Arvind Kejriwal may have travelled by suburban train and autorickshaw in Mumbai to reinforce his aam aadmi image, but there are plenty of reminders on the Internet about his khaas aadmi status. Kejriwal thought his travel by a chartered flight from Jaipur to Delhi could be explained away by the fact that a media house paid for it. The media group needed him to reach its conclave on time since he was a scheduled speaker, and Kejriwal told them that no commercial flights were available at that hour. What he may not have bargained for is that some investigative netizens would expose his bluff. There have been several tweets providing a list of commercial flights from Jaipur to Delhi which Kejriwal could have easily taken if he had wanted to. Earlier, in Jaipur, his host had sent a Mercedes to receive him at the airport. Pictures of the Mercedes were promptly put up on the Net. In Gujarat, he travelled in an impressive cavalcade, far from the modest WagonR he uses in Delhi. The Delhi Police, meanwhile, has been happy to confirm that Kejriwal enjoys Z security, with 22 personnel guarding him round the clock. Photographs of his Tilak Lane government bungalow with three bedrooms and two servant quarters, in which Kejriwal continues to stay, also chip away at his common man pretensions.
IN ELECTION mould, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa boards a helicopter around noon every day to visit constituencies in the state and returns late evening. It helps that her helicopter is permitted to use the INS Adyar naval base located just a short distance from her office. Permission was granted for her aircraft by the Ministry of Defence headed by A K Antony. Her rival, M Karunanidhi, on the other hand, travels in a bus with an elevated mechanical seat which pops out of the bus roof when he has to address a gathering. The 89-year-old DMK leader plans to make around 20 stops during the campaign. His cavalcade includes a van with a medical team and emergency medical equipment.
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NEGOTIATIONS between the Congress and Rashtriya Lok Dal over seat-sharing in western Uttar Pradesh are meant to be conducted between Madhusudan Mistry, the Congress general secretary in charge of the state, and Ajit Singh, the president of the RLD. But there is a communication gap between the elderly, soft-spoken Mistry, who is in the NGO mould and cites statistics and facts, and the slick and politically savvy Singh, who likes to bulldoze his way through. Since not much headway is being made in the talks, the two usually end up meeting in the presence of Sonia’s political secretary Ahmed Patel, who is familiar with seat-sharing confabulations. Patel, like Singh, is an old-school politician.
Spokesman for NDA
WHENEVER Ram Vilas Paswan is asked to appear on television, he sends son Chirag in his place. Chirag trained initially to be an actor, even starring in one flop, Miley Naa Miley Hum, and is fluent in both Hindi and English. So keen is Paswan to launch his son that he wants Chirag to be appointed as one of the five NDA spokespersons.
TICKET selection in Tamil Nadu works on a model quite entirely its own. Each ticket aspirant has to first deposit an application fee ranging between Rs 10,000 and Rs 50,000, depending on the political party. The money entitles you to interaction with the party’s top leader as well as senior party members. The leader interviews the candidate. If photographs and videos are to be shot with the leader, that costs an additional Rs 20,000 on an average. Since there are around 700 applications per seat and 39 constituencies, the main political players end up earning large sums even before they distribute a single ticket.
A pair of slippers
FORMER Andhra Pradesh chief minister Kiran Reddy has chosen a pair of slippers as the election symbol for his new party, the Jai Samakyandhra Praja Samiti (JSPS). The slippers, like the Aam Aadmi Party’s broom, are symbolic. The symbol suggests that the party will give a beating to all those responsible for the division of Andhra Pradesh. Reddy says slippers should be respected as Ram Paduka. The Congress is not displeased with Reddy’s rebellion. It calculates that Reddy may divide the anti-Telangana vote in Seemandhra and will return eventually to the mother party.