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Friday, April 18, 2014

Punjab: SAD-BJP alliance is struggling to win even Bathinda.....

Pre-polls may project SAD-BJP combine cruising to an easy sweep in Punjab. But consider this...The Akalis boasted to Arun Jaitley that he need not even come to campaign in Punjab and they will post his victory certificate to him in Delhi!! Instead Arun Jaitley finds himself facing prospects of a humiliating defeat so much so he had SOS the Delhi BJP unit to fly down hundreds of their cadres to give him a face saver. If this is the fate of Jaitley, imagine the rest of Punjab for the Akali-SAD combine...The "Modi Wave" is one where they are being threatened to be wiped out from the state....The Congress is all set to repeat their sweep of 2009...

Read on....

(HindustanTimes) After putting its all its aces in the poll battle, the Congress has entrusted the task of leading the high-decibel campaign in Punjab to Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, former Punjab CM and leader of opposition. In an interview to HT, Bhattal and campaign committee convener and former state finance minister Surinder Singla said the SAD-BJP regime should read the writing on the wall. “The people of Punjab have decided to wipe them out for indulging in record-breaking corruption, high-handedness and open loot and they are now struggling to win even Bathinda....

Q: There are talks of a Modi wave in the country. Do you think there is a Modi wave in Punjab?

BHATTAL: I see no Modi wave in Punjab, or for that matter in other parts of the country. Modi was working on creating a wave and has been successful to some extent by managing the media. But he is against minorities and has a communal agenda. He approached the Supreme Court to evict Sikh farmers from Gujarat, ignoring even CM Badal’s repeated appeals. There is documentary evidence that he did not let benefit of central schemes reach the needy Muslims in Gujarat. There are minorities in all states. Many BJP leaders do not want to call Modi to their campaign or use his pictures because of minority votes. The PM’s chair has many contenders in the BJP. Then there is Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP. He has attracted many to his fold. In Punjab, there is no Modi wave but a wave against the Akali misrule as people have understood their double role and false promises.

What are the poll issues in Punjab?

BHATTAL: They made 300 promises in their poll manifesto but kept not even 30. Mame te baan gaye par shagun nai dita (They became uncles but the Shagun scheme did not reach daughters). Forget hiking pensions, even the meagre amount of ` 250 is not being given. Badal taan tinn kilometre te apni bhasha badal lende ne (Badals change their language every three kilometres). In Haryana, they are against the BJP, and in Punjab, with it. It is purely a religious party and is misusing money of the SGPC. They have a narrow thinking and have politicised everything from religion to official machinery. Sukhbir kehnda si Punjab nu California bana dawanga. Eh ve California? (Sukhbir said he would make Punjab California. Is this California?). The state has gone bankrupt, employees do not get salaries, traders and farmers are harassed. Bas apni photoan har thai laga lende ne ..cycla te, bhandya te...( they just put their pictures on everything, be it bicycles or utensils. We openly challenge them to debate development with us, both with the Congress-ruled states and our tenure in Punjab.

But the SAD-BJP blames the Centre for all its woes. Sukhbir says drugs are flowing into Punjab from across the border, and sand prices are shooting because of a ban on mining.

SINGLA: The border is under the BSF. Local Akali leadership is fully involved in the drug and sand mining mafias. Even Akali leaders admit it openly. Three factories were unearthed in Punjab making synthetic drugs. The sand and gravel prices have jumped fivefold during their regime.

BHATTAL: How can they blame the Centre? Drugs are being made in Punjab and it is now the new supplier of drugs to other states. It is their police and their leaders that are protecting the drug mafia.

What about property tax?

SINGLA: The property tax act was passed by the Centre in 2003. Till 2011, Punjab did not implement it. The Punjab BJP kept saying not to implement property tax. But it was brought around. It was same for the FDI in multi-brand retail. Sukhbir on record had welcomed the FDI saying it would be useful for traders and farmers. But they toed the BJP line. It was same for the nuclear deal. This regime is destroying the state.

How are they destroying the state?

SINGLA: Mainly through police raaj. Anyone who even takes name of the Congress is intimidated. Look at Majitha in Amritsar. No one can dare speak in favour of the Congress there. Their government is permanently under overdraft and surviving on loans. They sold government properties to stay afloat. No one is ready to give them loans. The state’s debt at ` 1 lakh crore is one of the highest in the country. One lakh small and medium industries have shut down. VAT refund of ` 400 crore is pending. They have also destroyed agriculture. Employees’ pay arrears have not been given. Thank God, we are part of India, or otherwise Punjab would have disintegrated like Soviet Russia.

Which is more in Punjab — anti-incumbency against the UPA or anti-incumbency against the Badals?

SINGLA: They claim anti-incumbency against the UPA government due to scams. But 2G spectrum or coal allocation have not affected the common man like sand and gravel prices.

