Yadav scion's reply to Rahul

With Gen-Next geared up to play a sssbigger role under Akhilesh Yadav, the Samajwadi Party has gone high-tech and appears ready to shed its inhibitions about things considered taboo not too long ago. Case in point: the scene at the party headquarters in Lucknow during the release of the party manifesto. Unlike the drab and dreary affairs of the past, this one had a colourful audio-visual presentation, highlighting the achievements of the previous Mulayam Singh Yadav government and promises aplenty for the voters. The AV presentation, which shows the Samajwadi cycle racing past the BSP elephant, was Akhilesh's idea. The film also had an English voice-over, prompting a wag to remark that the presentation was the younger Yadav's reply to Rahul Gandhi, who not long ago had criticised Mulayam for his blinkered stand on English.

Reaching out to the Bar

The *black and white' fraternity is seen as a potential vote bank coveted by all the mainstream political parties in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. And, why not given there are an estimated 2.50 lakh lawyers and advocates in the State, and if the number of litigants and the equally large number of pending cases are taken into consideration then each of these worthies has the potential of influencing at least 100 persons. So, it is not surprising to find all the parties doling out sops to them in their election manifestoes, ranging from a corpus of Rs.200 crore for an advocates' welfare fund (Samajwadi Party), pension scheme for retired lawyers and life insurance of Rs. 10 lakh (Bharatiya Janata Party) to group insurance for young lawyers (Congress). Only Mayawati's party is silent on this issue, perhaps because the culture of election manifestoes does not exist in the Bahujan Samaj Party.

Fresh fish at your doorstep

The Election Commission may have decided to tackle the flow of money and liquor head on in Goa, but the candidates keep up coming up with creative ways to thwart the EC. Just recently, an agitated BJP spokesman Vishnu Wagh alleged that his rival Francisco Silveira of the ruling Congress, one of the coastal State's leading trawler owners, was bribing St. Andre voters by delivering fresh mackerel and king fish at their doorsteps. Though the otherwise articulate Wagh did not say it openly, the truth is that the BJP leaders are wary of complaining to the EC about the "free fish supply" which could boomerang on them.

‘Doctors’ in the fray

From illiterates to PhD holders, the first phase of the Uttar Pradesh elections on February 8 presents a queer mix of candidates. According to a report of the Association for Democratic Rights (ADR), 10 candidates trying their luck in the first round are doctoral degree holders, 107 are graduates and post graduates, and 104 are school dropouts with schooling from class 5 to the Intermediate level. A Janata Dal (United) candidate is completely illiterate, says the report. The Congress leads the list with three of its nominees in the first round being PhDs. Times have indeed changed, with more and more well-qualified people contesting the elections. There was a time when the educational qualification of the MLAs in the State Assembly was pathetic. The Bahujan Samaj Party had the dubious distinction of several of its MLAs being “angootha chhap” (illiterate).

(Contributed by Atiq Khan and Prakash Kamat)

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Poll DiaryJanuary 19, 2012