Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by A.V., Mar 6, 2009.
news related to the lok sabha elections 2009 here.
It'll be a tough choice for voters
As the countdown for the Lok Sabha election begins, two issues are foremost in the minds of politicians and their array of strategists.
The first — and this is not a piece of flippancy — is the emergence of the IPL T20 tournament (scheduled between April 10 and May 24) as a weapon of mass distraction.
Throughout the election campaign the mind-space of nearly every Indian with access to a TV set and some evening leisure time will be dominated by the intricacies of pyjama cricket. Since politics has been deemed ignoble, it seems unlikely that the nuances of rival campaigns will either be appreciated or absorbed in totality.
The IPL may yet prove to be the opium of the voting classes by lulling India into the belief that it doesn’t matter who runs the country so long as there are runs to cheer.
This is bad news for democracy and ominous for the BJP which depends far more than the Congress on the middle-classes and self-motivated voters. Unless the BJP can inspire enough of its natural supporters to take the trouble of standing in a queue and voting, it will be seriously disadvantaged against a Congress that banks on bloc votes.
The marginalisation of politics in the IPL season has another implication. With popular attention on more pressing subjects and less time for humdrum election meetings, there is likely to be diminishing returns from refinement and subtlety.
Like the premium attached to targeted cross bat shots in the truncated version of an evolved game, an effective political campaign could be the one that doesn’t bother with too many niceties.
This could well become a source of anxiety for a Congress which seems to be creating a campaign based on an optical illusion. In principle, the party has repeatedly insisted that Manmohan Singh will be its prime ministerial candidate.
Despite his prolonged absence from work, the spin doctors of the Congress have let it be known that the PM is recovering fast, spending time on the treadmill and itching to go to Parliament. It has been suggested that he will be back on combat duty from March 8.
Throughout the country the PM’s image is that of a bhala aadmi, the archetypal good soul. Cutting across the political divide, people wish him well and hope for his quick recovery. Unlike, say, Britain where Antony Eden and Harold Macmillan had to step down in similar circumstances, a sense of decency has deterred the political class from questioning his ability to shoulder the burdens of the top job.
Yet, despite this touching show of generosity, the Congress campaign has portrayed Singh as the incidental add-on of a triumvirate — the other two, quite predictably, being the mother-son duo-seeking re-election.
The stand alone campaign of the Congress is centred on Rahul Gandhi who, the hoardings say, will bring about the seamless transition from a glorious present to a spectacular future.
This is what makes the Congress campaign an optical illusion. The proclaimed candidate for PM is, as Punjabis say, a good man di lalten but the person being projected is Rahul.
The question naturally arises: is Singh the mukhauta who will quietly step aside for the real prime ministerial candidate after the election is won? Or is he just a night-watchman?
The voters have a right to know. They need to know the identity and credentials of the leader who will have to cope with an economic crisis of horrible proportions and deal with a reinvigorated Taliban that — as Arun Jaitley helpfully reminded us last week — is just a five-hour drive from Delhi (longer if they use the infamous BRT).
Is Rahul up to the mark? For that matter is Singh or Advani? These are questions that demand answers but the campaign may not provide it. Singh won’t be a visible campaigner and Rahul will merely wave and sign autographs. At least two wannabe PMs won’t be subjected to public scrutiny.
The habitually indignant have objected to Narendra Modi comparing Rahul to a goldfish in an aquarium. Maybe he should have alluded to a bonsai plant. The issue isn’t the metaphor, it’s one of effective communication.
The pundits are yet to come to terms with the demise of leisurely politics, when public figures reacted to the previous day’s news after reading the next day’s newspapers, and when A B Vajpayee used double entendre to devastating effect.
In the IPL age, you don’t stroke a ball, you bludgeon it. This is a new age where you can’t hope to get away proclaiming that while a slumdog can be a millionaire, only a Gandhi can be king.
Catching them young: Advani surfs net, Rahul legs it out
5 Mar 2009, 1242 hrs IST, IANS
NEW DELHI: One is 81 years old, the other 38. But each is taking a leaf out of the other's book in the hope of catching young voters in the upcoming parliamentary polls.
The Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) prime ministerial hopeful, LK Advani, is journeying across cyberspace like Gen Y, while the Congress' youth icon and general secretary Rahul Gandhi is walking to the doorsteps of young voters - something the former has done all his life.
