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04/24/08
B Media 4 Sarvajan Hithaya Sarvajan Sukhaya-Vote For BSP-List of BSP candidatesJayakumar joins BSP -Over 1,000 in the fray -Congress workers ransack party office -Protest -Police seize liquor worth over Rs. 1 crore across State -Saris seized in Bellary -Body set up for Bundelkhand-Son rises, party sets
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Online edition of India’s National Newspaper
Thursday, Apr 24, 2008

Jayakumar joins BSP

Special Correspondent

BANGALORE: The Janata Dal (Secular) today saw the departure of a long term associate in D.T. Jayakumar, who has joined Bahujan Samaj Party.

Mr. Jayakumar had demanded from party ticket to contest from Chamundeshwari constituency in Mysore. But the party’s workers in Chamundeshwari wanted a local leader to be given ticket from that constituency.

Offer

Speaking to The Hindu, State president of the party Merajuddin Patel said Mr. Jayakumar was offered Varuna constituency by the party where Mr. Siddaramaiah was contesting, but Mr. Jayakumar insisted on Chamundeshwari from which the party had already fielded Basavegowda.

Mr. Patel said: “It is true that the JD(S) felt sad at his departure from the party, but elections cannot be fought on prestige issues and neither are they fought on the basis of personal convictions. There is a code of discipline within the party which every worker and leader has to abide. But Mr. Jayakumar, despite being a long standing worker and leader of the party, did not consider it important to follow the party discipline.”

Mr. Patel said the party has made way for a new candidate in the place vacated by Mr. Jayakumar.

Over 1,000 in the fray

Special Correspondent

BANGALORE: More than 1,000 candidates have filed their nomination papers for 89 constituencies in 11 districts that are going to polls in the first phase of the Assembly elections on May 10.

Many prominent leaders, including BT Srnivas BSP candidate from CV Raman Nagar assembly constituency

the former Deputy Chief Minister Siddaramiah, Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting M.H. Ambareesh, the former Minister D.K. Shivakumar and Mamata Nichani, daughter of the former Chief Minister Ramakrishna Hegde, were among the 619 candidates who filed nominations on Wednesday, the last day for filing nominations for the first phase of elections. The district-wise break-up of the number of nominations filed on Wednesday is as follows: Tumkur (61); Kolar (70); Mysore (138); Hassan (33); Ramangara (63); Bangalore Urban (78); Bangalore Rural (31), Kodagu (19); Chickballapur (31); Mandya (56); Chamarajangar (39) and Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (81). Scrutiny of nominations will be done on April 24 and the last date for withdrawal of nominations is April 26.

Second phase

Fifty-two candidates filed their papers on Wednesday for the second phase of polling that will be held on May 16. Eight candidates each from Bellary and Koppal constituency, seven each from Chitradurga and Shimoga, six from Davangere, three from Uttara Kannada, one from Udupi, two from Chikmagalur and five each from Bellary and Dakshina Kannada districts filed their nominations.

98 papers received in Chamarajanagar

Correspondent

CHAMARAJANAGAR: Fifty-nine nomination papers were filed in Chamarajanagar district by 41 candidates on Wednesday. Twelve nominations were filed in Hanur, nine in Kollegal and 10 each in Gundlupet and Chamarajanagar. With this, 98 nominations have been received.

H.S. Mahadev Prasad of the Congress, S. Shibasappa of the JD (S), C.S. Niranjan Kumar of the BJP, Venkataramana Shetty and Krishnamurthy of the BSP, Dakshayanamma of the SP and L. Nagappa of the Kannada Chaluvalai Vatal Paksha filed papers for Gundlupet seat on Wednesday. Parimala Nagappa of the BSP, R. Narendra of the Congress, Lakshmana of the JD(S), Nagaraju of the RPI and Lakshmi of the SP filed their papers for Hanur seat

K. Siddaraju, Parashiva Murthy, B.K. Shivakumar, Reshma Banu, Selvaraju, Preethan and Ponnachi Mahadevaswamy also filed their papers for Hanur seat as independent candidates.