BHATTAL: As for corruption, inquiries were ordered against all those accused of corruption in the UPA. Is the BJP not corrupt? They have brought back their Karnataka leader after he was removed on corruption charges. What action have they taken against their corrupt ministers? They ripped off Shagun scheme money by making fake accounts of sarpanches. Be it hotels, sand, liquor or land mafia, their corruption is record-breaking.

Sukhbir claims to make Punjab power-surplus and attractive for investors.

BHATTAL: If Punjab is power surplus, why there are long power cuts even during winter. His claims on progressive investors’ summit are hollow. The existing industry is running away to other states and no new industry is coming here as there is no power, law and order or money in the state coffers. Even when Punjab was under militancy, its fiscal health was better than that of today.

Why could the Congress not exploit these issues and Akalis romped home again?

BHATTAL: It is because of our lapses that they came back to power. I admit there have been shortcomings — be it surveys, assessment, ticket distribution. Even Akalis did not believe they were winning. We should have tied up with Communists and People’s Party of Punjab of Manpreet Badal. We lost 17-18 seats by less than 2,500 votes. Over confidence cost us dear. Sukhbir Badal is a manipulator, not a politician. He plays the money game. They lure poor and needy voters by distributing drugs and cash. We do not indulge in such dirty politics. His manipulation worked. But now no one trusts him and they are struggling to win even Bathinda.

It is believed that the Congress is its own biggest enemy in Punjab?

BHATTAL: The Congress is a big party. There is a difference of opinion among its leaders. But when the high command decides on something, we accept it and are taking on the Akalis unitedly.

But Amarinder did not accept Bajwa. Other than infighting, the morale of the Congress workers has also been hit by a string of desertions?

BHATTAL: The desertions are not happening because of the low morale but intimidation and misuse of power. Those joining the Akalis are arm-twisted to do so. See after the elections. Jiven pakken te ber girde ne, enha Akali dal da elections toh baad eh haal ho jana hai (Like overripe berries fall off trees, people will desert the Akali Dal after the elections). Rahul wants younger leaders in politics. Captain said he was not consulted on appointment of Bajwa but he has also said that he accepts the decision of the high command.

Bajwa demanded a CBI probe into the drug mafia. Amarinder did not support his demand.

BHATTAL: Captain’s view was not different but he did not want to delay the investigation. He also said it was his personal view.

How do you rate the performance of Bajwa so far?

BHATTAL: He is working hard. He only got a little time.

It is believed that he could not take senior leadership along.

BHATTAL: There have been some shortcomings. But it was not intentional. We are united in the larger interest of the party and the country. Sukhbir should read the writing on the wall. This election will lay the foundation stone for their complete rout in the 2017 assembly elections.

How has fielding top guns like Amarinder and Ambika Soni in elections changed the poll scenario?

BHATTAL: Fielding senior leaders has helped to unite like-minded people. The Akali Dal was thinking it would have a cakewalk. They even told BJP leader Arun Jaitley that they would send his victory certificate to Delhi. Our party involved its entire top leaders, either to fight the polls or manage it. Now it is a cakewalk for us.

How important is the AAP factor in Punjab?

BHATTAL: It will damage the Akali-BJP combine by eating into their votes. But people know from the Delhi example that they can’t run a government, so most of the antiincumbency vote will come to us. AAP will benefit us.

Half of Bangalore didn’t vote - how political parties reacted

In the end, full page advertisements, giant hoardings and cut-outs; radio, television; smses blitz unleashed by the BJP to whip up a "Modi Wave” all fell flat. Somewhere the Gujarati reputation of being money wise took a huge beating as they obviously failed to decipher the Bangalorean (Bengalurenavaru in Kannada) world view!

Probably cheesed off by such bombardment, annoyed to be treated as zombies while irritated further by the heat wave, Bangaloreans played true to their laid back character preferred to work, sip beer or take off for a vacation than vote.

As this report from a popular local daily indicates, the BJP was vastly disappointed; AAP shell shocked that they failed to whip up public support a la Delhi; the Congress cautiously optimistic and surprise, surprise, the JD[S] burst into celebrations as they now saw a high probability of wresting away the Bangalore Rural seat from their more fancied rivals! 

Read on....
(BangaloreMirror) After all the hype generated about `voting' in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls, it was surmised that Bangaloreans would turn out in huge numbers to exercise their franchise. But the data collated by the Election Commission at the end of polling on Thursday smacked of voter-apathy: Nearly half of Bangalore did not vote.

While Bangalore South and Central recorded a voter turnout of 55 per cent each, polling in the huge Bangalore North constituency was 52 per cent. Though the polling percentage in Bangalore has improved compared to the 2009 Lok Sabha polls where Bangalore South saw a voter turnout of 44.74 per cent, Bangalore Central 44.55 per cent and Bangalore North 46.72 per cent, members of the civil society contend that more Bangaloreans should have participated in the electoral process.

