PICK OF THE WEEK
New winds in J&K
Sajad Lone, son of slain moderate Hurriyat leader Abdul Gani Lone, has become the first separatist to contest polls in two decades of the secessionist movement in Jammu and Kashmir. Announcing his decision on Saturday, Lone argued that it was time for separatists to “unglue” themselves from old and failing approaches, and insisted that for him the change was only “of strategy and not of ideology”.
“The old, tired and failed approaches cannot continue to be put forward like a broken record. Other options have to be examined now”, said Lone at a press conference in Srinagar. The last assembly election in Kashmir surprised everyone with its spectacular turnouts. Lone’s decision to break ranks with the politics of boycott for Lok Sabha polls may be an acknowledgement of the people’s growing desire to engage with democratic politics in the troubled state.
* PM SPEAKS
The prime minister’s press conference in the capital last week was not just the occasion for the mild-mannered doctor to take on his opposition but also to give the nation a glimpse into his mind during the difficult time last year when his government’s fate hinged on the Indo-US nuclear deal.
“It was a matter of the nation’s honour and three years of work and commitment with the US... I staked my reputation on this and told all concerned that I would resign if the deal did not come through” said Singh.
He dismissed LK Advani’s challenge to participate in a television debate, saying that he did not wish to accord him the privilege of being an “alternative prime minister”.
*SAYING IT LIKE IT ISN’T
The Election Commission issued a notice to Lalu Prasad Yadav for his remark on Varun Gandhi’s hate speech in Pilibhit. If he were home minster, he would have “crushed’ Varun under a roller for his anti-Muslim speeches, said Yadav.
The episode reflected the plunging levels of political rhetoric in this election campaign. BJP candidate from Kandhamal, Ashok Sahu, has also been booked under the Representation of People’s Act and the Indian Penal Code for his speech against Christians during election campaigning. In the run-up to this election, standards of public argument have visibly dipped, in the political mainstream and at its fringe.
But Yadav’s misplaced political machismo also underlines the many difficulties of Lalu Yadav in Bihar. He senses that the cracks in his once solid Muslim-Yadav vote bank, that were revealed in the