When foes turned friends (Political Prattle)

April 7th, 2009 - 7:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, April 7 (IANS) They fought the 2004 Lok Sabha elections against each other. But now they are campaigning together for the 2009 polls.
Surjit Singh Salathia of the National Conference and Madan Lal Sharma of the Congress slugged it out in the last polls for the Jammu-Poonch parliamentary constituency. Sharma emerged victorious.

But in a political twist following the November-December assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the National Conference and the Congress entered into a partnership to rule the state and also decided to fight the Lok Sabha polls jointly.

Salathia, who won the assembly election from Vijaypur and is now a minister in the National Conference-led government, is campaigning for Sharma. He urges his party men and constituents in the Jammu constituency to vote for the Congress nominee.

“This time, don’t look around for plough (National Conference symbol). Vote for hand (Congress symbol),” he tells his supporters. “Sharma is our candidate and his victory is mine.”

Sharma reciprocates, “We are brothers”, as he lifts Salathia’s hand in a display of unity between the two rivals and their parties.


Frayed poll tempers as mercury soars in Goa

With Goa sizzling at an unnatural 40 degrees Celsius, the heat appears to be getting to everybody.

The Goa Union of Journalists (GUJ) locked horns with the north Goa district administration after Collector K.S. Singh barred the media from entering the halls where the candidates filed their nomination forms in Panaji.

Singh’s feeble excuse that Election Commission’s guidelines prevented more than four persons ‘accompanying the candidate’ at the time of submission of nomination papers was not taken too well by the journos already frazzled in the heat, after candidates trooped in at least an hour behind schedule.

That the South Goa collector had allowed the media to cover a similar news event did not help. The GUJ then decided to hold a protest meeting against the administration’s attempt to “obstruct the media from discharging its duties”.

Unfortunately, because of the heat the protest meeting turned into a damp squib as no one turned up.


Global meltdown impact

It could be the global meltdown impact - at least for the Congress in Kerala.

A senior party leader said in Thiruvananthapuram that the party headquarters there functions as the control room and the campaign cell. But it is not taking off because money is in shortage.

“The control room is headed by Joseph Vazhakan and the campaign committee is headed by Vakkom Purushothaman. But the campaign is yet to be launched. If the campaign has to reach the grass roots, money has to flow,” said the leader.

The source of money is mostly from the All India Congress Committee, funds raised by the candidate and also contributions from the state party.

“The contribution from the AICC is given out after a candidate authorizes his nominee to collect the money and the person has to be identified by a member of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee who is in Delhi,” added the leader.

The money is distributed for publicity and also for bringing in top notch speakers of the party to different constituencies.

“Time is running out because all campaign ends on the 14th and in between there are a few holidays on account of Easter and Vishu.”

Leaders are hoping that with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi planning to tour the state, the party could open the purse strings.


When outspoken Mohammed Salim was left speechless

Known for being suave, smart and articulate, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Mohammed Salim could not have bargained for this.

During an interaction at one of the chambers of commerce in Kolkata, Salim berated the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for mixing politics with religion and seeking to divide the people.

Senior state BJP leader and Salim’s rival in the Kolkata North constituency Tathagata Roy, whose turn to speak came next, pointed to the CPI-M MP and said: “I know of a CPI-M leader who started his campaign for the coming polls by offering puja at a temple.”

The glib talker Salim was left virtually speechless and left the meeting in a huff.

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