Delhi Confidential: Who’ll be fm?

Arun Jaitley, then saw a change in his future portfolio with Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal telling voters that if they vote for Jaitley, they would be electing the “future Finance Minister” of the country.

Published: April 21, 2014 3:00:23 am

It had all started with Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal declaring him the future Deputy Prime Minister after the NDA forms the government at the Centre. Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, who is contesting from Amritsar, then saw a change in his future portfolio with Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal telling voters that if they vote for Jaitley, they would be electing the “future Finance Minister” of the country. At Bathinda though, Akali leaders, including Sukhbir’s cousin Bubby Badal, constantly tell voters that if they vote for Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Sukhbir’s wife, they would be voting for the “future Finance Minister”. Drawing on this, comedian Bhagwant Mann, a candidate in Sangrur, tells voters to ask whether the next government would have two Finance Ministers!

Since 2007 Punjab Assembly elections, Pakistani journalist Aroosa Alam, considered close to former chief minister Amarinder Singh, had always been the target of the Akali Dal in their campaign. SAD leaders constantly raised questions about her links with Singh and also whether she has any links with Pakistan spy agency ISI. However, in the ongoing Lok Sabha poll campaign, Aroosa is missing from most campaign speeches. Most Akali leaders refrain from talking about her. SAD-BJP leaders explain that Aroosa should be thanking Narendra Modi as the ruling party in Punjab does not want to dilute Modi wave by talking about trivial issues.

After taking on ministers and political leaders of all hues, the BJP has now moved the Election Commission against PMO’s communication advisor Pankaj Pachauri for “publicising the achievements of the Congress government” in a press conference on Friday to “damage control” after disclosures regarding the PM were made in two recent books. While arguing that Sanjaya Baru, the former media advisor to the PM, was as a “free citizen” not bound by the model code of conduct and free to time the release of his “magnum opus”, the BJP’s complaint to the EC says Pachauri cannot be allowed to act in a “juvenile manner” and for “wilful breach of the model code of conduct”. The complaint also drags in the PM for “collateral responsibility of explaining this indiscretion”.

The 2014 Lok Sabha election is witnessing participation of various universities in different ways. A faculty member from Mumbai University is conducting an online survey on the elections for research purposes. Indian students at Columbia University had started a website on the 2014 elections earlier this year. Aligarh Muslim University, however, is taking much more active interest. Closely tracking the contest in Varanasi where BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is pitted against Congress’s Ajay Rai and AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal, the AMU community and the Millat Bedari Muhim Committee (MBMC) of Aligarh have appealed to Mukhtar Ansari. While Ansari who was to contest from Varanasi withdrew from the fray, the AMU community has appealed to him “to declare support” to the Congress candidate “in national interest”. While the MBMC also looked upon Kejriwal favourably, it said it favoured the Congress in view of its greater acceptability and winnability.

Among the initiatives on hold because of the code of conduct is a quarterly magazine to be launched by the Waqf Council of India. Minorities Minister K Rehman Khan cleared the magazine format the day elections were announced and the council is in no mood for a launch by the secretary. So it is possibly a new minister who will get to do the honours.

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