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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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

Uttar Pradesh
A battle of deserters, former royals

Lucknow, April 22
The 17 seats that are going to the polls tomorrow in the second phase of the Lok Sabha elections will decide the fate of many deserters as well as former royals. The Samajwadi Party will face a tough challenge of retaining nine out of 17 seats won in 2004 with the BSP facing the test of improving upon its six existing seats.

Round 2 in Orissa will see varied hues
Warhorses, media moguls & super rich
Bhubaneshwar, April 22
The elections to 11 Lok Sabha and 77 Assembly segments in Orissa tomorrow will be interesting to watch for many reasons. To start with, they will decide the future course of state politics, given the geographical and social importance of the parliamentary constituencies going to polls. Besides, they will see the state’s richest people, several reigning media moguls and many veterans seeking people’s mandate.

After Vidisha, Bhopal may be next walkover for BJP
Bhopal, April 22
For the past six general elections, the Congress has been using every trick in the book to wrest this prestigious constituency from the BJP. It fielded a cricket star, hoping that his glamour will see it through, then it banked on a ‘kayastha” to woo around 2.5 lakh kayasth votes in the constituency. Twice it relied on Muslim candidates to cash in on the substantial population of the community in the city. But all in vain.


Second Phase Polling


Poll speak
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee
One need not be a wrestler or flex muscles to hold the post of Prime Minister. It also does not require that a person should be able to use strong words 
— External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee at a meet-the-press programme in Kolkata on Wednesday

After the general election, the Congress will be reduced to a third force. There is a civil war going on within the UPA, ... between the UPA and the Left, ... between the UPA and the SP, the NCP and the RJD
— Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley

The Third Front is a non-entity… its other partners are also not very sure of their positions and place in it
— SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav

MAKING A MARK: A poll official holds packed bottles of indelible ink at a distribution centre in Pen in Raigarh district of Maharashtra on Wednesday.
MAKING A MARK: A poll official holds packed bottles of indelible ink at a distribution centre in Pen in Raigarh district of Maharashtra on Wednesday. — AF

Madhya Pradesh
Hours before polling, it’s SMS war

Bhopal, April 22
On the eve of Madhya Pradesh’s first phase of polling for 13 seats, an SMS war was going in the state, also known as the heart of India. In the war of words, which was being fought through mobile phones between the supporters of the two main parties, the Congress and the BJP, the most popular SMS was related to the last week’s incident of a ‘khadaun’ (wooden slipper) being hurled at saffron party’s Prime Minister-in-waiting LK Advani.

Andhra
Missing women contestants
Hyderabad, April 22
Despite the big talk of women empowerment by politicians of all hues, women continue to get raw deal when it comes to ticket for contesting the elections in Andhra Pradesh.

Udhampur-Doda
For smooth show, they sweat it out
Batote, April 22
It took three days of hectic preparation for the civil administration and security forces to ensure that each and every polling station in the Udhampur - Doda Parliamentary segment, especially in the upper mountainous regions, were sanitised and the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and personnel reached the polling booths in time.

Ignored, villagers to shun voting
Rajgarh (Chanderkote), April 22
Unfulfilled promises made during the Rajiv-Farooq accord in 1987 continue to haunt politicians each time there are Assembly or parliamentary elections. During the second phase, over 10,000 inhabitants of about 12 villages of the Rajgarh area will stay away from the polling in the Udhampur-Doda parliamentary segment that goes to polls on Thursday in protest.

Tripura
CPM, Cong in direct fight
Guwahati, April 22
The battle of ballots in Tripura is basically between the CPM and the Congress where total 20,82, 265 voters are expected to exercise their franchise in the two constituencies - West Tripura and East Tripura. As many as 19 candidates from national, regional and smaller parties and some Independents are in the fray.

Bihar
Crucial day for Lalu, Paswan
Patna, April 22
The 13 constituencies of Bihar going to the polls in the second phase on Thursday are crucial for both Lalu Yadav (RJD) and Ram Vilas Paswan (LJP). The poll outcome of these Lok Sabha seats will make or mar their future prospects in national politics.

