Money matters

The amount of money provided by political parties to their official nominees towards campaign expenses has become irrelevant in the present context. Some parties do not give money but instead take money from candidates for giving them tickets. Some select candidates who not only take care of their election expenses but also fund a few more. It is said that the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress in Rajasthan have at least two candidates each who have been given official nominations because of their capacity to fund the campaign.

Officially, the Congress has so far given Rs. 5 lakhs to each of the 25 Lok Sabha candidates in Rajasthan with an additional Rs.1 lakh to Rs. 2 lakhs for those contesting the reserved seats. The BJP, which has officially collected Rs. 5.86 crores from the public towards election expenses, has said that it proposed to fund seven candidates while the rest were in a position to look after themselves.

How old is he?

The veteran Congress leader, A.B.A. Ghani Khan Chowdhury, contesting from West Bengal's Malda Lok Sabha seat, seems to be caught on the wrong foot. Questions raised over his age as mentioned in an affidavit submitted while filing his nomination have become a matter of public discourse leaving his supporters red-faced and opponents eager to cash in on. Mr. Chowdhury, according to the affidavit, is 69 years old. He passed his matriculation examination in 1940, it states. A simple calculation based on these figures would reveal that Mr. Chowdhury must have passed school when he was either five or six years old — something not even the most credulous appear quite prepared to accept. Certainly not his political rivals.

BJP blooming?

The Bharatiya Janata Party seems to have a natural ally in the `Champa' tree which is in full bloom these days. With the flowers a bright orange, the trees that dot the State highways in Uttar Pradesh could easily be mistaken to be huge banners of the BJP from a distance. In fact, many a passer by has wondered aloud at the size of the "BJP banner" while driving down these roads only to end up feeling sheepish on drawing close to realise that what looked like the saffron and green flag of the BJP was in effect a heavily blossomed `Champa'.

Pocket edition

Congress supporters in Dausa fondly describe the party's young candidate, Sachin Pilot, as the "pocket edition" of his late father, Rajesh Pilot, who represented the constituency five times in the past. The cadres are glad that the 26-year-old Sachin has staked his claim as the inheritor of the Pilot legacy at the right juncture. The demeanour of Pilot junior is similar to that of his father when he wishes the people with "Ram Ram Saa" in the Rajasthani dialect and hugs them in the same characteristic style during his campaign trail. His manner of addressing public meetings is also identical to Rajesh Pilot — the same crisp sentences, the same measured tone and the same subtle voice.

— Sunny Sebastian, Marcus Dam, Anita Joshua, Mohammed Iqbal

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