Zeenat Aman does the star turn for Congress

It's not just Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi criss-crossing eastern Uttar Pradesh, wooing voters; the Congress has also enlisted glamour in the form of Bollywood. Zeenat Aman of “Dum Maro Dum” fame has been doing road shows in Varanasi, enjoying herself as the poster girl of the Congress. The Hare Rama Hare Krishna star turned heads every time she stopped en route at popular lass and chai joints, asking people to vote for the Congress. The party also roped in film maker Mahesh Bhatt to bat for the Congress in Varanasi; Bhatt praised the party's policies and decried attempts to create a Hindu-Muslim divide. Bollywood star Nagma also campaigned for the Congress in Jaunpur and popular Bhojpuri star Ravi Kishen was a big draw in Azamgarh.

Parrikar's tight-rope walk over English in school

A recent headline in a local daily put it succinctly, “BBSM? BJP FORCED-d to tell the truth”… BJP has been caught in a dilemma over the use of English in primary education. With BJP's Goa Chief Ministerial aspirant Manohar Parrikar cozying up to Catholic voters, the strong stand adopted by the BBSM (Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch), which is opposing government grants to English medium primary schools is a dampener for the BJP. The front had announced it would back the BJP-MGP alliance as it had promised to withdraw grants to primary schools in the English medium. The opposite camp, under the banner of “FORCE” (Forum for Rights of Children's Education) has demanded that the BJP come clean on the issue. The BJP's cozying up to the BBSM is a hurdle in its attempts to woo Catholics. Parrikar has been forced into a tight-rope walk promising a solution acceptable to both sections.

Trinamool Congress' game plan revealed

Trying to cash in on the rebellion in the ruling Congress over choice of candidates, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) led by octogenarian Wilfred de Souza, former Goa Chief Minister, has decided to field a whopping 35 candidates in the March 3 Assembly elections in Goa. Ironically, the party does not even have in place a full-fledged executive. Its first list of 18 candidates consists mostly of Congress rebels or past legislators, former Ministers from the Congress, NCP and others. The TMC is talking itself up as an alternative to a “corrupt Congress” and “communal BJP” in Goa, but the real truth is that the party is trying to upgrade itself from a recognized political party to the status of a national party. The party which, apart from its government in West Bengal, has five MLAs in Arunachal, one in Assam, and one Rajya Sabha MP in Zharkhand has put up a number of candidates in Uttar Pradesh, Manipur and Goa to get the requisite percentage of votes to be recognised as a national party by the Election Commission.

(Contributed by Vinay Kumar and Prakash Kamat)

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Poll DiaryJanuary 19, 2012