In fact, Bangalore's voter turnout is much lower than the state averageof 5 per cent. Chief Electoral Officer Anil Kumar Jha said:
"The turnout in Lok Sabha polls will usually be 4-5 per cent lesser than the turnout during assembly polls (it was 57.38 per cent in 2013 assembly polls). The turnout touching 56-57 per cent in this polls is quite satisfactory."
Politicians, cutting across party lines, maintain that Bangalore's participation is abysmal compared to other cities including Delhi in the backdrop of the voter awareness drives and media hype. The BJP and the AAP expected a higher percentage in the urban areas. Both parties have expressed disappointment. The Congress is cautiously optimistic. The JD(S) is thrilled at the high polling in the rural areas, which they feel will benefit them. All four political parties, however, are at their drawing boards trying to decipher the polling trend. The general claim is that since vote-banks are spread across the social spectrum, it is difficult to hazard clear guesses, unlike earlier.

Minority votes consolidated, says Congress

Earlier, the trend used to be that if there is huge polling, it is an advantage to Congress, as it meant that the slum voter and the lower middle class, traditionally their votebanks, had voted en masse.
''Now we can't say which party has more advantage, as the breakup of votebanks across the parties is difficult to estimate. My guess is that a polling percentage over 70 to 75 percent would have been more beneficial to the BJP, as it would mean that the social media hype over Narendra Modi had translated into votes. I think the 65 per cent average is good for us,'' Congress spokesperson B L Shankar said.
Party leaders point out that there has been a consolidation of minority votes in all constituencies in Karnataka and that could account for a good half of the polling in all constituencies.
''We are also confident that the AHINDA -- minorities, backward classes and dalits -- have turned out in large numbers and supported us all across the state,''
another leader said. The party is slightly worried about the huge polling in Bombay-Karnatak region which could mean that the Lingayats have turned out en masse and could support the BJP.

BJP disappointed

Former law minister and BJP spokesperson S Sureshkumar expressed his disappointment over the voting in Bangalore city.
"Polling should have touched 65 per cent going by the trend and support that we witnessed during the campaign trail all over. No election was discussed as much as this one and social media campaigning had taken over the campaign trail in a large way. But the same support has not been reflected in the polling act and this is really a sad reflection. However, the party and all of us are confident about the prospects of our candidates keeping in mind the current figures."
Sureshkumar had complained to the EC about the possible low turnout and requested a change in the polling dates across the state.
"Nobody wants to stay back in cities with a series of holidays stretching for about four to five days. The poll percentage has reflected the urban voters' mentality and cynicism towards the system or it could be the feeling that they do not want anything from the government which is contrary to rural mentality," Sureshkumar explained.
According to the BJP insiders, in 2009 the party had the highest vote share of 41 per cent largely in the urban localities which resulted in winning 19 seats.
"Though the figures are not matching our expectation, the urban turnout has been steady and promising. Usually in Lok Sabha polls there will be four to five percent lesser turnout than assembly. Increased turnout would only reflect the anti-incumbency factor among voters and to dethrone the government they come out in large numbers. In this case higher the percentage it is always better for us. In 2009 Bangalore South recorded only 48 per cent turnout, but this time it has already reached 55 per cent,"
explained a source close to Bangalore South candidate Ananth Kumar.

Figures are promising, claims JDS

The regional party with high stakes in this election, the JDS is more or less satisfied with the turnout particularly in rural areas and tier-II locations. Giving an insight into the trend, former CM H D Kumaraswamy, who is also contesting from Chikkaballapur explained,
"These figures may be disappointing for the national parties. But for a regional party like JD(S) it is promising. More the percentage, the more will be the lead and vote share of our party. JD(S) has always had its support base in rural areas, unlike the national parties that relied on urban dwellers. If you go by the figures, rural areas have accounted for 65 to 70 per cent polling which is affirmative. In 2009 we had only 14 per cent vote share and this time it is likely to go up to 28 per cent better than the assembly performance in 2013."
The JDS confidence stems from the fact that in the Vokkaliga dominated Southern Karnataka, the polling percentages have been very high. This is presumed to be a consolidation of the Vokkaligas along with some of the more minor other backward classes and to an extent the minorities. The JDS anticipates that this combination has voted for them, rather than the Congress or the BJP in their stronghold.

