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Elections '98
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Serial blasts in Coimbatore claim 33
Fourteen blasts shake Coimbatore, four in the vicinity of where BJP president L K Advani was to have addressed a public meeting. A curfew has been imposed in the textile city, and the army deployed to contain the widespread riots which followed the blasts.

Campaigning ends in 222 LS seats, Tripura and Meghalaya assembly segments
Among the Lok Sabha constituencies where electioneering will end are Jalandhar (where Prime Minister I K Gujral is contesting), Gurdaspur (film star Vinod Khanna), Madhepura (former Bihar chief minister Laloo Prasad Yadav and Janata Dal president Sharad Yadav). Hassan (former prime minister H D Deve Gowda), Rohtak (former deputy prime minister Devi Lal).

Advani springs to Vajpayee's defence over Bofors, shoots off six queries at Sonia
Sonia Gandhi, he said, could not arrogate to herself the privilege of a hit-and-run strategy in an election campaign. If she raised certain issues and attacked her adversaries, she must subject herself to scrutiny by the media as well as the rest of society.

UP's fist-free minister confers notoriety on Pratapgarh
Raja Bhaiyya, who represents the Kunda assembly segment of the constituency, allegedly slapped a police officer on duty and his supporters attacked Congress candidate Ratna Singh's motorcade early this month. The EC then called for the minister's externment from Pratapgarh till the elections, before the high court intervened in the matter on Friday.

Violence is a way of life, even during elections, at Ara
Almost all the contenders in the fray in the Ara constituency are reconciled that violence is a way of life here and the central government's order to its Bihar counterpart to submit a law and order report would scarcely have any impact in this region.

'Remember, if the Congress comes to power, the story behind Rajiv Gandhi's death will never come into the open, not in a 100 years'
Former prime minister H D Deve Gowda is angry, bitter and hurt.

'I want to be more than a showpiece'
'I'm not promising to turn this into Utopia. I am promising little things. Things I can personally guarantee. I'm not promising the moon -- merely a little candle so you can see in the dark.' Actor Vinod Khanna explains why he plunged into politics.

Vinod Khanna carries the battle into Sukhbans Kaur's camp
That the BJP-SAD had managed to cut deeply into what was a Congress safe seat became apparent in the 1997 election to the state assembly, when the alliance candidates swept all nine seats on offer in the region.

BJP seeking to combine non-Gujjar votes to thwart Pilot
Thanks to Rajesh Pilot, Gujjars have become very powerful in Dausa, making the others jealous. The BJP is hoping to cash in on this resentment.

Kalpnath Rai fights to retain Ghosi, this time for BJP-Samata
However, his rivals in the once Communist bastion are formidable. Also, he is with a party which was placed fourth in the last polls, not having made any significant impact in the area.

BJP challenges Laloo's hold over Bihar's capital city
Although there are 18 candidates in the fray for Monday's election, the main contest is likely to be between the RJD's Ramkripal Yadav and BJP nominee C P Thakur.

'I have never advocated this kind of understanding with the Congress. I doubt their credentials. I mistrust them'
But, says Samajwadi Party leader Raj Babbar, his personal views are not important, what matters is the fight against communal forces.

The fight is between BJP and Congress, with RJP being a bystander
Amreli is a backward region with little industry and commerce, the mainstay of this rural segment being agriculture and its main requirements are adequate power and water. With open support to the farmers, the BJP is all set to make the most of the prevailing situation.

Ex-Congressman, now in BJP colours, seeks revenge
Kamal Chaudhary represented Hoshiarpur as a Congress candidate on three occasions. He blamed his loss in 1996 on Congress manipulations and is contesting the present polls in saffron robes.

Mayawati plays truant from own constituency
The backwardness in the Akbarpur reserved Lok Sabha seat is readily visible, the star candidate is not.

Congress irrelevant in Jawaharlal Nehru's constituency
Phulpur was represented by India's first prime minister. Today, votes are cast on caste lines and the Congress has been marginalised as the BJP, SP and BSP battle it out.

Jakhar's stature versus BJP's support base
In Bikaner, former minister and Lok Sabha speaker, Balram Jakhar, takes on Mahendra Singh Bhati, son of the powerful BJP leader Dev Singh Bhati.

In their fathers's name
The battle of Bhiwani is between Surinder Singh and Ajay Chautala. The former is the son of Haryana Chief Minister Bansi Lal, the latter of former chief minister Om Parkash Chautala.

Waiting for Rajni
With its campaign yet to pick up in some key constituencies, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-Tamil Maanila Congress combine in Tamil Nadu anxiously awaits the return of Tamil superstar Rajnikanth, to ensure another landslide win.

A swing of 30 seats would spare us somersaults
Arun Nehru's latest election forecast.

'India cannot move in static mode'
'If politics spoilt our country, the bureaucrats killed it. Governments must ensure that decisions are taken fast.' Dr U R Rao, former ISRO chairman, outlines what needs to be done in India.

