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

ASSAM
Assam elections under shadow of terror
Guwahati, April 9
The shadow of terror looms large over the elections in Assam with militants striking with a vengeance in the past one week, killing 11 persons and wounding up to 100 more in a string of bombings and grenade attacks.

Now, nomination jolt for BJP
Guwahati, April 9
In a major setback to the BJP in Assam, nomination of its candidate for Dhubri Lok Sabha seat Nilimoy Pradhani was declared invalid, as the nominee failed to submit the essential A and B forms.

Another Kirori may spell trouble for Cong, BJP in Rajasthan
Jaipur, April 9
Even as firebrand tribal leader Kirori Lal Meena is giving sleepless nights to the Congress over ticket allotment for the general election after rocking the BJP boat in the assembly poll, Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla has hinted that he may also field his own candidates in the elections.





Wake-Up call
: A hoarding put up by the Election Commission in Ranchi encourages voters to exercise their franchise. — PTI

Bickering, missing stars: Cong’s set of problems
Raipur, April 9
With just over a week left for the voting day, there’s a surprising lack of poll spirit and colour in this young state, which is going to the general election for the second time.

Maya’s nominee could queer pitch for Lalu
Chapra (Bihar), April 9
The BSP's move to field a candidate in the Yadav-Rajput-dominated Saran Lok Saha seat may queer the pitch for RJD boss Lalu Prasad, who is locked in a cliff-hanger with BJP leader RP Rudy in the constituency where caste equations have changed after delimitation.

Bigger issues at play in Rajouri belt
Nowshera (Rajouri), April 9
The parliamentary elections have totally changed the tone and tenor of the campaign that the voters saw in the assembly polls, barely four months ago. The ‘vision document’ of the National Conference (NC) or the ‘self rule’ of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and even the Hindu agenda of the BJP has vanished. The fresh scene transports people from their neighbourhood to the national capital, explaining how UPA or NDA will impact their lives.

Bioscope

NCP candidate Udayan Raje Bhosle gets his sandal repaired in Satara on Wednesday. — PTI
A BJP supporter with hair cut in a pattern resembling the party symbol in Kozhikode. — PTI
BJP candidate Arjun Munda adjusts his turban during a rally in Jamshedpur on Thursday. — PTI

A child campaigns for the Congress in Hubli on Thursday. — PTI

A million men in uniform to cast vote
New Delhi, April 9
India’s apolitical military is proactively preparing to vote in parliamentary elections only a week away. Thanks to steps the military establishment has taken, more than one million forms have been submitted to the Election Commission so that soldiers can vote wherever they may be posted.

ULFA out to disrupt democratic process: Gogoi
Guwahati, April 9
The outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) in collusion with its “masters and collaborators sitting in Bangladesh and Pakistan” is out to disrupt the Lok Sabha elections in Assam, according to Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.

Amma ensures PC doesn’t get a walkover
Chennai, April 9
Union Home Minister P Chidambaram will a face tough contest in Sivaganga, as AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa today fielded a local heavy weight and former state minister Rajakannappan against the senior Congress leader.

Shinde slogs it out in Solapur
Mumbai, April 9
Union Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde is facing a tough battle from Solapur, his old seat which moved to the BJP in 2004.

VHP charged with code violation
Lucknow, April 9
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s (VHP) international president, Ashok Singhal, has been charged with violating the model code of conduct for holding a meeting in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur district without permission from the local administration.

 





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ASSAM
Assam elections under shadow of terror
Syed Zarir Hussain

Guwahati, April 9
The shadow of terror looms large over the elections in Assam with militants striking with a vengeance in the past one week, killing 11 persons and wounding up to 100 more in a string of bombings and grenade attacks.

There were four powerful explosions and three grenade attacks on Monday in which eight persons were killed. Two of the blasts were in Assam's main city Guwahati.

"The wave of terror attacks will surely scare away people from actively taking part in electioneering and may even force people to keep away from voting," Akhil Ranjan Dutta, a political analyst and teacher at Gauhati University, told IANS.

There is a general sense of fear and panic after the serial bombings and grenade attacks on Monday in different parts of Assam.

"A sense of insecurity haunts people and the situation is getting even more complicated with political parties politicising the terror attacks for electoral gains," said Dilip Chandan, Editor of Asom Bani, a mass circulation Assamese weekly.