A.R. Krishnamurthy of the JD(S), R. Druvanarayan of the Congress, N. Mahesh of the BSP, K. Narayan of the SP have filed papers for Kollegal (SC) seat. C. Puttarangashetty of the Congress, M. Shivakumara of the JD(S), Rangaiah of the SP, G.M. Gadkar of the BSP, A.M. Mahesh Prabhu of the Karnataka Sarvodaya Paksha, Esrabulla Khan of the Bharatiya Sahayog Congress filed papers for Chamarajanagar seat. K.P. Mahadevaswamy, Raju, Lakshmana Shetty and Puttaraju filed their papers as independent candidates.

It is 15 from Madikeri, seven from Virajpet

Staff Correspondent



Veena Achaiah of the Congress is the only woman

Scrutiny today; last day for withdrawal is Saturday



Madikeri: As many as 22 persons, including one woman, have filed nomination papers in the two Assembly constituencies in Kodagu, according to information received here on Wednesday.

Of this, 15 persons filed nomination papers in Madikeri constituency and seven in Virajpet. Veena Achaiah, Congress nominee, is the only woman candidate to file nomination papers in Kodagu.

Congress candidate, B.A. Jivijaya, and Janata Dal (S) candidate, K.N. Vasanth, filed nomination papers in Madikeri on Wednesday.

Film actor-director, Jai Jagdish, filed nomination papers as the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate while K.S. Vittal filed nomination papers as BSP candidate and also as an independent. Both Mr. Vittal and Mr. Jai Jagdish have submitted B forms to the election officer, Akram Pasha. Confusion would be cleared on Thursday, it was said.

Others who filed nomination papers from Madikeri on Wednesday as independents were H.D. Sannappa, K.P. Appaiah, K.P. Thammaiah, B. Vishwanath, Sabjan, H.S. Lokesh and H.T. Vasanth.

M.P. Appachu Ranjan of the BJP and Santosh Kumar as an independent filed their nomination papers on Tuesday. Earlier, B.M. Thimmaiah and I.P. Bhaverappa filed their nomination papers as independents from Madikeri, taking the number of candidates to 15 from that constituency. Of the seven candidates in Virajpet, Ms. Veena Achaiah (Congress), K.G. Bopaiah of the BJP, Giri Uthappa of the Samajwadi Party and Mohammad Ali (independent) submitted their nomination papers in Virajpet to the election officer, Mantye Swamy, on Wednesday. C.S. Arun Machaiah of the Janata Dal (S), Kunhi Abdulla of the BSP filed nomination papers earlier while B.G. Raghunath Naik filed nomination papers both as a Congress rebel and independent from Virajpet.

Scrutiny will take place on Thursday and the last date for withdrawal is April 26.

The police enforced the code of conduct in a strict manner. A maximum of five candidates only were allowed to reach the election offices.

Observer

Meanwhile, Expenditure Election Observer to Kodagu, B.S. Nunwal, arrived here on Wednesday and held discussions with Deputy Commissioner K.R. Niranjan and Superintendent of Police Sandeep Patil.

Mr. Nunwal also met with Reena Ray who arrived here as an observer (Madikeri) a couple of days ago.

Micro-observers to ensure fair elections

Special Correspondent



Union Government staff to be appointed

They will report directly to the ECI



MYSORE: The Election Commission has decided to deploy micro-observers in the polling booths in the district in order to ensure free and fair elections.

Deputy Commissioner and district election officer P. Manivannan said micro-observers will oversee the proceedings inside the polling booths and report directly to the Election Commission of India.

This is being introduced for the first time in the State and the authorities plan to rope in Union Government employees, including those from the Railways and the postal department. There are 2,133 polling booths spread over 11 Assembly constituencies, and hence, that many micro-observers will be deployed.

According to a note issued by the Election Commission of India, the role of the observers in ensuring independent, free and fair elections is being strengthened by the deployment of micro-observers. These micro-observers will directly work under the control and supervision of the general observer. Though it has been stated that gazetted officers will be eligible to be deployed as micro-observers, the authorities are also free to rope in Group ‘C’ employees and above if their numbers are not sufficient.

The task of micro-observers is to observe that election process is being carried out in a free and fair manner and there is no vitiation of any kind. They will be specially trained to ensure that the ECI instructions with regard to polling agents are adhered to, conduct of polling agents, and their complaints.