'It is Vajpayee's dream to be prime minister. We should fulfil his dream'
Ramanand Prabhu, bus conductor, on what he expects from this election and the politicians.


'Eent ka jawab pathhar se diya jayega'
'My party workers will not sit quietly with bangles on their hands when the poor and the oppressed are terrorised by the rich.' Laloo Prasad Yadav, at his aggressive best.

Prohibition is still an issue, but there are no political backers
Saddled with a bankrupt government, N Chandrababu Naidu started slapping ample doses of taxes, triggering spiralling price rise. The justification was prohibition. He kept saying that the state had lost a lot of revenue because of prohibition... Soon it was lifted.

SC refuses to stay EC ban on pre-poll surveys, exit polls
With Friday's decision adjourning the petitions to March-end, the ban on the publication of pre-poll surveys and exit polls comes into force from 1700 hours on February 15, and will be in operation till February 28

R L Bhatia faces the stiffest challenge of his career
In the left corner, former Union Minister and sitting Congress MP R L Bhatia, looking for a sixth term from the temple township. And in the right corner, Daya Singh Sodhi, card-carrying member of the RSS, state unit president of the BJP a greybeard of 50 years in politics but, surprisingly, contesting his first ever election.

Vinod Khanna is carrying lotuses to BJP territory
At Pathankot, Vinod Khanna -- debutant, with the added disadvantage of being an import from Bombay, plus being a film star and, therefore, presumably lacking in seriousness -- is introduced jauntily. With an in your face flair

'Lady Amitabh' plays a double role in politics, too
Blasting the 'Congress enemy' during the day, joining him at their place for dinner diplomacy without batting an eyelid? Vijayshanti is learning the tricks of the trade fast!

Devi Lal appeals for a last chance
Humbled in 1991 and 1996, the 84-year-old is pleading with voters in Rohtak to send him to Parliament one last time.

Yadavs, Muslims may see Mulayam through
With these two communities accounting for 50 per cent of the Sambhal constituency, Mulayam Singh Yadav should coast through, despite the spirited fight being put up by his opponent, D P Yadav.

The battle of Bharatpur
A scion of the erstwhile princely state of Bharatpur, a former Union minister with royal origins, and a Bharatiya Janata Party leader will thrash it out on Monday.

Fear over Tripura
The electoral battle is primarily between the Left Front and the Congress-led alliance, but the fear of violence has forced the Centre to send in more security forces.

'Sonia will take up the leadership once the party is in a position to form the government'
Kunnoth Karunakaran, on Elections '98.

Royal challenge to Akali might
Congress puts up Captain Amarinder Singh against the Akali Dal (Badal) candidate, much to the chagrin of SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra

Shiv Shanker, Sarada locked in grim tussle in Tenali
Will the lawyer score over the award-winning actress?

Old men, new fight
JD nominee Quamrul Islam, BJP's Basavaraj Patil Sedam and Congressman Dr B G Jawali are facing each other again. For the second time in two years, in Karnataka's Gulbarga.

Vajpayee carpetbombs Vidarbha, seeks a mandate to govern
Hearteningly for Vajpayee, his speech was being heard in rapt silence by a massive gathering.

Star-struck Tamil politicians gaze at skies for poll wisdom
Karunanidhi's astrological weakness is a yellow shawl, Jayalalitha and Gopalaswamy are all over numerology, and Moopanar meets the media during auspicious hours.

Close shave in 150-plus seats the last time round
Of the 150-odd constituencies, where the contest sizzled into a photo finish, the North accounted for 46, followed by the South with 40, East 30, West 29, North-East six and the Union territories two.

'Only we are fighting the Ranvir Sena as it should be fought'
A miniature civil war reigns in Ara, Bihar, where the Ranvir Sena is locked in a do-or-die battle with the extremist CPI-ML.

Understanding the Sonia enigma
Saisuresh Sivaswamy on the bahu's mystique.

If there is any thread linking the allies in the south, it is pure, unadulterated hypocrisy!
T V R Shenoy on the politics of alignments.

'The RSS doesn't use a remote control'
'The US cannot dictate to India about its N-policy. The US should also realise that India is not a mere market. It is a country with tradition, history and a purpose,' Organiser editor Seshadri Chari tells the Rediff Election Chat.

Andhra Pradesh:Ramaiah faces popular anger, powerful rivals
Karnataka: Lok Shakti questions Dal's move to disqualify three ex-ministers
Assam:Mahanta escapes bid on life


CMS-Asianet poll gives BJP 230-240 seats, Sonia powers Congress to 155
About 70 per cent of voters in this survey have either seen or heard Sonia Gandhi campaigning in the election, that is in less than a month's time. No other leader on the national scene ever before has received such a reach/coverage even after three to four decades in public affairs.

Punjab police foil major terrorist mayhem, arrest two desperadoes and seize explosives
Asked if the prime minister, who was intermittently campaigning in Jalandhar since January 21, was the target, the Punjab DGP replied, "'I cannot say 'no'."

