to field suspended AICC general secretary Margaret Alva as its candidate from Uttara Kannada in the coming general election.

Poll power for differently abled
New Delhi, April 1
India is all set to witness disabled-friendly elections this year. The historic development follows the Election Commission’s commitment to the Supreme Court, which, at the time of last elections, directed the authorities to ensure full poll participation of the differently-abled.

Don’t spring surprise visits, VIPs told
New Delhi, April 1
Amid intelligence inputs suggesting targeting of politicians by terrorists, the Centre has written to all states to ensure tight security for nearly 40 VIPs and asked these leaders not to spring any surprise visits during the electioneering.


BJP struggles to retain Arunachal seats
Itanagar, April 1
The battlelines for elections to the two parliamentary seats in Arunachal Pradesh are drawn with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) trying its best to retain both seats, while the Congress puts up a tough challenge.

Students with party symbols on their faces in Allahabad on Wednesday.
Students with party symbols on their faces in Allahabad on Wednesday. — PTI

Now, pooches on the job
Raipur, April 1
Lily, Sally, Kareena and the lone male Teja used to roam the streets, but they will soon be reporting for election duty in the restive, forested terrain of the Bastar region in Chhattisgarh.

Punjab Union Ministers poll shy
Chandigarh, April 1
Led by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, three other Union Ministers from Punjab - Manohar Singh Gill, Ashwani Kumar and Ambika Soni - will not be among dramatis personae in the biggest dance of democracy, the Lok Sabha elections.

BJP misses super strategist Mahajan
Pramod Mahajan New Delhi/Mumbai, April 1
At a bookshop in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headquarters in Delhi, the one item that sells like hot cakes is a CD on how to make a speech by the late Pramod Mahajan — a former minister, an astute strategist, funds manager and troubleshooter whom the party will sorely miss in these elections.

Fewer stars on horizon this time?
New Delhi, April 1
Stars are not that bright for many Bollywood personalities contesting the Lok Sabha elections. The list includes “Hero no 1” Govinda, “Veeru” Dharmendra, yesteryear “Dream Girl” Hema Malini and “Munnabhai” Sanjay Dutt among others.

Pollscape

Overheard

Pollspeak

Voter’s guide

Bioscope

Congress candidate for the North East Delhi seat Jagdish Tytler poses for the media in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Congress candidate for the North East Delhi seat Jagdish Tytler poses for the media in New Delhi on Wednesday. — AFP
Samajwadi Party MP Akhilesh Yadav on the “Parivartan Rath Yatra” in Etawah, Uttar Pradesh, on Wednesday.
Samajwadi Party MP Akhilesh Yadav on the “Parivartan Rath Yatra” in Etawah, Uttar Pradesh, on Wednesday. — PTI 
A BJP worker fixes the party’s election placards which were released at a press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday
A BJP worker fixes the party’s election placards which were released at a press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday. — PTI

 





Top








 

Battlefield K’taka: Cong ammo ready
Eager to regain foothold, party banks on veterans
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 1
In a signal to the warring factions of its Karnataka unit to let bygones be bygones, the Congress party has decided to field suspended AICC general secretary Margaret Alva as its candidate from Uttara Kannada in the coming general election.

The party, trying hard to regain its lost ground in Karnataka, also announced the nomination of former Chief Minister and AICC media department chief M Veerappa Moily from Chikkballapur. Apart from Moily, two more former CMs are in the fray on the party ticket. Alva, who created a major flutter by alleging sale of party nominations in Assembly polls in Karnataka following which she had to face disciplinary action, will be the party’s candidate against BJP strongman Ananth Hegde.

In these elections, the Congress is banking heavily on party veterans to take on the rival BJP in the state. So, its 27-candidate list includes three ex-CMs, two state party unit presidents and a former Centre minister.

While former CMs S Bangarappa and N Dharam Singh are seeking re-election from Shimoga and Bidar, respectively, Mallikarjun Kharge and B Janardhana Poojary — former presidents of the party’s state unit — are contesting from Gulbarga and Dakshina Kannada, respectively. The party sprang up a surprise name in the list of candidates declared today by nominating Karnataka youth Congress president C. Krishna Byre Gowda from Bangalore South. Gowda is been pitted against BJP heavyweight HN Ananth Kumar.

Giving a final shape to the Karnataka’s list of candidates has been a tough job for the party leadership, which wanted to include as many known faces in the list as possible. Former Railways Minister CK Jaffer Sharief has been given Bangalore North, though he wanted to contest from Bangalore Central, which has gone to HT Sangliana — a former city police commissioner. Sangliana, contesting on a BJP ticket, defeated Sharief in the 2004 Lok Sabha poll. But he distanced himself from the BJP and voted in favour of the trust vote sought by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The Congress had to return the favour by giving him Bangalore Central instead of Shareif.

Party sources say all the 27 candidates announced till date have been selected taking care to ensure that all sections in the state unit of the party are satisfied. Another factor, of course, has been the winnability of the candidate. The party has not finalised the candidate for Mandya, which was won in 2004 by Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting MH Ambareesh.

Historically, the Congress had remained in a strong position in Karnataka, except during the 2004 general election when it faired poorly. At that time, it had won just eight out of the 28 seats.

Top

 

Poll power for differently abled
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 1
India is all set to witness disabled-friendly elections this year. The historic development follows the Election Commission’s commitment to the Supreme Court, which, at the time of last elections, directed the authorities to ensure full poll participation of the differently-abled.

This is the first time since Independence that the disabled will freely exercise their fundamental right to adult franchise - something they could not earlier do in the absence of accessible polling booths and friendly Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

This time, however, things will be different, with the EC in an affidavit to the Apex Court confirming the provision of the following facilities - good quality permanent ramps in all polling stations to enable disabled persons to have an easy access; new EVMs featuring Braille numerals by the side of the ballot buttons to assist the visually-impaired; separate queues for the disabled and sensitised poll staff to guide persons with special needs wanting to cast their ballot.

The SC had earlier ordered the EC to deliver on the above-mentioned four counts. With the EC complying, disability issues will also, for the first time, impact pollscape like never before, now that the disabled also have a voice. About 7 per cent of India’s 70 million disabled have a vote; that explains some political parties, the CPM particularly, including disability issues in their manifesto.

Top

 

Don’t spring surprise visits, VIPs told

New Delhi, April 1
Amid intelligence inputs suggesting targeting of politicians by terrorists, the Centre has written to all states to ensure tight security for nearly 40 VIPs and asked these leaders not to spring any surprise visits during the electioneering.

In a letter to Chief Ministers of various states and important political leaders, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram has listed out ‘dos and don’ts’ for the state police and paramilitary forces during the electioneering, official sources said today.

Besides the SPG-protected leaders, including Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her children Rahul and Priyanka, the letter has been written to prominent politicians like BJP leader L K Advani, former CMs Ghulam Nabi Azad, Farooq Abdullah and J Jayalalithaa.

Chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, Omar Abdullah, Narendra Modi and Mayawati, respectively, Lalu Prasad and Mulayam Singh Yadav also figure in the list prepared by the Home Ministry. — PTI

Top

 

BJP struggles to retain Arunachal seats
Syed Zarir Hussain

Itanagar, April 1
The battlelines for elections to the two parliamentary seats in Arunachal Pradesh are drawn with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) trying its best to retain both seats, while the Congress puts up a tough challenge.

The firebrand 38-year-old sitting BJP MP, Kiren Rijiju, is facing a stiff fight in the Arunachal (West) seat from former Education Minister and student leader Takam Sanjay. The usually vocal and articulate Rijiju, chosen the Best Young Parliamentarian by India Today magazine, says: "I don't believe in money and muscle power in elections and I don't have that. All I am banking on is the goodwill of the people and their conscience votes."

"Mypriority will be to develop the state economically and ensure better wages for the state government employees besides working for the overall prosperity of the whole of the North-East," Rijiju told IANS. His main opponent, Sanjay, is equally vocal and influential.

A former president of the powerful All-Arunachal Pradesh Students Union, Sanjay (45) went on to become the Education Minister before getting the party's nod to contest the parliamentary elections.

Elections to the seats of Arunachal (West) and Arunachal (East) are scheduled for April 16. In the Arunachal (East) seat, sitting BJP MP Tapir Gao is facing stiff opposition from Congress candidate Ninong Ering.

"I am confident of retaining the seat, but I am not taking the challenge lightly," Gao said. — IANS 

Top

 

Now, pooches on the job

Raipur, April 1
Lily, Sally, Kareena and the lone male Teja used to roam the streets, but they will soon be reporting for election duty in the restive, forested terrain of the Bastar region in Chhattisgarh.

The job on hand will need all their dogged determination - sniffing out explosives. The four street dogs, which “graduated” from the Counter Terrorism and Jungle Warfare College (CTJWC) in Bastar, will make a poll debut of sorts in the April 16 elections in the state.

They have been specially deployed to the area known as a stronghold of Maoist rebels who have called for a poll boycott.

“The mongrels - Lily, Sally, Kareena and Teja - are going to Bastar for poll duty where guerrillas have laid landmines for years to prevent security forces from entering forested stretches,” Girdhari Nayak, Additional Director General, Chhattisgarh Armed Forces, said.

He said: “The mongrels have got poll assignments for the first time in India.” The four mongrels completed a nine-month explosive detection course in April last year. They will now have to sniff out explosives up to 12 inches below the ground surface. The officer said the street dogs would mainly be deployed for VIP security, de-mining and escorting polling parties in violence-hit pockets where Maoists may have buried landmines in bulk.

“These mongrels are tougher and sharper than Labradors and Alsatians that are favoured traditionally in India as sniffer dogs,” Nayak said. “I found these street dogs more handy for the police in thickly forested, Maoist-infested, difficult terrain as they can survive in high temperatures and walk up to 25 km on foot a day while Labradors and Alsatians are sensitive to climate.”

Brigadier BK Ponwar (retd), CTJWC director, said: “Our mongrels are making their poll assignment debut in this elections, they will be deployed in Bastar’s terror ground to ensure safety. They will alert cops in case explosives are kept under the ground surface.” — IANS

Top

 

Punjab Union Ministers poll shy
Prahjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
Led by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, three other Union Ministers from Punjab - Manohar Singh Gill, Ashwani Kumar and Ambika Soni - will not be among dramatis personae in the biggest dance of democracy, the Lok Sabha elections.

It may be unusual and a record in itself that none of the state’s representatives in the Union Council of Ministers is being fielded in the electoral battle. Though the Prime Minister represents Assam in the upper House - Rajya Sabha, other three ministers also happen to be members of the same upper House of Parliament. The difference is that they have been elected on Punjab quota.

Strangely, none of them have ever contested any Lok Sabha elections from Punjab. And those elected from Punjab - Preneet Kaur and Rana Gurjit Singh - could not make it to the Union Council of Ministers.

Though the Punjab Congress offered the Prime Minister Amritsar Lok Sabha seat, the central election committee did not pursue the proposal further. Dr Manmohan Singh, who recently underwent beating heart surgery at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, may have health reasons for not contesting the Lok Sabha elections that are hectic.

The only prime ministerial candidate, who has successfully contested from Punjab, has been Inder Kumar Gujral. He won from Jalandhar twice in 1989 and again in 1998. On both occasions, he won on the Janta Dal ticket and was supported by the Akalis.

Ashwani Kumar, Minister of State for Industries, is son of illustrious Prabodh Chandra, once Speaker of Punjab Vidhan Sabha. A senior lawyer practicing in the Supreme Court, he has settled in the union capital. He, however, has been a frequent visitor to Gurdaspur, the area his father represented in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha in 1960, 1962 and again in 1967.

He was keen to be party’s candidate from Gurdaspur but the central election committee of the Congress preferred sitting MLA from Kahnuwan, Partap Singh Bajwa, to oppose Bollywood star and three-time MP Vinod Khanna in the coming elections.

Ambika Soni, a senior Congress leader, who has been nursing the newly created Anandpur Sahib constituency, too, has been asked not to contest. Instead, the party has chosen young Ravneet Singh Bittu, grandson of former Punjab Chief Minister, Beant Singh, to contest from Anandpur Sahib.

In fact, Ambika Soni was virtually camping in Punjab for the past several weeks in anticipation of being named party candidate for the Lok Sabha elections.

Manohar Singh Gill, who remained the Chief Election Commissioner of India, took to politics after retiring from civil services. Though he has been man behind many projects in Amritsar, including sanction of central university, upgrading of international flights from Amritsar besides making Amritsar the venue of the National Youth Festival, is yet to enter electoral politics.

He could have been a Congress candidate from Amritsar where the party has chosen a sitting MLA, Om Parkash Soni, to oppose former test cricketer Navjot Singh Siddhu of the BJP.

Top

 

BJP misses super strategist Mahajan

New Delhi/Mumbai, April 1
At a bookshop in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headquarters in Delhi, the one item that sells like hot cakes is a CD on how to make a speech by the late Pramod Mahajan — a former minister, an astute strategist, funds manager and troubleshooter whom the party will sorely miss in these elections.