AAP expected 60% turnout

The most crushing disappointment is being felt by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which had expected at least a 60 per cent vote in Bangalore city. The party, relying on the educated, social-media active class to come out on the streets and vote for them, like they did in Delhi, is currently licking its wounds, but hoping for a better situation in the upcoming Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) polls.
''It is a shocking percentage. Last time about 45 per cent of 53 lakh lakh people voted. This time it is 55 per cent of 72 lakh, which is an improvement, but still extremely disappointing for us,''
said AAP member Prithvi Reddy.He pointed out that all these years, Bangaloreans would give a standard answer on why they didn't vote.
"They would say there is no one to vote for. This time they did not have that excuse. All parties have put up decent candidates. When there was a choice, what is their excuse? They are so involved in their own lives, they don't understand what a big opportunity they have lost to make a difference. They have also lost the right to complain,'' Reddy added.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Karnataka: BJP hopes of winning 20 seats through "Modi Wave" belied!!

Bangalore South and BJP Senior leader, Ananth Kumar had identified Karnataka as one of the key states along with states like UP, Bihar etc that the party must weep to propel Modi to the Prime Minister’s chair. The moderate voter turnout has belied such expectations as this FirstPost article concludes. After voting, the Congress is ecstatic on the prospects of winning 20+ seats and clean sweeping all of Bangalore seats that went to poll. It is loud and clear that Nandan Nilekani would trounce Ananth Kumar on May 16th. The BJP offices were deserted....and the morale of their workers extremely low.

(FirstPost) The fate of 434 candidates, who are contesting the parliamentary elections from Karnataka, was sealed on Thursday with polling concluding in all the 28 constituencies. However, some of the high-profile candidates are likely to spend sleepless nights over the next one month till the counting date because of poor voter turnout in key constituencies, particularly at urban centres where the BJP was banking on the ‘Modi wave’ to help it win more seats.

The average voting across the state was 65 per cent as against 58 per cent in the 2009 parliamentary polls. The Election Commission of India is expecting the overall voting to reach at least 68 percent once the tabulations are compete.

The BJP had set a target of 20 plus seats from Karnataka to fuel Narendra Modi’s prime ministerial ambitions. The party had predicted higher voter turnout in urban areas because of its campaigning, particularly on the social media projecting Modi as the PM candidate. But in reality, voter turnout did not match the party’s expectations. It had contended that electorate was fed up of the ‘corrupt’ Congress and that the voters would turnout in large numbers at polling booths to vote overwhelmingly for the BJP.
In Bangalore South where Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani is contesting the polls against BJP’s poster boy Ananth Kumar, the voter turnout was around 52 percent, which would be a major cause for concern for the sitting MP. During the last election, the polling percentage was even lower at 43 percent and Ananth Kumar won by a slender margin of 37,000+ votes. The BJP was expecting at least 65 percent voting in Bangalore South, because the party was of the view that Modi’s campaign.

Though both Ananth Kumar and Nandan are tight-lipped about the outcome, the latter scored brownie points over the former by exposing some of the alleged violations by the BJP on the day of voting. The constituency continued to be plagued by incomplete voters’ list. For instance, many voters, who had cast their ballot less than a year ago in the Assembly polls, found their names missing from the voters’ list on Thursday.

The Bangalore Central constituency too was no exception, as the voting was above 52 percent. Nandan’s former colleague V Balakrishnan is contesting as a candidate of the AAP in this BJP stronghold. The voting pattern could benefit the Congress, which has fielded youth Congress leader Rizwan Arshad, as Minorities form a decisive vote-bank here.

In Mysore, where Modi’s handpicked candidate Prathap Simha is contesting as the BJP candidate, the voter turnout was 65 percent. Here too, the BJP was expecting more than 75 percent voter turnout because of the ‘Modi wave’. Modi had even addressed a massive rally in Mysore a few days ago.

As usual, the coastal belt where the BJP is strong registered higher voter turnout – 73 percent in Dakshina Kannada and 70 percent in Udupi. Former CM BS Yeddyurappa may have to keep his fingers crossed, as the voting in Shimoga was above 60 percent. Geetha Shivarajkumar, the daughter of former CM S Bangarappa is contesting the polls as a candidate of the Janata Dal (Secular). Her husband Shivarajkumar is a popular Kannada film star and though plenty of actors descended on Shimoga to campaign for Geetha, it looks like their efforts did not help improve the voter turnout.

In Chikkaballapura where Union minister M Veerappa Moily is pitted against former CM HD Kumaraswamy, the voter turnout was a high of 75 percent. The BJP’s BN Bachche Gowda (former minister) is also in the fray and the constituency is being keenly watched, as the result could go in anybody’s favor.

The North Karnataka constituencies of Bidar and Gulbarga once against disappointed with a voter turnout of just above 50 percent. Here, senior Congress leaders Mallikarjuna Kharge and Dharam Singh are in the fray. Though polling officials blamed the soaring temperature and heat wave for the poor voter turnout, the BJP’s claim that ‘Modi wave’ was omnipresent in North Karnataka did not motivate the voters to step out of their homes.