The election season is officially upon us and we are likely to hear all sorts of stories and promises. True and false promises, you will need to sieve through the words and actions. The 17th Lok Sabha elections will be held in seven phases, between April 11 and May 19, involving close to 90 crore voters. The results will be declared on May 23, ten days before the term of the current House expires.
With the campaigning witnessing a fierce war of words among rivals and television pundits debating and tracing the contours of pre-election rallies, it is a lot to keep track of at once. Fret not! We will give you a quick recap of everything that happened this week in case you missed it.
China blocks Azhar’s terror listing, Cong, BJP engage in blame game
A day after China stalled India’s bid to list Masood Azhar as a global terrorist at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the opposition Congress and the ruling BJP on Thursday engaged in a bitter political spat. Congress chief Rahul Gandhi targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging that he was scared of Chinese President Xi Jinping, and the BJP hit back, saying that China would not have been in the UNSC if not for Jawaharlal Nehru.
Weak Modi is scared of Xi. Not a word comes out of his mouth when China acts against India.
NoMo’s China Diplomacy:
1. Swing with Xi in Gujarat
2. Hug Xi in Delhi
3. Bow to Xi in China https://t.co/7QBjY4e0z3
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) March 14, 2019
The Congress compared Modi with his predecessor Manmohan Singh, arguing that the UPA government got the UNSC to declare Hafiz Saeed as a designated global terrorist. In a press conference at the BJP headquarters, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “Why is Rahul Gandhi in a celebratory mood when the country is pained by China’s attitude? He must be headlining in Pakistan.”
Quoting from a book, Nehru — The invention of India, written by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, Prasad said it was written that India’s first Prime Minister, Rahul Gandhi’s great grandfather, played a role in China becoming a permanent member of the UNSC. “If you enjoy such good relations with China, then you should have used your proximity to persuade the country to back the proposal in the UN,” he said, attacking Gandhi. Countering BJP’s charges, Tharoor, however, said that Nehru did not “give the Indian permanent seat to China” as there was no Indian seat to give.
Since my book #NehruTheInventionOfIndia is being cited by the BJP, let’s have some context here:
1. China was an original Permanent Member of the Security Council from the signing of the @UN Charter in 1945.
(continued in this thread)
Alliance talks, seat sharing pacts for Lok Sabha polls
Virtually ruling out an alliance with AAP, Rahul Gandhi gave a clarion call to booth level workers: “all seven seats in Delhi have to be won by the Congress.” His statement came a day after former party president Sonia Gandhi met with Delhi Congress chief Sheila Dikshit. Two days, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal reached out to Rahul, proposing an AAP-Congress pact in Haryana for the forthcoming elections. However, Kejriwal said there was no need for a similar coalition in Delhi, since his party was in a position to sweep all seven parliamentary seat on its own.
In Uttar Pradesh, BSP chief Mayawati put an end to speculation that the Congress may find space in the SP-BSP alliance and declared that her party would not have an electoral tie-up with the Congress “in any state”. For the Lok Sabha polls, the BSP has joined hands with the SP and RLD in UP. The alliance has, however, decided not to field candidates from the Congress strongholds of Rae Bareli and Amethi.
After days of negotiations, the Congress on Wednesday sealed a seat-sharing pact with the JD(S) in Karnataka, but could not announce a seat-sharing arrangement for Bihar with allies, including the RJD.
In Assam, BJP and the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) set aside their differences over the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and have finalised a pre-poll alliance for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, more than two months the AGP walked out of the BJP alliance in Assam. The terms of the alliance including seat-sharing are not public yet. Meanwhile, in UP, the BJP welcomed three-term MP Arvind Sharma into its fold even as it finalised its alliance with Apna Dal, a partner in the NDA which had been miffed with the BJP leadership for a while.
From Dhoni to Rahul, Modi tags almost 100 in Twitter marathon
With an aim to encourage maximum voting in the upcoming elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tagged a wide range of personalities cutting across the political and social spheres, from Rahul Gandhi to MS Dhoni, and from Sri Sri Ravishankar to Lata Mangeshkar. He urged them to inspire a record-breaking voter turnout.
I appeal to @RahulGandhi, @MamataOfficial, @PawarSpeaks, @Mayawati, @yadavakhilesh, @yadavtejashwi and @mkstalin to encourage increased voter participation in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. A high turnout augurs well for our democratic fabric.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 13, 2019
Politicians switching sides, big election announcements
It seems to be a month of shifting loyalties. The past seven days have seen as many politicians switching sides. On Thursday, the BJP welcomed a TMC leader, four-term MLA Arjun Singh, and Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan into the party.
Both are expected to be in the BJP’s list of candidates for West Bengal and Kerala respectively, sources said. Earlier this week, Anupam Hazra, who won the 2014 polls on a TMC ticket, Congress legislator Dulal Chandra Bar and CPM leader Khagen Murmu, a three-term MLA joined the saffron party. In Maharashtra, the Congress was left red-faced after Sujay Vikhe-Patil, son of Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil, joined the BJP in the presence of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in Mumbai on Tuesday.
In Gujarat, the total of Congress has reduced to 71 after two more of its MLAs switched sides to the BJP on Monday. Vallabh Dharaviya, who had won from Jamnagar (Rural) assembly seat on a Congress ticket in the 2017 assembly polls, resigned as an MLA and also from the party, to join the BJP within hours. Parsottam Sabariya, who had resigned as an MLA of Dhrangadhra constituency last week, also joined the BJP.
On Tuesday, Congress received a shot in the arm after Patidar leader Hardik Patel, who shot to fame by leading a quota stir in Gujarat joined the grand old party on Tuesday. He is likely to contest the Lok Sabha elections. Patel had formally announced his decision to join the party last week in the presence of party president Rahul Gandhi.
The week also witnessed Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi giving her debut political speech in which she attempted to steer the current political discourse on patriotism, to issues surrounding youth, women and farmers.
On Wednesday, Rahul Gandhi in Chennai said the Congress will implement 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament and Legislative Assemblies if it is voted to power. Two days, while interacting with healthcare professionals and experts from across the country in Raipur, announced that his party was considering a “right to healthcare Act”, which would guarantee “certain minimum healthcare” to all citizens, as a key plank in its manifesto in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections.