|CURRENT ISSUE DECEMBER 01, 2003|
Easy Come, EC Go
JAIPUR It's the oddest of sights in Rajasthan. Massive hoardings along the highway partly covered with black cloth. Most motorists are totally foxed but it is actually a case of easy come, EC go. Sensing that the ruling Congress Party was taking undue credit for the express highways being constructed under the prime minister's highway project, the BJP-led Government at the Centre had erected hoardings displaying Atal Bihari Vajpayee's photograph straddling highways all across Rajasthan.
The Congress lost no time in complaining to the Election Commission which, equally swiftly, ordered that the offending messages be removed. This explains the black sheets pasted on these boards to cover any mention of the scheme or any photographs of the prime minister. Once assembly elections are over, the sheets will be removed to allow Vajpayee to take his due credit.
By Rohit Parihar
CHENNAI When Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa decided to give 100 elephants-37 from temples, 18 from mutts and private individuals and 45 belonging to the Forest Department-rejuvenation therapy, nobody thought torture would be part of the package. Under the scheme, the animals had to be transported from different parts of the state to the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary in Ooty by truck. When many of them refused to get into the truck, the mahouts beat them mercilessly.
Even as TV channels beamed extended footage of the torture meted out to the mammals, P.C. Ramasamy, minister for Hindu religious and charitable endowments, praised the chief minister's pet project: "It is her deep compassion for animals which is at the core of this scheme." That didn't prevent many of the pachyderms from bloody injuries. As they say in Tamil Nadu, love hurts.
-By Arun Ram
BHOPAL It's the rule of the law in pre-poll Madhya Pradesh. After Chief Minister Digvijay Singh filed his defamation suit against Uma Bharati, she confidently announced that she had the "No. 1 advocate in the country" Arun Jaitley on her side. She, however, did not anticipate that Jaitley would face a formidable rival: the state's former advocate-general, Vivek Tankha, who has resigned and joined the Congress to specially deal with the case relating to allegations made by Bharati of misappropriation of public funds by Digvijay. Significantly, most of the controversial decisions she refers to would have been vetted by Tankha's former office. So while Tankha will be on familiar territory Jaitley will have an uphill task.
-By Neeraj Mishra
"The EC has the duty to hold elections as soon as possible so that people are not deprived of their choice of rule."
"Our objective is to have a proper election and not a quick and bad election, a good poll and not a quick election."
EPILOGUE: The EC's suggestion of a March poll might thwart TDP plans to tap the sympathy wave.