Cell phones come in handy

Mobile phones are coming in real handy for politicians in Uttarakhand where campaigning has been hit by snow and extreme cold. BJP president Nitin Gadkari had to call off his rallies in Dehradun and Haridwar districts a few days ago because of the bad weather. However, to keep the morale of the party workers up, Mr. Gadkari used his cell phone o address the crowds. Congress veteran and former Chief Minister N.D. Tiwari, currently camping in Kumaon to ensure victory of his nephew Manish Tiwari from Gadarpur. is also connecting with voters through his cell phone. Given Mr. Tiwari's huge popularity in the region, Congress candidates want him to visit their constituencies, but the octogenarian leader's health does not permit him to hit the campaign trail. Therefore Mr. Tiwari is using his mobile phone to address Congress rallies.

‘Dream Girl' is no big draw

With the ruling Congress facing an election ban by from seven major underground groups in Manipur, the other political parties are stepping in to fill the vacuum. The BJP, which has no MLAs in the State, is looking to win a few seats, including Thoubal, from where Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh has been elected for two consecutive terms. L.K.Advani is scheduled to visit the State for electioneering. Other leaders such as Sushma Swaraj and Nitin Gadkari made flying visits. So did Hema Malini, but it had little impact, because few know her as Hindi films were banned by the Revolutionary People's Front. The younger generation have not seen Hindi films and the elderly have forgotten the oldies. Manipur gets power for one hour and a half on average in 24 hours which means people can't even watch smuggled Hindi film CDs at home.

Quote of the year?

“Yakub, I would like to hug you but I don't know if the Model Code of Conduct prevents me from doing so.”

That's how Salman Khurshid, Union Law Minister, in the centre of a controversy over reservation for minorities, greeted Chief Election Commissioner S.Y.Quraishi at a gathering the other day. Mr. Khurshid's crack shows the heat generated by Mr. Quraishi, who apart from issuing a show cause notice to him also wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh accusing him of crossing his brief. That apparently provided some consolation to his cabinet colleagues with at least one of them telling him that he regarded it as the quote of the year. “Only you could have said it,” said a media savvy minister.

Wine, women and song

Wine aficionados are watching with concern the on-going battle between State-owned tourism promotion body and a local women's group over the annual wine festival, with the Election Commission's (EC) clearance to the event with several riders having failed to convince the women activists. They want it banned. Bailancho Saad (BS), a Goa-based women's collective, has complained to the Chief Electoral Officer, Goa against the “Grape Escapade” wine festival to be held in the last week of January on the State-owned INOX courtyard in the city, which is a government premises. As the scheduled wine festival is poised to take place while the model code of conduct(MCC) is on, the collective has urged the EC not to permit the festival on government premises as it violates the election code. Local women's organisations have been protesting Goa being projected as a land of wine, women and song, and now casino gambling.

(Contributed by Sandeep Joshi, Iboyaima Laithangbam, K. Balchand and Prakash Kamat)

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Poll DiaryJanuary 19, 2012