Independent panel identifies 72 candidates with criminal background
Of these, 16 belonged to the Bharatiya Janata Party, 12 to the Samajwadi Party, nine to the Congress party, five each to the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, and one to the Janata Dal.

Karnataka JD skating on thin ice
Even though the Janata Dal survived the recent no-confidence motion in the Vidhan Soudha, few expect it to survive after the election is over.

BJP's past haunts Aligarh Muslims's future
'India is my country. If I had to migrate to Pakistan, my father would have done so 50 years ago. The BJP is no one to question my loyalty to India,' Muslims in the Indian city most commonly associated with the community, speak out.

'Why should I even react to a cheap political stunt by Sonia Gandhi?'
'If you commit rape or murder and then say sorry, can it really heal the wounds of the victim, of his/her family? Bluestar was worse -- our temple, the focus of our religion, was desecrated. No apology can heal those wounds.' Bhai Ranjit Singh, jathedar of the Akal Takht, in his first reaction to Sonia's apology.

'To implement anything, the BJP needs a two-thirds majority in both Houses, and I don't see them getting that for a long time'
Ramakrishna Hegde, caught in a mellow mood.

'Any party which wants to rule India has to be secular in its true sense'
Nitish Bhardwaj defies the stereotype of the star-politician. In an informed interview, the articulate actor, who was denied a Lok Sabha ticket from Jamshedpur which he won in 1996, speaks about his present role, the BJP's prospects, its agenda and the politics in Bihar.

The bandit queen may be dethroned this time
She was the prodigal returned, the epitome of insulted Indian womanhood, all rolled into one. But just two years after Phoolan Devi was swept into Parliament, she seems to be back in the wilderness.

Joshi seeks to do a Lal Bahadur Shastri in Allahabad
The second prime minister is the only MP to have been elected from the land of the Sangam, twice consecutively. The BJP's former president would like very much to equal that record.

Ex-princess makes all the difference in Alwar
But Yuvarani Mahendra Kumari herself is no speaker. All she talks of of the BJP leadership denying her a ticket.

Will Chittorgarh be Jaswant Singh's Haldighati
The last time, the former finance minister won handsomely. But the anti-incumbency factor (against the BJP government in the state), and the fact that his present Congress opponent is a farmer, has made the battle unpredictable.

Ms Nice vs Mr Clean
In Udaipur, 'dedicated' Congresswoman Dr Girija Vyas has taken on the assembly speaker.

Bhajan Lal aims to keep record on Brahmin turf
Karnal has sent 9 Brahmins to the Lok Sabha. Congress leader Bhajan Lal, a Bishnoi, has not lost an election since 1968. Will that record stay intact?

Vidarbha is the true test of the Sena-BJP's popularity in Maharashtra
Vidarbha, which sends 11 MPs to the Lok Sabha, stood by the Congress solidly in 1977. But in 1996, it returned Shiv Sena-BJP from nine constituencies, in the first time it rebuffed the traditional favourite. Which way will it swing this time round?

Karnataka dishes out unfair deal to fair sex
Despite big talk about reservation for women, all major political parties have shied away from giving tickets to them. Naturally, the number of women contestants in the state has registered a sharp fall -- from 70 to 10!

Will this be Karunakaran's last battle?
First impressions give the Congress warhorse an edge over his aging and less glamorous opponents in Kerala. But he will need to build a bridge between two communities -- the Nairs and Nadars -- before he can be sanguine about victory.

Jayalalitha plays a dangerous game
Her strategy of going on the offensive may backfire.

Issues '98:'There is a greed revolution among the privileged'
Dr M S Swaminathan, father of India's Green Revolution, laments the fact that poor investment and infrastructure has kept the rural areas backward.

Jammu and Kashmir:Voting process simplified for migrant pandits
Jammu and Kashmir: Electioneering picks up in Jammu
Tripura:Army out after massacre

Educating Mrs Gandhi
Sources say Sonia is not someone who simply reads what her friends write for her. Every evening, she along with son Rahul, daughter Priyanka and son-in-law Robert Vadra sit down with the speeches to chip in moving anecdotes and weave in emotions.

'The responsibility for all actions of the Cabinet -- including those relating to Ayodhya -- was that of all members of the Cabinet. I hold myself equally responsible for what happened.'
Dr Manmohan Singh, the Congress party's frontrunner for the prime ministership, on the most important job in the country.

EC takes note of Gujral breaking poll code
Addressing a rally organised by the DMK-TMC-CPI combine in Madras, the prime minister exceeded the 10 pm deadline set by the EC.

Congress asks EC to bar Vajpayee, Advani from contest
The reason quoted: They violated electoral laws by using the photographs of Guru Gobind Singh and Mahatma Gandhi on posters.

Action sought against BJP for 'misusing' national flag
The Rashtriya Mukti Morcha, a non governmental organisation, alleges the party violated the Indian National Flag Code on the Internet.

EC seeks urgent law and order reports from nine states
The governments of Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh have been asked to respond within 48 hours.