Congress workers ransack party office

Staff Correspondent



Stage protests against denial of ticket to their leaders

Police arrest 15 on charge of destroying property



Chitradurga: Upset over their leaders being denied party ticket, several Congress workers ransacked the party office, damaged public property and staged protests in Chitradurga and Challakere town on Wednesday.

The first incident took place in Challakere when the supporters of the former MLA D. Sudhakar staged a protest outside the party office before damaging furniture and breaking the windowpanes.

Later, they stopped a Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation bus and threw stones at it. The protesters burnt tyres outside the house of Mr. Sudhakar. The police, who tried to control the mob, arrested 15 people on the charge of destroying public property. Later, all of them were released on bail.

Mr. Sudhakar told presspersons that he was not responsible for instigating the violence, and added that it was a spontaneous reaction on part of his supporters. He said he disapproved of the decision of the Congress to field actor Shashikumar Nayak from Challakare.

He said he had recommended the names of Srinivas, Raghumurthy and Eeranna, but the party did not consider them. A similar incident took place in Chitradurga town where several supporters of the former MLA H. Anjaneya held a protest march. Mr. Anjaneya, who recently joined the Congress after quitting the Janata Dal (Secular), had sought to contest from Holalkere. But, the Congress chose to nominate district youth president B. Tippeswamy.

Protest

KOLAR: Expressing displeasure over changing of the candidate, supporters of BJP leader Ramraju staged a protest here on Wednesday. Though Ramraju’s name was cleared by the BJP leadership earlier, it effected a last minute change and reportedly issued “B” form to Sonne Gowda to contest from Kolar constituency. Irked over the development, the supporters of Ramraju gathered at Mekke circle and raised slogans against BJP leadership. Mr. Sonne Gowda is the brother of the former Minister the late C. Byre Gowda. — Staff Correspondent

Preference to youth still a distant dream in Congress

R. Krishna Kumar

Rahul Gandhi’s State visit has little impact on the party



There is hardly any new face in the list

of candidates

The Congress is in the grip of veterans



MYSORE: Billed as an inspiration for the youth in the Congress, the hype surrounding Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Mysore in March left an impression among party workers that the youth brigade indeed had a future in the Congress.

As the visit came in the run-up to the Assembly elections, the Congress workers hoped that the change was in order and the old would give way to the new.

But less than a month after Mr. Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the Mysore region and his much-publicised speeches emphasising the imperatives of giving preference to youngsters in the Congress, it is back to square one within the party, which is virtually in the grip of veterans slogging it out in public.

The squabbling in the party has resulted in an exodus of aspiring leaders to the rival camp, and the old timers are calling the shots.

This is a far cry from the high expectations raised by Mr. Rahul Gandhi who promised greater representation to the youth in the party.

A party leader from H.D. Kote said: “We feel cheated as the party has refused to pay heed to the words of Mr. Rahul Gandhi to encourage youngsters, but is keen on promoting individuals lusting for power.”

There is hardly any new face in the list of candidates announced by the Congress from Mysore and the youngest of the lot is Tanveer Sait who has been allotted ticket to contest from Narasimharaja constituency.

The other familiar faces include the former Mayor Vasu, who will contest from Chamaraja; the former MLA M.K .Somashekar, a follower of Siddaramaiah, who too quit the Janata Dal (Secular) and will contest on Congress ticket from Krishnaraja. The former Union Minister V. Srinivas Prasad, who returned to active politics after a break and recently joined the Congress, has been given ticket to contest from Nanjangud reserved constituency.

One imagined that youngsters in the Congress would plead forcefully for a fair representation, but such hopes have been dashed.

The emphasis is on perceived ability to win seats, and hence, veterans have been preferred over youngsters.

While the youth brigade in the Congress is silent, some of the veterans have raised a banner of revolt against the party leadership over the allotment of ticket.

Veteran Congress leader and former Minister M. Mahadev, who remained steadfast to the party, saw himself being over-shadowed by Mr. Siddaramaiah and quit the party to join the Bharatiya Janata Party.

L. Revannasiddaiah, a senior member of the party and retired Director General of Police, too quit the Congress on being denied ticket to contest from Varuna where Mr. Siddaramaiah is contesting as a Congress candidate. The former Minister M. Shivanna, who was elected from H.D.Kote, was keen on contesting from Nanjangud. But he has been sidelined and the Congress preferred to allot ticket to Mr. Srinivas Prasad. Hence, Mr. Shivanna raised a banner of revolt and explored his chances in the BJP.

