The BJP heaved a sigh of relief when former Bollywood action hero Sunny Deol finally joined the party on April 23 and agreed to contest the Gurdaspur seat. The party’s entire Plan B for Punjab-B as in Bollywood – rested on Deol.
BJP president Amit Shah has had no luck so far in attracting stars to the state. Akshay Kumar was briefly considered until the party discovered he was also a Canadian national. Akshaye Khanna declined to contest from his late father Vinod Khanna’s seat Gurdaspur.
Even Sunny took some months to make up his mind. BJP veterans, who recall the tough time they had getting father Dharmendra to contest the 2004 Lok Sabha election from Bikaner, are not surprised. Wrath of Kharge
Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun M. Kharge, is reportedly livid. His supporters say it’s because his party failed to prevent sitting Congress MLA from Chincholi, Umesh Jadhav, from quitting to join the BJP. The BJP has now fielded Jadhav against Kharge in the Gulbarga Lok Sabha constituency. Kharge sees a greater conspiracy because he feels the BJP finds him a tough opponent in Parliament. The divided Congress in Karnataka does not have a convincing reply.
Two key proposals to import missiles for the Indian army have been stalled by a senior bureaucrat in the ministry of defence. The army wanted limited quantities of Igla-S shoulder-launched air defence missiles from Russia and Spike anti-tank missiles from Israel bought under the special financial powers, which allows the vice-chief of army staff to buy equipment worth up to Rs 300 crore. The senior bureaucrat has refused to sign off. He has cited an inquiry in the case of the anti-aircraft missile and the fact that the anti-tank missile did not pass trials in an earlier acquisition contest. With just a month left for retirement, the babu doesn’t want any skeletons in his closet.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not hold a public meeting in Baramati, the constituency of NCP’s Supriya Sule, despite requests from the BJP’s Maharashtra unit. It was party chief Amit Shah who campaigned for their candidate, Kanchan Kul. The grapevine has it that Modi, by staying away from the Sharad Pawar bastion, is keeping a window open in case the NDA falls short of a majority. If the NCP gets into double digits, the BJP could expect its outside support as it did after the Maharashtra assembly election in 2014.
The People We Elect
Phase III of this long general election began on April 23, with 115 seats up for grabs in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Bihar, West Bengal and Kerala, among others. The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), which keeps meticulous records of the backgrounds of election candidates, has released its analysis of candidates in the fray in the first three phases. For many, this election is not simply a vote on the performance of the Modi government but also a sort of referendum on competing ideas of India. The ADR, however, would have voters look past national narratives’ at the records of candidates in the constituencies where they vote. And given legal yet opaque instruments of poll funding such as electoral bonds, a scrutiny of the mandatory declaration by candidates remains one of the few checks voters can run.