A Sonia in Haridwar

While Congress president Sonia Gandhi has already done two rounds of campaigning in Uttarakhand, there is another Sonia who is seeking the blessings of the electorate to gain entry into the state Assembly. Trying her luck from Haridwar assembly segment on the Nationalist Panthers' Party ticket is Sonia Madam, a member of the transgender community, who is getting good response from public, particularly the sadhu samaj (saints' community). Popular among the residents of the holy city, Sonia Madam is campaigning along with a group of member from her community. She knows she faces an uphill task — taking on the BJP, Congress and the BSP — but feels it is high time that her community also got representation in politics which is dominated by males. Though her poll promises are the same as other parties — eradicating corruption, better infrastructure and education and medical facilities for all — she also pledges that if voted to power, she will fight for the rights and betterment of her community.

Wagh this Kolaveri Di

Vishnu Surya Wagh (48), the BJP spokesman in Goa, is a versatile poet, cartoonist, artist, writer, actor and director. A party-hopper nevertheless, groomed in good Goan political tradition, this former editor of a leading local Marathi daily was till recently a Congress general secretary in the state. He decided to quit the Congress and join the BJP over the Congress-led government's decision to change its education policy to give grants to primary schools in English language. The protagonists of Indian languages, including Mr. Wagh, perceive this as a threat to Indian languages. With his felicity with words, Mr. Wagh not only handles BJP's press conferences with élan, but has also proved more than handy for the election campaign with his spontaneous humour-laced compositions, music and lyrics. Thanks to Mr. Wagh, the BJP is cashing in on the popularity ‘Kolaveri di' — he subtly changed the lyrics to “Matt Tuje Camlavari Camlavari Di (please vote for lotus).”

War of the generals

In Uttarakhand, serving army personnel, ex-servicemen and their families form a crucial chunk, of 15-20 lakh voters, out of the total electorate of almost 60-lakh, thus forcing every party to strategise accordingly. While the BJP has a prominent face in Maj. Gen. (retd) B.C. Khanduri, the Congress hopes rest on Lt. Gen. (retd) Gambhir Singh Negi, a former commandant of the prestigious Indian Military Academy and a former chairman of the Uttarakhand Public Service Commission. Then there is another ex-army general who is gradually gaining popularity among voters, thanks to his anti-corruption crusade. Lt. Gen. (retd) T.P.S. Rawat, who had been associated with the Congress as well as the BJP, is now in the fray along with 43 other candidates who are contesting under the banner of Uttarakhand Raksha Morcha, hoping to get support not only from the voters associated with the Army but also from other sections of the society.

(Contributed by Sandeep Joshi and Prakash Kamat)

Keywords: Assembly polls

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