With no other issue of substance raised in this campaign so far, the Opposition is going all out against the ruling Congress over the lack of security.

Elections to Assam's 14 Lok Sabha seats are scheduled for April 16 and 23.

"The government has no moral right to continue in office and should resign. There is no security and the government has miserably failed," said Chandra Mohan Patowary, president of the main opposition Asom Gana Parishad.

The role of the Opposition, however, has come under attack from the civil society with views expressed that leaders were simply trying to whip up emotions rather than standing up in the war against terror.

"This is not the time for loose statements and attempts to make political gains. In situations like terror, be it political parties or the civil society, everybody must join hands to counter terror," said Jatin Borgohain, another political analyst.

But Borgohain did criticise the way Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had handled the situation.

"The Chief Minister said the state doesn't have enough security to guard every locality and such other things.... We want the Chief Minister to be a little more bold in his reactions," he said.

The Congress, in turn, is asking why no other political party is coming out strongly against the perpetrators of terror.

"Why is the Opposition so scared to attack terror groups like the ULFA (United Liberation Front of Asom) who are involved in the recent attacks? We have not heard a single word from parties like the AGP speaking boldly against the ULFA," Assam Health Minister and government spokesperson Himanta Biswa Sarma said. — IANS

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Now, nomination jolt for BJP
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, April 9
In a major setback to the BJP in Assam, nomination of its candidate for Dhubri Lok Sabha seat Nilimoy Pradhani was declared invalid, as the nominee failed to submit the essential A and B forms.

Infuriated at the faux pas, the BJP expelled Pradhani along with party’s Dhubri district secretary Mahanta Ghose. The BJP also suspended Dhubri district legal cell convenor Sushil Kumar Das and constituency observer Anil Das for the goof-up. After conducting an internal inquiry over rejection of the nomination of Pradhani, the state BJP leadership suspected foul play on part of the candidate and some of his men, a party source claimed.

Now, the BJP-AGP combine has decided to support Arun Das, a candidate belonging to Rashtrabadi Sena, a registered but unrecognised political party. The BJP loss is Congress’ major gain. “For us, already half the battle is won in Dhubri,” said a senior leader of the Congress which has fielded sitting MP Anwar Hussain as its candidate. The contest initially looked tough for Congress after the AGP and the BJP had decided to field a common candidate. Now, the only formidable opponent for the party in the constituency is perfume mogul Badruddin Ajmal, a candidate of Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF). There are total ten candidates in the fray in Dhubri where election will be held on April 23.

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Another Kirori may spell trouble for Cong, BJP in Rajasthan
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, April 9
Even as firebrand tribal leader Kirori Lal Meena is giving sleepless nights to the Congress over ticket allotment for the general election after rocking the BJP boat in the assembly poll, Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla has hinted that he may also field his own candidates in the elections.

Bainsla has aired his resentment against the Congress and the BJP for not including the demand of Gujjars for ST status in their respective manifestos. Bainsla has been moving across the state for the past few days mobilising support for the community's cause. He opined the two major political parties of the state do not seem to be concerned about the plight of Gujjars, which is amply clear by the fact that the Bill regarding reservation for Gujjars has been pending with the Governor for months now. He said the community leaders had taken umbrage at the way the two political outfits had turned a blind eye to their cause.

Bainsla said they were working out a strategy to "teach these politicians a lesson". He said he would reach a decision after holding discussions with community members in different parts of the state. He didn't rule out the option of contesting the elections. However, he made it clear that they would not resort to any violent agitation like they did in the past.

He said the Gujjars would support a political party which promised to protect the interests of the community, including addressing the key demand of ST status to it, in the Lok Sabha elections.

Interestingly, Bainsla's namesake from the Meena community (Kirori Lal Meena) is already giving a tough time to the ruling party. The situation in which the Congress today finds itself can be gauged from the fact that the party is yet to announce its candidates for seven seats while the entire state goes to the polls on May 7. He has been demanding seven Lok Sabha tickets from the state to which the Congress is averse.

The Congress-Kirori tiff has also taken a toll on the BJP which is awaiting the announcement of the Congress candidates before opening its cards on the remaining four seats. The party has announced its candidates for 21 out of 25 seats.

