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April 15, 2004

Zulfikar Ali is angry. Very angry.

The Election Commission rejected his nomination for the Jammu Lok Sabha constituency following doubts over his nationality. The seat goes to the polls on April 20.

Ali had been given a ticket by the Samajwadi Janata Party, headed by former prime minister Chandra Shekhar.

Returning Officer Naveen Chaudhary said Zulfikar Ali was disqualified as his name was not in the electoral rolls.

According to state Chief Electoral Officer B L Nimesh, Mohammad Naseem Khan had lodged a complaint, alleging that Zulfikar Ali was a Pakistani national and produced a copy of the electoral roll in support of his complaint.

Ali had mentioned that he is a resident of Salwa, a border hamlet in Mendhar tehsil of Poonch district.

Nimesh immediately sought a report from the deputy commissioner of Poonch district, who submitted that Ali's name was indeed not in the electoral roll.

Obviously, Mohammad Naseem Khan does not think Indo-Pak friendship has matured to such a level as to allow a Pakistani national to contest elections in India.


Shoeshine boy aims for Lok Sabha

After polishing boots with a brisk sleight of his hand, he is now all set to add some shine to his own fortunes.

Ramsingh Ukhaji Siras, who works at Kalyan railway station near Mumbai, has decided to take on sitting MP Prakash Paranjpe of the Shiv Sena and Vasant Dawkhare of the Nationalist Congress Party in the Thane constituency, the nation's second largest parliamentary borough.

The 31 year old has filed his nomination as an Independent candidate. He has been allotted a railway engine as his election symbol.

A school dropout, Ramsingh began to work as a shoeshine boy at the age of 12. A resident of Ulhasnagar, near Kalyan, he took interest in politics about five years ago and joined the then newly formed NCP to serve the people of Ulhasnagar and Kalyan.

Basantis queue up to see Veeru

BJP candidate Dharmendra drew huge crowds as he began his campaign in Rajasthan's Bikaner district.

Many people sought the star's autographs and garlanded him while several women served him Rajasthani food, BJP sources said.

Looks like Dharam is still garam, at least where the women of Rajasthan are concerned.


Italy, swamiji?

Sri Vibhudesha Thirtha Swamiji of the Admar Mutt in Udupi says he will leave India if a 'foreign lady' became prime minister.

'Can't we find a suitable and able person among 100 crore people of our nation?' he asked.

Without directly naming Sonia Gandhi, the seer said she should not lead the party and a senior political person of Indian origin should lead the party.

Where is our 'hand'?

The Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee has complained to the Election Commission that the party's election symbol (hand) was indistinct in the Electronic Voting Machines. It wants the Commission to either replace the machines or display the 'hand' symbol prominently.

Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh

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