Sonia continues her hardsell, this time in Kolar
This time, however, she carefully avoids apologising or expressing regret over a past incident, and focuses on women and minorities.

Hegde picks up from where he left off
Despite what the BJP may believe about its strength, it is obvious that Kannadigas still revere the man who was once their chief minister.

Badal plays Vajpayee against R L Bhatia in Amritsar
According to the Punjab chief minister, the BJP's PM-in-waiting did not contest from the state only because he did not want to be seen as running away from Lucknow.

Congress's chances being wrecked from within in Tirupati
The Congress is realising that even god's land has no fury like an MP scorned.

'A BJP government at the Centre will protect the minorities'
Flexing his political sinews in Madurai, Dr Subramanian Swamy and friends promise to make the constituency an 'international' city, and protect minorities.

The hand is the guiding force
Former minister C K Jaffer Sharief seems a cinch to win the constituency he represented in 1991, and which voted non-Congress for the first time in 1996.

Hazaribagh, a constituency that does not believe in encores
This constituency has never returned the same party twice consecutively. Will the BJP's Yashwant Sinha break the jinx?

To pavilion, before polls
They jump into the poll arena with much fanfare, but half the candidates in Gujarat retire unwell even before the game begins.

Issues 98: Political parties must act on women's issues now
National Council for Women chairperson Mohini Giri on the issues of women's rights and representation in Parliament.

Assam: Ultras kill CPI-ML candidate
Gujarat: BJP may coast through in Surendranagar
Karnataka:BJP, Congress battle for Bangarappa's home ground
Orissa:Straight fights will be tough for Congress
Punjab: Terrorist nabbed with explosives
Tamil Nadu:Rajiv killing not a poll issue in state


Sonia puts the worry-lines back on BJP and SP in Uttar Pradesh
In her hectic campaigning in the interiors of India's most populous state, she has been bringing back Muslims and women to the Congress fold.

Largescale violence likely in UP to stop Muslim votes
The Union home ministry anticipates violence in 32 Muslim-dominated constituencies.

Home turf is ready for campaign, but Deve Gowda isn't home yet
There is no room for complacency in Hassan, but the ex-prime minister hasn't even started vote-wooing.

Of sugar belts and bitter pills
After losing three Lok Sabha seats in the sugar belt for the first time to the saffron alliance in 1996, the Congress is taking no chances this time round.

'That Sharief is a bastard...'
Congress leaders are shouting themselves hoarse, claiming that Sonia's entry has united the party like nothing else and reduced infighting to zero. But scratch a little under the surface and the dirt begins to show.

Kanshi Ram has a tough battle ahead
Saharanpur's Muslim vote is splintered; whereas the dalit votes are insufficient to elect the BSP top boss.

A star is born in Kakinada
Krishnam Raju, the ageing Telugu star and the BJP candidate, is drawing crowds. But that need not mean the BJP will make its debut in coastal Andhra.

P Upendra seeks a second term in unforgiving Vijayawada
Up against him is newbie with political clout Dasari Jairamesh.

Dhawan to race Jagmohan neck and neck in New Delhi
And it is the government servants, accounting for one-third of the electorate, who hold the key to their fortunes.

'I will continue my fight against Chandrababu Naidu'
Lakshmi Parvathi, in a rare interview.

Gujral digs up his Punjabi roots to charm Jalandar crowd
He didn't forget to mention his 'largesse' to the constituency, either -- didn't he bring the country's first STD telephone service and television station to Jalandar?

Akali Dal manifesto calls for more power to the states
A federal structure, a war against corruption, backing for the downtrodden among SAD manifesto promises.

Fernandes prepares to retain Nalanda
Nalanda was famous as a learning centre a millennium ago, today it's infamous for manufacturing illegal guns.

Tough trio battle for Ambala
Suraj Bhan, backed by the Haryana Vikas Party-Bharatiya Janata Party combine, Aman Kumar Nagra, supported by the Haryana Lok Dal (Rashtriya)-Bahujan Samaj Party, and Raj Kumar Balmiki of the Congress fight it out.

BJP demand apology for delaying Goa's liberation
'Nehru delayed liberating Goa for 14 years, and Sonia should apologise for that!'

Munde willing to step down, offers deputy CM post to RPI for support to Sena-BJP
He said he was serious about the offer to the RPI if Prakash Ambedkar, R S Gavai, Jogendra Kawade and Ramdas Athavale withdraw from the fray and campaign for the alliance.

The more undecided the voters are, the greater the role and effect of pre-poll surveys
Dr N Bhaskara Rao on the pros and cons of covering poll surveys in the media.

ISSUES '98: 'Political parties disregard laws against child labour'
Kailash Satyarthi, on the issue of child labour

Jammu & Kashmir:SC dismisses plea for advancement of J&K polls
Uttar Pradesh: Independents outnumber party candidates


BJP dares Sonia to a debate on Bofors
"The Swedish PM has said Sonia knows much more about the Bofors gun deal. Whycan't she reveal the details? Sonia is mixed up. Silence would mean guilty of involvement, although I don't know about the extent of her involvement," says BJP president L K Advani.