He may contest as a “rebel” candidate from Nanjangud.

Contrary to the belief that the youth would be more vociferous in seeking greater representation for them, it is veterans who are flying the banner of revolt while the relatively young in the party have gone into hibernation.

Protesting Congress workers lock party office in Raichur

Staff Correspondent

Demand ticket for Raja Amareshwara Naik from Raichur Rural constituency



Opposition: Congress activists setting tyres on fire in front of the district unit office of the party in Raichur on Wednesday.

Raichur: Tension prevailed for a while on the District Congress Committee office premises here on Wednesday after a group of party workers staged a dharna and locked the office in protest against the denial of the party ticket to the former Minister Raja Amareshwara Naik.

Mr. Amareshwara Naik had sought the party ticket from the Raichur Rural Assembly constituency (earlier Kalmala segment) from where he had won in the 1999 elections.

The district committee had included the name of Mr. Amareshwara Naik in list sent to the party high command for selecting the candidates.

However, on Tuesday, the party announced Raja Rayappa Naik, Mr. Amareshwara Naik’s cousin, as its official candidate for the constituency.

This has disappointed the followers of Mr. Amareshwara Naik. About 1,000 party workers, led by Babu Rao, general secretary of the State unit of the farmers’ wing of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), staged the dharna.

They shouted slogans against Venkatesh Naik, Raichur MP, holding him responsible for the denial of ticket to Mr. Amareshwara Naik. They demanded that district unit president of the party A. Vasanthkumar should bring pressure on the party high command to nominate Mr. Amareshwara Naik as the official candidate from Raichur Rural constituency.

When there was no response from the party leaders who were inside the office, the protesters burnt tyres in front of the gate and locked the main door.

Assurance

Mr. Vasanthkumar appealed to the protesters to withdraw their agitation as the decision on Mr. Rayappa Naik’s candidature was taken by the party high command. The protesters ended the dharna after Mr. Vasanthkumar assured them that he would take up the issue with the party high command.

Later, speaking to presspersons, Mr. Rao said that they were surprised at the candidature of Mr. Rayappa Naik. Mr. Amareshwara Naik’s supporters suspected that the Raichur MP was behind this, he said.

He said that the supporters would take out a protest march from Ambedkar Circle to the Congress office on Thursday and resort to indefinite fast in front of the office until Mr. Amareshwara Naik was nominated from Raichur Rural segment.

Unhappiness over ticket distribution

Special Correspondent

SHIMOGA: Dissidence over the distribution of ticket by the BJP and the Congress in Shimoga district continues unabated with sections of their workers openly expressing unhappiness much to the discomfiture of the leaders of their parties.

The re-nomination of Beluru Gopalakrishna as the BJP candidate for Sagar constituency has angered a section of Brahmins who are demanding that U.H. Ramappa be nominated as the party candidate.

Expressing their unhappiness at a meeting at Sagar on Wednesday which was attended by Mr. Ramappa, the leaders of the Brahmin community decided to take a delegation to the party’s leaders, including B.S. Yeddyurappa and D.V. Sadananda Gowda, seeking a change in the candidate already announced by accommodating Mr. Ramappa in Gopalakrishna’s place.

There is a resistance to the candidature of Hartalu Halappa too as the BJP candidate from Sorab constituency from the local unit of the party on the ground that Mr. Halappa is an outsider.

Barring these two constituencies, the BJP has no problem as far as candidates selected for the other five constituencies in the district are concerned.

There seems to be no end to the confusion in the Congress camp. The only constituencies where it has been done without any hitch are Sorab and Sagar for which Kumar Bangarappa and former Minister Kagodu Thimmappa have been re-nominated.

While the Congress is yet to announce its candidates for Shimoga city, Shimoga Rural (reserved) and Shikaripur constituencies, the BJP has nominated K.G. Kumaraswamy as its candidate for Shimoga Rural constituency.

Police seize liquor worth over Rs. 1 crore across State

Staff Reporter



Twelve have been injured so far in poll-related incidents



Bangalore: Nearly Rs. 14 crore in cash and liquor worth over Rs. 1.15 crore, has been seized across the State by the State police so far.