Bangalore slum dwellers make up their mind
Bangalore, April 22
Fish vendor Ismail, a resident of the Madina Nagar slum of Bangalore, burst into laughter when asked if he thought electing a popular government by voting helped improve the lives of poor people.

Pollscape

Poll Buzz

Voter’s guide



BIOSCOPE

Police and paramilitary personnel on election duty play cards as they wait for transport from a poll control station in Dhanbad in Jharkhand on Wednesday.
Police and paramilitary personnel on election duty play cards as they wait for transport from a poll control station in Dhanbad in Jharkhand on Wednesday. — AFP
An official checks her documents in Bangalore before departing for polling stations on Wednesday. — AFP (right) Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi with Ahmedabad West candidate Kiritsinh Solanki at a rally in Ahmedabad on Tuesday.
An official checks her documents in Bangalore before departing for polling stations on Wednesday. — AFP (right) Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi with Ahmedabad West candidate Kiritsinh Solanki at a rally in Ahmedabad on Tuesday. — PTI
Vijayalakshmi, wife of Chief Minister YSR Reddy, welcomes him on his return after a month-long election campaign in Hyderabad on Tuesday.
Vijayalakshmi, wife of Chief Minister YSR Reddy, welcomes him on his return after a month-long election campaign in Hyderabad on Tuesday. — PTI
 





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Uttar Pradesh
A battle of deserters, former royals
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, April 22
The 17 seats that are going to the polls tomorrow in the second phase of the Lok Sabha elections will decide the fate of many deserters as well as former royals. The Samajwadi Party will face a tough challenge of retaining nine out of 17 seats won in 2004 with the BSP facing the test of improving upon its six existing seats.

The Congress has just one seat - Rahul Gandhi in Amethi - that it will certainly retain. Its improved position in at least three more seats may bring in a bonus.

The BJP had won the Balrampur seat, a constituency that no longer exists after delimitation, and the sitting BJP MP is now the SP candidate from Qaiserganj.

Many of the Samajwadi Party’s sitting MPs have since moved on to other parties. The classic case is of Gonda where two SP MPs are facing each other, Beni Prasad Verma as a Congress candidate and Raja of Mankapur Kirtivardhan Singh as the BSP nominee.

Another Samajwadi Party MP Atiq Ahmad is now contesting from behind the bars in Pratapgrah on the Apna Dal ticket. A gang lord with many criminal cases, he had won in 2004 from Phulpur on the SP ticket.

He was expelled from the party and was declared an absconder by the Mulayam Singh Yadav government after his alleged involvement in the murder of BSP MLA Raju Pal.

The main battle in Pratapgarh is between two former royals - Rajkumari Ratna Singh of the Congress and Akshay Pratap Singh, a relative of Raja Raghuraj Pratap Singh, alias Raja Bhaiya. Rajkumari Ratna Singh belongs to the erstwhile Kalakankar estate and is the daughter of former Congress leader and Raja of Kalakankar - Dinesh Singh.

Another famous turncoat in this phase is SP nominee from Faizabad Mitrasen Yadav. Last time he had won on the BSP ticket. In 1989, he had represented the seat as the CPI MP and in 1998 on the SP ticket. Facing this defector is Raja of Ayodhya, Vimlendra Mohan Mishra, who is making his political debut from Faizabad as a BSP candidate.

The 17 seats are spread over 20 districts and nine divisions and 2.49 crore voters.

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Round 2 in Orissa will see varied hues
Warhorses, media moguls & super rich
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Bhubaneshwar, April 22
The elections to 11 Lok Sabha and 77 Assembly segments in Orissa tomorrow will be interesting to watch for many reasons. To start with, they will decide the future course of state politics, given the geographical and social importance of the parliamentary constituencies going to polls. Besides, they will see the state’s richest people, several reigning media moguls and many veterans seeking people’s mandate.

Eight of the 11 LS segments going to polls in the state are in coastal region. In Orissa, traditionally, coastal politics has dominated the overall electoral scene, so much so that the party with a sway in the coastal belt has ended up ruling more often than not.