Sonia's campaign has revived Congress fortunes, admits Advani
The BJP president says the challenge was good for his party as it would not allow the cadre to become over-confident and complacent

Sonia's success makes Kesri review his political options
Insulted and humiliated, with the possibility of himself being replaced by a political rookie after the election, the Congress president wonders what to do.

'Sonia effect' galvanises AP Congressmen, leaves Naidu and Co floundering
The stick the Congress will use to beat the AP CM with will be the one which he has himself provided: non-implementation of poll promises

IAF keeps Vajpayee airborne
The IAF refused the BJP leader permission to land at the Pathankot air base, forcing him to fly to Amritsar. Vajpayee says his party will ask the Election Commission to investigate.

EC defers polling in Ladakh, Mandi to June 21
Adverse cold weather plays spoilsport as EC decides to wait it out till summer.

Crime and politics makes for a heady brew in Bihar
In wild Bihar, the fight is among criminals. Included are contestants with charges ranging from murder and rape to abduction and arson.

Muslim intelligentsia trashes BJP's overtures at seminar
The consensus at the seminar was that the BJP was a communal party, in whose regime the largest minority community would not be safe

Another NTR son-in-law steps back into the reckoning
D Venkateshwara Rao, who recently joined the BJP, has some scores to settle with AP CM N Chandrababu Naidu, his brother-in-law.

BJP becomes Tamil Nadu's talking point
From a party that polled only 2.5 per cent of the votes and winning a lone assembly seat, and recording a respectable second place in a Lok Sabha constituency, the Bharatiya Janata Party has suddenly become the cynosure of all eyes in the state.

Circumstances reason for fewer women, says Khurana
The BJP vice-president insists that while his party supports the case of more women in Parliament, it can field more candidates only if the other parties follow suit.

'We do not have Ayodhya on our agenda. But we do not set the agenda for others'
An interview with Jana Krishnamurthy, the BJP ideologue who built up the party in Tamil Nadu and who is contesting the prestigious Madras South seat.

'The BJP was encouraged to promote majority communalism because the Congress supported minority communalism'
Communist Party of India-Marxist politburo member V S Achutanandan, in a candid interview.

Khanna promises Gurdaspur Paris, Congress says he will cut and run
Shedding the grease and paint of his tinsel world image, political debutant and BJP nominee Vinod Khanna is now enacting a different role in Gurdaspur.

Murasoli Maran has it easy
A strong base and lack of competition makes the election a cakewalk for the DMK chief's nephew.

Maneka Gandhi faces old rival in Pilibhit
This time, Maneka is contesting as an independent supported by the BJP, while her earlier BJP rival Parshuram Gangwar is now the Samajwadi Party candidate.

The Men Who May Be PM
Pritish Nandy hosts a countdown for the next prime minister

The BJP's awesome twosome
Janardan Thakur on why those who highlight differences between Vajpayee and Advani have got it all wrong.

ISSUES '98: 'It is too expensive to be weak'
General V N Sharma (retd) speaks on the need for a strong State.

India Speaks: 'If the Ambanis took charge of the economy, how long will they let it run as a loss making organisation?'
Arun Arora on what he expects from this election and the politicians

Maharashtra: Cartoonist Thackeray lampoons political opponents in style
Bihar: Tough battle where last time winners had narrow win


25 per cent of Congress budget for Sonia's tour
Congress sources said her whirlwind election campaign will cost the party approximately Rs 70 million. Due to an acute funds crunch, they said the star campaigner is being flown in a small aircraft.

Sonia launches first frontal attack on BJP
Accompanied by her son Rahul, she told a cheering 100,000-strong gathering, with a visibly large Muslim attendance, that they should not get carried away by the sudden softening of the BJP's Hindutva stand.

'We need a generation revolution'
In an expansive interview, elder statesman C Subramaniam dwells on the present political situation.

'I can't see the BJP and its allies getting 270 seats'
Arun Nehru surveys the election scene.

Naveen Patnaik proving more than a one-poll wonder
Biju Patnaik's son is adapting to his newfound political role in Orissa.

'Secularism is not the answer to all of India's problems'
'But a solution to India's problems is dependent upon it being a secular democracy. A country of India's diversity can be kept united only by strengthening the bonds of commonality amidst this diversity. And not by imposing a uniformity on this diversity.' CPI-M ideologue Sitaram Yechuri blasts the BJP on the Rediff Chat.

'As long as Kesri and Vijayabhaskara Reddy are in the Congress, it has no future'
Nizamabad MP G Atmacharan Reddy, an NRI who switched to the BJP after the Congress denied him a ticket, in an exclusive interview.

'Laloo has gone mad'
So says Rajiv Ranjan 'Pappu' Yadav, friend-turned-foe of the former Bihar chief minister.

