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I N D I A     V O T E S

Seat Talks
Jaya formula irks allies
Chennai, April 2
The AIADMK’s decision to dump all the “unsafe seats” to its allies, the CPM and MDMK, seems to have resulted in a deadlock in seat-sharing talks in the front and is threatening to ruin AIADMK’s bid to make a comeback in national politics after more than a decade.

DMK downplays Tamil nationalist image
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK supremo Karunanidhi releases the party poll manifesto in Chennai on ThursdayChennai, April 2
Having lost hopes of retaining the support of Tamil nationalist groups, which are furious with the DMK over the Sri Lankan Tamils conflict, the party today released a manifesto focusing on economic development and other social issues. With parties like Vaiko’s MDMK attaining more credibility on the Lankan Tamils issue, the DMK chose to stay away from making any futile attempt to supersede him and merely said the party would continue efforts to stop the ongoing conflict.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK supremo Karunanidhi releases the party poll manifesto in Chennai on Thursday. — PTI


Pollspeak


If it boils down to coming together of those opposed to communalism, I am sure that the very laws of nature will apply
— P Chidambaram in an apparent hint that the Cong could do business with the Left in the post-poll scenario

The CPM forged an alliance with the PDP headed by Abdul Nasser Madani because of its fear of defeat in the Lok Sabha poll
— Congress-led UDF convener PP Thankachan

Our government has taken up welfare and development programmes like never before. We are high on credibility in comparison with other parties. I am sure people will give us a fresh mandate
— Andhra Cong president D Srinivas

No ‘jaago re’ here
Ludhiana, April 2
‘Jaago Re’, rock concerts and other poll-inspiring campaigns notwithstanding, the young here, it seems, are not much bothered about the general election. What’s more, a sizeable number of youngsters between the age group of 18 to 22 are not even aware of the names of candidates announced by various parties.

Another BJP leader in speech row
New Delhi, April 2
The Election Commission has served a notice to three-time BJP MP and the party’s Lok Sabha candidate from Uttara Kannada Ananthkumar Hegde for allegedly making certain remarks against a particular community, which amounted to violation of the model code of conduct. The EC gave him time till tomorrow to reply to the notice.

Ticket to tainted: BSP leads the pack
New Delhi, April 2
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) does not mind having alleged murderers, robbers and extortionists on its list of candidates for the Lok Sabha elections.

Poll Interview
EC has jumped the gun on Varun issue: Ahluwalia
New Delhi, April 2
Even as the BJP is hoping to capitalise on the incarceration of its Pilibhit candiate, Varun Gandhi, it continues to remain in a state of denial. And this comes out clearly in this interview of senior BJP leader SS Ahluwalia with The Tribune:

Hard-sell party pluses, Sonia tells spin doctors
New Delhi, April 2
Target whosoever attacks us and get the message of party’s track record of good governance across to the people. This is the message that Congress president Sonia Gandhi has extended to her party’s spokespersons and spin doctors. At a meeting of senior party leaders and spokespersons called by the Congress president at her 10 Janpath residence recently, she asked them to refrain from making any personal attacks, but also give a befitting reply to anyone who tries to ‘fool around’ with the party or its leaders.

Battle for minority votes in Thrissur
Thrissur, April 2
The Thrissur Lok Sabha constituency, dominated by minority electorate will witness a keen contest as the Congress party's PC Chacko and the CPI’s CN Jayadevan battle it out to garner the Christian and Muslim votes.

Hi-tech wooing angers voters
Hisar, April 2
In a classic case of technology overkill, Haryana Janhit Congress (BL) chief Kuldeep Bishnoi’s hi-tech campaign using SMSes and playing recorded messages on landlines and mobile phones to garner support has ruffled the feathers of voters.

Overheard

Pollscape

Voter’s guide

Bioscope

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee returns after attending an election meeting at Juria in Nagaon district of Assam.
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee returns after attending an election meeting at Juria in Nagaon district of Assam. — PTI
CPM leader Brinda Karat at an election rally in Kozhikode on Thursday.
CPM leader Brinda Karat at an election rally in Kozhikode on Thursday. — PTI
Party workers carry flags of the Telugu Desam Party on a motorcycle at Medchal in Hyderabad on Thursday.
Party workers carry flags of the Telugu Desam Party on a motorcycle at Medchal in Hyderabad on Thursday. — AFP

 





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Seat Talks
Jaya formula irks allies
N Ravikumar/Tribune News Service

Chennai, April 2
The AIADMK’s decision to dump all the “unsafe seats” to its allies, the CPM and MDMK, seems to have resulted in a deadlock in seat-sharing talks in the front and is threatening to ruin AIADMK’s bid to make a comeback in national politics after more than a decade.

The seat-sharing formula of AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa to take into account the number of sitting seats of each party and adding one more to it, instead of allotting seats on the basis of the percentage of votes by each party seems to have hurt Vaiko’s MDMK, which has secured about six per cent votes in 2004 Lok Sabha elections. As per the formula, the PMK which won six seats last time got seven this time and the CPI which secured two seats was allotted three. Interestingly, going by this formula, the AIADMK itself can contest only one seat, since its tally was zero last time.

The AIADMK is also reportedly trying to dump the few “unsafe seats” like Central Chennai, Nilgiris and Madurai on to its allies, unlike the DMK which was not afraid to fight in the strongholds of the PMK.

As a strong sympathy wave for Sri Lankan Tamils is perceived in the state, only five or six seats are considered “unsafe” for the AIADMK and the party seems to be trying its best to dump all of them to its allies. While the PMK has already got three such tough seats in its seven, the MDMK and CPM do not want seats where their party’s chances are not good.Central Chennai, is considered a bastion of the DMK, as it was the only seat, the party won in 1984, when a strong sympathy wave swept the state following the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Jayalalithaa is reportedly keen on avoiding a contest against UnionMinister A Raja, who is likely to be fielded in Nilgiris, and wants her allies to take on the powerful rival.

While the MDMK has the option of going along with the BJP, since it can project a Prime Ministerial candidate in L K Advani, unlike the Third Front, which does not have specific plans, the communists have no choice.

While the PMK’s strength is concentrated in about ten seats, Vaiko’s MDMK has a uniform vote bank throughout the state and can impact the results in 30 seats, where the PMK”s presence is negligible.

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DMK downplays Tamil nationalist image
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, April 2
Having lost hopes of retaining the support of Tamil nationalist groups, which are furious with the DMK over the Sri Lankan Tamils conflict, the party today released a manifesto focusing on economic development and other social issues.

With parties like Vaiko’s MDMK attaining more credibility on the Lankan Tamils issue, the DMK chose to stay away from making any futile attempt to supersede him and merely said the party would continue efforts to stop the ongoing conflict. Without committing itself to a particular solution for the island Tamils crisis, the party said it would ask the Centre to ensure peaceful life for Tamils in Lanka.

The party also downplayed the issue of retrieval of Katchatheevu, an island acceded to Sri Lanka, and did not give any promise to retrieve the land. Instead, the party said it would retrieve the rights of Tamil Nadu fishermen to fish around the island.

The DMK also wants amendment in the rules to ensure useful functioning of Parliament and avoid wastage of time due to unruly conduct of members. It vowed to solve the pollution problems due to the dyeing units in Tiruppur and promised more airports for state. The party also said it would strive for setting up of a centre of Oil and Natural Gas Commission in the state.

“The party also plans to introduce bullet trains in four major cities of the state. It would also work for interlinking of all the nation’s rivers,” read the manifesto. The DMK also promises to fight for an act that enables women to have property rights.

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No ‘jaago re’ here
Jyotika Sood/ Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 2
‘Jaago Re’, rock concerts and other poll-inspiring campaigns notwithstanding, the young here, it seems, are not much bothered about the general election. What’s more, a sizeable number of youngsters between the age group of 18 to 22 are not even aware of the names of candidates announced by various parties.

Citing, their own reasons, the students, majority of whom are first-timers, said the political system of the country was rotting. Voting just means choosing the bad among the worst, says a group of girls from Khalsa College. “In school we are taught about the importance of adult franchise. But as you grow and begin to comprehend things, you realise that your vote is of no importance,” they add.

Seconding them is the bunch of students from Ramgarhia Girls College. “The politicians in India have never risen above caste and religion. Even the laws are modified to suit the needs of those who hold the power reins. There’s no scope of change here. If you ask us, we cannot find anyone for whom we would like to vote,” they quip.

It’s a dirty game and we won’t be a party to it, says a group of boys who are pursuing MBA from the Punjab Agricultural University. “The parties don’t give the ticket to deserving candidates. Family legacy and money plays a big role in it. So, when the candidate chosen is not right, there’s no point nominating him to the parliament,” they add.

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Another BJP leader in speech row

New Delhi, April 2
The Election Commission has served a notice to three-time BJP MP and the party’s Lok Sabha candidate from Uttara Kannada Ananthkumar Hegde for allegedly making certain remarks against a particular community, which amounted to violation of the model code of conduct. The EC gave him time till tomorrow to reply to the notice.

“It has come to the notice of the commission that you conducted an election meeting in Mundgod, Uttar Kannada, on March 21 wherein you have made a statement during your campaign that “if Muslims do not stop violence, it will be difficult to celebrate Id-Milad,” the EC pointed out. It noted that the remarks violated the provisions of the IPC and the Representation of the People Act.

“The Commission has decided to afford you an opportunity to explain your stand why action should not be taken against you for the said violation of the provisions of the Model Code of Conduct and other laws made in this behalf,” the EC said. — PTI

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Ticket to tainted: BSP leads the pack
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 2
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) does not mind having alleged murderers, robbers and extortionists on its list of candidates for the Lok Sabha elections.

The party seems to have broken all records when it comes to launching alleged criminals into politics, with its list of 80 candidates for Uttar Pradesh featuring 16 persons with criminal records, 13 facing grave charges.

In a single announcement, the BSP has put all other political parties behind it in contributing to the criminalisation of politics. More than 14.5 per cent of the candidates fielded so far by the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati-led BSP face criminal charges under different sections of the Indian Penal Code.

Mayawati's arch rival, the Samajwadi Party, is now second in the tally, with 11.3 per cent of the candidates facing criminal charges. The third position goes to the Congress at 10 per cent followed by the BJP at 7.4 per cent. What's clear though is that none of the political groupings has yet shunned dependence on criminals for winning elections.

Even the CPM has, lately, been in the dock in Kerala for accepting the electoral support of the People's Democratic Party which is headed by the controversial Abdul Nassar Madhani, accused of having links with Islamic extremist groups. Under pressure from allies, the CPM's central leadership has now asked its Kerala unit not to share the stage with Madhani; the party has, however, not called off its alliance with the PDP.

That apart, the BSP has clearly outdone everyone else on this count. Leading the list of alleged criminals fighting the elections on the BSP ticket is Afzal Ansari, the party's candidate from Ghazipur in UP.

Ansari is charged with as many as 16 counts — six of attempt to murder, three of murder, two of criminal intimidation, among other grave offences. One of them involves intimidation for the purpose of extortion. Ansari's 2004 affidavit reveals he has also been charged under the Gangster Act.

Following Ansari in the BSP's the list is Vinay Shakya, Mayawati's choice for the Mainpuri LS seat, recently in the news for SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's threat to the woman election officer. Shakya is accused on 15 IPC counts, including attempt to murder and posing as a public servant to defraud others.

Among other BSP candidates accused of grave offences (data based on affidavits these candidates submitted in the last elections) are DP Yadav from Sambhal; Kadir Rana from Muzaffarnagar (charged also with robbery), Rizwan Zaheer from Shrawasti; Rakesh Pandey from Aambedkarnagar and Mukhtar Ansari, who is contesting from Varanasi.

Girish Chandra, the BSP nominee from Kausambhi, Swami Prasad Maurya from the Kushinagar seat, and Akbar Ahmad Dumpy from the Azamgarh seat are charged with attempt to murder, the latter also facing a charge of causing death by negligence, apart from another count of receiving stolen property.

Mayawati's men in Hardoi (Ram Kumar) and Ferozabad (SP Singh Baghel) are facing charges of forgery and criminal intimidation, respectively.

Ironic in this context is the election appeal Mayawati issued in the capital on March 13, seeking the "Master Key of Power" from voters on grounds that her party is the only party whose ideology and working style are "in the interest of Sarva Samaj (entire society)."

Mayawati's list of LS candidates nails her lie.

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Poll Interview
EC has jumped the gun on Varun issue: Ahluwalia
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 2
Even as the BJP is hoping to capitalise on the incarceration of its Pilibhit candiate, Varun Gandhi, it continues to remain in a state of denial. And this comes out clearly in this interview of senior BJP leader SS Ahluwalia with The Tribune:

Q: Will the Varun Gandhi controversy help the BJP garner more votes or will it adversely affect your prospects?

A: At the outset I would say we are not there to garner votes with communal utterances. Our campaign is totally development oriented. We don’t want to garner anything by creating communal hatred in society. That is the reason the very first day we pointed out that Varun, too, is denying it and saying “this is not my utterance, this is not my language, not my voice, the CD is doctored.” But allegedly if the utterances are correct, we disapprove of these.

Q: Then what about your Hindutva plank?

A: Some media people and pseudo-secularists remember Hindutva only during election time and they bask in such remarks and hurt the feelings of the people of India. If they want to educate themselves on Hindutva, they should read the Supreme Court judgement on what is Hindutva. But we are not encashing these things in this election. We are talking only of development in our campaign.

Q: Why is Advani shying away from any substantive comment on this 
controversy?

A: He is not shying away. Yesterday (Sunday) also he categorically answered your questions and he said that as far as the content of the alleged CD is concerned, we don’t approve it, that is not our line and then he said he has already instructed BJP candidates to observe restraint in their speeches so that they do not attract Section 125 of the RP Act.

Q: When you instruct candidates to observe restraint, aren’t you implicitly admitting that Varun did not exercise the necessary restraint. Otherwise where was the need to issue such instructions?

A: No, no it not like that. The do’s and dont’s are written in the EC handbook for candidates. You are thinking that we are now issuing some instructions because earlier there were some other instructions. This is not correct. If one candidate has violated those rules, if it is true, we are saying don’t follow that path. Don’t think that this is the line.

Q: Do you think too much harping on this will move your campaign away from your development plank that Advani is has so carefully constructed?

A: That is the reason I say this is very unfortunate. If I explain the thing. On 22 March, a decision came from the EC, which was not the correct decision at all because they have taken this decision suo motu and then they issued notices to Varun Gandhi, to the BJP in the state and centre and then they issued instructions to the Electoral Officer in UP to file a case against Varun Gandhi, without justifying and verifying whatever evidence was available with them with the experts; they have taken this decision suo motu. Then when they got the reply they said we have seen the CD and I have seen the profile of these three Election Commissioners, Mr Gopalaswami, Mr Chawla and Mr Qureshi, and I have not seen they are forensic experts also and they have after watching the CD and hearing the voice they decided and commented that this is not doctored, this is not morphed, this is not altered. And I believe by uttering such things they have influenced the investigations also.

Q: You are saying that Varun says the CDs are doctored and morphed. You are accusing the EC of jumping the gun and deciding before conducting proper scientific investigations. But aren’t you also jumping to conclusions without first-hand knowledge of what actually Varun Gandhi said?

A: Look, the point is very simple because when Varun Gandhi got the notice he replied. It is always the person who is affected, he will reply and just to clarify that it is not doctored, you should send it to the experts. Why should you decide? You have no authority to decide that it is not morphed, it is not doctored because you are not competent, you have no expertise in your department.

Q: And what about the fact that Varun has again said that he stands by what he said and is willing to go to jail for the sake of “my samaj?”

A: He never said whatever is in the CD are my words. The case is on the basis of a CD, we should concentrate only on the CD.

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Hard-sell party pluses, Sonia tells spin doctors
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 2
Target whosoever attacks us and get the message of party’s track record of good governance across to the people. This is the message that Congress president Sonia Gandhi has extended to her party’s spokespersons and spin doctors. At a meeting of senior party leaders and spokespersons called by the Congress president at her 10 Janpath residence recently, she asked them to refrain from making any personal attacks, but also give a befitting reply to anyone who tries to ‘fool around’ with the party or its leaders.

Gandhi, who is keenly monitoring her party’s activities in the run-up to the general election, has come up with a set of instructions for her party’s media managers as they address the national Press from the official platform.

The party recently suffered an embarrassment when chief of Ittehad-e-Millat Council Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan, while offering support to the Congress, admitted that he had announced a reward for the head of the Danish cartoonist for “misrepresenting” the Prophet.

Senior party leaders had to step in to make amends with general secretary Digvijay Singh explaining that the Congress did not subscribe to any of views attributed to Khan and UP Congress chief Rita Bahuguna adding that understanding with Khan’s outfit was not reciprocal. “We have made no promise to back them; if they voluntarily support us we cannot say no,” added Bahuguna said.

But as the party seeks reaffirmation of people’s faith in it, the main aim is to hard sell past achievements. “She said the message of our good record of running a successful coalition in the country, the government’s achievements in economic and other fields should go across clearly to the people,” party sources said. Veerappa Moily, Kapil Sibal, Ahmed Patel. Ashwini Kumar, Janardan Dwivedi, Jayanthi Natarajan and Abhsihek Manu Singhhvi were among those present at the meeting. 

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Battle for minority votes in Thrissur

Thrissur, April 2
The Thrissur Lok Sabha constituency, dominated by minority electorate will witness a keen contest as the Congress party's PC Chacko and the CPI’s CN Jayadevan battle it out to garner the Christian and Muslim votes.

