Was Priyanka Gandhi stopped from contesting against Narendra Modi in Varanasi by Congress? A newspaper report set the gossip mill buzzing in political sphere from the morning. Finally, Priyanka Gandhi was forced to give a clarification that she did not ever plan to take on Narendra Modi. There is a belief in certain circles that Priyanka Gandhi has been stopped from entering electoral politics to protect the clout of her brother, Rahul who is the face of the party currently. Priyanka in a way tried to allay that notion also by saying that Rahul and his husband Robert Vadra has been extremely supportive of her and repeatedly urged her to contest the poll. As of now, she doesn’t want to take part, but didn’t rule out the possibility of doing so in the future.
Politics is as much as looking into the future as also seizing opportunities of gaffes done by opponents in the past. Congress seems intend to refresh public memory about the messy handling of the plane hijack saga by NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and also the fact that parliament attack happened under his rule. Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha tried to take the attack to the opponent camp through a barrage of tweets attacking the Vajpayee legacy and dubbing him the weakest PM ever. Ironically, only a few days ago Congress was using Vajpayee’s picture in their website and quoted him to discredit Narendra Modi.
While the Congress may try to divert the attention of the nation to the Vajpayee era, the 10-year-old regime of Manmohan Singh continues to be under intense scrutiny. In a season of tell-all books, another book was launched today which is likely to embarrass the outgoing Prime Minister. Former Coal Secretary PC Parekh has lashed out at Prime Minister in his book Crusader or Conspirator? Coalgate and Other Truths. Parekh accuses Manmohan Singh of unable to exert his influence on cabinet colleagues. He said that PM could not tackle the vested interests lurking within the government which ultimately led to Coalgate scam. Congress as expected has totally rejected the book. Party general secretary Digvijaya Singh is of the opinion that both Parekh and Baru have done a hatchet job after being paid off by Mr Modi. Incidentally, Parekh has been chargesheeted by CBI in the Coalgate scam. The former IAS officer said that PM’s role should also be probed in this matter.
It seems that the acrimony between Narendra Modi and top Congress leaders is not going to die down any time soon. After the balloon jibes, now it is time for the toffee barb. Rahul Gandhi has blasted the so-called Gujarat model of development as a toffee model of development. He accused that in Gujarat the poor continues to remain impoverished and only some rich have gained. He ridiculed BJP by saying once the party of Vajpayee and Advani is now controlled by Modi and Adani. Interestingly, one of the most respected business groups Tatas also came under fire from Congress vice president about the amount of loan given to them for building the Nano project at Sanand.
Rahul’s trusted aide and Union Minister Jairam Ramesh have shot an angry letter to Narendra Modi alleging him of incapable to speak the truth. Modi, in an election rally had accused Jairam of saying India the dirtiest and laziest nation while travelling abroad. Jairam in his letter categorically denies the charge branding it as a bizarre outrageous statement and blatant lie.
Arvind Kejriwal may or may not match up to the might of Modi or Rahul but it seems that he is winning the visibility war. A study done by a private agency suggests after analysing five top news channels that while Kejriwal has received 429 minutes or 28.19% of the time given during 8-10 pm from March 1 to 15, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate has secured 356 minutes (23.98%). Rahul Gandhi came third in the study followed by Bihar strongman, Lalu Prasad Yadav.
In terms of issues/subjects of TV news coverage, ‘personality profiles’ emerged as the most covered, followed by ‘Hindutva’, political party, development, corruption, public policy and governance, among others. BJP is the most talked about party occupying all most one third of the TV time followed by AAP and Congress.
It appears that the attacks on AAP leaders are becoming almost becoming a routine feature now. AAP’s prominent TV face Shazia Ilmi found herself being targeted by hostile men chanting Narendra Modi’s name in Neemuch, Madhya Pradesh. According to reports, they pelted stones at the dais where Ilmi was addressing the voters in support of the local AAP candidate.
In a separate incident, Aam Aadmi party candidate from Nalanda, Pranab Prakash was allegedly roughed up by a group of men who also attacked his car. Prakash was campaigning in a village far off from the district headquarters. According to him, he was stopped by a mob of 25 who took him out of the car and hit him with a lathi. JDU supporters are suspected to be behind this untoward incident.
AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal though believes that the real attack on his party members will only come after elections. In a book release function, Kejriwal said that no big attack is expected to take place during the elections as it may boomerang. He expressed apprehension that they will not be spared after elections. He expressed confidence that the powerful forces against whom AAP is pitted can be defeated by sticking to the path of truth. Kejriwal meanwhile has taken a train for Varanasi today and will start his campaign against Narendra Modi from Tuesday.
Today was the 123rd birth anniversary of BR Ambedkar. Expectedly, politicians didn’t waste this occasion to take pot shots at each other invoking the name of one of the doyens of India’s history. BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi alleged that Rahul Gandhi was humiliating Ambedkar by repeatedly claiming to give different rights. In reality, all those rights have been ensured by Ambedkar through India’s constitution claimed Modi.
On the other hand, BSP supremo Mayawati took on Narendra Modi. She accused BJP of misleading the voters. Maya alleged that BJP was not happy when Ambedkar got Bharat Ratna. There is a possibility of consolidation of dalit and OBC votes behind BJP in Uttar Pradesh if the opinion polls are to be believed. Maya invoked incidence of pasts including BJP’s withdrawal of support from VP Singh government to caution his core vote bank from not voting for the saffron brigade.
These were the major stories of the day. We will be back with more tomorrow….