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I N D I A     V O T E S

BSP’s Malwa mantra: Divide Dera votes
Chandigarh, April 17
With an eye on massive Dalit votes in the Malwa region, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is set to take on Sirsa-based Dera Saccha Sauda. The party, which is traditionally strong in the Doaba belt of Jalandhar, Phillaur and Hoshiarpur, is keen to consolidate itself in the backward Malwa and feels the proximity of the ‘mazbhi Sikhs’ towards the dera is coming in this way.

Karnataka
2 ex-CMs, Central ministers in crorepati club

Bangalore, April 17
Two former Chief Ministers and two prominent former Union Ministers figure in the list of 20 wealthiest candidates contesting the parliamentary elections, which begin on April 23 in Karnataka.

Madhya Pradesh
Shoe incident makes BJP sit up

Bhopal, April 17
A ‘khadaun’ (wooden sandal) thrown at the BJP’s Prime Minister-in-waiting LK Advani in the Katni district, 350 km from here, on Thursday has jolted the saffron party in Madhya Pradesh. Until this incident, the BJP-ruled state leadership was quite relaxed about the outcome of the Lok Sabha elections, scheduled in this state in two phases - for 13 seats on April 23 and for 16 seats on April 30.

Himachal Pradesh
Hamirpur has max women-dominated segments

Shimla, April 17
The declining female sex ratio in the hill state notwithstanding, women electors still outnumber men electors in as many as 10 out of the total of 68 assembly segments comprising the four parliamentary constituencies after the delimitation exercise.


Guinness record holder Rajendra Kumar Tiwari displays a placard with the message of active voter participation during an awareness drive in Allahabad
Guinness record holder Rajendra Kumar Tiwari displays a placard with the message of active voter participation during an awareness drive in Allahabad on Friday. — PTI

Pollspeak

The Indo-US nuclear deal signed by the UPA government will put pressure on India. If the Third Front is voted to power, it will rethink on the deal

— CPM Politburo member Sitaram Yechury

Indians should unite to face the threat of terrorism (emanating from) neighbouring countries.We need to rise and face this menace boldly and I shall continue to raise my voice against anti-national forces

— BJP leader Varun Gandhi

We — Ram Vilas Paswan, Mulayam Singh Yadav and I —have aligned to defeat the communal and fascist forces across India. There is a massive wave favouring our alliance in north India, Jharkhand and Bihar and we are set to have our government at the Centre

— Lalu Prasad Yadav

State of Parties
INLD to cash in on Cong dissidence 

Chandigarh, April 17
They have put the 2004 debacle behind them. Instead, this election season, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leaders are looking to change the party’s fortunes. While the party is enthused with the return of its “lucky mascot”, the BJP, it is banking on riding the Congress dissidence wave to open its Lok Sabha account this election.

Rajasthan netas boast about their fleet of vehicles
Jaipur, April 17
At a time when a majority of our crorepati netas are declaring that they don’t own a car, Rajasthan has a number of politicians, who don’t mind boasting about their fleet of cars.

Shatrughan declares assets
Patna, April 17
BJP star campaigner Shatrughan Sinha and his wife Poonam have moveable and immovable assets worth Rs 17.32 crore, according to the affidavit submitted by him while filing nominations for the Patna Saheb Lok Sabha seat. Sinha’s assets comprise immovable assets - non-agricultural land, houses and apartments in Patna, Mumbai and Pune valued at Rs 3.23 crore.

Candidate injured
Nashik, April 17
An independent candidate contesting from Nashik Lok Sabha seat was injured in an alleged attack by three unidentified men, the police said . Three men beat up Pravinchandra Dattaram Dethe (42), an independent candidate, on Thursday in Rajiv Nagar locality, it said. Dethe was injured in the incident and is being treated in a hospital. — PTI

Pollscape

Poll Buzz

Voter’s guide

Time For Youth To Follow

Going Strong: Noor Jahan (105) arrives on a bicycle to cast her vote in Varanasi.
Going Strong: Noor Jahan (105) arrives on a bicycle to cast her vote in Varanasi. — Reuters

A 100-year-old woman shows her voter ID card after casting her ballot in Gaya.  PTI/An elderly voter on the way tothe polling station in Varanasi.
A 100-year-old woman shows her voter ID card after casting her ballot in Gaya.  PTI/An elderly voter on the way tothe polling station in Varanasi. — PTI








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BSP’s Malwa mantra: Divide Dera votes
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
With an eye on massive Dalit votes in the Malwa region, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is set to take on Sirsa-based Dera Saccha Sauda. The party, which is traditionally strong in the Doaba belt of Jalandhar, Phillaur and Hoshiarpur, is keen to consolidate itself in the backward Malwa and feels the proximity of the ‘mazbhi Sikhs’ towards the dera is coming in this way.

