L K Advani wanted to switch constituencies from Gandhinagar to Bhopal because he could sense that the Gujarat BJP, under Narendra Modi’s leadership, was not very welcoming and made him feel like an outsider. He was not invited to major functions in Gujarat and the party machinery was no longer at his disposal when he visited. Photo opportunities were not arranged when he visited Gandhinagar. The most obvious snub was that when the party headquarters moved to a swanky new building near Koba on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, there was no space allotted for the senior leader. Advani’s office continues to work out of the old BJP headquarters in Khanpur area of old Ahmedabad.
In 2004, a senior Finance Ministry official noticed that Arvind Kejriwal, a joint commissioner of income tax, had an appalling record of absenteeism. When asked for an explanation, Kejriwal said that he was working for an NGO called Parivartan which helped Delhi’s citizens deal with their problems relating to income tax, electricity and food ration. The bureaucrat suggested that if he was so interested in fighting corruption, he should start with the Income Tax department, to which Kejriwal reportedly said that he was interested not in fighting minor corruption but corruption at a national and international level. Taken aback, the official gave Kejriwal a very bad appraisal.
Sitting MPs are rushing to ensure that they have cleared their dues — house rent, electricity, MTNL bills, etc — before filing their nominations for re-election. They also have to ensure that they have returned their computers issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat and any books borrowed from the Parliament library. The MPs need to submit a ‘No-Dues’ certificate before their nomination forms can be accepted. The rule came about after a large number of MPs defaulted on returning their laptops and clearing their phone bills.
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The Congress was taken aback when Narendra Modi announced he would be fighting from Vadodara in Gujarat. The Congress had been planning to put up a strong candidate against Modi, but its hands were tied in Vadodara because the primaries ordered by Rahul Gandhi had thrown up a weak candidate in this constituency — Narendra Rawat, the party’s city unit president. Modi had caught the Congress off guard, with the rumour that he would be standing from Gandhinagar or Ahmedabad East.
C R Park candidate
During the brief Mamata Banerjee-Anna Hazare partnership brokered by Santosh Bharatiya and Mukul Roy, it was agreed that Hazare would choose all the Trinamool nominees for the Lok Sabha seats in Delhi. But when Mamata was left facing an embarrassingly empty Ramlila ground in Delhi after Hazare stayed away from the joint meeting, she lost her cool. At the rally, she indicated that the understanding with Hazare was over by unilaterally announcing the name of Bollywood actor Biswajit Chatterjee as the TMC candidate from South Delhi. Biswajit, who had flown down from Mumbai for the rally, was excited until reality hit. It was realised that Chittaranjan Park, home to a sizeable Bengali-speaking population, was part of a large New Delhi constituency now and not South Delhi. Biswajit’s constituency was hence changed to New Delhi. The actor was further taken aback when he was informed that it was he, and not the party, which would have to bear most of the election expenses.
New power centres
In the past, Sonia Gandhi’s residence 10 Janpath was the centre of activity for the Congress poll campaign. This time the headquarters is 12, Tughlak Lane, Rahul Gandhi’s residence. In the case of the BJP, the power centre has shifted much further away. The party’s Delhi office at Ashoka Road has been bypassed and arrangements for Narendra Modi’s meetings around the country are all managed from the Chief Minister’s bungalow in Gandhinagar. A group of serving and retired IAS officers, including K Kailashnathan, G C Murmu, Bharat Lal and Arvind Sharma, is actively involved. The BJP party organisation is out in the cold in this campaign. In fact, a private body, CAG or Citizens for Accountable Governance, seems to be more in the loop.