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Daily Take: Rajni has spoken

April 14, 2004 17:20 IST

Tamil superstar Rajnikanth is caught on the horns of a dilemma this election. On one hand is his running feud with the Paattali Makkal Katchi, which disrupted the screening of his last film Baba two years ago, and on the other is his desire not to upset his old friend, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's M Karunanidhi. Outright opposition to the DMK-led front and support for Prime Minister A B Vajpayee and the National Democratic Alliance, would also translate into indirect support for old nemesis Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa who is aligned with the BJP, so what does Rajni do?

Tamil filmdom's sultan of style told his numerous rasigar manrams (fan clubs, a rage in the southern states) not to be swayed by considerations of caste, community and the like, but to vote as per their conscience. As for himself, his vote is for the Bharatiya Janata Party, because it is a party that advocates interlinking of rivers to solve the country's chronic water scarcity.

Are his fans any clearer in their minds after this announcement on April 11?

You can attribute it to work pressure, or to the excitement of getting to see Prime Minister A B Vajpayee in flesh and blood, or, as the Dhanbad police says, simple inebriation.

The fact is P L Khalko, deputy superintendent of police of Dumka, fired a round from his service revolved following an argument with another DSP. And it didn't help matters that it all happened at the venue where the prime minister was due to due to address an election rally in an hour.

The Dhanbad deputy commissioner of police said Khalko, who was on deputation, was immediately overpowered, detained and sent for medical tests.

The one good thing in this sorry episode, of an enforcer of the law violating it, is that no one was hurt.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi may have told a television interviewer that he would henceforth adhere to 'line and length' during electioneering, but obviously, to carry the cricketing analogy further, the ruling does not apply to his ground staff.

In Vadodara, Vishwa Hindu Parishad activists on Sunday allegedly roughed up three persons, including Shabnam Hashmi, chief of Act Now for Harmony and Democracy, who were on a nationwide mission to 'motivate' voters.

Hashmi had been leading a group to urge voters to elect a government that 'did not promote communal hatred'.

According her, the VHP activists barged into the venue of a press conference being addressed by her, 'manhandled her, assaulted members of her group and allegedly threatened to rape and kill her in the same manner in which Muslims were killed and raped during the post-Godhra communal riots.'

Hashmi has filed a first information report, following which two VHP activists were arrested.

A generation has moved on, but the Bofors kickbacks scandal of late 1980s simply refuses to go away. Lending an air of Tu Tu Mein Mein is Ram Jethmalani who, at the height of the scandal posed 10 questions daily on the scandal to then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi alleging a cover up. Now, the celebrated lawyer says, he has information that will implicate Prime Minister A B Vajpayee and his colleagues in the matter.

Jethmalani, law minister in the Vajpayee government but now contesting as a Congress-backed Independent against the prime minister in Lucknow, also attacked the BJP for taking the election campaign to gutter-level.

When it was pointed out that he too had levelled allegations against Rajiv Gandhi in the Bofors matter, he said, 'Rajiv had unnecessarily allowed himself to be surrounded by doubts.'

Even as Jethmalani went after the BJP, the Congress was forced to defend its nomination of a former critic against Vajpayee, saying he was after all 'fighting for a national cause.'

When it was pointed out that Jethmalani had criticised Rajiv's role in the Bofors deal and also defended the late prime minister Indira Gandhi's killers in the Supreme Court, Congress spokesperson Ashwani Kumar told reporters that 'if a person changes to fight for the national cause the Congress will support him or her.'

When asked about Jethmalani's own ideology, he said, 'The Congress is convinced he is a person who never submitted to communal ideology. His views have converged with ours for the last one year.'

Crossover is not a phenomenon restricted to the world of cinema, come election time and you find politicians resorting to what they euphemistically term 'homecoming.'

The latest is Rashid Alvi, who was leader of the Bahujan Samaj Party's parliamentary party in the dissolved Lok Sabha and who has, since crossing swords with BSP boss Mayawati, been languishing in the doghouse.

This week, he joined the Congress party to, you guessed right, 'strengthen secular forces.' A ticket to contest from Amroha constituency in Uttar Pradesh was not a precondition, he clarified, all he wants to do is campaign for the party.

In an interview with in March, Alvi had accused Mayawati of working to help the BJP and doing nothing to help the Dalit community despite receiving support of the kind that was given only to B R Ambedkar.

Daily Take: Against the popular will

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