Pointing to the CD at the shop, a party worker quipped: “Varun (Gandhi) could have taken lessons from this.” Many in the BJP say had Mahajan been around, he would have helped handle sticky situations better — among them Varun Gandhi’s reported hate speeches, breakups with key allies, and the spat between the party’s poll managers.

The 15th Lok Sabha polls will be the first in over 30 years without Mahajan, who was shot to death by his own brother nearly three years ago at the age of 56. “We remember Pramodji very often, but what can we do? It is destiny,” BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar, who also belongs to Maharashtra, the state Mahajan hailed from, told IANS.

Asked if the party missed him, he said: “Definitely... definitely. I am sitting with (leading industrialist) Rahul Bajaj; we were talking the same thing.”

Many party leaders say that minus Mahajan, there is no one to sweet talk friends and foes alike and help the party from impending disasters. If the BJP headed over 20 partners in its National Democratic Alliance (NDA) for over five years, Mahajan played a vital backroom role in keeping the flock together. Many of these allies have now quit the NDA.

In Maharashtra, key alliance partner Shiv Sena has been giving the party sleepless nights over ticket distribution. “When Mahajan was around, he maintained daily personal contact with all top party office-bearers, not only of the Sena but also other constituents of the NDA,” said a Shiv Sena leader, pleading anonymity.

He would drop in unannounced and meet top leaders in their home or party office, exchange ideas over tea or meals without any specific agenda. “That’s how he could sniff out an upcoming problem even before it surfaced and take steps to resolve it.” The Shiv Sena lamented that since Mahajan’s departure, nobody from the BJP had maintained regular contact with the Sena or other allies.

A former Mumbai BJP office-bearer, who worked closely with him during the 1990s, said Mahajan had an uncanny knack for anticipating problems.

“He could identify minor issues that could degenerate into crises and resolve them immediately to the satisfaction of all," said the leader who is now with the Congress.

Though the NDA’s 2004 election campaign called India Shining chalked out by Mahajan flopped, people still talk of him as a master strategist.

He was not only an effective troubleshooter but could also see “opportunities that others believed were not available,” said state party general secretary Vinod Tawde. — IANS

Top

 

Fewer stars on horizon this time?

New Delhi, April 1
Stars are not that bright for many Bollywood personalities contesting the Lok Sabha elections. The list includes “Hero no 1” Govinda, “Veeru” Dharmendra, yesteryear “Dream Girl” Hema Malini and “Munnabhai” Sanjay Dutt among others.

The “Hero no 1”, who was the Congress MP from North Mumbai, was left high and dry by the party high command which gave the ticket to Shivsainik-turned-Congressman Sanjay Nirupam.

Govinda had been a “giant killer” in the last elections having defeated the then Union Minister, Ram Naik, who is now again back on the stage.

Incidentally, actress Nagma was a prominent aspirant for the North Mumbai seat and had lobbied hard in Delhi and Mumbai for the same but to no avail.

“Garam Dharam”, MP from Bikaner, found that the real world is different from the reel world and has taken a backseat in politics.

Saffron plans to field the “Dream Girl” of yesteryear from a constituency in Delhi came to a nought with the “Basanti” wanting to be away from the rough and tumble.

The “Munnabhai” of Bollywood will not be fighting the elections as the Supreme Court has refused his plea to contest.

Dutt, whose “mahurat” for candidacy was made by the SP from Lucknow, a constituency being represented by BJP stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee, found his poll plans being “canned” even before the release of the “film”.

The case of Shatrughan “Shotgun” Sinha is also different. The former Union Minister, who boasts of being with the BJP when it was down in the dumps, reportedly pressurised his way to get the party ticket from Patna Sahib in Bihar.

Party spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad, a former I&B Minister, was seen a hot favourite till Sinha made his intentions known and even had a not so secret meeting with SP General Secretary Amar Singh to drive home his point.

Reports also had it that the Congress is planning to field stand-up comedian Shekhar Suman against Sinha.

The name of Jaya Bachchan is being talked about as the SP candidate from Lucknow after the apex court’s order on Dutt.