There are 43 million new voters in the electoral rolls for the April-May polls and a bulk of them are in the 18-30 age group. The younger voters are not believed to be loyal to any particular party - and so it makes sense for politicians to try and impress them.
"We will vote for the one who gives our village a degree college. Age, experience and party don't matter," says 20-something Chandrashekhar Singh, a student from Sarai Meer village in Uttar Pradesh's Azamgarh district.
Tanu Sehgal, 24, working in a music production house in Delhi, says: "I will consider voting for a well-educated and experienced politician. Age for me is not a factor."
And these are the votes that are being eyed.
While Advani has launched an internet campaign through Google and put it up on 2,000 websites, the Congress general secretary is travelling across the country, reaching out to people and mingling with youngsters.
The BJP has often said it has more young chief ministers than the Congress and harps on Advani's five decades of experience as against the sheltered existence of Rahul.
The Congress on its part maintains Manmohan Singh will continue to lead the government but has unleashed Rahul across the country to suggest it has young energy that others lack. So, basically, the party is offering a combination of Manmohan Singh's experience and the energy of Rahul Gandhi.
Who will succeed is anybody's guess. "Youth is not a monolithic category. Their aspirations and choices would vary with urban and rural areas, caste groups, class differences, religious background and sometimes linguistic divisions," sociologist T.K. Oommen told IANS.
Tony P. Emmanuel, a postgraduate degree holder in Kerala's Ernakulam city, said: "Old leaders of political parties are mostly conservative. The majority of them think only on their party lines.
"The young blood thinks in a broader sense. They are revolutionaries and can see revolutionary change if they are given an opportunity to rule," said Tony, in his early 30s. He took to farming after studies.
The fight is intense since youngsters may not yet have firmed up their choices.
After sweating it out for five decades in the hurly burly of politics, Advani has lately been seen trying out weights at a gymnasium, launching his website and chatting online.
Manvendra Singh, 44, son of senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh, said there is nothing wrong with Advani "moving with the times and it is good". As for lifting weights, he told IANS: "It is the energy of his mind."
Another BJP campaign called [email protected] has been launched where canvassers contact students on as many as 5,000 campuses across the country.
While Advani himself will not visit most of the colleges, Gandhi has been going to campuses.
Just like his father the late Rajiv Gandhi, the young Congressman was ushered into the organisation as general secretary and put in charge of the Youth Congress and the National Students of Union of India (NSUI), the party's student wing.
"Rahulji wants to bring more and more youth into mainstream politics. He wants objectivity in the appointments made in the Youth Congress and to introduce organisational democracy," says Ashok Tanwar, national president of the youth wing.
Young Congress MP Milind Deora says youth today want development-oriented politics and not rhetoric. "The young are fed up of old ways of politics. They are fed up of rhetoric. They want a shift of 180 degrees from rhetoric to development."
But BJP MP Manvendra Singh opines: "The expectations are no different than other voters. It all depends on how you campaign, it depends on how you do your social engineering."
There are in all 714 million eligible electors this time.
BJP-BJD alliance split in Orissa
IANS l First Published : 07 Mar 2009 10:53:51 PM IST
Last Updated : 07 Mar 2009 11:57:21 PM IST
BHUBANESWAR: The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) late Saturday announced that they would fight Lok Sabha and assembly elections in Orissa separately, ending their decade-long alliance.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who heads the BJD, told reporters here that his party will fight the Lok Sabha and assembly elections alone.
The BJD and BJP jointly fought the Lok Sabha polls in 1998, 1999 and 2004 and the assembly elections of 2000 and 2004.
In both assembly polls, the BJD contested 84 seats and BJP 63. In the general elections, the BJD contested 12 seats and BJP nine.
The trouble started when the BJD said it wanted to contest more seats in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls as its popularity had increased. But BJP leaders wanted to maintain the old ratio.
Patnaik and BJP MP Chandan Mitra held talks over seat sharing that failed to break the deadlock, leading to the formal announcement.
Shocked BJP blames BJD for alliance breakdown
8 Mar 2009, 1221 hrs IST, TIMESOFINDIA.COM
NEW DELHI: After losing a critical ally in BJD, a shocked BJP chief Rajnath Singh on Sunday said that he could not "ever imagine" that Naveen Patnaik-led party would snap the 11-year-old ties with the saffron party which is now working on a fresh strategy ahead of the polls.