The mazbhi Sikhs --- who are spread out in the rural areas, but their votes could have direct bearing on the result in Bathinda, Faridkot, Ferozepur, Sangrur and Patiala parliamentary constituencies --- are not aligned with the BSP in the same way as their more urbanised counterparts in the Doaba belt. The party is also realising that without a share in the Malwa vote bank its percentage share of votes, which was 5.7 in the last assembly elections, could come down further.

In the last Assembly polls, the dera had appealed to its followers to vote in favour of the Congress. Though, this time, the dera has kept quiet till now, the BSP is not taking any chances. According to BSP’s state president, Avtar Singh Karimpuri, the party is making a concerted effort in the Malwa region to convince the Dalits not to mix politics with religion.

“We have asked the people not to cast their votes on the basis of religious emotions,” Karimpuri said. BSP cadre are being advised to tell Dalits they were free to maintain their religious bonds with the dera but should not be swayed into voting for any party based on direct or indirect appeals by the dera management.

The party wants the Dalits to become a political force in the region and the new strategy is likely to create a division in the dera votes. Interestingly, the BSP has put up upper-caste candidates on all the Malwa seats except Faridkot (reserved) seat. The Congress has also received a boost in Sangrur where BSP candidate and former police officer Madanjit Singh defected to it. The BSP has now given the Sangrur seat to a Muslim who may not be able to consolidate the Dalit vote bank to the same extent.

Dera Sachha Sauda political committee member Ram Singh, who had recently toured the Malwa region to elicit the views of dera supporter, claims he does not know about the BSP exercise to woo dera loyalists. “The BSP has a limited presence in the Malwa belt and moreover our supporters are not attached to any party. They will vote only according to the decision taken by the dera”, he added.

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Karnataka
2 ex-CMs, Central ministers in crorepati club
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, April 17
Two former Chief Ministers and two prominent former Union Ministers figure in the list of 20 wealthiest candidates contesting the parliamentary elections, which begin on April 23 in Karnataka.

HD Kumarswarmy, former CM and son of the Janata Dal (Secular) patriarch and former PM HD Deve Gowda, declared that he had Rs 48 crore as assets while filing his candidature for the Bangalore (Rural) constituency. Kumarswamy, who heads the state unit of JD(S), has over Rs 20 crore as immovable assets and the rest in the movable category. Former Congress CM Dharam Singh, party candidate from the Bidar Lok Sabha segment, is worth over Rs 14 crore. CK Jaffer Sherif, former Railways Minister, gave an asset declaration of over Rs 16 crore with more than Rs 13 crore as immovable assets. Sherif is the Congress candidate from Bangalore (North) constituency. Margaret Alva, who sprung a surprise by figuring in the Congress list despite her outburst against the party’s selection of candidates for the Assembly polls in Karnataka, declared assets worth Rs 4.5 crore with over Rs 3 crore as immovable assets. Alva’s name appears at the 19th place in the 20-member list prepared by the National Election Watch (NEW), an NGO dedicated to cleanse the electoral system in India.

KH Muniyappa, Union Minister of state for shipping, road transport and highways and Congress candidate from Kolar LS segment, figures at the 15th place in the list with assets over Rs 5 crore.

Surendra Babu R, a first-timer and JD(S) candidate from Bangalore (North), tops the list of the 20 wealthiest candidates in the first round of elections in the state for 17 out of the total 28 seats, He has assets worth over Rs 106 crore. Capt GR Gopinath, founder of the trendsetter Air Deccan Airlines finds the second place in the list with Rs 66 crore as assets. For Babu, agricultural land owned by him accounts for much of his wealth.

The BJP and Congress each has 12 “crorepati” candidates in fray, while the BSP has three.

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Madhya Pradesh
Shoe incident makes BJP sit up
Our Roving Editor Man Mohan

Bhopal, April 17
A ‘khadaun’ (wooden sandal) thrown at the BJP’s Prime Minister-in-waiting LK Advani in the Katni district, 350 km from here, on Thursday has jolted the saffron party in Madhya Pradesh.

Until this incident, the BJP-ruled state leadership was quite relaxed about the outcome of the Lok Sabha elections, scheduled in this state in two phases - for 13 seats on April 23 and for 16 seats on April 30.

In the 2004 parliamentary polls, the ‘lotus eaters’ won 25 seats, leaving the remaining four for the Congress. This time also, the BJP felt that it would be a cakewalk. The sandal missile hurled at Advani has made the party leadership sit up. Their heartbeats have increased.

So far, the shoe-throwing incidents in the country were happening with the Congress leaders, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and Congress LS member from Haryana Naveen Jindal.

No one in the BJP had imagined that the craze for throwing shoe missiles would catch up with their leaders too. And, no one could have thought that the ‘first victim’ would be their top leader - Advani. Moreover, the most shocking is the fact that the incident took place in the BJP’s strongest fort, Madhya Pradesh, and that the ‘culprit’ Pawas Agarwal is a former party office-bearer.

The ‘khadaun’ missed Advani whom Agarwal described as a ‘nakli lauh purush’ and said Advani had no ideology and that he asked for votes in the name of Lord Ram but paid obeisance to Pakistan’s founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

The ‘khadaun’ incident has raised some hope for the traditional rival Congress to do better this time. The Congress has said that the ‘khadaun’ incident took place because of the BJP’s double speak. The BJP has turned jittery despite the fact that there is no ‘Third Front’ or so-called ‘Forth Front’ to manouevre its forces in the election battle.

Like in the past, this time too, the fight is between between old traditional rivals - the BJP and the Congress. Currently, the BJP is in power in the state Assembly. In November last, the BJP secured 143 out of 230 seats in the assembly elections.

Before the ‘khadaun’ incident, the political pundits were of the view that this time also nothing spectacular was going to happen. They were expecting the BJP to repeat more or less the 2004 polls’ performance. Now they are expecting the Congress to raise their tally by a few more seats. The BJP and the Congress have been dominating politics in Madhya Pradesh since beginning. The ‘Third Force' parties have found little place in this state.

While parties like the Samajwadi Party, Uttar Pradesh's ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Bihar's ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) have started playing a critical role in many states; they have been unable to make a dent in Madhya Pradesh.

There have been surprises in the past but these parties have failed to make an impact in times to come.

In the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, none of the parties - the BSP, SP, Gondwana Gantantra Party (GGP), Bharatiya Gondwana Party (BGP) or the CPM - fared well, and many candidates ended up losing their deposits.

This time, the BJP will have to put an extra effort to regain the 2004 polls results (25 out of 29 seats) as the ‘khadaun’ incident has somehow dented Advani’s reputation. 

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Himachal Pradesh
Hamirpur has max women-dominated segments
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, April 17
The declining female sex ratio in the hill state notwithstanding, women electors still outnumber men electors in as many as 10 out of the total of 68 assembly segments comprising the four parliamentary constituencies after the delimitation exercise.

The maximum number of five women-dominated segments are in the Hamirpur constituency, followed by Kangra with three such segments and Mandi two segments. There is no assembly segment with a higher number of women electors in the Shimla(reserved) constituency where the men voters exceed the women voters by 54,645, the highest for any seat. The voter sex ratio is almost evenly balanced in the Hamirpur and Kangra constituencies where men electors outnumber women by 5,654 and 8,786 , respectively. The assembly segments with a higher number of women electors include Jaisinghpur (3,272 ) ,Sullah (2,288), Dharampur(2,239), Bhoranj (2,002), Sujanpur(1,574) and Barsar( 1,046). The total number of electors has increased from 41,81,995 in the 2004 poll to 46,04,832 in 2009. The numerical difference between men electors and women electors has gone up from 65,661 to 90,212 over the period. There are 22,57,310 women electors in all but not a single candidate from the fair sex in the fray. The BJP government has provided 50 per cent reservation to women in panchyati raj institutions and urban local bodies but it has not fielded a single woman candidate in the Lok Sabha poll all these years.

The Kangra constituency has the highest number of 11,99,820 electors, followed by Hamirpur (11,87,704),Mandi (11,11,787) and Shimla (11,05,521).

The Sullah segment of Kangra has the maximum number of 87,758 voters, followed by Jogindernagar (84,306), Jwali (79,966), Nadaun (79,508), Baijnath (76,684), Kulu(76,016), Ghumarvin (75,456), Arki (75,190) and Sarakaghat (75,053). The tribal Lahaul-Spiti segment of Mandi has the lowest number of 22,981 electors, followed by Kinnaur (50,760), Doon (52,616), Kasauli (55,612), Renuka (56,646), Shilai (57,545) and Sri Naina Deviji (59,189). The tribal voters add up to 1,42,610. The newly created Manali segment under the Mandi constituency has 62,468 electors and Dharampur, which has been shifted to the Hamirpur constituency, has 68,239 voters. The Jwalamukhi segment, shifted from Hamirpur to Kangra to make up for the loss of the Thural segment, has 63,121 voters.

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State of Parties
INLD to cash in on Cong dissidence 
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
They have put the 2004 debacle behind them. Instead, this election season, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leaders are looking to change the party’s fortunes. While the party is enthused with the return of its “lucky mascot”, the BJP, it is banking on riding the Congress dissidence wave to open its Lok Sabha account this election.

Not only has the party successfully managed to “win back” its alliance partner despite stiff opposition from the state BJP unit, it has also successfully pulled off an equal seat-sharing ratio of five seats each.

To the party, this may be reminiscent of the 1999 Lok Sabha elections when the INLD-BJP combine together bagged all 10 seats. Based on these results, the INLD government, in power in the state at that time, dissolved the state assembly much before time. It came back with a full majority on its own.

However, if the 1999 election was a dream run for the INLD, the 2004 election turned out to be a nightmare. Its alliance with the BJP was called off and the INLD lost all 10 seats while the Congress won nine of the 10 seats and one seat went to the BJP kitty. This battering of the INLD was attributed not only to the INLD-BJP break-up to a strong anti-incumbency wave against the party. This again found reflection in the Vidhan Sabha elections where the INLD managed to get only nine seats in the 90-member state assembly, depriving party supremo Om Prakash Chautala of the status of the leader of opposition.

However, the symphony between the BJP and the INLD seems to be lacking this time. While there are regular reports of BJP workers staying away from the INLD given the fact that they were opposed to the alliance, the election is far from a cakewalk for the party.

This election, the party has brought forward new faces from four of the five seats the party is contesting from. The party has not only replaced its heavyweight candidate and Chautala’s son, Abhay Chautala, with party president of the state Ashok Arora from Kurukshetra, it has also fielded Prof Sampat Singh from Hisar, sitting MLA Dr Sita Ram from Sirsa and Nafe Singh Rathi from Rohtak who are contesting the MP election for the first time.

While Sampat Singh is locked in a battle with Haryana Janhit Congress nominee and veteran leader Bhajan lal, Nafe Singh Rathi is facing sitting MP of the Congress and Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s son, Deepender Hooda.

However, the party has decided to repeat Ajay Singh Chautala from the Bhiwani-Mahendergarh seat where he faces stiff competition from Congress nominee Shruti Chaudhary and HJC candidate Rao Narbir Singh.

In fact, Ajay’s projection of the future face of the party gathered momentum with a padyatra he undertook recently to expose the “hollow promises” of the Congress government in the state. While he personally ended up losing weight with this exercise, it remains to be seen how much weight he holds with the voters from his seat.

Being a regional party, these elections assume greater significance for the INLD since these results set the mood for the trends in the Assembly elections and even find reflection in the final results. So while it is a battle of gaining numbers to form a government at the Centre for other parties, the INLD is hoping to clear this acid test by cashing in on the Congress dissidence rather than support from the BJP.

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Rajasthan netas boast about their fleet of vehicles
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, April 17
At a time when a majority of our crorepati netas are declaring that they don’t own a car, Rajasthan has a number of politicians, who don’t mind boasting about their fleet of cars.

Congress candidate from Churu seat Rafiq Mandelia hasn’t declared one or two but six vehicles worth over Rs 56 lakh in his affidavit, which includes Rs 31 lakh worth Land Cruiser. Churu BJP candidate Ram Singh Kaswan owns Hyundai Santro, two buses, Mahindra Xylo and Scorpio. Bhilwara BJP candidate VP Singh too has a Chevrolet Vintage, Mercedes, Porsche Carrera and Honda. Similarly, Pali BJP candidate has Scorpio and Tata Marino.

However, like their numerous counterparts elsewhere in the country, there are politicians who despite having assets worth crores don’t own a vehicle.

Union Minister for Mines Sir Ram Ola, who is a Congress candidate from Jhunjhunu Lok Sabha seat, has declared assets worth Rs 61 lakh, but owns an old Mahindra jeep worth mere Rs 35,000. However, he has never been spotted travelling in the jeep.

Similarly, Kota BJP candidate Shyam Sharma, owns property worth Rs 1.75 crore, but has no vehicle other than a scooter. Ajmer Congress candidate Sachin Pilot has net assets of Rs 4.5 crore, also figures in the list of netas having no vehicle, though his wife Sara has got Rs 7.5 lakh worth Mahindra Xylo.

Jaipur BJP candidate Ghanshyam Tiwari too doesn’t own a car despite having net property worth Rs 5.5 crore.

Another interesting fact that has come to light is that some of these candidates don’t seem to rely much on banks, as they have more cash in hand than bank.

For instance, Tiwari has 5.9 lakh in hand and Rs 1.57 lakh in the bank. Similarly, Rajsamand Congress candidate Gopal Singh, has Rs 10.77 lakh in hand and a mere Rs 15,432 in the bank. VP Singh has Rs 80 lakh in hand as against Rs 15.4 lakh in banks. Jaipur BSP candidate Vijay Peshwani has Rs 4.35 lakh in hand and Rs 1.05 lakh in the bank. Jodhpur BJP candidate Jaswant Vishnoi has Rs 8.72 lakh in hand and Rs 4.98 lakh in bank.

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Shatrughan declares assets

Patna, April 17
BJP star campaigner Shatrughan Sinha and his wife Poonam have moveable and immovable assets worth Rs 17.32 crore, according to the affidavit submitted by him while filing nominations for the Patna Saheb Lok Sabha seat.

Sinha’s assets comprise immovable assets - non-agricultural land, houses and apartments in Patna, Mumbai and Pune valued at Rs 3.23 crore.

His moveable assets - deposits in banks, bonds, debentures and shares in companies are worth about Rs 6.99 crore, the affidavit said. He also owns a 1995 model Ambassador car, besides Honda and Toyota cars worth Rs 50 lakh, it said. — PTI

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Pollscape
No lies

A man on his deathbed doesn’t lie, they say. So a Lok Sabha aspirant from Uttar Pradesh came on a bier to file his nomination and make the point that he would keep his promises to voters. It’s a different matter that his bizarre ways landed Manoj Pandit, Rashtriya Dehat Morcha party candidate from Gautambudh Nagar adjacent to Delhi, in trouble as a case was filed against him. He landed at the District Magistrate’s office on a bier - a wooden platform held on the shoulders of his supporters - leaving everyone in the collector’s office amused. The authorities, however, did not allow Pandit to enter the office and district electoral office ordered that a case be registered against him for making a mockery of democracy and election process. — IANS

Caps politicised

Is your cap maroon in front? Then you must be a BJP supporter. Is it green? Then you are with the Congress. So goes the understanding in Himachal Pradesh. The round Bushehri cap - named after a former princely state in the Himalayas - has a coloured front flap that now proclaims the political loyalty of the person wearing it. It started with former Congress chief minister Virbhadra Singh wearing a cap with a green flap. His supporters rushed to buy the same. Now incumbent BJP Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal has made the maroon flap popular. “There is a lot of political colour attached to these caps. If there is a Congress government (in the state), people’s preference is for a green band. If a BJP chief minister is in the saddle, people go for the maroon cap,” said Vepa Rao, formerly of the Himachal Pradesh University here. — IANS

Winning recipe

A savoury shop in Kanpur has perfected a winning recipe this election season, but the formula has more to do with improving sales than sending candidates to Parliament. Satya Sweet House’s one-rupee “samosa” has become a rage with customers with many beginning to compare it with Tata Motors’ Rs one-lakh car Nano, thus giving it the popular name “Nano Samosa”. No points for guessing who are lapping up the samosas. Political workers, of course! These samosas are being widely distributed along with tea to field workers of political parties to keep them going. “We supply 1,000 samosas daily to Congress party headquarters at Tilak Hall, while BJP office is provided with 600-700 samosas daily,” shop owner Shayam Ratan Gupta said. — PTI

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Poll Buzz
Women power

KOHIMA: Forty-nine “all-women teams” conducted elections in as many polling stations across the one Lok Sabha constituency in Nagaland during the first phase elections on Thursday. Praising the work of team members, a senior election department official said all teams were deployed in booths within urban areas but the presence of the women caused a positive effect among the voters, comprising women, new voters and the elderly besides others.The maximum number of such teams were in state capital Kohima. — PTI

Blast accused

MUZAFFARNAGAR: A Malegaon bomb blast accused on Friday filed his nomination papers to fight the Lok Sabha elections from Muzaffarnagar constituency as a candidate of the Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Mahasabha. Major Ramesh Upadhaya (retd), facing trial in the serial blasts case, has been in judicial custody since October last year and languishing in a jail in Maharashtra. — PTI

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Voter’s guide

Is it possible to use EVMs in simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the state assembly?

Yes. Two separate EVMs — one for the LS poll and the other for the assembly elections — are used in such a situation

A person is an elector in a particular state. Can he contest an election to a seat in the legislative assembly of any other state?

No

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