Though the Congress has roped in six BSP MLAs to ensure a majority for its government in the state and no more needs the support of Kirori Lal Meena's five MLAs, the party cannot afford to ignore him in view of the sizeable Meena population in at least five Lok Sabha seats.

Meenas constitute around 15 per cent of Rajasthan's population as compared to Gujjars, who comprise only around 5 per cent.

The latter have traditionally been a Congress votebank.

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Bickering, missing stars: Cong’s set of problems
Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

Raipur, April 9
With just over a week left for the voting day, there’s a surprising lack of poll spirit and colour in this young state, which is going to the general election for the second time.

The reasons are many but the foremost appears to be the extreme hot weather. On Wednesday though, weather gods smiled and Raipur experienced some high velocity winds accompanied by rains. The cooling down of the region is now expected to hot up the election scene in the next couple of days.

On the party front, the bickering within state Congress is threatening to play spoilsport for the grand old party, which is hoping to take on the BJP, which is strongly banking on “good reputation” of Chief Minister Raman Singh to repeat its 2004 feat.

In the last general election, the BJP won 10 seats except for Mahasamund, which went to Congress with the election of former CM Ajit Jogi from the constituency. In the bypoll that followed in Rajnandgaon, after BJP MP Pradeep Gandhi was expelled in connection with cash-for-query scam, the Congress added one more seat to its tally.

After the Assembly elections, when the Congress won 38 seats and the BJP 50, political analysts predicted that the former has a good chance of improving its score in the parliamentary polls, provided it puts up a united front. However, the party remains a divided house.

In all, the Congress energies are focused on four constituencies --- Bilaspur from where sitting MLA from Kota and Ajit Jogi’s wife Renu Jogi is pitted against a flamboyant BJP leader Dilip Singh Judev; Korba, a newly carved segment from where acting president of PCC Charandas Mahant is taking on sitting MP from Janjgir and former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s niece Karuna Shukla ; Raigarh where Hridiyaram Rathia is pitted against BJP’s state chief Vishnudev Sai and Durg from where a BJP rebel Tarachand Sahu is contesting as an Independent. The Durg Congress candidate, Pradeep Choubey, is the elder brother of the Leader of Opposition in state Assembly Ravindra Choubey.

Another factor that doesn’t go in Congress favour is the general lack of star power in campaigning. Apart from Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, who has visited the state twice no other national-level leader has come here. Party sources say Congress President Sonia Gandhi is expected here shortly and if she doesn’t make it Rahul will once again step in for her.

In contrast, the BJP appears to be putting up a better fight with many national leaders, including Gujarat CM Narendra Modi, Sushma Swaraj and Rajnath Singh campaigning for the party. The main force to reckon has been CM Raman Singh, who has already made one round of all the constituencies in the state and is on the verge of completing his second. BJP prime ministerial candidate LK Advani is expected to be here on April 13.

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Maya’s nominee could queer pitch for Lalu

Chapra (Bihar), April 9
The BSP's move to field a candidate in the Yadav-Rajput-dominated Saran Lok Saha seat may queer the pitch for RJD boss Lalu Prasad, who is locked in a cliff-hanger with BJP leader RP Rudy in the constituency where caste equations have changed after delimitation.

The erstwhile Chapra Lok Sabha seat, dominated by Yadavas, has now been renamed Saran after delimitation with the Yadavas and Rajputs accounting for about 2.7 lakh and 2.5 lakh voters, respectively, in the electorate of 12.67 lakh.

Besides, upper caste Bhumihars have around 75,000 votes, followed by Brahmins (55,000) and Kurmis and Koeris (60,000).

Muslims comprise another 1.55 lakh votes approximately.

As development and caste equations determine the outcome of elections in Bihar, often described as a caste cauldron, Lalu is engaged in a neck-and-neck fight with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati fielding a strong local Muslim leader, Salim Parvez, who is making a determined bid to make inroads into RJD's Muslim votebank.

Political analysts believe that in the event of the BSP nominee cutting into a sizeable minority and Dalit votes, it may not be an easy sail for Lalu. The presence of Independent Yadava MLA Lalbabu Rai from Marhaura, who is in the fray as an Independent, will further make Lalu's task of retaining the seat difficult.

