Parties, beware of free lunches for journos (Political Prattle)

March 28th, 2009 - 5:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, March 28 (IANS) Journalists are often treated to lavish lunches by politicians. But with general elections around the corner, can such meals amount to violation of the code of conduct?
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushma Swaraj was visibly irritated when mediapersons shot the question at her during one such meal in the Madhya Pradesh capital.

When told that the Congress could complain to the Election Commission about it, Swaraj, who was hosting the lunch at her Bhopal residence, said she would write to the poll panel to have a code against the filing of “baseless” reports.

“Some politicians and parties have made it a practice to file baseless reports against their rivals. They have a complete cell, which has no other work but to make complaints which are good for nothing. It unnecessarily wastes the commission’s time,” she said.

The BJP’s in charge for Madhya Pradesh was obviously not amused at all.


Power of the bottle

Liquor bottles can be a potent force during elections. And this was in ample evidence in the battle for Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh.

There, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) flamboyant leader Dilip Singh Judeo is locked in a straight contest with Renu Jogi, wife of Congress leader and the state’s first chief minister Ajit Jogi. Both led massive rallies before filing their nomination papers.

But party insiders said lavish amounts were spent on distributing local liquor in rural areas to bring people to Bilaspur town for the rallies. The sources claimed that bottles were distributed mainly to only those who gave the assurance of bringing five more people with them.


Dial-a-quote no longer easy

The Congress has 12 spokespersons on its panel, but Delhi journalists suddenly find they are not as accessible as they used to be for a quote or two on phone.

This is so because some of them have been nominated for the elections and are busy campaigning in far-flung areas.

The party has had to rope in stalwarts like union minister Kapil Sibal for daily press briefings. Despite contesting, Sibal is available because his constituency, Chandni Chowk, is within Delhi.

Manish Tewari and Shakeel Ahmad used to be the most regular Congress faces at the party’s 4 p.m. briefings before the polls were announced, but both have become unreachable. They are contesting from Ludhiana in Punjab and Madhubani in Bihar respectively.


Amarinder as royal as ever

He is an erstwhile royal, and people say it shows. For days together, former chief minister Amarinder Singh does the vanishing act from Punjab and becomes inaccessible to even leaders of his Congress party.

Then he suddenly reappears and gives ample proof of his mass appeal.

His close association with controversial Pakistani journalist and socialite Aroosa Alam and her trips to Patiala and Chandigarh have also given fodder to his opponents.

But to Amarinder, barking dogs seldom matter. Royal airs?

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