April 05, 2020
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Poll Mantra'04

Election bytes you won't find anywhere else

Poll Mantra'04
Poll Mantra'04

Double Speak
P.A. Sangma

June 2000, a year after forming the NCP
"The BJP can’t (be) a political alternative at the national level. It is also experiencing rapid decline and is going through a process of decay."

February 2004, after the NCP break-up
"The BJP is the best bet in the country. In Vajpayee, we have a statesman and leader who can lead the country towards its progressive march."

Everything Is Fair In Love And Elections
A practising politician is not bound by ideological frills. Or even by those of their family members. Lakshman Singh, former Madhya Pradesh CM Digvijay Singh’s brother, made a surprise jump to the BJP last week. But he is not alone this poll season. Babasaheb Vikhe-Patil rejoined the Congress last fortnight from the Shiv Sena, but left behind his son for good measure. NCP leader Datta Meghe’s son, Sagar Meghe, moved to the BJP in November and campaigned against his father’s party. Last year, the BJP fielded Maharashtra’s NCP deputy chief minister Vijay Singh Mohite Patil’s brother, Pratap Singh, to get a surprise win in Solapur.

In Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu has an arch rival in brother Ramamurthy Naidu, who has joined the Congress. In Chhattisgarh, while Shyama Charan Shukla remains with the Congress, his brother Vidya Charan Shukla has set up a regional party that will go with the NDA. Sajjad and Bilal, sons of late Hurriyat Conference leader Abdul Ghani Lone are fighting for their father’s legacy. Each one claims to have thrown the other out of the People’s Conference, a constituent of the Hurriyat.

When Varun Gandhi joined the BJP, he said there was no question of campaigning against his ‘tai’ and cousins. But at his first rally in Mumbai, he wasted no time in suggesting that India could not be led by a foreigner. The trend was first set into motion by the Scindias, who are now a dynasty in both the BJP and the Congress. While Rajmata Scindia and her daughters were in the BJP, son Madhavrao joined the Congress. Now, Madhavrao’s son, Jyotiraditya, is a rising star in the Congress while Vasundhararaje, the Rajmata’s daughter, is the BJP’s emerging mascot.

That’s The Door
About 78 hours after BJP party chief Venkaiah Naidu welcomed UP don D.P. Yadav into the party, he was thrown out. For those 78 hours, BJP leaders, including Vajpayee, were buttonholed by a belligerent media asking uncomfortable questions about Yadav’s induction. The western UP legislator has five cases of murder, two of attempted murder, has been charged for trading in illicit liquor and contract killing. He has numerous cases registered against him under the UP Goonda Act and the Gangsters Act.

In February 2002, Yadav’s son Vikas and nephew Vishal were accused in the Nitish Katara murder case. According to sources, Nitish Katara’s mother, Neelam, approached the PMO about Yadav. A shaken prime minister and his deputy L.K. Advani decided then that it was not a wise move. Party general secretary Pramod Mahajan admitted that a "wrong number has been dialled," though adding that no cases have yet been proved against Yadav.

Yadav himself was typically taciturn."I am very sad to leave the party, but my politics does not depend upon the BJP."

Poll Vault

Poll Bonanza

Mulayam Singh Yadav, UP
Has raised the retirement age of 4.75 lakh government employees from 58 to 62. More than 48,000 youths would be enrolled for jobs after a six-month training period; a Swasth Foundation will be set up for better healthcare; Rs 20 crore earmarked for ‘development’ work in Mainpuri, next to his hometown, Etawah.

Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, WB
Announced recruitment of 50,000 additional part-time teachers under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). The money will come from a central government assistance programme. Special poll ‘assistance’ to 17 zilla parishads, 333 panchayat samitis, and 3,354 gram panchayat where a majority of members belong to the Left Front.

Delhi In Doldrums
The BJP isn’t feeling too good about its prospects in the capital. It holds all seven seats in the capital, but fears may have to kiss three or four goodbye. The exit of veteran leader Madan Lal Khurana, who’s taken over as governor of Rajasthan, is likely to hit the party hard. His pocketborough, Sadar, is now vulnerable to Congress hopeful Jagdish Tytler. Chandni Chowk MP Vijay Goel had flirted with the idea of shifting to Sadar. But then, it would be near-impossible for any other bjp nominee to win Chandni Chowk, a seat that needs wily election management. East Delhi, with a very large "poorabiya" (easterners) population, may also go to the Congress. Outer Delhi, with a high scheduled caste vote, is equally vulnerable. Only in the New Delhi and South Delhi seats is the BJP comfortable.

Going Back To The Gurus
Punjab politicians make no bones about drawing sustenance from religion. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), led by Prakash Singh Badal, has unabashedly projected itself as a party representing Sikh interests. It is now the turn of the ruling Congress. Come April 14, and the Punjab government will commemorate the 500th anniversary of Prakash Utsav in honour of Guru Angad Dev. Then it will celebrate the 400th year of installation of the Guru Granth Sahib in September, and the 300th year of the martyrdom of the Sahibzadas—the four sons of Guru Gobind Singh—in December. Many Congressmen say that it is the only way to counter Akalis. Predictably, the SAD will boycott these and plan its own. But its extravagant celebrations of milestones of Sikh history did nothing to boost its electoral prospects in the 2002 assembly elections.

Dubious Distinction
BJP Mumbai chief Vinod Tawde gets a rap for sending lurid SMS comparing rape to ‘feelgood’.

In Passing
Rajasthan Congressman Deepak Chaoudhary has gone to the SBI with a unique request: a loan to fight elections. The bank has said no.

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