Sikkim friends, foes wait with open arms for Rahul (Poll Prattle)

April 21st, 2009 - 7:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Rahul Gandhi New Delhi, April 21 (IANS) It will be young Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s first visit to Sikkim and even the party’s rivals are rolling out the red carpet.
Luizinho Faleiro, the Congress in-charge for Sikkim, Tuesday said Rahul Gandhi was likely to campaign for the party in state capital Gangtok April 25.

At a press conference in Gangtok, Faleiro said Rahul Gandhi would have a tight schedule when he arrives in the mountain state for the first time this weekend.

This will also be the first time that a national figure will be campaigning there, added Faleiro, a former Goa chief minister.

Considering it is Rahul Gandhi’s first visit, ruling Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) party spokesperson Bhim Dahal said it “would be taken up as an hospitality issue by their party”.

“Our fight is against the state Congress. National leaders such as Rahul Gandhi are our guests. They can come here, we shall make sure that they are comfortable.”

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How to beat the shoe missile

Fear of the shoe is stalking Indian politicians and many of them aren’t taking any chances.

While Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was seen with a net in front of a dais in Ahmedabad, his Uttar Pradesh counterpart Mayawati has increased the distance between herself and the press while speaking to reporters.

At the Congress headquarters in Delhi - where a shoe-throwing episode in the presence of Home Minister P. Chidambaram started it all, eagle-eyed security men are watching out for journalists who try to take their shoes off.

So it did not come as a surprise when new Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla took charge Tuesday, two tough looking men watched the media. When a curious journalist asked one of the burly men if he was a journalist or was simply keeping track of shoe-throwing, the answer was just a smile.

After the infamous episode of a Delhi journalist hurling a shoe at Chidambaram, shoe throwing seems have become a trend with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate L.K. Adavni as well as Congress MP Naveen Jindal becoming victims.

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Some huffing and some puffing

Other candidates at the end of a political rally would have normally reached out to voters and engaged in perfunctory banter, but not Jitendra Deshprabhu, a Nationalist Congress Party candidate in Goa.

He chose instead to rest his strapping, heavy frame after a long day and pull a few drags from a cigarette - only pausing to shake hands reluctantly with the few supporters who hung around trying to seek him out.

The dozens of policemen nearby certainly did not seem to mind his smoking in a public place, which is an offence as there’s a ban on it.

Considering the skulduggery he has had to ward off from leaders of the NCP and the Congress the moment he was allotted a ticket to contest from the North Goa seat with barely 15 days to go before the polls, perhaps Deshprabhu deserves to plonk himself in public on those cushions and blow nicotine rings at the end of what was probably his last ‘big’ rally before D-day Thursday.

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Party doesn’t have manifesto, but candidate does

Actor-turned-politician Vijaykant’s DMDK is beating a different path and has hit the campaign trail in Tamil Nadu without a manifesto. And its Virudhunagar candidate K. Pandiarajan believes in being different too.

For, Pandiarajan has released a six-page manifesto on his own for Virudhunagar.

An import from the corporate world - he is head honcho of staffing solutions group Ma Foi Pandiarajan, he will cross swords with a political heavyweight like MDMK’s Vaiko. And hence the manifesto even if his party doesn’t have one of its own.

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