Though regarded as left bastion, the Thrissur constituency has undergone a change after delimitation exercise as percentage of Christian electorate has increased up to 35 per cent with the inclusion of Irinjalkuda,.— PTI

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Hi-tech wooing angers voters
Raman Mohan
Tribune News Service

Hisar, April 2
In a classic case of technology overkill, Haryana Janhit Congress (BL) chief Kuldeep Bishnoi’s hi-tech campaign using SMSes and playing recorded messages on landlines and mobile phones to garner support has ruffled the feathers of voters.

Even as Bishnoi was demonstrating his usage of cutting- edge technology to mediapersons at the Chandigarh Press Club yesterday, the first few calls were made to subscribers in Hisar district which happens to be his home district.

Just before noon, hundreds of mobile, landline and wireless landline subscribers began receiving calls which when answered played a recorded election-related message from Bishnoi. In many cases there was no identification of the caller on the screens.

Barring HJC supporters most callers disconnected the calls within seconds of the recorded message being played. And in the case of HJC supporters the calls were a waste of money and effort as they need not be convinced to vote for the HJC nominees who are yet to be declared.

As soon as the calls were received the angry subscribers contacted the customer care executives of telecom companies which offered apologies for the glitch and assured that steps would be taken to prevent such calls from being forwarded to subscribers with DNC registration.

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Overheard
Sweet trouble

PATNA: Five policemen were suspended for distributing sweets among Janata Dal-United (JD-U) workers in Bihar’s Rohtas district during the filing of nomination papers for the Lok Sabha elections by politician Mahabali Singh, officials said on Thursday. Mahabali Singh, a former minister who quit the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) last week and joined the JD-U, is contesting from the Karakat parliamentary constituency. The suspended policemen include two bodyguards of Mahabali Singh and three of JD-U legislator Jai Kumar Singh. — IANS

Dish deal

NEW DELHI: Aiming to cash in on the general election, direct-to-home (DTH) major Dish TV on Thursday said it had signed an advertising pact with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and is in discussion with other parties, including the Congress. The Zee Group firm will advertise BJP’s “strong leader, decisive government” election campaign on their platform for the general election, Dish TV said in a statement. “The Congress and other regional parties are also in touch with us for advertising their election campaigns on our platform,” Dish TV chief operating officer Salil Kapoor said. — PTI

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Pollscape
Rosogolla party

The sandesh and rosogolla are usually brown or white in colour. But India’s colourful election exercise seems to be rubbing off on West Bengal’s famed sweets too. A sweetmeat shop in Howrah district has started making green and orange coloured sweets — the colours of the Congress and the Trinamool Congress. “We thought of doing something different for the upcoming polls and then decided to make sweets in party colours,” shop-owner Keshto Haldar said. Enthusiastic workers of the two parties are thronging the shop in large numbers to have their share of colourful sweets after a hard day’s work. "It feels great to have sweets made in the colours of our party," said a Congress party worker, gorging down some coloured rosogollas.

Magic mantra

All political parties are trying to weave their charm on voters, but one candidate in Chhattisgarh has gone a step further. Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) state president Vishnudeo Sai, who is contesting from Raigarh, has hired several local magicians to stage shows on the streets to attract voters. The magicians, eight of them, are holding at least five-six shows daily and concluding them with an appeal to people to vote for the BJP candidate. Sai is the sitting MP from the constituency but when he tried to test his mettle in the assembly polls in November, he lost. Maybe, the magic show will do the trick for him?

Flop show

They were to dance to the Congress poll song based on “Jai Ho” at a press meet in New Delhi on Wednesday, but six students ended up shaking a leg to the original Oscar winning film song. The students were roped in by the Delhi Congress’ publicity in charge to dance with props like the party’s flag. But instead of the party’s song that speaks of its growth, achievements and leadership, the confused, ill-coordinated students waved their flags and shook a leg to the original soundtrack, which is actually a love song. “I was not given the party's track, so at the last minute we used the film version,” a party worker who was in charge of the function said. The students, who were dancing for free, couldn’t quite match the film song's romantic mood, and the show ended up a mess.

Source : IANS

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Voter’s guide

Can an EVM be pre-programmed by anybody to favour any party or candidate?

To programme a substituted chip to transfer votes preferentially to a particular candidate, it would be necessary for the programme to identify the serial number of the favoured candidate. Since the order in which the candidates appear on the reference ballot paper depends on the nominations filed and found valid, it can’t be predicted in advance before the list of contesting candidates is actually drawn up

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