Currently, eight of the 11 parliamentary constituencies (of the second phase) are with the BJD, including Bhadrak, Jajpur, Dhenkenal, Cuttack, Kendrapada, Jagatsingpur, Puri and Bhubaneshwar. Two segments - Keonjhar and coastal Balasore are with the BJP, while Mayurbhanj is with the JMM. Hoping to retain the old base and if possible expanding it, the CM Naveen Patnaik has campaigned actively in the area.That apart, phase two will see four of the top richest politicians of Orissa in fray. Leading the pack is Congress’ Pinaki Mishra from Puri, with assets worth over Rs 29 crore.

He is followed closely by Congress’ Keonjhar candidate Dhananjay Sidhu at Rs 26 crore; BJD’s Kendrapada candidate Bayjant Panda at Rs 17 crore and his party colleague and Cuttack candidate Bhartuhari Mahtab at Rs five crore.

Also seeking reelection tomorrow are several poll veterans and three-time MPs, the senior-most being former Union Minister in Atal Behari Vajpayee’s government and now BJD’s seven-time MP Arjan Charan Sethi from Bhadrak LS segment.

Missing in action this year are Congress veterans — state Congress president KP Singhdeo, who had in 2004 tried his luck for the 10th time from Dhenkenal LS segment. Deo lost the election and is this time canvassing for a fresh Congress candidate from Dhenkenal, which Deo represented five times in the past. Congress stalwarts JB Patnaik and his wife Jayanti Patnaik also did not get the party ticket this time, though their son-in-law Soumya Ranjan Patnaik is contesting from Khandapada assembly in the Bhubaneshwar LS segment. Soumya had lost the Bhubaneshwar LS seat to BJD in 2004.

Orissa’s hat-trick MP club, BJD’s Prasanna Patsani (Bhubaneshwar LS segment), Bhartuhari Mahtab (Cuttack), BJP’s Braj Kishore Tripathi (Puri) and MA Kharabela Swain from the Balasore parliamentary constituency, is eager to carry forward its winning streak.

Interestingly, state’s top media barons are also trying their luck. This group is dominated by JB Patnaik’s son-in-law Soumya Patnaik, who owns and edits Sambad, a pro-Congress Oriya daily; BCCI member and managing editor of Samay (another pro-Congress Oriya newspaper) Ranjib Biswal, the Congress candidate from Kendrapada LS segment.

The pro-BJD media moguls in the fray are Tathagat Satpaty, owner of Dharitri Oriya daily and sitting Dhenkenal MP, seeking re-election; Bayjant Panda, owner of Oriya TV and BJD candidate from Kendrapada LS constituency, Bhartuhari Mahtab, son of former Orissa CM Harekrushna Mahtab and owner-editor of Prajatantra, a pro-Naveen Patnaik Oriya daily. BJP’s MA Kharabela Swain, the sitting Balasore MP, also edits Bishesh Khabar.

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After Vidisha, Bhopal may be next walkover for BJP
Amrish Herdenia
Tribune News Service

Bhopal, April 22
For the past six general elections, the Congress has been using every trick in the book to wrest this prestigious constituency from the BJP. It fielded a cricket star, hoping that his glamour will see it through, then it banked on a ‘kayastha” to woo around 2.5 lakh kayasth votes in the constituency. Twice it relied on Muslim candidates to cash in on the substantial population of the community in the city. But all in vain.

To make matters worse, many feel that the party’s selection of candidate this time is not going to change its dubious record in the state capital. The grand old party has placed its bet on a man who has been lying politically inactive for the last six years. He is expected to take on the sitting MP and former Chief Minister Kailash Joshi. “Our leaders seem to have decided to give a walkover to the BJP,” says a Congress worker.