Over 2,000 cases have been booked in relation to the violation of the election code of conduct. Related violence resulted in injuries to 12 persons and loss of property has been estimated at over Rs. 50 lakh.

Speaking to presspersons here on Wednesday, the Director-General and Inspector-General of Police K.R. Srinivasan said that the police have also seized cash amounting to Rs. 13.97 crore, which, allegedly was meant to be distributed among the voters.

Property

While 29 cases have been registered under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code and Representation of People’s Act with regard to the distribution or attempt to distribute articles to induce voters, Rs. 75 lakh worth of property has been seized, he added. The department, he said, has so far warned 4,484 history sheeters to keep peace across the State, while 1,977 cases have been booked under the preventive sections.

An estimated 155 cases have been booked under the Prevention of Disfigurement of Public Places Act and 626 cases for violation of the Karnataka Excise Act.

So far, the department has seized Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL), spirit and illicit liquor worth Rs. 1.15 crore.

Criminal cases

He said: “Criminal cases numbering to 353 have been registered under the IPC, Karnataka Excise Act and RP Act throughout the State in election-related cases.”

Mr. Srinivasan also said that 12 persons have been injured in election-related incidents. This includes the cases registered in connection with the protests, dharna against parties, attack on their party offices, attack of public transport, and many more. So far, property worth Rs. 50.6 lakh has been damaged in election-related incidents.

Helplines for candidates

Following threatening SMSes received by the candidates contesting in the Assembly elections, the State police has introduced four phone lines to probe into the messages that are received on mobile phones of candidates. The new phone numbers to which messages can be forwarded to are 94806 90069/ 70/ 71 and 72.

Quick aid

Mr. Srinivasan said: “Candidates can forward the threatening and objectionable messages that they receive, along with the details.”

If the messages are forwarded, it will help the department to apprehend the persons who send such messages, he added

Saris seized in Bellary

Staff Correspondent



Prize catch: The bundles containing saris that were seized from a godown in Bellary on Wednesday.

BELLARY: The Brucepet police on Wednesday raided a transport godown behind Sangam cinema and seized 92 sari bundles valued at about Rs. 20 lakh.

Additional Superintendent of Police F.A. Trasgar said the sari bundles had come from Hyderabad and were booked in the name of several individuals without proper addresses. Each bundle contained 180 saris.

He said that 142 boxes containing liquor were also seized from a farm house in Hosahalli police station limits in Kudligi taluk. The value of the seized material was put at around Rs. 1.42 lakh.

Helpline

BIDAR: People can contact the helpline setup at the Deputy Commissioner’s office on Ph: 222755 for election-related information.

Voters can get confirmation on the inclusion of their names in electoral list, change in polling booths and other election-related information through the helpline, a press release said here on Wednesday.

— Staff Correspondent

Code Violation whom to contact

 

Have you come accross the instances of violation of code of conduct, mainly related to illegal banners, hoardings, posters, among others by workers of political parties?

If yes, then tip off the membersof the Task Forces constituted to initiate action against such cases. The nodal officers of the Task Force and member from the police departmentcan be contacted through the following phone numbers.

 

C.V. Raman Nagar        Prakash (EE)                                                       9448137831

                                         K.S.Nagaraj(Police Inspector)                         9448537577

K.R.Puram                               Prakash Kumar                                            25617051/ 9845100283

Mahalakshmi Layout            Keera nayak (EE)                                           9880001628

                                                   Ramakrishna(Pl,Mahalakshmi Layout)   9448150945

Malleswaram                          NP Chandrasekar(EE)                                   22975610

                                                   Mohammed Aslam(Pl,Malleshwaram)       9900902525

Hebbal                                       Lakshmeesha(EE)                                          998044418

Pulikeshinagar                      Maradi rangappa (AEE)                                 9448432772

                                                  Rajesh (Police Inspector, DG Halli)            9902422332

Congress list surprises many

T.V. Sivanandan



Party announced names for seven of 13 segments in Gulbarga district

Vaijnath Patil denied ticket from Gulbarga South



GULBARGA: A revolt is brewing in the Congress over the denial of party ticket to senior leaders, including three-time MLA Shivashekarappa Patil Sirwal, the former Minister Vaijnath Patil, who sought ticket from Gulbarga South, and the former Minister and two-time MLA G. Ramakrishna.

Supporters of the former Minister Qamarul Islam have not taken it kindly in not clearing his name for the Muslim-dominated Gulbarga North constituency. An uneasy calm prevailed among the supporters of Mr. Islam over the reports that the party was considering to field sitting Gulbarga Lok Sabha member Iqbal Ahmed Saradgi from the constituency.

There were several surprises in the candidatures announced for seven of the 13 Assembly constituencies in the district, including the selection of the former Mayor Chandrika Parameshwar to contest from Gulbarga Rural constituency rejecting the candidature of the former Minister and two-time MLA from Kamalapur G. Ramakrishna, which has been abolished and amalgamated in the newly formed Gulbarga Rural Assembly constituency, which has been reserved for Scheduled Castes.

Ms. Parameshwar is daughter of the former Rajya Sabha MP and Madiga community leader the late Gundappa Korwar. Although Mr. Ramakrishna, who also belongs to the Madiga community, had lost the Kamalapur seat to BJP leader and former Minister Revu Naik Belamgi, there was a possibility of him being retained in Gulbarga Rural constituency since he was a popular leader and had the necessary resources to fight the elections.

The denial of ticket to Mr. Sirwal from Shahapur was on cards after his political rival Sharanabasappa Dharshanapur joined the Congress under the leadership of the former Deputy Chief Minister M.P Prakash.

Another surprising announcement is the denial of party ticket to Vaijnath Patil, who wanted to contest from Gulbarga South constituency.

HD Kumaraswamy criticised Congress leader B. Janardhana Poojary for stating that the JD(S) would not cross two-digit figures in the elections. The voters would prove him wrong, he added.

 

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Congmen oppose ticket to Hegde’s daughter
DH News Service, Bangalore:
The decision by Congress High Command to field former chief minister Ramakrishna Hegde’s daughter Mamta Nichani against former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy in Ramanagara has met with strong resistance from a section of local Congress leaders.

When Mamta went to Ramanagara on Wednesday, a group of workers led by former Taluk Panchayat member Manjula Maridevaru strongly protested against the High Command’s decision.

They raised slogans against Nichani and other leaders and demanded that a local candidate be given ticket in place of Mamta Nichani. Former MLA from Ramanagara C M Lingappa, who has already filed his nomination for the seat, has decided to bow in favour of the official Congress candidate

Independent

“I have filed my nomination as an independent candidate, but I will withdraw my nomination on April 26 and support whoever is being fielded as candidate by the Congress party,” Lingappa said adding that he was not upset over the denial of ticket.

Ramesh turns rebel

Former mayor P R Ramesh, who has been replaced by R V Devaraj as Congress candidate for Chikpet constituency, has rebelled against the party. He has decided to enter the fray as an independent candidate.

Mr Ramesh fumed at the party leadership for dropping him from the list following pressure from Mr Devaraj.

“The party has let me down at the last moment. I have served the party at various capacity for over 25 years. My name was announced in the first list and I was about to be handed over the B-form on Monday. But now following pressure, Devaraj has been given ticket. My followers want me to fight against the injustice and I have decided to enter the fray,” Ramesh stated.

Thursday, Apr 24, 2008

Body set up for Bundelkhand
Siddharth Kalhans / Lucknow April 24, 2008

Amidst its political battle with the Congress over Bundelkhand, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) government in Uttar Pradesh has created a separate corporation for the development of the region.

Besides, UP Chief Minister Mayawati has removed the commissioner of Jhansi who had met Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on the issue of non-implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

The Bundelkhand Development Corporation is the first such body in the state. Its priorities include starting new projects for the development of the region, helping in setting up of industries and providing safe drinking water.

 

 


Son rises, party sets


The Congress has, of late, been palpably distracted from its immediate task of preparing for the coming electoral battle. The reason for losing its sense of priorities is linked to its obsession with promoting Rahul Gandhi as the new leader

The Congress is getting increasingly trapped into spending most of its energies inflating the Rahul Gandhi balloon, instead of focussing on the coming Lok Sabha election. Over the past few months, both the party leadership and the grassroots organisation have been palpably distracted from their immediate task of ensuring as many seats as possible in the imminent electoral battle. Clearly, the reason for losing a sense of political priorities is linked to the current obsession gripping the party to somehow build the image of the young prince.


Nothing illustrates better the current waste of political zeal than the recent caper by Mr Gandhi in the backwaters of Uttar Pradesh. Now this is a State where the Congress has virtually extinguished itself and it is too late for the party to even partially revive itself before the general election.

Unfortunately for the Congress, the Gandhi family’s past links with Uttar Pradesh continues to conjure up the delusion of the party’s relevance in the country’s largest State. This led Mr Gandhi to launch a needless campaign against the resident political deity, Ms Mayawati, which has brought the Congress no advantage but eminently suited the BSP supremo’s national ambitions.

Ms Mayawati has swiftly picked up the gauntlet thrown down by the young Gandhi knowing that the conflict amplified by media hype across the country will only add to her national stature.

On the other hand, the Congress has not only ended up with egg on its face in Uttar Pradesh, losing all the by-elections, most of them ignominiously. By pitching Mr Gandhi against Ms Mayawati, the Congress has lost vital Original Inhabitants of Jambudvipa that is the Great Prabuddha Bharath votes in adjoining States like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi because like her or not, Ms Mayawati is an icon among the Original Inhabitants of Jambudvipa that is the Great Prabuddha Bharath community in these States, particularly the younger lot. This is suicidal at a time when the Congress needs every vote possible in what could turn out to be a very open ended Lok Sabha election next year.

There is also considerable confusion on who is calling the shots in the Congress at the moment. At times, it is the emerging figure of Mr Digvijay Singh that seems to dominate with his confrontationist in-your-face campaign against the BSP regime in Uttar Pradesh, propelling Mr Gandhi’s antics in the State. But the backroom manoeuvres of Ms Priyanka Vadra - a political hothead from all accounts - are believed to also cast a long shadow on the Congress. It remains to be seen how all this aggressive posturing gels with the status quo politics of Ms Sonia Gandhi.

To compound matters, there also seems to be a fair degree of uncertainty in the Congress high command on how far to pitch Mr Gandhi’s image. The growing chorus of Congress cheerleaders demanding Mr Gandhi be projected as the next Prime Minister suggested at one point that the party had decided to go in for a drastic change of leadership. But the sudden shift of gears by the official announcement of Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Nathrajan, clearly sponsored by Ms Gandhi, that the Prime Minister’s position was not vacant and that Congressmen should not behave like sycophants indicates that the mother is still reluctant to push the son directly into the firing line.

There is little doubt that the electoral outcome of next month’s Karnataka Assembly election and later of Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Delhi this winter will determine how much the Rahul Gandhi balloon will be blown up. If the Congress wins everything in sight, the aggressive build-up of the young prince will continue full steam ahead. On the other hand, adverse results even in some of the State Assembly elections could provoke the Congress president to quickly withdraw the Gandhi scion from leading the battle lest he get badly burned by an electoral debacle in the Lok Sabha election.

With less than a year left, the Congress is caught in an unenviable dilemma on whether to adopt a risky aggressive or a pragmatic defensive one. However, this kind of low key approach would hardly build up Mr Gandhi’s image as the dynamic young leader of the party.

The obvious confusion within the Congress leadership on whether to blow hot or cold about the elections has severely handicapped the party’s abilities to take advantage of a similar crisis of leadership in its principal opponent, the BJP. Under normal circumstances, the disarray within the BJP, most recently underlined by the revolt of Mr Gopinath Munde in Maharashtra, should have given a major leg up to the Congress’s electoral ambitions. But caught in two minds about how to prepare best for the coming elections, the Congress continues to look downcast even as its traditional rival flounders around in its own organisational morass.

With both the Congress and the BJP in a state of disorder, the door appears to have been opened for BSP but politically more virile party that has no-nonsense strategies to maximise whatever strengths on the ground it has. Indeed, there is already a buzz across the political spectrum anticipating an unprecedented political scenario where the three national political poles so far, the Right-wing BJP, centrist Congress and the Left Front may no longer play the role of the main mover and shaker. It would be indeed a major irony of history if even as the Congress debates on whether to project Mr Gandhi as the next Prime Minister or not, the very parameters of Indian politics are in the process of being re-defined.

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