"I feel it is unfortunate. We could not ever imagine that the BJP-BJD alliance would break down," Singh said.
Speaking exclusively to Times Now, Rajnath Singh said, "I am shocked at the decision...Naveen Patnaik never indicated his dissatisfaction with the alliance."
Singh said the party had sent senior MP Chandan Mitra to 'amicably resolve the issue', but is disappointed by the outcome.
"It was a decision of the BJD to break the alliance. Our party leaders are meeting to chalk out a future course of action," the BJP leader said.
According to a PTI report, the BJP has not given up and the top leadership has activated "unofficial channels" to rescue the alliance.
"The late-night happening was unfortunate. It is not beneficial for both BJP and BJD. Non-Congress vote is sure to be divided but all is not over," a top party leader said.
The sources said that BJP is trying to convince the BJD that the Lok Sabha and the assembly elections under President's rule would be damaging to the Patnaik's party.
The only fear for the saffron brigade is of BJD siding with the Third Front, they said.
Apart from Orissa, the party is slated to discuss coalition developments in Bihar, Maharashtra, Punjab and Haryaana as it is worried that the Orissa developments could trigger more tantrums from allies like JD(U) in Bihar and the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra.
L.K. Advani, who is slated to address a rally in Dehradun later in the day, would be rushing back to the capital to attend the crucial meet on Sunday evening.
The development is perceived as a setback to the 'Advani for PM' campaign.
Late Saturday night, the BJP-BJD alliance ended after the talks over seat-sharing in the forthcoming Lok Sabha and assembly polls failed.
The BJP withdrew support from the Navin Patnaik led government and demanded the imposition of President's rule in the state.
India slumps, Bharat rises, Congress smiles
Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar
For decades, voters have thrown out virtually every incumbent government in New Delhi. Going by history, the current incumbent - the UPA coalition
headed by the Congress Party - should be heading for a thrashing, the more so because of the economic slowdown. GDP growth decelerated sharply to 5.3% in the October-December quarter, down from 8.9% in the same quarter of 2007.
Yet, the Congress mood is upbeat. Rural India appears to be doing well, and 70% of the population is rural. The Congress believes that Bharat (rural India) is shining even if India is slumping, and this can take it to victory.
The BJP, of course, disagrees. It says that in October-December, agricultural GDP fell 2.2% against a rise of 6.9% in the same quarter in 2007. Farmers continue to commit suicide in various states. Finally, manufacturing has come to a shuddering halt - its growth was sub zero in the last quarter. This means fewer jobs for migrants from rural states to once-booming cities. So, says the BJP, Bharat is slumping no less than India, and the Congress will get whipped.
There is something in both viewpoints, but the Congress has the stronger facts. A record 15 million new cellphone connections were sold in January, up from 10 million in earlier months, and this smells of rural prosperity (urban centres are largely saturated already). Hero Honda's sales of motorcycles, which focus on rural areas, rose 24% in
February. Despite the economic slowdown, sales of fast-moving consumer goods have been rising briskly, especially in small towns and rural areas. This is hard evidence of rural prosperity.
Even so, the UPA will probably lose some ground. The Times of India estimates that the Congress will get 146 seats this time against 145 last time, but weaker performance from its allies will reduce the UPA tally to 201 seats, from 228 last time. This would be well short of a majority, yet marginally ahead of the BJP-led NDA (195).
Now, the Times of India estimate could prove quite wrong. But it reflects the upbeat Congress mood. And it reflects my personal experience during the Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan state election campaign last November-December. The economic slowdown was already two months old, yet both Congress and BJP politicians agreed that the global meltdown was a non-issue for voters, since job losses were not really deep.
Three of the five incumbents (in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh) were re-elected in the November-December state elections. There was a voting swing against incumbents almost everywhere, but it was too mild to dislodge most incumbents. Voters were not as angry as usual.
Why not? Because agriculture had been doing well, averaging almost 4% growth for five years. Historically, bumper harvests usually mean low prices, and high prices usually mean bad harvests. But currently farmers are enjoying both bumper harvests and high prices.
Is this year's harvest really good? The October-December data show a fall in agricultural GDP of 2.2%. This is misleading. First, growth in the same quarter of 2007 was a huge 6.9%, and decline from such a high base is not bad. Second, agricultural GDP grew at 3% and 2.7% in the two earlier quarters, so the third quarter decline may be a blip. Third, high agricultural prices mean that farmers may be better off even despite smaller harvests. For instance, cotton production has fallen 14.4%, but the minimum support price is up 40%, so cotton farmers are happy. Sugarcane is down 16.6%, but this is largely because farmers have switched to highly profitable wheat.
