General Elections 2014 – Day 58
One can sense that politicians are running out of talking points in this extremely long drawn election when an apparently innocuous statement by the Prime Ministerial candidate becomes the major news of the day. It even eclipsed the tragic incident of two bomb blasts in a train at Chennai Central station in which one woman died and 14 got injured.
A newspaper today reported that Narendra Modi in his interview to the public broadcaster Doordarshan had refused to attack Priyanka Gandhi saying she is like her beti (daughter) and not a political rival like Sonia or Rahul Gandhi. He further said that in Indian traditions daughters are not targeted. The newspaper claimed that DD deemed this portion controversial and hence edited it out. Soon a major controversy broke out surrounding this news report.
Priyanka Gandhi snubbed Narendra Modi saying that her father is Rajiv Gandhi and she doesn’t welcome such comments. Not letting this chance slip to evoke the family legacy, Priyanka said that her father died for this nation whom she loved more than anybody else. A visibly angry Priyanka said “enough is enough”.
Modi‘s camp later released the unedited video tape. The footage shows Modi saying that Priyanka Gandhi is campaigning for her brother and mother, which she has full right to do. He further said, “Ek Beti ke naate woh kuch bhi kahe, mein kabhi bura nahin maanonga, isse bhi 10 gaali aur degi, toh bhi beti, beti hai, uske prati naraazgi nahin ho sakti ( Whatever she says in the capacity of a daughter, I won’t mind. Even if she continues her tirade, I can’t be angry with her)”.
Many believe Modi was trying to downplay Priyanka’s influence by alluding that she was merely a daughter campaigning for her family and not a serious political player. Priyanka Gandhi, being the natural politician refused to fell into that trap by promptly snubbing him. She prefers to continue the high decibel campaign as it may become the turning point in this election. Courtesies and niceties can always be exchanged post 16th May.
BJP sought to link the unfortunate train blast at Chennai with Modi’s rally at a nearby place which took place on Wednesday night. The blasts which rocked the S4-S5 coaches of the Bangalore-Guwahati Express are suspected to be a handiwork of ISI. It led to death of a 24-year-old IT professional called Swathy. Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalitha promptly ordered a CB-CID probe. Late night reports suggest Tamil Nadu has refused to take help of any central agency like NIA, NSG, etc. to investigate the matter. They are not willing to treat it as a terror attack as of now. Seems like in political madness, even bomb blasts are mere pawns in hands of politicians who are not willing to give opponents any chance for publicity.
One person, who doesn’t believe in political correctness or extending olive branch to opponents, is Lalu Prasad Yadav. Sensing that his Muslim–Yadav combination may just make him relevant again in Bihar politics, Lalu has upped the rhetoric. He has asked for Modi to be sent to Pakistan. It is the “best medicine” for the Gujarat CM, according to Lalu. He was reacting to Pakistan interior minister Chaudhury Nisar Ali’s statement that Modi’s possible victory can “destabilize” the region. BJP responded sharply asking Lalu to be sent to Pakistan instead as he is apparently very popular there. BJP spokesperson also asked Pakistan Ministers to not interfere in the internal matters of India.
Sonia Gandhi today too lashed out at Narendra Modi. In a blistering attack, Sonia said that lust for power has made Modi intoxicated with the belief that he is already the Prime Minister of India. She also tried to punch holes in the Gujarat development model raking up the issue of child deaths.
From politicians to Nobel winning economist, dislike for Modi unites many. Amartya Sen today said that he doesn’t believe Modi is the “best for India” but also added that he “won’t damn Modi at the outset”. Sen said that he has good relationship with BJP leaders though he acknowledged that it is not his preferred party. He tried to allay the widespread notion that he is a Congress supporter saying that they have not done a very good job though he mentioned PM as a friend. Sen also said that it is unfair to compare Rahul Gandhi with Priyanka who is just campaigning in a couple of seats.
Arvind Kejriwal has got a shot in arm in his arduous fight against Narendra Modi in Varanasi. Nitish Kumar’s JDU has decided to support AAP to defeat the Gujarat CM. The party has decided to even actively campaign for Kejriwal in the holy city. Meanwhile AAP has brought out its Varanasi centric manifesto where they pledge to clean not only the Ghats of Ganges but also Delhi politics.
Today, two prominent Hindu religious leaders also pledged to campaign against Modi in Varanasi. While Puri Shankaracharya Swami Adhokshjanand Devtirath has blamed him for the 2002 Gujarat riots, Dwarka Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati earlier protested against the Har Har Modi slogan. Swami Adhokshjanand said that he will expose Modi in front of the voters of Varanasi.
After coming clean about his affair with a TV journalist, Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh is back doing what he does best i.e., attacking Narendra Modi. In a bid to change the tide of the discourse, Digvijay said that he has the courage of conviction to face the consequences. He said that unlike Modi, he doesn’t hide his marriage. What Congress general secretary promptly chose to ignore was that he only owed up to the relationship after videos and pictures of him with the lady got viral in the internet.
In this entire campaign, virtually every party has traded their guns against Election Commission. SP leader Azam Khan again attacked EC today, saying that they are behaving like God. He challenged EC to cancel his membership from state legislative and also accused the constitutional body of partisan behaviour. Azam Khan has been barred from campaigning by EC for refusing to apologise after delivering vitriolic speech.
Congress leader Beni Prasad Verma too may soon face Azam’s situation. EC has given a strong warning to him that he may be barred from campaigning in UP if he continues to hurl personal attacks on politicians. Another person who is likely to fall under the EC’s scanner is SP leader, Abu Azmi. He said the Muslims who doesn’t vote for SP are not true Muslims and their genes should be checked to see any links with RSS!!
A day after FIR was filed against Narendra Modi for violating the Model Code of conduct, preliminary reports of Gujarat Police suggest that he was outside the restricted area ( up to 100-metre radius from the polling booth). Police sources say that the case is unlikely to stand legal scrutiny and most probably Narendra Modi will not be called for questioning. Congress though tried to leverage the matter even today demanding that Modi should be arrested. Finance Minister Chidambaram asked Modi to apologize to the poll body. It seems soon this matter will fade away from public memory.
These were all the major news from today. We will be back with more tomorrow…