Sometimes Rahul Gandhi just can’t catch a break. The Hindu reports about a rally in Mathura on Tuesday: “A sizeable crowd came to listen to Mathura’s sitting MP and Rashtriya Lok Dal’s Lok Sabha candidate Jayant Chaudhary and his father Ajit Singh. Interestingly, as soon as Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi took the dais and started speaking, several in the crowd made their way to the exits.” Ouch.
Speaking of ouch, yet another Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader has had to face the wrath of a boisterous mob. “AAP leader Somnath Bharti and his supporters were allegedly assaulted by “Modi supporters” at Assi Ghat in Bhelupur area of Varanasi on Wednesday,” reports the Indian Express. Bharti, in true AAP fashion, subsequently forgave the attackers. But Arvind Kejriwal did drop some hints about what he thought about the attacks: “AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal said it appeared the attackers were from outside Varanasi because this was not the city’s culture. BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said the party has never endorsed violence.”
So that has ended amicably then.
“On Thursday, one of the first things 104-year-old K.R. Naidu from T Nagar in Chennai will do is cast his vote. The retired Caltex executive has voted in every election held in the state since 1951,” writes The Times of India. Naidu is among a handful of voters, the paper says, who have voted in every Lok Sabha contest.
“BJP will be the single-largest party, but will not be able to reach the magic figure and in such a situation the Congress or BJP will require support from outside.” Making this candid prediction is Sharad Pawar in an engrossing interview with The Economic Times.
Sonia Gandhi, The Times of India suggests, may have lost a stack of government bonds. “Just like an aam aadmi, the Congress party boss’s name figures in an advertisement issued by Indian Railway Finance Corp. (IRFC), the railway PSU involved in its borrowing programme, regarding tax-free bonds of Rs10 lakh that have been “reported lost”. Gandhi owns 1,000 bonds each with a face value of Rs1,000 and offering a fixed return.”
Also in The Times of India, further evidence that the AAP has a knack for making friends and enemies. This time it is overseas radical Sikh groups. “These outfits operating from abroad, who have been vociferously raising issues like injustice to 1984 riot victims and eviction of farmers from Kutch in Gujarat, are aghast at AAP “hijacking” their agenda and even garnering support,” writes the paper.
So will Kejriwal win in Varanasi? It doesnt matter, writes Sanjay Singh at FirstPost. Singh is certain that Kejriwal will lose. But in the long term, the battle will do the AAP good. “Whatever be the end numbers, Kejriwal has succeeded in his strategy. He and his core supporters always knew that he was not in Varanasi to win but to make news and build a strong base for his party in the next elections. Kejriwal’s supporters are happy doing that. A young Rohit Lal who claimed he came from Delhi on his own and didn’t otherwise have any penetration AAP said, “we may not win but people also remember the one who challenges the mighty.”’
“Stop bugging the Election Commission all of you!” is the cabinet secretariat’s message to all ministries, according to the Business Standard. With ministries routinely referring to the Election Commission notes and proposals they wish the cabinet to take up, the Cabinet Secretariat has ordered that only proposals requiring urgent decisions should be routed to the poll watchdog through it. The directive came after the Election Commission complained about ministries and departments directly seeking clarification on the applicability of the Model Code of Conduct on proposals and issues they want the Cabinet to take up.
Nitya Rao at The 545 has another excellent slideshow, this time on a campaigning Shashi Tharoor. “In the last five years, Tharoor’s life has changed dramatically. He has had to overcome painful losses both in his public and private life. Watching him brave the punishing Kerala heat and being sheperded along by party workers on his campaign route, I couldn’t help but wonder if he knew that this was what he had signed up for when he decided to enter politics five years ago.”
And finally Liz Mathew here at Livemint.com tells the amusing story of the AAP candidate who went missing. “She protested when the electronic voting machine (EVM) developed a glitch and demanded a repoll. When officials at the polling booth declined, she went to higher authorities and made them order a repoll. But when the repolling took place, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)’s Anita Pratap, a candidate in Kerala’s Ernakulam constituency, went missing. The former journalist was apparently in Tokyo holidaying with her family when the repoll was held in booth No. 118 on Wednesday.”
Surely she could have waited until after becoming an MP to go on foreign trips?