North India had a bumper monsoon this time. But rainfall was seriously deficient in some parts of central India and the Deccan. In these regions the voter mood could be strongly anti-incumbent.
The Consumer Price Index for Rural Labour was up a whopping 11.35% in January, mainly due to high food prices. But good job opportunities thrown up by buoyant agriculture for several years, plus the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, have combined to keep rural wages high. Several states have revised minimum wages upward, benefiting workers under NREGS, and hence, assuaging voter anger.
In cities, there is no employment guarantee, job growth is slowing and many small businesses and hawkers are suffering. Sheila Dikshit was re-elected in Delhi last December. But conditions have worsened a lot since then, and urban voters may be in an angry mood by the general election in May.
On balance, the Congress is not badly placed. Even if it loses some seats, it could emerge as the largest single party. Whether it can cobble together a majority coalition is another matter.
700 Trinamool Congress workers join CPI-M in West Bengal
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Kolkata: West Bengal Transport Minister and senior Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Subhas Chakraborty has said that 700-odd Trinamool Congress workers have joined the CPI-M in Howrah district's Uluberia Lok Sabha constituency.
"Around 700 Trinamool Congress activists have joined our party (CPI-M) before the Lok Sabha polls, as they were dissatisfied with the Trinamool's ideology," Chakraborty claimed Saturday while addressing a political gathering.
Talking about the seat sharing agreement between the Congress and the Trinamool, he said, "The alliance will not affect the communist vote bank in the state in the coming Lok Sabha elections."
"We're not bothered about this at all," he added.
When asked if the CPI-M has offered membership to these 700-odd Trinamool workers, Chakraborty said the party would take that decision later.
The ruling Left Front has fielded CPI-M candidate Hannan Mollah from the Uluberia seat for the coming Lok Sabha poll, while Trinamool has pitted Sultan Ahmed from the same seat.
Third Front not to project anyone as PM candidate: Naidu
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Hyderabad:Telugu Desam Party president N. Chandrababu Naidu Sunday said the Third Front would not project any leader as Prime Minister candidate.
Expressing confidence that the Third Front would form the next government at the centre, Naidu, a key leader of the grouping, said the new prime minister would be announced after elections through consensus among all the constituents.
The former Andhra Pradesh chief minister predicted 1996-like results. He was talking to reporters here before leaving for New Delhi to attend a dinner hosted by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)leader and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati for Third Front leaders.
Naidu's comments were significant in view of the reports that Maywati was keen to be projected as a prime minister candidate. He claimed that Maywati had not made any such demand and blamed media for the confusion.
He said several political parties have come together to work before the elections and they will form a coalition after the polls.
"There are so many parties and we have to work with them. We have to bring consensus. Then only we can announce a name (for prime minister)," he said.
Naidu recalled that since 1996 all the alliances at the centre were formed only after the elections. Even the present United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the earlier National Democratic Alliance (NDA) were formed after the polls.
"We are trying to provide an alternative. 1996 will be repeated when all the parties had contested independently and after the elections joined hands to provide good governance," he said.
Called United Front, these parties provided two short-lived governments led by H.D.Deve Gowda and I.K. Gujral before the polls paved the way for the BJP-led NDA regimes with Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the prime minister.
Source: Indo-Asian News Service
Mayawati decides: BSP will fight polls alone
After 'peaceful booth capturing', now 'silent intimidation'
15 Mar 2009, 2118 hrs IST, PTI
NEW DELHI: The Election Commission on Sunday came out with a new coinage -- "silent intimidation" of voters -- saying there could be a situation where the polling was peaceful but not fair.
Booths are usually marked "sensitive" and "hyper- sensitive" on grounds of chances of booth capturing and violence, but there could be a situation of "silent intimidation" of voters preventing people from coming to cast their votes.
"Observers have been told that by around 11:30 to 12 noon, they could look at the electoral rolls, and if certain pages are missing that itself should give a clue...," CEC N Gopalaswami said at a press conference here.
But, before that they need to identify with the help of local officers the areas where people can be intimidated and prevented from voting, he said.