The Bhopal constituency, comprising a large number of serving and retired government officials and the biggest body of Muslims in the state, has been backing the BJP since 1989. In that year and in three subsequent general election, BJP’s Sushil Chandra Verma, a former chief secretary of the state, was returned from here. He defeated party’s sitting MP KN Pradhan (1989), cricket star Nawab Pataudi (1991), Congress MLA Kailash Kundal (1996) and Arif Beg, one of the earliest Muslim leaders of the BJP, who later joined the Congress (1998). And never was Verma’s victory margin less than one lakh votes.

In 1999, Uma Bharati shifted to Bhopal from her traditional Khajuraho constituency and trounced her Congress rival, the present PCC president Suresh Pachauri, by a margin of 1.68 lakh votes --- the highest in the state. And in the last elections, Kailash Joshi emerged victorious - with a 3.06 lakh margin, again the highest in the state.

How safe Bhopal is considered for the BJP is evident by the fact that in the 1999 elections, it was identified as a possible seat for the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, in addition to Lucknow. And again, Bhopal was the constituency which senior party leader Sushma Swaraj had initially chosen to contest from in these elections. It is another matter that she had to shift to the neighbouring Vidisha as Joshi refused to yield. Swaraj is all smiles now especially after her rival Congress candidate’s papers were rejected. It’s practically a cakewalk fo rher now. Seven of the eight assembly segments of the constituency are held by the BJP and a majority of the corporators of the Bhopal Municipal Corporation come from the party.

Surendra Singh Thakur, the Congress nominee, was missing from the political scene for the last almost six years. He is known as an ardent loyalist of the PCC chief Pachauri.

As for Joshi, he has publicly admitted of “not having done anything in particular” for Bhopal but his squeaky clean image is a definite advantage for the BJP.

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Madhya Pradesh
Hours before polling, it’s SMS war
Our Roving Editor Man Mohan

Bhopal, April 22
On the eve of Madhya Pradesh’s first phase of polling for 13 seats, an SMS war was going in the state, also known as the heart of India. In the war of words, which was being fought through mobile phones between the supporters of the two main parties, the Congress and the BJP, the most popular SMS was related to the last week’s incident of a ‘khadaun’ (wooden slipper) being hurled at saffron party’s Prime Minister-in-waiting LK Advani.

The ‘khadaun’ was thrown at Advani in the Katni district, 350 km from here. A former BJP office-bearer, Pawas Agarwal, who flung the ‘missile’, described Advani as a ‘nakli lauh purush’ (fake iron man), having no ideology and that he sought votes in the name of Lord Ram but paid obeisance to Pakistan’s founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah. Obviously, someone feeling disturbed over Advani’s description of Jinnah as a ‘secular man’ during his Pakistan yatra some years ago, has taken advantage of the ‘khadaun’ incident to script the most popular SMS doing the rounds.

It starts with ‘Bhay Ho!’ that is BJP’s counter slogan to the Congress’ election tune ‘Jai Ho!’, borrowed from the Oscar-winning film ‘Slumdog Millionaire.’ “Bhay Ho!…Jo Bole Jinnha Ki Jai Ho, Maro Uske Jutey Ya Khadaun Char: RSS (Rashtriya Swabhiman Sangathan) Dwara Janhit Mein Jari…Please forward It Across India in Public Interest” --- says the carefully crafted SMS, with no risk of facing a defamation suit, and using ‘RSS’ deliberately to ring a patriotic tone.

The BJP supporters, in a counter-offensive, are sending an SMS targeting the Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi who created much uproar after he allegedly described the LTTE chief Prabhakaran as “my friend” and said that “he is not a terrorist.” The DMK supremo has now said that he never made the statement.

The BJP SMS says: “Patti ke Hatyaron se Samjhotta Hai, Congress Ki election Rajneeti Mein Dekho Kya Kya Hota Hai.” The 13 seats which will go tto polls tomorrow include Khajuraho, Satna, Rewa, Sidhi, Shahdol, Jabalpur, Mandla, Balaghat, Chhindwara, Hoshangabad, Vidisha, Bhopal and Betul. The elections in the remaining 16 seats would be held on April 30.

In the last 2004 Parliamentary polls, the BJP won 25 seats. The remaining four went to the Congress. This time also, the BJP feels that, despite the ‘khadaun’ incident, they would sail through.

The Congress party on the other hand is battling internal sabotage and infighting.

The most embarrassing situation for the ‘Hand’ is in Sidhi where the party veteran Arjun Singh’s daughter Veena Singh is contesting as an Independent candidate. In Vidisha, senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj is already celebrating her victory as the Congress candidate’s papers were rejected at the time of scrutiny. Currently, the BJP is in power in the state.

The BJP is confident of retaining the majority of the Lok Sabha seats on the basis of its massive victory in the Assembly polls four months ago.

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Andhra
Missing women contestants
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, April 22
Despite the big talk of women empowerment by politicians of all hues, women continue to get raw deal when it comes to ticket for contesting the elections in Andhra Pradesh.

Out of 3,655 contestants in the fray for the 294 Assembly seats, only 300 are women, a paltry 8 per cent. The ruling Congress and CPM allotted 11 per cent of their tickets to women followed by Telugu Desam Party (10 pc), t, BJP (7.7 pc), CPI (7.14 pc) and BSP 6.6 pc, said PC Sai Babu, convener of the state chapter of National Election Watch, a conglomeration of NGOs working in the area of electoral reforms. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has not fielded a single woman candidate for the Assembly poll. 

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Udhampur-Doda
For smooth show, they sweat it out
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Batote, April 22
It took three days of hectic preparation for the civil administration and security forces to ensure that each and every polling station in the Udhampur - Doda Parliamentary segment, especially in the upper mountainous regions, were sanitised and the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and personnel reached the polling booths in time.

“Due to a less snow this winter, we have had no major problems reaching the far-flung areas. Most of the teams left for their respective destinations as early as April 20, some even walking up to 25 kilometres carrying EVMs. We got compliance reports from them today. Everything is under control and all preparations were in place,” said AD Shanas, Ramban deputy commissioner, while talking to The Tribune.

Ramban is strategically one of the most important districts of the Jammu division. In the Udhampur - Doda Parliamentary segment, the district has two assembly segments --- Ramban and Banihal.

Together the two constituencies have 202 polling stations, 107 in Ramban and 95 in Banihal.

Kulbhushan Manghotra, assistant district development commissioner said that all EVMs were tested before they were handed over to the officials concerned. In all, over 1,500 officials have been put on poll duty by the district election office.

Regarding reports of code violation by parties in Rajgarh, Ramban and Banihal, he said he has received no complaint so far.

There are 47 highly sensitive booths in the Ramban and Banihal parliamentary segments where the security forces apprehend a possible atatck by the militants.

These have been put under the joint charge of the CRPF and the J&K Police with the Army providing a backup.

Giving details of the terrain, deputy commissioner Shanas said out of the 202 polling booths in the district, only 44 are connected by road.

Though, the area has witnessed no major militant attack in the past one year, the administration is keeping a tight vigil and leaving nothing to chance.

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Ignored, villagers to shun voting
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Rajgarh (Chanderkote), April 22
Unfulfilled promises made during the Rajiv-Farooq accord in 1987 continue to haunt politicians each time there are Assembly or parliamentary elections. During the second phase, over 10,000 inhabitants of about 12 villages of the Rajgarh area will stay away from the polling in the Udhampur-Doda parliamentary segment that goes to polls on Thursday in protest.

A large number of villages in the region have announced to boycott the elections on account of successive governments failing to build the Karol-Kashtigarh road. Popularly known as the 4-K road, this proposed road will link Ramban to Doda passing through Karol-Kundi-Kamedh to reach Kashtipur. In the absence of this road, several villages like Kundi, Sidhar, Halla, Dhandrath and Ghatigali remain totally cut off from the NH-1A.

“Even if we abstain from voting, someone will win. However, the boycott will at least make a point and this will force politicians to think that our votes could have altered the results,” said Gulam Rasool, a local from Halla.

Rajgarh is a niabat (smallest administrative unit in J&K) located above the Baghliar Dam.

Before the dam was constructed, people could reach from neighbouring town of Batote to Doda in about 3 hours, but now it takes over 12 hours due to a longer route.

In the 1989 elections, Rajiv Gandhi reiterated the commitment to complete the road and the work was started in 1990. Some portion of the road was even sanctioned by the NABARD, but it stopped due to problems with contractors and corruption.

Today, nearly 10 polling booths have been set up in the area, but people from villages, including Ghatjali, Ghari, Trandu, Kometh, having 3,000 votes each, say that they will abstain from polling.

Chaudhary Mohammad Farooq, a former Congress secretary, who had quit and joined the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) said, “The sitting Congress MLA, Ashok Kumar, had pressed a bulldozer into service before the elections asking people to vote saying that the work has restarted. But people are not fools.”

The people have even sent a complaint to the Election Commission to point out this violation in the model code of conduct.

KC Khajuria, chairman of the Rajgarh Road Action Committee, said the boycott in the area might not directly affect the poll process in the Udhampur-Doda constituency, which is spread across hundreds of kilometres.

“It ranges from the plains of Kathua to the hills of Banihal on one side and snow-covered peaks in Bhaderwah and Kishtwar on the other,” he added. However, it would certainly give politicians sleepless nights.

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Tripura
CPM, Cong in direct fight
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, April 22
The battle of ballots in Tripura is basically between the CPM and the Congress where total 20,82, 265 voters are expected to exercise their franchise in the two constituencies - West Tripura and East Tripura. As many as 19 candidates from national, regional and smaller parties and some Independents are in the fray.

The CPM has re-nominated Khagen Das for West Tripura and Bajuban Reang for East Tripura while the Congress has fielded new faces. Congress nominee Sudip Roy Burman in West Tripura is a three-time MLA and his father Samir Ranjan Burman is incumbent PCC chief while tribal candidate Diba Chandra Hrangkhawl is a former MLA and known for his political commitment and honesty.

The CPM campaign was has focused on issues concerning national interests, economy and secularism while the Congress has planked its campaign on charges of corruption against the ruling Left government in Tripura, rising crime graph against women, meningitis assuming epidemic form in hills and non implementation of development projects

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Bihar
Crucial day for Lalu, Paswan
Sanjay Singh
Tribune News Service

Patna, April 22
The 13 constituencies of Bihar going to the polls in the second phase on Thursday are crucial for both Lalu Yadav (RJD) and Ram Vilas Paswan (LJP). The poll outcome of these Lok Sabha seats will make or mar their future prospects in national politics.

The RJD and LJP combine had won 10 out of these 13 seats during the last Lok Sabha elections in 2004. The RJD had got 8 and the LJP 2, including Hajipur (SC), which has been the constituency of Paswan for several elections. The Congress, then an ally of the RJD and the LJP, had also won one seat (Madhubani) and the other two had gone to the JD(U). The then national president of the JD(U), George Fernandes, had won from Muzaffarpur and the party had also won Bagaha (SC).

Apart from Paswan himself and his younger brother, Ram Chandra Paswan, who are seeking re-election from Hajipur (SC) and Samastipur (SC), respectively, the stakes of four other union ministers and prominent RJD leaders are involved in this phase of the elections. They are Dr Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Union Minister for Rural Development (Vaishali Lok Sabha constituency), Akhilesh Prasad Singh( East Champaran ), MAA Fatmi (Darbhanga)and Raghunath Jha(Valmikinagar). All three are Union Ministers of State from the RJD. The lone Union Minister from the Congress in North Bihar, Dr Shakeel Ahmed, who is the Minister of State for Home Affairs, is also seeking re-election from Madhubani. Dr Ahmed had contested the last Lok Sabha elections as an ally of Lalu and Paswan. But this time the RJD and LJP combine has put up its own candidate against him. And the RJD candidate from Madhubani is no ordinary man. He is the RJD chief of Bihar and former minister in the Lalu-Rabri government, Abdul Bari Siddiqui.

It remains to be seen whether the Muslim voters of Madhubani (who constitute about 23 per cent of the electorate) will prefer to vote for the RJD (Lalu) for whom they have been voting for the last two decades or their votes will go en bloc to the Congress this time. Reports from Madhubani and all other constituencies going to the polls tomorrow indicate that the Muslim voters appear to be somewhat disenchanted with the RJD and the LJP and they are now being attracted towards the Congress.

Since the last Lok Sabha poll, the political scenario in Bihar has undergone a complete change. Both Lalu and Paswan had to contest the 2004 elections against the NDA alone as the Congress was on their side. Moreover, the RJD was in power here with Rabri Devi being the Chief Minister. But this time the duo is finding the task much more difficult as they have no alliance with the Congress. As a result they have to take on the Congress as well the NDA. Now the NDA is in power here with Nitish Kumar as its popular Chief Minister.

Perhaps Lalu and Paswan had not visualised the scenario of the Congress deciding to contest all seats in Bihar. But it is a reality now that some of the Congress candidates are giving a tough fight to the RJD-LJP alliance. While Lalu’s own brother-in-law, Sadhu Yadav (Congress nominee), threatens to make deep inroads into the Muslim and Yadav votes in West Champaran, putting the LJP candidate and filmmaker Prakash Jha in a spot, in the adjoining Valmikinagar constituency Mohd Shamim of the Congress is queering the pitch for Raghunath Jha. Similarly Lovely Anand (Congress) seems to have left behind sitting RJD MP Sitaram Singh in the race for the Sheohar Lok Sabha seat. Other than a majority of the Muslims upper caste voters have sided with the wife of Anand Mohan, former MP from Sheohar now incarcerated as a life term convict on the charge of killing IAS officer G Krishnaiyyah. Four-time MP from Vaishali Raghuvansh Prasad Singh is also sweating it out this time to get the Yadav and Muslim votes as the Congress has put up Hind Keshri Yadav in the fray from here.

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Bangalore slum dwellers make up their mind
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, April 22
Fish vendor Ismail, a resident of the Madina Nagar slum of Bangalore, burst into laughter when asked if he thought electing a popular government by voting helped improve the lives of poor people.

“I am now too old to expect anything good to happen to me. And as for the area I live in, I do not think much is going to change here”, the sixty-year-old, who did not go to work today as he was not well, said.

A traditional Congress supporter, Ismail said he would cast his vote for the party candidate tomorrow. “Voting for the Congress is just like a habit. I do not care much about the results”, he said. Sitting by Ismail was his friend Hafiz, a quiet fellow with a sad air about him. The latter, a vegetable seller and about the same age as Ismail, also identified himself as a Congress supporter.

The Madina Nagar slum is located close to the HSR layout area of the city where plush housing complexes have come up to cater to the needs of the parvenus spawned by the city’s flourishing information technology industry. Part of the Bangalore South Lok Sabha constituency, where the dominant candidates are BJP nominee and former Union Minister Ananth Kumar and the Congress party’s young face, Krishna Byre Gowda, the dirty and unhygienic slum area presents a dark contrast to the smart housing estates.

Javed and Asif, two young cab drivers, who live in a slum in Mangaman Palya in the Bangalore South constituency, said they would vote for the BJP candidate this time. “We have always voted for the Congress. But see the condition under which we live here. The BJP government has done work in our neighbourhood. If we support the BJP candidate, our area will also develop”, the duo said.

Drivers get Rs 5,000 apiece from their employer as monthly salary, which is grossly inadequate for a city where the cost of living is frighteningly high. The cab drivers broke into a resigned smile when asked if they thought a new government would be able to offer something better to them.

“We are not hoping for a better salary. But we shall be happy if the slum area is developed and dirty water from the drain does not get into our houses after a shower”, they said.

Zameer Ahmed Khan, Janata Dal (Secular) candidate, seems to have cast a spell on slum dwellers of the Bangalore Central constituency, which also goes to the polls tomorrow. Maryadas, carpenter, and Rajan, technician, residents of the EWS Quarters in the Koramongola area of the city, said Khan was a large-hearted man with a soft spot for poor people. Mass marriages organised by the JD(S) nominee some time ago were cited as an example of the “kind nature” of the JD(S) representative. Residents of slum areas at Neelsandra, falling in the Bangalore Central constituency, echoed the same sentiments.

P C Mohan is the BJP candidate from the constituency and H T Sangliana, a retired IPS officer and former BJP MP, is the Congress candidate.

“Sangliana lives close by, but he did not do anything for us slum dwellers”, Imtiaz, a car mechanic, claimed.

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Pollscape
Star struck

Election officials in Vellore constituency in Tamil Nadu were perplexed when a 44-year-old man demanded that actor Aishwarya Rai should be allotted as the election symbol for him. The man identified as Manidhan said he wanted to project love as the cure for evils of mankind and the film star would be a good symbol for the message. When the officials refused saying that individuals could not be given as symbols, he sought “Taj Mahal” as the symbol. The officials showed him a list of symbols and asked him to choose from it. However, the man refused to select from the list and walked away saying that he would not contest the elections. — TNS

Clear view

Mocking at Union Home Minister P Chidambaram’s statement that he looked at Sivaganga “through the specs of India”, AIADMK workers have sent him a parcel containing “kids goggles”, alleging that the minister failed to do anything for the development of his constituency. Chidambaram, who is contesting from the Sivaganga Lok Sabha constituency for the eighth time, had said before the general election in 2004 that “so far I looked at Sivaganga through (wearing) the specs of India. Hereafter, I will look at India through the specs of Sivaganga”. The AIADMK workers, who flayed Chidambaram for his “failure” to do anything concrete for the constituency, sent two pairs of goggles - one to his Chennai address and the other to his native village Kanndanur in Sivaganga district on Tuesday, party sources said. — PTI

For record

A woman minister in Andhra Pradesh Galla Arunakumari has campaigned her way to the record books. Surpassing the earlier record set by Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, she campaigned in 100 villages in a matter of 12 hours, claiming a place in the Limca Book of Records. Seeking re-election from Chandragiri Assembly seat in Chittoor district, Arunakumari, who belongs to Congress, campaigned extensively in her constituency. Arunakumari, who holds medical and health portfolio, broke the record of Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar who had covered 65 villages in 12 hours. She is pitted against film actress and Telugu Desam Party leader R K Roja. She addressed brief public meetings in each of the 100 villages for two to three minutes during her whirlwind tour on Sunday last. “The idea behind this quick tour is to reach out to as many voters as possible. This is not to break any record but to cover as many villages as possible by intensifying the campaign,” the minister said. — TNS

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Poll Buzz
Attack bid

TIRUPATI: Congress workers allegedly tried to attack Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) chief Chiranjeevi on Wednesday saying that he distributed money among voters through his party men and barged into a hotel here where he was put up. A scuffle took place between more than 50 Congress workers and PRP activists, who repulsed the attack at the hotel leading to police lathicharge on Congress workers. — PTI

Boycott call

MUZAFFARNAGAR: Residents of Mohlaheri village here have decided to boycott the Lok Sabha elections demanding construction of a bridge over the Kali river here. The villagers also staged a protest on Wednesday and raised slogans against the administration. — PTI

2 officials killed

GIRIDIH (JHARKHAND): Two election duty officials, including a police officer, were killed and three others injured on Wednesday when their vehicle met with an accident near Chenpur in Giridih district, officials said here. The victims were identified as assistant Sub-Inspector Munirka Ram and polling staff Omkar Nath. — PTI

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Voter’s guide
Can a non-resident Indian citizen be a voter?

Yes. Only a person who is ordinarily resident in a constituency is entitled to be registered in the electoral rolls of that constituency. However, such NRI citizens who are employed under the Government of India in a post outside India are eligible to be registered as voters

When is the oath or affirmation by a candidate required to be made?

The candidate, in person, is required to make the oath immediately after presenting his nomination papers and in any case not later than the day previous to the date of scrutiny.

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Second Phase Polling

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