General Elections 2019 - Day 66

Sonia Gandhi invites the opposition to Delhi signalling post-poll action

In the strongest possible signal yet of the NDA not getting a majority, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi is back on the political center stage after a long period of hibernation in the run-up to the 2019 elections.

Sonia Gandhi has written to all opposition leaders inviting them to be present together in Delhi on the 23 May when election results are released. Her first invite has gone out to DMK leader MK Stalin in a strong signal to all of their close tie-up. NCP leader Sharad Pawar and TDP leader and Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu are likely to attend. The invite has also been extended to YSRCP leader from Andhra Jaganmohan Reddy.

Backchannel talks are on to get TRS leader, and Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao and Odisha CM and BJD leader Naveen Patnaik to attend the Delhi meet on the 23rd. KCR has been very active meeting south-based leaders to form a Third Front comprising non-BJP non-Congress opposition. That has not found many takers as of now as most are willing to wait until the results are announced.

BJP has already given feelers to Naveen Patnaik in the aftermath of Cyclone Fani, but so far, Naveen Patnaik has maintained a neutral stance with both the BJP and the Third Front proponents.

Sonia is trying to convince Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav to attend the meeting, but as of now, both do not wish to make any commitment before the results are announced. Same for Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee who is committed taking the BJP head-on and with all aggression.

The main apprehension among opposition leaders is the choice of PM candidate, and none want to give the lead advantage to the Congress unless the results show the Congress in a driver’s seat.

In a significant clarification, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad has announced the Congress would not insist on a PM candidate form the party if the opposition leaders did not ask it.

The important signal here is the opposition is beginning to sense an upset on 23 May.

Has Pragya Thakur scored a self-goal before the crucial vote?

BJP’s Bhopal candidate Pragya Singh Thakur has just scored a major self-goal in calling Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin, Nathuram Godse, a ‘patriot.’ When asked what she thought of Godse, she responded saying ‘Nathuram Godse was, is and will remain a patriot.’ The statement, expectedly, has caused widespread condemnation from across India and coming just days before the crucial vote, it is likely to cost the party dear.

The BJP had to scramble to get their spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao to issue a statement distancing the party from Pragya’s controversial statement. In damage control mode, the party said Pragya Thakur should publicly apologize for the statement. The speedy response of the party seemed to take a leaf from Rahul Gandhi’s call on Sam Pitroda to publicly apologize for his remarks on the ’84 Sikh riots.

Mayawati and Akhilesh play out the absurd in Mau, U.P

Election time brings out absurdities of Indian politics where actions and statements swing from the strange to the ridiculous. One such event took place in Mau, U.P on Thursday when Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav, alliance partners of two major political parties, took to the stage to canvas support for the BSP candidate for the Ghosi seat Atul Rai. The absurdity lies in the fact that the candidate himself was and is missing with the police looking out for him. He faces a serious charge of rape and has gone missing since the filing of the F.I.R.

In Indian politics, criminality, morality, probity, and ethics are not virtues that matter. Not to voters and certainly not to politicians, and yet, we take great pride in celebrating our democracy.

Bengal violence forces EC to cut short campaigning by a day

The violence in Bengal seems to be a given in election after election, and the situation continued when Amit Shah’s rally passed Vidyasagar College in Kolkata. The following violence finally forced the Election Commission to come out of its benign shell and take action. In an unprecedented move, the EC invoked Article 324 and transferred West Bengal ADG (CID) Rajeev Kumar and principal secretary (Home) Atri Bhattacharya. Rajeev Kumar is ordered to report to the Ministry of Home Affairs in Delhi on Thursday morning.

Further, the EC has ordered all campaigning be stopped one day earlier in the 9 Lok Sabha seats in Bengal which go to vote on 19 May.

Several parties have joined TMC in condemning the EC move.

Related Link:

17th General (Lok Sabha) Elections 2019 and Parliamentary Constituencies

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General Elections 2019 - Day 66
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Get here all the latest updates of Day 66 for General Elections 2019.