Bachchan is already a member of the Rajya Sabha. Her husband Amitabh Bachchan was an MP way back in the eighties, but left midway as he found that politics is not his cup of tea. — PTI

Top

 

Pollscape
Tough choice

It is a tough choice indeed. Veteran Congress leader K Karunakaran has to side with either his party or his son. His son K Muraleedharan is seeking a mandate in Kerala’s hilly Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency on the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) ticket. But it is a Congress stronghold and the father can’t possibly campaign for the son. Hills, valleys and pits are not big deal for Karunakaran, who has overcome many hurdles in his eventful political life. But he may now be wondering how to boost his son’s chances. Karunakaran, who is keeping mum on the candidature of MI Shahnawaz for the Congress, said: “Murali is also contesting polls to win.”

BSP’s new name

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s supporters have coined a new name for their party - not just the Bahujan Samaj Party, but also the Best Secular Party (BSP). Busy campaigning for the party, BSP activists in Lucknow can be seen these days carrying flags with the “new name” - minus the original name. Maybe, it could be the Varun Gandhi factor.

Crack queen

You could call her accident prone or simply cautious. Trinamool Congress Lok Sabha candidate celluloid star Satabdi Roy escaped with minor injuries last week when a stage collapsed in her Birbhum Lok Sabha constituency when she was addressing a party gathering. History could have repeated itself in the West Bengal constituency on Sunday, but this time she was alert and escaped unscathed. She heard a sound and saw a portion of the state being damaged. Roy swung into action and immediately asked her supporters to get down. She knew a second fall could well become an issue for her political opponents. “I might not be a political person. Thus I don’t understand politics very well. But, at least I can say, I can understand people very well,” she boasted. — IANS

Top

 

Overheard
Awareness drive by Aamir

NEW DELHI: Bollywood actor Aamir Khan has launched a campaign to increase awareness among people about their candidates contesting the Lok Sabha elections urging them to make an informed choice. The campaign “Sacche ko chune, acche ko chune” (vote for integrity, vote for good people) by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and the National Election Watch (NEW) was launched by Khan in Mumbai on Tuesday. — PTI

‘MLA a threat’

PATNA: A police officer in Bihar has written to the state Chief Election Officer (CEO) stating that Anant Singh, a legislator of the ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U), was “a threat” to the peaceful conduct of the Lok Sabha elections in Bihar, official sources said on Monday. Amitabh Kumar Das, commandant of the Bihar Military Police-11, said ensuring a fair election would be difficult as the MLA could attempt to intimidate voters. — IANS

Fair donations

NEW DELHI: As campaigning picks up for the Lok Sabha elections, the newly elected president of industry body CII, Venu Srinivasan, has said he will promote a transparent way of donations to political parties by business houses.— PTI

Boycott call

SILIGURI: A tribal body will boycott the general elections here accusing the West Bengal government of not addressing its demand for declaration of a Lok Sabha seat reserved for tribals in Terai and Dooars belt. The decision to actively campaign for boycott was taken as Akhil Bharatiya Adibasi Bikash Parishad’s (ABABP) ultimatum to the state government to meet its four-point charter of demands expired on March 31, Terai-Dooars coordinator of ABABP Rajesh Lakra said. The decision was taken on Tuesday night. - PTI

Silence zones

MUMBAI: Political parties are finding it difficult to choose venues to campaign for the Lok Sabha elections as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has demarcated nearly 100 silence zones in the city as per the directives issued by the Bombay High Court. “The civic body should make the process simple as much as they can at least till the elections are over. It is really going to be difficult for all of us. As Shivaji Park is the most preferred place to conduct rallies, everyone is eyeing it and the bookings have already started for it,” Congress Corporator Sameer Desai said. - PTI

Top

 

Pollspeak

BJP Rajya Sabha member Hema Malini on Varun Gandhi Different people have different viewpoints. Varun’s way of putting forth his viewpoint may not be correct. May be he wanted to say something and could not put it rightly probably because of his political inexperience

BJP Rajya Sabha member Hema Malini on Varun Gandhi

Advani had said the black money stashed in Swiss banks should be brought back. They should first take care of the black money they have

Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal

There is a dictatorship in Bihar...conspirators are controlling the party....My decision to contest the election is in protest against this dictatorship and value-less politics

—Estranged JDU leader George Fernandes after filing his papers as an Independent from Muzaffarpur 

Top

 

Voter’s guide

How many persons are allowed at the time of the scrutiny of nominations by the Returning Officer ?

The candidate, his election agent, one proposer and one other person (who can be an advocate) duly authorised in writing by the candidate

Can a person who is not a member of the party be nominated as a star campaigner (leader) of the party for the purpose?

No

Top

 

 





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |