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The Congress high command is incensed and the Gandhi family deeply hurt over Sanjay Dutt spewing venom against the party on the campaign trail...

Written by Coomi Kapoor | April 26, 2009 11:27:23 pm

The Congress high command is incensed and the Gandhi family deeply hurt over Sanjay Dutt spewing venom against the party on the campaign trail for the Samajwadi Party. Dutt claims the Congress did not lift a finger to help him when he was in jail and that prison guards beat him repeatedly because he had a Muslim mother.

He even requested film stars Mahima Choudhary and Arshad Warsi not to campaign for Congress. Warsi heeded his advice,Mahima did not. Congressmen point out indignantly that there was a special bond between the party and the Dutt family. Nargis Dutt was nominated to Parliament,Sunil Dutt was made an MP from Mumbai and Priya Dutt was offered her father’s seat. Behind the scenes every effort was made by the Law Ministry to assist Sanjay Dutt.

Priya Dutt,a Congress candidate from Mumbai,has said in an interview that she has no knowledge of Sanjay being subjected to third degree in jail,as he now claims.

Stranded on the road

A correspondent with a British newspaper who wanted an interview with Rahul Gandhi hitched a ride on his convoy from Lucknow to Amethi. Once the interview was over,Gandhi stopped his car to let the correspondent get off and waved him goodbye. The journalist found himself stranded in the middle of a country road in Uttar Pradesh. He had to walk four km to get to the nearest bus stop. The journalist recounted this experience to the opposition leader L.K. Advani whom he was interviewing on a helicopter ride. Advani joked that at least he could rest assured he would not be ejected from the aircraft.

Rahul gets it right

RJD chief Lalu Prasad is upset with the Congress because it has damaged his party’s prospects in Bihar. Reports from both Bihar and UP suggest that the Congress,which everyone had practically written off,is on the comeback trail. While a resurgent Congress may not win many seats in this election,its vote share is likely to increase substantially.

Initially,almost the entire Congress high command,including Sonia Gandhi,was willing to accept the terms set by its prospective allies,RJD and SP. In Bihar,it was the pradesh Congress party president and secretary,along with Sushil Kumar Shinde,who vigorously opposed Lalu’s offer of a mere five seats,later pared down to three. Similarly in UP,except for Digvijay Singh,Rajiv Shukla and the local leadership,most Congress leaders were content with a partnership with the SP in which it was to be allotted only 16 seats. One Congressman who saw the wisdom of going it alone and rebuild the cadre was Rahul Gandhi.

Shotgun tactics

Scattergun Sinha and Shekhar Suman pitted against each other for the Patna seat from the BJP and Congress respectively,appear more interested in squabbling over their credentials as Bollywood stars,than discussing serious concerns of the city and the state. Shatrughan Sinha told Suman that he should not describe himself as a Bollywood star; he was a mere television actor. Suman retorted indignantly that he had featured in some 70 movies. He claimed Shotgun’s Bollywood appeal was more as a villain than a hero.

Not the right company

A recently released party manifesto makes the following points: The anti-terror law should be strengthened. There should be a minimal nuclear deterrent and an option of further nuclear testing. A national centre for Vedic sciences should be established. A scheme should be introduced to provide free food daily through 10,000 places of worship nationwide. The Ram temple dispute should be resolved. The Sethusamudram project should be scrapped. The country needs a strong PM,with an out of the box vision.

Now these extracts are not from a BJP publication,but the AIADMK manifesto. AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa handed over the first copies to her allies,including CPI(M) leaders Prakash Karat and AB Bardhan.

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