Lalu's profile has undergone a metamorphosis between 2004 and 2009. In the 2004 general election he went to the voters tainted with involvement in the fodder scam and often accused of letting loose a reign of terror during his party's rule for over 15 years.

But now he is credited with turning the Railways around and posting a profit of Rs 90,000 crore during his five-year stint at Rail Bhavan.

"He has brought a number of projects in Saran like the coach wheel factory, the diesel locomotive factory, the coach repair workshop, a rail-cum-road overbridge and a network of railway lines.

These are among the projects worth over 25,000 crore.

"He has also upgraded Chapra railway station into a model station," his election agent and advocate Bhola Prasad Rai told PTI.

"People of the constituency will vote for development and we have support from all sections of society, including upper castes," RJD's ex-MLA Yaduvanshi Yadav, one of Lalu's campaign managers, said. — PTI

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Bigger issues at play in Rajouri belt
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Nowshera (Rajouri), April 9
The parliamentary elections have totally changed the tone and tenor of the campaign that the voters saw in the assembly polls, barely four months ago. The ‘vision document’ of the National Conference (NC) or the ‘self rule’ of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and even the Hindu agenda of the BJP has vanished. The fresh scene transports people from their neighbourhood to the national capital, explaining how UPA or NDA will impact their lives.

“Radhey Sham Sharma (local NC MLA) will take care of you problems here, you send me to the parliament so that I can stand guard to the state’s rights in the Lok Sabha and draw the nations attentions to the problems you face here,” is how Madal Lal Sharma, the Congress nominee for Jammu seeks votes in the remote Rajouri-Poonch area.

The Congress may be finding it hard to explain to illiterate and semi-literates the importance of the Indo-US nuclear deal and how India remains only partially affected by the global economic meltdown, but is heavily relying on the image of Manmohan Singh.

Though the BJP is harping on the overall terrorism issue and the need to do away with the ‘weak leaders at the Centre’, there seems to be lot of resentment brewing against the local BJP nominee Leela Karan Sharma, who was the convenor of the Shri Amarnath Yatra Sangharsh Samiti (SAYSS). The SAYSS had launched the agitation on the “Amarnath Land Transfer row” claiming to be a non-political body. But by agreeing to contest on the BJP ticket, a section of people here claim that he has betrayed their faith and confidence.

Another key issue in thus border belt is development. No wonder, politicians here are talking about the “Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana” (PMGSY) and National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), both national development schemes.

Some of the voters also want ‘none of the above’ option on the EVMs. “Barely 15 kilometres from the Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK), ordinary people here live like soldiers, manning the national borders. It really hurts to see unscrupulous people being elected to the state assembly or parliament time and again. We should have right to reject them,” opines Tahir Mirza, a local school teacher.

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A million men in uniform to cast vote

New Delhi, April 9
India’s apolitical military is proactively preparing to vote in parliamentary elections only a week away. Thanks to steps the military establishment has taken, more than one million forms have been submitted to the Election Commission so that soldiers can vote wherever they may be posted.

This follows the military brass’ decision to ensure that soldiers get to vote -- a democratic privilege many are forced to skip because of flaws in the electoral exercise involving soldiers.The Indian Army has 1.1 million men and women, the air force has 140,000 and the navy has about 55,000 personnel.”

About 10 lakh forms have been forwarded by the army personnel for registration. The EC has acknowledged nearly 45 percent,” an Army official told IANS, requesting anonymity, as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

In January, the armed forces, for the first time, asked all its personnel to get themselves registered with the poll panel in their area of posting to exercise their right to vote. Most Indian soldiers, including airmen and sailors, have never or rarely voted while in service for want of an effective polling mechanism. Military personnel can vote in their area of posting only during general elections and provided they are registered with the Election Commission in that area. This, however, rarely happens.

Most soldiers also find the postal ballot system faulty, and appear to be unaware of the proxy voting system that allows a family member to vote on their behalf. Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Fali H Major told IANS recently: “Although there are proxy voting and postal ballots, things have not materialised as desired.”

