Nora Chopra is a senior journalist with a finger on the pulse of the Indian political scene

Joshi commits historical blunders in poll manifesto

Veteran BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi was once a professor of physics, so no one can criticise him for committing some "historical" blunders in his party's election manifesto. The manifesto says that India's freedom movement was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, Vallabhbhai Patel, Subhas Chandra Bose, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Aurobindo Ghosh. But it does not make any mention of Jawaharlal Nehru, B.R. Ambedkar, Bhagat Singh or Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. At another place the manifesto mentions Spanish scholar Al Andalusi as having said that the first nation to have cultivated science was India. But the manifesto does not mention that Al Andalusi was an Islamic scholar and a qazi in Toledo. As Union Minister of Human Resources Development in the NDA government, Joshi was accused by his critics of "distorting" history, but the latest "distortions" have even the BJP baffled.

Illustrations by Sandeep Adhwaryu
UPA wants its own Lokpal

Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh want their man to be appointed as Lokpal before UPA 2 comes to an end next month. The meeting to appoint the Lokpal is likely to be held on 27-28 April. Among the names making the rounds for Lokpal are that of the Chief Justice of India, P. Sathasivam. Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth is being considered for Member, Lokpal.

Dwivedi still talks Lohia

Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi, the former chairman of the AICC media department, is a lonely man. A few journalists still walk in to his office searching for an occasional story. After all he was recently in the news for talking about the possibility of Priyanka Gandhi joining politics. He is also an excellent host and serves his guests samosas and chai. But while partaking the samosas, the hungry journalists also have to endure his Hindi poetry lessons and Ram Manohar Lohia stories. Though it is nearly 40 years that he has joined the Congress, Dwivedi is yet to get over his association with Lohia.

Janardan Dwivedi
Alliance trouble for BJP in TN
BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi being greeted by superstar Rajinikanth in Chennai on Sunday. PTI

All is not well with the Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies in Tamil Nadu. Alliance partner and DMDK chief Vijyakanth did not attend Narendra Modi's rally in Chennai, giving rise to speculation that trouble is brewing between the two parties. Similarly, PMK leader S. Ramadoss, who is opposed to his son Anbumani Ramadoss' alliance with the BJP, stayed away from the rally. The buzz is that it is to balance this that Modi met superstar Rajnikanth at his residence. The meeting was organised by Amitabh Bachchan. Incidentally, a burqa clad Muslim woman worked as a translator for Modi when he addressed an election rally at Krishnagiri in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday.

PM kept quiet on Baru book

If Sanjaya Baru has to be believed, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was sent a copy of the book The Accidental Prime Minister on 4 April. This was a week before it was released on 11 April. The Prime Minister had a week to express his disagreement with the book's contents either in public or in private. He didn't do so. The speculation is that the PM's silence should be seen as being in agreement with the premise of the book, that Sonia Gandhi was acting as super Prime Minister. The PM is now under tremendous pressure from the Congress to criticise Baru and the book in public.

Jaswant hires PR firm
Jaswant Singh

Former BJP leader Jaswant Singh is facing a major cadre crunch in Rajasthan's Barmer, from where he is contesting the Lok Sabha elections as an independent. Apart from his own battery of servants, he does not have anyone to campaign for him. So he has hired a PR agency called Avian Media, owned by Nikhil Khanna to manage his campaign. His campaign is said to have the financial backing of an electronics giant.

Congress’ TN leaders do not want Sonia, Rahul to campaign

Congress leaders contesting the Lok Sabha elections from Tamil Nadu do not want Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to campaign for them. These leaders include P. Chidambaram, whose son Karthi is contesting from Sivaganga. The Finance Minister has made it clear to the party that Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and Rahul should stay away from Sivaganga. Chidambaram is not even using the photographs of the Congress president and vice-president on his election posters. The thinking in his camp is that these three top leaders are identified as pro Sri Lanka and anti Lankan Tamil, so they should stay away.

CPM throws Krishna book at Mamata

The CPI(M) is trying to derive political mileage from a 2008 book, An Outsider in Politics, written by Krishna Bose. Bose, a former Member of Parliament with the Trinamool Congress, had written in her memoirs that after the Gujarat riots of 2002, when there was a debate on the issue in Parliament, Mamata Banerjee stopped her from voting against the BJP-led NDA government. Banerjee's Trinamool Congress was a part of the NDA at the time. The CPI(M) is making full use of this fact to embarrass the West Bengal Chief Minister and Krishna Bose's son Sugato. Sugato Bose is fighting the Lok Sabha elections as a Trinamool Congress candidate from his mother's erstwhile constituency of Jadavpur on the outskirts of Kolkata.

West Bengal CM and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee at an election rally in support of party candidate Satya Ranjan Dasmunshi,from Raiganj Contituency at Islampur in North Dinajpur district of West Bengal on 11 April. PTI
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