Bombay's Muslims confused by SP's tie-up with Congress
Having voted the SP in 1996 to defeat the Congress, this time round the community is caught between a rock and a very hard place.

Pre-poll violence very much a possibility in Nagercoil
Although statistics is still on the side of the DMK-TMC combine, the BJP hopes to open its TN account in the constituency.

'India is reverting to the slavery of 500 years ago'
Dr Claude Alvares fears for the country's sovereignty.

J&K: NC files writ against EC order
Madhya Pradesh:Dramatic decline in number of candidates
Uttar Pradesh: State to seal districts going to polls


'Videshi dhan, videshi man, videshi bahu!'
The BJP is coining new slogans and reviving old ghosts to counter Congress star campaigner Sonia Gandhi.

Security to be beefed up for UP, Bihar elections
The Rapid Action Force is being deployed to contain caste and communal violence in sensitive areas.

BJP's opponents divided in Bihar
The two broad fronts -- one led by the RJD and the other by the UF -- may end up fielding more than one candidate in many constiuencies. All this can only help the BJP.

'My detractors have run out of issues. So they are raking up old issues'
'One cannot judge the poll outcome by the crowds one draws at public meetings,' says Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu.

Election fever yet to strike Tamil Nadu
Frequency of elections, and the possibility of another hung Parliament put off voters

Muslim tactical voting can mar fortunes
Muslim voting patterns reveal that the community has been gunning for the most anti-Islamic force.

Fund-crunch will take the fizzle out of Kerala campaigns
A slump economy, an annoyed liquor lobby and crashed rubber prices will ensure that poll campaigns in the state are straight and simple.

Sonia blames AGP for Assam situation
Defying the United Liberation Front of Asom ban, she addressed a well-attended rally in Nagaon on Friday.

Kashmiri youth stones Farooq's son
It was his first public appearance in Lal Chowk, the city centre, where joyful thousands once greeted his great-grandfather and father.

Allahabad may witness fierce contest
Among the 22 candidates contesting the Allahabad seat is former BJP president, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi who is pitted against his student and SP candidate Shyama Charan Gupta.

Bhatia looks for sixth win from Amritsar
The former Union minister is involved in an eight-corner contest, his main rival being state BJP unit president Daya Singh Sodhi.

BJP attempts to storm Congress citadel
Oscar Fernandes has won the Udupi seat five times. Jayaram Shetty vows that, this time, the constituency will return a BJP representative.

AICC, DPCC fight about Delhi's statehood
CWC leader R K Dhawan says Delhi should be accorded full statehood. But state unit chief Prem Singh doesn't agree.

Sonia didn't interfere in ticket distribution: Kesri
The Congress president said it is unconstitutional to project someone as the prime ministerial nominee.

EC rejects BJP nominee's candidature
Chhatar Singh Darbar, the BJP nominee for Dhar in Madhya Pradesh, is the man in question.

'Healthcare is as important as roads and ports'
Dr Pratap Reddy on the issue of healthcare.

Assam: EC appoints 56 observers
Bihar: JMM expels Mahato
Orissa: Parties slug it out to claim Biju Patnaik's legacy


'Out of the 1 billion Indians and 6 million voters, you can't find 543 good people? Are you joking?'
'...In the last six weeks, we have sacked from field duty many collectors, commissioners and deputy inspector generals of police in six states. Wherever we had the slightest doubt, out he goes.' Chief Election Commissioner Dr M S Gill, in an exclusive interview.

UF upset over Mulayam's dreams
The Samajwadi Party's decision to project Union Defence Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav as the United Front's prime minister-in-waiting has put the fragile combine in disarray.

'Chidamabaram has turned out to be a third-rate failure'
'The BJP cannot say their devotion to Ram is higher than the Constitution. If their devotion is so much, let them go and build a temple at Dhanushkodi which is lying in ruins. If they are such great bhakts of Shiva, let them go and fight with China and bring back Mansarovar.' Gadfly politician Subramanian Swamy, in a typically feisty interview.

JD manifesto extends Mandal to educational institutions
The Janata Dal hopes to move forward with an eye on the backwards; manifesto promises 33 per cent reservation for women, and disagrees with the UF on allowing foreign entry into insurance.

No Congressman has read Jain's report, says Gujral
'I will quit the Lok Sabha elections if any one has read the report,' prime minister challenges Congressmen.

BJP reaches out for a constituency no one really wants
Having won just 43,000 votes in the 1996 election, the BJP is expecting a windfall this time round, thanks mostly to the communal riots of November.

BSP leads the pack with 14 Muslim candidates in UP
Although the total number of candidates from UP's 85 seats has fallen this time, the number of Muslim candidates is unchanged at 108.

Delimitation freeze distorts constituencies sizes
Changing urban population patterns and population growth have made some constituencies huge and others small.

Sonia favours Christians, charges Thackeray
She will have to face the music now that she is in politics, says the Sena chief.

'What will we do with roads, railways and ports if we do not have industries?'
R H Patil, managing director, National Stock Exchange, believes that competition will bring out excellence in Indian industry.