The IAF chief has himself not been able to vote regularly because, like most of his colleagues, he has been away from where he has been registered as a voter during election time. “The last I voted was 10 years ago when I was home on vacation. I have voted only four times (in 41 years of service),” he said. The Indian Air Force has put all the procedures on its intranet. The notification of the EC has been sent to various command headquarters, which in turn has informed the field units. “People are being encouraged to vote,” a senior IAF official said. The Election Commission reiterated Monday that defence personnel can use proxy voting. But there are complaints against postal ballots. The system suffers from long delays, so much so that at times the postal ballots reach the units after a new government has already taken office.

Why the sudden desire to vote? While no one is ready to speak on record, some retired and serving officers said this was linked to the discontent among the armed forces due to what they see as a raw deal in revision of pay scales. “The armed forces are being shortchanged in the Pay Commission and their lack of say in decision making is hurting them,” said another high-ranking Army official. — IANS

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ULFA out to disrupt democratic process: Gogoi
Bijay Sankar Bora

Tribune News Service

Guwahati, April 9
The outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) in collusion with its “masters and collaborators sitting in Bangladesh and Pakistan” is out to disrupt the Lok Sabha elections in Assam, according to Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.

The CM said today the government had information that ULFA in collusion with anti-India elements from Bangladesh and Pakistan would try to disrupt the elections. “It is not surprising given that ULFA has become a puppet in the hands of its masters in Bangladesh and Pakistan,” Gogoi said.

The disclosure came two days after the Opposition Asom Gana Parishad called for a fresh review of the law and order situation in Assam by the Election Commission.

Gogoi also disclosed there were “yet to be substantiated” reports about certain political parties in the state establishing links with ULFA to use the outfit during the poll but refused to divulge the names of those parties.

When pressed to name the parties, Gogoi said: “You can judge by yourself on the basis of which parties have condemned or not condemned ULFA in the wake of the April 6 blasts that claimed 10 lives in the state besides injuring over 50,” he said. “In view of the prevailing situation, there was a general threat to the life of poll candidates in the state. But the threat to the Congress candidates is greater . All candidates have been provided security as per the Election Commission guidelines,” he said.

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Amma ensures PC doesn’t get a walkover
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, April 9
Union Home Minister P Chidambaram will a face tough contest in Sivaganga, as AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa today fielded a local heavy weight and former state minister Rajakannappan against the senior Congress leader.

However, former Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran, will relatively face a minnow in the form of film comedian SS Chandran in Central Chennai, considered as the bastion of the DMK. The AIADMK released its list of candidates for all the 23 seats it is contesting.

Barring these two constituencies, the party is expected to have a smooth sailing in all other constituencies, due to the strength of its allies the PMK, MDMK or the Left parties in those constituencies. The party had successfully negotiated with its allies and garnered almost all the ‘safe seats’ in the alliance and is hoping to win more than 20 seats this time.

Former Union Minister M Thambidurai will enter the fray from Karur. Interestingly, there are only two women candidates in the list. It will be a direct clash between the AIADMK and the DMK on 10 seats.

Immediately after releasing the candidates’ list, the party announced the campaign schedule of Jayalalithaa, who will begin with a meeting on April 16 at Chennai, which will be attended by all the alliance leaders, including MDMK leader Vaiko, PMK founder S Ramadoss and CPI state secretary D Pandian. The AIADMK supremo will undertake a 24-day whirlwind tour of the state soon after.

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Shinde slogs it out in Solapur
Shiv Kumar

Tribune News Service

Mumbai, April 9
Union Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde is facing a tough battle from Solapur, his old seat which moved to the BJP in 2004.

Having won here for the first time in 1977 shortly after giving up his job in the police force, Shinde managed to hold on to Solapur in the seven Lok Sabha elections held since then. Solapur’s tryst with the Congress ended in 2003 when Shinde quit the Lok Sabha to take over as Maharashtra’s Chief Minister. In the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, Shinde’s attempts to regain Solapur by fielding his wife Ujjwala also came to a naught and the BJP managed to hold on.

Now, with every since parliamentary seat counting for the Congress, the high command has asked Shinde to fight back and attempt retaking his old citadel. Locked in an eyeball-to-eyeball contest with Shinde is a new face from the BJP-Marathi celluloid personality Sharad Bansode. Shinde’s old rival, sitting BJP MP Subash Deshmukh, is facing NCP chief Sharad Pawar from the neighbouring Madha constituency.

