The Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council had its last meeting on Tuesday, even as the Lok Sabha polls enter the final leg. The meeting, attended by eight of the 11 members, saw the customary farewell interactions. Interestingly, seeking to give the NAC credit for the UPA government’s social welfare agenda, Sonia appreciated the council for its “significant contribution in the area of social policy for securing various entitlements of the poor and disadvantaged groups”. This included the right to work, food and education, among others. Sonia also gave credit to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, saying that the council’s success was not possible without the PM’s support. NAC members also called upon Singh after their meeting.
In a booster for Arvind Kejriwal, the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind has announced its support for the AAP leader in Varanasi. Jamaat’s latest list for eastern Uttar Pradesh also names Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav from Azamgarh seat, Congress president Sonia Gandhi from Rae Bareli and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi from Amethi, Mukhtar Ansari of Qaumi Ekta Dal from Ghosi, his brother Afzal Ansari from Balia, BSP’s Akbar Ahmad Dumpy from Gonda as candidates the Jamaat thinks suitable.
TAKING A BREAK
He has been in the thick of political action for more than a week ever since the UPA government decided to appoint a High Court judge to head the panel to probe the snooping row and abandoned the plan under pressure from allies. And before that he had to undertake a gruelling campaign to save his Lok Sabha seat. Finally, it is time for Kapil Sibal to unwind. The Union Law Minister will be away from all action for 10 days as he is leaving for a vacation abroad. Sources close to him say he will return only on May 15, on the eve of the counting day.
Inundated with complaints of poll rigging in states like West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the Election Commission has now asked the Chief Electoral Officers of seven states, where polls are due on May 7 and 12, to set up a separate control room to monitor the coverage on the local media. “Once any untoward event is reported about the polling station, immediate response will be activated without waiting for any other formal report or complaint,” the EC directed. Also, having been blamed for “inaction” in several instances, the EC has now asked these seven Chief Electoral Officers to respond to any untoward incident or complaint “within 30 minutes” and quickly ascertain the facts.