Secularism and the middle-class
'The middle-class is touted as non-secular only because it has seen through the power-grabbing schemes of the various political parties,' says Shalabh Kumar.

The young voter
Young voters, A Ganesh Nadar discovered, make up their minds easily as their choice is based on emotional issues.

Maharashtra: Ex-MP Purohit joins Congress, to work for BJP's defeat

Madhya Pradesh: CM Digvijay's Singh's proxy war


'Why has the blame been transferred from those who destroyed the structure to those whose responsibility it was to protect it?'
'What could I do? Do you expect any prime minister, be he a fool or a wiseman, to ignore the advice of his governors? Imagine the consequence if I had stepped in, against the governor's advice, and the situation had gone out of hand!' P V Narasimha Rao speaks out at last!

Sonia steals BJP's thunder
"Sonia has waited six years, studying party affairs and listening to its leaders. Now she seems to have realised that, if the family does not take the plunge, the Congress will be reduced to nothing," a former MP, who is close to Sonia, told Rediff On The NeT.

Performance will help DMK, RJD, TDP
The ruling parties in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Tamil Nadu may do well as more than 40 per cent of the voters feel the state governments are 'good'.

Manifesto shows BJP is 'shaky'
The party's manifesto betrays its nervousness, say the Left, highlighting the saffron brigade's dichotomy: whether to strengthen its base by playing up the Hindutva agenda or woo the minorities by going 'secular'.

BJP to follow Japanese style on consensus
The BJP is particularly impressed by how the Japanese government co-operates with industry.

Cong-RJP divide clears way for BJP
The saffron brigade stands to regain lost ground after the allies differed over allocation of seats.

Unfair, says JD of RJD manipulation of administration
Laloo allegedly using both carrot and stick to keep district officials in line.

Chandra Swami launches proxy war against Pilot
The Congress leader is locked in a fierce contest with state Transport Minister and BJP nominee Rohitashwa Kumar, tantrik Chandra Swami's childhood friend, in Dausa, Rajasthan.

Several Congress MPs complete hat-tricks
G Venkataswamy from Siddipet and Pedapalli, Kotla Vijayabhaskara Reddy from Kurnool, A Saipratap from Siddipet, Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy from Cuddapah, Mallikarjun from Mahabubnagar, Kamaluddin Ahmed from Hanumakonda and M Baga Reddy from Medak have completed 'hat-tricks' in Andhra Pradesh.

BJP banks on family ties in Rajasthan
Family ties continue to play an important role for the in the allotment of tickets.

'I am ready to resign as Sena chief'
Thackeray tells Chief Election Commissioner Dr M S Gill.

The BJP will be disastrous for India
Television personality Sashi Kumar feels if the BJP comes to power, it will assert its main ideology -- religion.

Sonia looks nice;... but who are Vajpayee, Khalap, Rane?
Satyawan Nipanikar, shoeshine man, in Goa on leaders and politicians.

Gujarat: Congress releases assembly list
Goa: Alemao spoils Khalap's pitch
Karnataka: Shanappa quits JD to join Lok Shakthi
Maharashtra: Congress confident of regaining Nagpur, Beed from BJP
Maharashtra: Rebellions souring Pawar's grand alliance
Rajasthan: Ex-bureaucrats versus politicians
Tamil Nadu: TNMMK to boycott polls
Uttar Pradesh: Two-thirds fall in number of candidates


Manifesto punctures BJP's 'secular drive'
Despite its multiple marriages of convenience for electoral purposes, the party's stand on various contentious issues has changed little.

Vajpayee halts rumours on BJP's PM nominee
The BJP leader said he would be the prime minister -- and not party president Lal Kishinchand Advani as was made out by the detractors -- even as the saffron brigade dumped the earlier strategy of 'going soft on Sonia'.

BJP promises to keep Pakistan in check
The party says it will take 'active steps to persuade Pakistan to abandon its present policy of hostile interference in India's internal affairs' if voted to power.

BJP manifesto promises a nice time to 'good' movie-makers
No sex, no violence... The party will also let movie-makers raise resources from financial institutions.

The road from MP to PM is now crossed with hazards
Sunil Sethi joins Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the campaign trail.

Muslims 'soften' stand as saffron gets secular hue
The BJP's secular designs seem to be 'paying off' as the Kalyan Singh government in Uttar Pradesh tries to 'resurrect its secular credentials'.

Amma begins campaign in style
No gargantuan cut-outs, no ostentation, just undiluted chaos as Jayalalitha hits the trail.

'I hold the BJP responsible for the murder of my great-grandfather'
'The people who want to redivide India on the lines of religion would first try and finish off the memory of someone who they are scared of from beyond his funeral pyre.' Tushar Gandhi, Samajwadi Party candidate from the Bombay North-West constituency, sounds off on Mahatma Gandhi and the forthcoming election on the Rediff Chat.

Sonia's outburst lands TMC in tight spot
The party is running for political cover, with Sonia raking up the Jain Commission issue.