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VHP charged with code violation

Lucknow, April 9
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s (VHP) international president, Ashok Singhal, has been charged with violating the model code of conduct for holding a meeting in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur district without permission from the local administration.

“For defying the model code of conduct, we have prepared a report against Singhal and have on Thursday submitted it to the returning officer,” City Magistrate RS Gupta said. Singhal had presided over the meeting on April 5 at a school in Gorakhpur, about 270 km from here.

He neither informed us about the meeting nor took the necessary permission from district authorities for organising it, said Gupta. — IANS

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Pollscape

Distance matters

As the election fever has caught on in Jharkhand, there are three tiny tribal villages at Dumka and Dhanbad where people are boycotting the ballots, though for different reasons. Nestled among the hills, Amlagarhi village in Dumka district, where 20 Paharia tribal families live, are sore at the distance they have to travel to the nearest booth that is 8 km away. Not only the distance, they have to cross three hills to reach the booth. “In the past elections too, many voters of Amalagarhi could not vote due to the crippling distance and the hills,” Paharia Syamlal Ahadi said. The State Election Commission, however, defended the decision to set up the booth away from the village, saying the hilly terrains prevented it from taking it closer.

Beast image


Illustration by Sandeep Joshi

Political parties no longer opt for animals as election symbols but they are not acting solely out of love for the creatures. Persistent opposition by animal rights activists against cruelty inflicted to animals and birds during electioneering has led the Election Commission to ban the allotment of such symbols, replacing them with inanimate objects. Citing various laws preventing cruelty to animals, the wildlife rights activists complained that parties were parading these hapless creatures during campaigns and in turn subjecting them to cruelty. The only exceptions are the lion (Forward Bloc symbol) and the elephant (Bahujan Samaj Party and Asom Gana Parisad) that are being used by respective parties. While the BSP is a national party, the All India Forward Bloc and Asom Gana Parishad are state party from West Bengal and Assam, respectively. And these parties are in no mood to give up their symbols despite opposition from various quarters.

Bill da mamla

Two government bodies in Goa are at loggerheads as to who will foot the bill for the complimentary dinner and a boat cruise hosted by the tourism department for three election observers and a liaison officer. While the Tourism Department’s deputy director Pamela Mascarenhas reportedly requested for a complimentary dinner and a boat cruise in the Mandovi river for the observers on April 4, the Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC), which runs the cruise, has asked the department to reimburse the amount. As per the nothings exchanged between both the bodies, three election observers - Chanchal Tewari (IAS), Masood Hassan (IAS) and T C Jose (IRS) - along with their liaison officer M Olwatt, were treated with the complimentary dinner and the boat cruise.

Source: PTI

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Poll Buzz

Safe flying

BHOPAL: The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has asked the Madhya Pradesh Home Department and private air operators to ensure proper safety for VVIPs flying for campaigning purposes. The DGCA in a circular recommended that before starting a flight, pilots should familiarise themselves with available meteorological information relating to the flight. — PTI

Lost symbol

PANAJI: The United Goans Democratic Party (UGDP), Goa’s regional political outfit, has lost their traditional symbol of two leaves for the Lok Sabha elections. The EC on Wednesday directed the CEO that the candidate contesting on the party ticket be allotted symbol from the free list. — PTI

Better vision

BHUBANESWAR: A visually challenged man in Orissa has thrown his hat in the election ring and hopes he would win because he can visualise the sufferings of the poor “better then others”. Debasish Pramanik (26), a percussionist, is contesting the assembly election as an Independent candidate from Gopalpur constituency in Ganjam district. — IANS

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Voter’s guide

Are there any arrangements for the videography of critical events during the election process?

Yes.Video teams are formed in the constituency to record and videotape critical events like meetings addressed/attended by ministers, national/state-level leaders of political parties, incidents of violence, etc

Is there any restriction on the printing of pamphlets, posters, etc?

A person can’t print or publish, or cause to be printed or published, any election pamphlet or poster which does not bear on its face the addresses of the printer and the publisher thereof

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Pollspeak

If the National Security Act has been imposed on Varun Gandhi even without a proper investigation, then why not against Lalu Prasad?

— BJP president Rajnath Singh

My relationship with the BJP is over for good. There is no turning back now.

— Orissa CM Naveen Patnaik

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