Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s absence from the election scene in five states — he was expected to return from his foreign vacation Monday night — remains a hot topic of discussion both inside and outside Congress headquarters. The party launched its manifesto for Punjab while speculation was rife over when Rahul would return. Apart from inducting former BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu into the party, Rahul’s presence is required for finalising candidates for the states. But, like previous years, nobody seems to have any answers.
THE HAZARDS of recycling old Left Front slogans are many, as Trinamool Congress MPs found out on Monday during their protest at South Avenue against the arrest of Sudip Bandyopadhyay. When Saugata Roy suggested an old slogan in Bengali — “police tumi jotoi maro, maine tomar eksho baro (police, no matter how much you beat us, your monthly salary will still be Rs 112) — many MPs protested that the figure was outdated. Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar then came up with a compromise figure — 1,012 instead of 112. Inflation can erode the sharpness of even the best political slogans.
Tracking The Code
THE IDEA was to formally launch some initiatives that were announced in the last Rail Budget. But the simple task of arranging a function at Rail Bhavan on Tuesday for this purpose turned into a complicated affair. Someone in the Railway Ministry came up with the idea of checking with the Election Commission, “just in case” it was construed as a violation of the model code of conduct. Ministry officials were divided on this, since there was no new announcement involved. But some officials were of the view that the poll panel should be taken on board as one initiative, to be carried out jointly with the Skills Development Ministry, involves training coolies in three poll-bound states. So officials were busy interacting with the EC till late on Monday evening, trying to figure out if they could go ahead with the function and if Suresh Prabhu could still preside over it.