Versace and Gucci better line up for UP, as the state is coughing up a fortune for the most basic clothing: the dhoti and kurta. While the kurta is code word for Rs 5,000 (per family), the modest dhoti is fetching twice that much. That’s the going rate being doled out by three ‘secular’ candidates in the fray. But as there are no free lunches, the beneficiaries have been warned of dire consequences if they don’t deliver at the polling booth. So those who had availed the benefit from more than one source are opting to return the extra pair. Seems the Election Commission still has a long way to go before the cash flow in UP is checked.
Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma, who is eyeing a second term from Gonda, UP, is proving to be an incorrigible case for the Election Commission. Despite censure, Beni refuses to quit indulging in verbal volleys against Narendra Modi. Though embarrassed by his diatribes, the Congress admits it’s the only way to counter a rising Modi wave in the state. Sources close to Beni say that post 16 May, he could even emerge as the rallying point for secular forces, irrespective of a Modi win or loss.
The Congress in Kerala seems to have its own retirement plans for cm Oommen Chandy after 16 May. Some are almost hopeful that Chandy’s days are numbered and have already decided on a replacement. While PCC chief VM Sudheeran is the natural choice for some, others want Defence Minister AK Antony to step into Chandy’s shoes. A leadership change seems to be an answer to the party’s woes, at least in Kerala.
Former Union minister SM Krishna hopes to be renominated to the Rajya Sabha. But there’s a glitch. The ruling Congress has too many aspirants, who feel one term in the Upper House for the senior leader is enough. Besides, party insiders say that actor-turnedminister MH Ambareesh, whose fight with Krishna has split the Congress’ Mandya unit, has been lobbying with state leaders to not back the former external affairs minister.
BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi is used to shouting down opponents in TV studios. However, the idiot box could now become the albatross around her neck. Former Gujarat DGP and anti-Narendra Modi campaigner RB Sreekumar has slapped a defamation suit on her and Times Now for making “defamatory and slanderous” allegations at two press meets last year. Besides an apology, he has demanded Rs 1 lakh in damages. Another TV debate on the cards?