The CEC said the vulnerability mapping was successfully implemented in some constituencies in Uttar Pradesh.
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Third Front constituents wary of Maya's ambitions
Third Front constituents wary of Maya's ambitions
Only 29 women get BJP ticket for election
Saturday, March 21, 2009
NEW DELHI: The candidates announced by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the Lok Sabha elections feature only 29 women among 306 of its candidates declared so far.
The women make up less than 10 percent. Seven women in Uttar Pradesh, five in Madhya Pradesh; three each in Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal; two each in Rajasthan and Orissa; and one each in Haryana, Karnataka, Assam and Kerala have been given tickets. The women who got the BJP tickets include former union ministers Sumitra Mahajan (Indore), Maneka Gandhi (Aonla-UP) and Bijoya Chakraborty (Guwahati), former Madhya Pradesh minister Yashodhara Raje Scindia (Gwalior) and former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s niece Karuna Shukla. iftikhar gilani
Lalu signals breaking ties with Congress
22 Mar 2009, 0302 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: RJD supremo Lalu Prasad on Saturday broke his silence on the Bihar upheaval and signalled snapping of ties with the Congress marking RJD-LJP to fight sans Congress in Bihar unravelling the UPA in a state in which it swept to power the last time, in what could potentially set the stage for the Congress-led combine's slide in the war of perceptions ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. ( Watch )
A stung Lalu Prasad reacted angrily to Congress embracing his rebel brother-in-law Sadhu who met Sonia Gandhi in the morning, ridiculing its demand for more than three seats given to it as divorced from ground realities. An angry Lalu said the Congress was preparing for 2014 elections.
The RJD supremo, who has another UPA ally, Ramvilas Paswan, on his side, also confirmed that he has firmed up plans for a joint campaign with Mulayam Singh Yadav which could lead to the formation of a new "secular' bloc aligned neither to the Congress nor the Third Front and which could influence the post-poll sweepstakes.
The estrangement, which is a blow to the Congress' chances of retaining the leadership of the next coalition at the Centre, coincided with deepening worries over the outcome of alliance talks in Tamil Nadu, with growing indications that the PMK may go with the AIADMK.
Whether the loss of the Vanniyar outfit would be compensated by the induction of actor Vijaykant's DMDK in the Congress-DMK alliance was an open question. But the Congress suddenly appeared to be losing the edge it seemed to have had in the game of alliance in a manner reminiscent of the way the NDA frittered away its advantage five years ago.
The perception that the 2009 contest could go to the wire was reinforced by the RJD's decision to field four candidates -- two more than Congress had left for it - in Jharkhand, and the dissension in the Rajasthan coalition, with Meena leader Kirorilal suddenly upping the ante.
In a serious amplification by the RJD, Lalu on Saturday afternoon dismissed speculation that he had sought time from Sonia Gandhi to defuse the situation. In fact, he charged that Sonia was being misled by her advisors whom he derisively referred to as "munshis, managers and think-tanks".
While the former Bihar chief minister claimed he was still part of the UPA and was not resigning as railways minister, there was no mistaking the all-out war between the two staunch allies who have been the biggest stabilising agents in the Manmohan Singh regime. In fact, Lalu said almost as much: "We are in a war," he said as he refused to concede even one seat.
While this creates the real risk of Congress drawing a blank, the latter was on a warpath. AICC pointsperson Sushil Kumar Shinde announced that the Congress would contest all but three of the 40 seats which include two from which Lalu plans to contest and one against LJP chief Paswan.
The Saturday faceoff completed the unravelling of the UPA in Bihar which started with RJD and LJP apportioning 37 of the 40 seats among themselves earlier this week. While it was speculated that Lalu Prasad may step up to bring about a rapprochement, his no-holds-barred press conference has queered the pitch for peace-hopefuls.
The decision to induct Sadhu Yadav, who is seen by many as symbolizing the wrongs associated with the Lalu-Rabri raj, pointed to its intent. The party was clearly not concerned about the damage to its own credentials.
The Congress bravado is dictated by the calculations that both Yadav leaders are weak on their home turfs and unexpected to return figures which would make them a dominant voice in future politics of a secular formation.
While the estimate may not be too far off the mark as per indications, Congress strategists are unlikely to be comforted by the fact that bitterness among allies in UP and Bihar seems to have provided a readymade platform for secular parties looking for a foothold with greater bargaining space. The post-poll scenario could be volatile if the Congress fails to score a big enough tally to secure its position as leader of the anti-NDA alliance.
In such a situation, NCP chief Sharad Pawar is another player whose post-poll movements are speculated to be on the anti-Congress axis while, sources said, leadership of PMK is open to siding with parties rooting for a government
not led by the Congress.
In fact, even the CPM, which is the author of the Third Front, has made it clear that it would not mind seeking support from the Congress for forming the next government.
While debates over positioning for power in 2009 seem confined to the "secular fold'', be it the UPA or a ginger UPA group or the Third Front, the squabbles within the Congress-led bloc are sure to warm the cockles of the NDA as they compromise the advantage Congress had logged over the BJP in alliance-making.
i wanted bjp to win this time......but i know this is a pipe dream...
narendra modi sure would make a great PM....but there is so much anarchy in BJP right now that even a bjp supporter like me dosent have any choice but to vote for cong
For all Narendra Modi's achievements, his administrative prowess and exceptional management skill, I would rather not have a man guilty of complicity in the most heinous riots of our times as our Prime Minister. There is nothing more important than the secular cohesiveness and integrity of this country...NOTHING, and until Modi relinquishes the vicious communal ideologies and violent fundamentalism that he has made his own, he is anything BUT a viable alternative. 'Tis enough that we have enemies without, without making enemies of ourselves within.
EC finds Varun Gandhi guilty of provocative speech
23 Mar 2009, 0330 hrs IST, TNN
NEW DELHI: In a severe indictment of Varun Gandhi, the Election Commission said his communal speeches were an unpardonable act and asked the BJP not to field him as a candidate for the Lok Sabha elections. ( Watch )
EC sources said it would now ask the UP government to expedite investigation of the criminal case against Varun and the state chief electoral officer to monitor it. In case of delay, the EC is likely to approach the Allahabad High Court seeking a ban on Varun contesting the election.
The BJP's statement dissociating itself from Varun's speech saved the party from an indictment by the poll panel. While asking the BJP not to field Varun, the EC said: "Any such move would be perceived as endorsing his unpardonable acts of inciting violence and creating feelings of enmity and hatred between different classes of citizens of India, destroying the social, democratic and plural fabric of the country, as enshrined in the Constitution of India."
Saying it was unconvinced by Varun's explanation, the EC termed his reply a recourse to "wriggle out of the situation which he has created by making inflammatory and highly derogatory speeches".
The EC said it was not convinced with Varun Gandhi's explanation on his communal speech. "The main plank of his defence was that the CD containing the recording of his impugned speeches was doctored so as to politically malign him. The commission is far from convinced with such bold assertions. He has not denied anywhere in his explanation that he held the meetings covered and recorded in the CD and that he addressed the audience at those meetings and made speeches thereat. The commission has seen the CD, not once but several times, and is fully convinced that the CD has not been tampered with, doctored or morphed, as alleged by the respondent," EC explained.
EC also did not buy Varun's defence that there was a delay in making the CD public. "Any delay in the surfacing of the CD does not lessen the gravity of the offensive statements made by him. Also, the late surfacing of the CD does not by itself lead to any conclusion that the CD was morphed or doctored meanwhile, unless proved otherwise by the respondent to the satisfaction of the Commission," EC said.
Meanwhile, Varun has run into fresh trouble with V M Singh, Congress candidate from Pilibhit, complaining to EC about yet another inflammatory speech. Singh submitted a CD with 28 minutes of recorded speech where Gandhi is alleged to have said a Sikh candidate was contesting on behalf of a Muslim and that Hindus supporting them were traitors.
Election Commission censures Varun for hate speech
New Delhi, March 22, 2009
The Election Commission on Sunday condemned and censured BJP candidate Varun Gandhi, 29, for a hate speech delivered in Pilibhit, UP, on March 7 and found no merit in his contention that the tapes of this speech were doctored.
The EC conceded its inability to debar a person from contesting elections but recommended that the BJP not field Gandhi as a candidate. It also directed the UP government to expedite its investigation.
Gandhi did not comment but sources close to him said “it is a mere censure”. While Congress leader Jayanti Natarajan said, “The BJP should adhere to the EC’s recommendation on moral grounds,” BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said the party would respond after scrutinising the order. He wanted to know under which rule the EC had advised the BJP not to field Gandhi as a candidate.
