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U.P. In Election Mode:CEC TO FINALISE DATES SOON, by Insaf, 20 December 2006 Print E-mail

Round The States

New Delhi, 20 December 2006

U.P. In Election Mode


By Insaf

Uttar Pradesh is now fully in election mode. Now that Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswamy has planned an extensive visit to most of the 403 Assembly constituencies of the State to finalise dates and other arrangements for the polls, all the major political parties in the fray are gearing up for the big fight. The CEC has to decide whether or not to go for the Bihar-type poll: staggered over two to three weeks to ensure a free and fair poll.  Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mulayam Singh, who also holds the Finance portfolio is going all out to retain power. In a surprise political move, he has shown that his Samajwadi Party is safe from defections, contrary to the claim of his rivals.  He got the Assembly to pass a  vote-on-account for the first four months of the next financial year (2007-08). He then got Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey to agree that the passage be treated as a vote of confidence in his Government. 

Mulayam Singh has, however, suffered a setback too.  The CPM, which had aligned with him, has now announced its decision to distance itself from his Samajwadi Party. This has led the CPI to explore the possibility of an enduring Left alliance for the Assembly polls--- and, possibly, an electoral tie-up with the Congress.  The BJP, on its part, is trying hard to regain power in the State. The party Chief and former U.P. Chief Minister Rajnath Singh has announced that “we are sick of alliances” and will fight on its own this time. He has also named the former CM, Kalyan Singh, an OBC, as the party’s Chief Ministerial candidate.  The BJP Central leadership is also going all out to corner the so-called secular parties for their appeasement of the Muslims, especially the Prime Minister’s call for conceding to them “first claim” on national resources for development.

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Congress-Akali Battle Of Words

In Punjab too, election fever is fast rising. With just about eight to ten weeks left for the Assembly poll, the main rivals in the fray for power, the ruling Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal-Badal (SAD-B) have sharpened their knives with accusations and counter-accusations. Former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has predicted that his SAD will bounce back to power with absolute majority.  He has charged Chief Minister Amarinder Singh of running the Government on his whims and fancies with “tanashahi” and “rajwarashahi”.  He has wooed Sikhs, stating that “we celebrate Sikh festivals for religious reasons, while the Congress does it for political gains.” Amarinder Singh has promptly hit back, stating “We celebrate festivals of all communities…these are people’s festivals and not of the Akalis alone. He has also claimed that over the last five years there has been all-round development and that “my Vikas Yatras drew people even from the Akali bastions.”

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Caste War In Orissa

The entry of Dalit devotees in a 300-year old Jagannath temple in Kendrapada district of Orissa, following the High Court order lifting the ban, is threatening to snowball into a caste war.  It is true that under pressure from the district administration, the priests have allowed the entry, but tension continues to prevail in the area. Initially, when about 200 dalits entered the temple, almost all the priests went into hiding and announced that devotees should not enter the temple until it was purified.  Later, some of them performed a purification ritual and nearly 1400 families of upper caste residents in the area resorted to “satyagrahs”. Meanwhile, the Ambedkar Lohia Vichar Manch, an organization spearheading the Dalit movement in Orissa, has written to the State Police Chief that it feared for the safety of the Dalit families. The District Collector described Kedrapada as “very tense” and added that violence might erupt any time as the upper castes had refused the Dalits’ entry into the temple.

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Crisis Over Tata Project at Singur

The stalemate in the Trinamool Congress agitation against the land acquisition at Singur in West Bengal for the Tata car project continues at the time of the writing, the 17th day of Mamata Banerjee’s fast unto death. Both the Chief Minister and Trinamool supremo are sticking to their respective positions. Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee insists that the Tata Motors will set up their unit at Singur and nowhere else, while Mamata is adamant that she will sacrifice her life to save the farmers from what she believes as the “CPM terror” and dissuade the farmers from giving out their land for industrialization. The CM has, however. requested Mamata to end her fast and join talks with the Government, which has already announced consideration of increased compensation to the farmers. He has also conceded the demand for a CBI enquiry into the gruesome killing of an 18-year-old girl agitating against the acquisition of the farm land.

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Congress Rift Before BMC Poll

The upcoming elections for the Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC), the richest civic body in the country, have created a major political rift within the State Congress and between the ruling Congress-NCP alliance over the distribution of nominations. City MPs and MLAs are upset with the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee (MRCC) Chief for his style of functioning. They have communicated to the Central leadership that the continuing spat between the local leaders on various issues may lead to some senior leaders withdrawing from electioneering. Some of them are also unhappy by the growing clout in the MPCC of former Shiv Sena leader Narayana Rane, who joined the Congress recently.  Rane is now trying to have more of his supporters in the Congress list for the election.  Besides the intra-party problems, sharp differences have also cropped up between the Congress and the NCP. The latter has accused the Congress of its big-brother attitude in selecting its nominees.

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Shiela Dikshit’s Eight Years As CM

Delhi’s Chief Minister, Shiela Dikshit successfully completed eight years in office on Thursday last week, described by her as the “birth day of the Government”.  Her biggest achievement during the eight years has been that she has managed to keep under control her opponents within the State Congress.  In fact, during the last three years of her second term most of her critics in the party became her supporters. Her Government has done a lot in the field of education, health care, flyover construction, tax collection, roads and related infrastructure. But she candidly states: “We still need to deliver more to the people of the city”.  Her biggest challenge now for the next two years of the present tenure is the preparation for Commonwealth Games in 2010.  In this context, she has demanded once more the integration of the DDA with the Delhi Government to expedite development plans.

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Raje’s Three Years In Rajasthan

The other of the two woman Chief Ministers in the country, Vasundara Raje of Rajasthan, completed three years in office last week.  Her major achievement all these years has been her good friendly relations with the Centre, despite being the BJP Chief Minister, not only during the BJP-led NDA Government, but also with the present Congress-led UPA Government in getting support for Rajasthan’s development programmes. The State has made tremendous progress in the field of infrastructure development, especially power production, in which Rajasthan had been lagging behind.  In fact, the State Government is now fast marching ahead towards self-sufficiency in the power sector.  It has promised to provide electricity and road connectivity to all the villages of the State within the next two years.  Raje is now determined to make the agriculture sector prosperous.

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Renaming Assam As “Asom”

The process of changing names or spellings of States and major cities of the country is picking up once more.  Soon after Parliament voted for naming Uttaranchal as Uttarakhand, the Assam Assembly passed a resolution to spell out the State as “Asom” on the plea that it is pronounced as such by the Assamese. The resolution has been sent to the Centre for approval.  Likewise, after Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Thiruvananthapuram and Bangalaru, the BJP Government of Madhya Pradesh is also mulling over renaming Bhopal as “Bhojpal”. The Jabalpur Municipal Corporation too has passed a resolution to rename Indore as “Indur”, the name of a sage in the Ramayan. The resolution has been sent to the State Government. ---INFA


 (Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)

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