Money Matters - Simplified

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Politics

Congress, BJP have just six women candidates in Madhya Pradesh

Bhopal, April 6 -- Women may comprise 47 percent of Madhya Pradesh's electorate, but the two main parties together have fielded just six candidates for the 29 Lok Sabha seats - the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) four and the opposition Congress two.

The two parties have also been advocating 33 percent reservation for women in all bodies. But this does not seem to translate into a more equitable distribution of nominations.

The smaller parties are no different. The Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has not fielded even one woman. Ditto with the Samajwadi Party.

"The names of some other women candidates were also in the list but they failed to make the grade when it came to winnability," said a senior Congress leader.

So, it could fix on only two women - Rajesh Nandini Singh from Shahdol and Meenakshi Natrajan from Mandsore.

Rajnath to meet Varun in Etah jail

Lucknow, April 6 -- Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Rajnath Singh will Monday visit Uttar Pradesh's Etah jail where the party's Pilibhit candidate Varun Gandhi is behind bars for his alleged inflammatory campaign speeches.

BJP workers will also demonstrate against the Mayawati-led state government for invoking the stringent National Security Act (NSA) against Varun Gandhi, who was moved from Pilibhit to Etah, 300 km away, last week.

After meeting Varun Gandhi, Rajnath Singh will address a public meeting in Etah, 300 km from the state capital, party workers said.

"Our national president will arrive in Etah Monday afternoon to protest the illegal detention of our young leader Varun Gandhi and the autocratic ways of functioning of the Mayawati government," BJP leader H.N. Dixit told IANS.

In Karnataka, parties field just four women candidates

Bangalore, April 6 -- Karnataka has a healthy 10:9.7 male-female ratio when it comes to its over 40 million voters. But political parties have fielded only four women for the state's 28 Lok Sabha seats.

The Congress has fielded two women, Margaret Alva from Uttara Kannada and Tejaswini Gowda from Bangalore Rural.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Communist Party of India (CPI) have fielded one each while the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) has no woman contestant though its election symbol is a woman carrying haystack.

J. Shanti of the BJP, the sister of Health Minister B. Sriramulu, is contesting from Bellary while the CPI's Radha Sundaresh will fight from Udupi-Chikmagalur.

CPI, India's oldest Left party, wrestles to be alive

New Delhi, April 6 -- More than 80 years after its birth, the Communist Party of India (CPI) is struggling to stay relevant, widely seen as a poor also-ran ahead of another general election.

For a party that once enjoyed support all the way from Peshawar in undivided India's northwest to Chittagong in the east, the CPI today needs crutches to win Lok Sabha seats.

Party leaders admit they are faced with daunting problems, the most serious being the ballooning of caste-based outfits that have undercut the CPI's mass base.

"We do face challenges in this new era," CPI leader C.K. Chandrappan told IANS, adding that casteist political parties eroded the CPI's base, particularly in the populous northern India.

Party hoppers galore confuse Karnataka's poll scenario

Bangalore, April 6 -- Karnataka voters are in a quandary. Though familiar with most of the candidates in the poll battle, they are no longer sure who is in which party as the number of politicians switching sides is increasing as the voting dates approach.

Staunch Congressmen have suddenly turned strong loyalists of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which to them was a 'communal party' even a day before changing sides.

Some who had left the Congress for the BJP are now realising that it has been "communal all along" and are celebrating their home-coming to the Congress.

BJP-Sena urge Maharashtra to vote for 'decisive Advani' (Lead)

Mumbai, April 5 -- A galaxy of leaders from the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena alliance here Sunday urged the people of Maharashtra to "oust" the Congress-led government at the centre and bring the BJP-led NDA to power under the decisive leadership of L.K. Advani.

Speaking at a rally, Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray, glancing at the massive turnout at the Shivaji Park in central Mumbai, said "seeing the enthusiastic gathering here, there is little doubt" which alliance would be voted to power in the elections.

Urging the people of Mumbai and the state to vote for the alliance, Thackeray - turning to address veteran BJP leader Advani - said, "At the next rally after May 16, we want you to come here as the prime minister of Hindustan. Even Sena chief Bal Thackeray shall be there to welcome you." The crowd cheered its approval.

Was Nafisa hijacked by Amar from Congress fold?

Lucknow, April 5 -- Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh ensured that actress-turned-social activist Nafisa Ali left the Congress and joined his party to contest from the Lucknow constituency, according to informed sources.

The question comes up after Nafisa Ali's 'secret' visit to this Uttar pradesh capital 10 days ago, when she approached Maulana Khalid Rasheed, Lucknow's naib imam and head of the 300-year-old seminary Darul-Uloom Firangi Mahal, Idgah, and another leading maulana of the city.

Nafisa Ali was here March 28 to assess whether she would get the blessings of Lucknow's leading clerics, whose support could swing a large chunk of the city's Muslim community. She was accompanied by a prominent Congress leader, who enjoys close proximity to the two maulanas.

Advani demands 'full' inquiry into Mumbai terror attack

Mumbai, April 5 -- Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani Sunday demanded "a full and proper investigation" into the Nov 26-29, 2008, Mumbai terror attacks and punishment to those responsible for it.

Addressing a joint election rally with poll partner Shiv Sena at the Shivaji Park here Sunday evening, Advani said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, then home minister Shivraj Patil and National Security Advisor M.K. Naraynan had warned inside and outside parliament that the next attack on India could be from the sea route.

"However, despite having such information, what did the government do? What steps were taken to prevent it?" Advani asked.

Unusually tight security as Rahul files papers (Lead)

Sultanpur (Uttar Pradesh), April 4 -- An exceptionally tight security net was thrown around the collectorate here Saturday as Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi arrived to file his nomination papers for the Amethi parliamentary seat, better known as his and his family's pocket-burrow for decades.

Accompanied by his mother, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, late father Rajiv Gandhi's close friend Satish Sharma, advocate K.C. Kaushik and local Congress legislator Ram Sewak Dhobi, the young scion of India's most prominent political family zoomed in and out of the chamber of the returning officer without looking left or right or having a single word with anyone around.

Everyone, including mediapersons, were kept at a safe distance from the otherwise affable leader who is seen in Congress ranks as a future prime minister.

Maneka Gandhi should have brought up son better: Mayawati

Lucknow, April 4 -- Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati Saturday slammed Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Maneka Gandhi, saying she should have brought up her son Varun better rather than defending him. Varun Gandhi is in jail, facing a charge of delivering campaign speeches vilifying Muslims.

Addressing a press conference here, Mayawati tore into Maneka Gandhi for her remarks that only a mother could understand her feelings.

Terming Maneka Gandhi's remarks "insinuating", the BSP chief said: "Let me tell Menaka that even Mother Teresa did not have children but understood the feelings of millions of children." Mayawati is unmarried.

She continued: "Rather than teaching her son some manners and telling him how to behave, she is going about defending him, which is condemnable."