The EC noted that it could not “impose disqualification” on Gandhi unless he were convicted or held guilty by a court of law.
The EC order said Gandhi neither specifically accepted nor rejected the contents of the two speeches. The EC said the onus of proving that the tapes were doctored now lay with Gandhi.
Baritone PM, clean-shaven Modi and chic Maya!
23 Mar 2009, 0549 hrs IST, Avinash Nair, ET Bureau
AHMEDABAD: Imagine a clean shaven Narendra Modi, a leaner Mayawati or Dr Manmohan Singh with a baritone criss-crossing the length and breath of
the country during the campaign trail for the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. As the political scene hots up and parties don their battle gear to capture the voters’ attention, image consultants in the country feel that some of the leading figures in Indian politics could chisel and prune their image by making themselves more presentable to both the urban and rural masses.
Some suggestions: for a pro-industry-FDI-seeking Modi, the beard does not go well with investors who are at home with a ‘clean look’. Similarly, Dr Singh could do with a few voice modulation classes and Mayawati must have a more urban look if she has set her eyes on the PM’s chair.
“There are more urban voters today than ever before and rural voters are increasingly becoming conscious of their choices. In such times, it is in the politician’s best interest to effectively and efficiently project strengths and values (during the election campaign),” says Kolkata-based Optimum Image Institute’s Parvana Babaycon, an image consultant affiliated with the AICI (Association of Image Consultants International), a global network of image professionals.
In order to get the best from their electoral campaign, reputed image-makeover experts suggest that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should work on his voice modulation in order to make his speech more powerful and depict his intelligence through the spoken word. “Prime Minister Manmohan Singh needs to be inspirational in his speeches. His voice is a drawback,” says Taneea Chhaabria, an image consultant from Mumbai-based Sun Image Inc.
“In the long run, it is more appropriate to concentrate on creating a rapport with the spoken words....the pronunciation, intonation, the pitch and rhythm of speech can denote the dominance, hostility, warmth and anxiousness of the leader,” says Nisha Singhal of Delhi-based Studio Image.
Her views are echoed by Ms Chhaabria who feels that even Congress party president Sonia Gandhi can improve on her diction before embarking on a string of crucial public speeches before the electorate. Ms Gandhi, who is also trying hard to keep the allies in the UPA coalition together, needs to ‘soften’ her appearance, feel consultants. “The best accessory for Sonia Gandhi could be to have a smile on her face,” says Sangeeta S Bahl of Gurgaon-based Impact Image Consultants and a certified member of AICI.
Ms Bahl feels that Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi needs to adopt a ‘clean-shaven look’. According to experts, being clean shaven, apparently represents honesty and trustworthiness. “He has the credentials of having put together a model state and he needs to showcase his agenda. However, he needs a course-correction on his perceived image, as his good has become lost in the communal image he presents,” says Ms Chhaabria
“A very important tip for male grooming is to trim all facial hair,” says Chhaabria suggesting the same to Union railways minister Lalu Prasad. “Lalu Prasad is the only railway minister to have made a great difference to his portfolio. He is an extremely intelligent man, but must not chew pan (while making an appearance among the urbanities),” she feels.
Ms Bahl also feels that L K Advani - currently engaged in trying to woo the young voters - “needs to look powerful”. “Mr Advani must create an image of being sensitive to the needs of minorities as well,” says Ms Chhaabria.
Vajyapayee-Advani have the blood of 1992 riots on their hands. Nehru-Gandhi family is guilty of countless crimes. The only issue during Godhra was, intense media reporting, which brought the horrors of riots into our living rooms.
Though, luckily for Modi, Indian Public memory is notoriously short and our desire for developmment and efficient adminstration overwhelming.
True, which is why the BJP with Advani at its helm is also not a viable choice.
Which leaves only the Congress, of which none of its current or potential future leadership have been guilty of gross conspiracy in exacerbating the communal divide for political or ideological ends.
Nobody seemed to mind, Vajyapayee.
Leadership = Gandhi Family.
Current members, yes they have not been found guilty yet; potential for indulging in what they are famous for, of course.
Sonia Gandhi aka Edvige Antonia Albina Maino shrewder than a sicilian mafiosi.
Rahul Gandhi aka Raul Vinci is a 38 year old buffoon, who has no idea just like his father
Priyanka Gandhi is a robot with a husband who can do anything for money and power.
Separate names with a comma.