No Sena ticket for Seshan
Maharashtra Chief Minister Manohar Joshi says the former CEC's popularity did not extend to rural areas.

Chhindwara, where elections are an annual affair
It's former Union minister Kamal Nath's constituency.

The Congress gave five PMs in 45 years; non-Congress parties gave seven PMs in five years
The Congress manifesto.

'People need jobs for livelihood, not roads and electricity'
Ganpat Patil, assistant to a pujari, on what he expects from leaders and politicians.

How the North voted
A ready reckoner.

Andhra Pradesh: A question of Telugu pride
Bihar: 'Mohammed Shahabuddin should not contest poll'
Bihar: Damn alliances, it's everyone for himself
Gujarat: Violence-prone Saurashtra awaits D-day with bated breath
Gujarat: Congress puts up former DGP against Advani in Gandhinagar
Karnataka: Another MLA quits JD
Rajasthan:Many stalwarts, fewer candidates in fray
Rajasthan:Royal affair
Tamil Nadu:CPI-M patches up with DMK-TMC
Tamil Nadu: TMC promises Cauvery waters, protection from Article 356


'We are prepared to sit in the Opposition'
'Nobody can finish off anyone else. No political party can finish off another political party. Neither will we finish off anyone nor will the others finish us off. It is all a wrong notion.' Former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, in a rare encounter.

Govt shielding Rajiv killers: Sonia
The former prime minister's widow also launched a veiled attack on the Tamil Maanila Congress for aligning with the DMK.

Sonia promises quota for women in Parliament
She today virtually unveiled a 'parallel agenda', saying if her party was voted to power it would extend reservation for women in both Houses of Parliament and the state assemblies.

Coalition govt even if BJP wins majority says Advani
If the Bharatiya Janata Party-led multi-party alliance gets a majority in the general election, it will be a coalition government involving all partners of the alliance, with a common minimum programme.

Gujral flays Congress, spares BJP, BSP
The prime minister blasted the Congress but was mum on the BJP and the BSP while campaigning in Jalandhar.

Vajpayee steals the show as BJP unleashes star power
The BJP had lined up a battery of stars to steal Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu's thunder.

Congress-RJP part ways in Gujarat
Shankarsinh Vaghela says his party will support 'friendly' individuals in the Congress and the BJP .

The Battle of the Yadavs
The Madhepura constituency is witnessing a major fight between friends-turned-foes Sharad Yadav, president of the Janata Dal, and Laloo Yadav, president of the Rashtriya Janata Dal.

Former minister, Rajiv aide quit Congress
Thara Devi is upset at being denied a ticket, while her husband Siddhartha Reddy, an associate of Rajiv Gandhi, has offered no reasons.

'The poor have nothing to gain from the electoral exercise'
Rajni Desai, director, Research Unit for Political Economy, Bombay, on why the issue of poverty does not find a place in election manifestoes.

In a country of 900 million people, can't we have an Indian as our prime minister?
Dr Kamala, on what she expects from leaders and politicians.

Bihar: Request for more central forces to tackle poll violence
Bihar: Number of candidates nosedive
Maharashtra: Samajwadi Party fields ace defector Chandrika Kenia in Thane
Maharashtra: Former addl CP joins JD, to contest from Bombay North-West
Orissa: Jayanti Patnaik gets Rao's seat
Punjab: It's a straight fight between the Akali-BJP and Congress-BSP combines
Sikkim: Gill suspends CEO
Rajasthan: Expelled BJP legislators join Congress
Uttar Pradesh: SJP to support Mulayam
Tamil Nadu: Jayalalitha not allowed to hold rallies in Madras


Crushing blow for women power
All the hue and cry over 33.33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament is 'hypocritical'. No major party is willing to spare more Lok Sabha election tickets for women, says the apex National Commission for Women which is about to launch a major agitation on the issue.

'No necessary correlation between Sonia's public meetings and votes on polling day'
'Political parties cannot manufacture charismatic leaders. Charisma comes from being able to take action which is meaningful to the people and at the same time convince them.' Former Union minister K C Pant explains why he left the Congress this week.

BJP incurs Christian wrath in AP
The Christians are sore with the BJP in Andhra Pradesh, where the saffron brigade is making its first major bid to capture a sizable number of Lok Sabha seats.

BJP has an edge in Orissa's tribal belt
Another Congress bastion faces a threat, with the saffron surge spreading to the tribal areas of the state.

LS poll will cost Rs 46 billion
The Lok Sabha election will cost the nation a whopping Rs 46 billion -- more than a hundred per cent increase over the 1996 poll figures. As much as Rs 90 will be spent on every vote polled.

Dara Singh joins BJP
The man who played Hanuman comes home.

Six-time Mirdha stays on the record books
Rajasthan is well-known for long-term members of Parliament.

Elections and the village woman
In a small south Indian village, women have definite opinions about the forthcoming election.

What's cooking in the kitchen cabinets?
Arun Nehru on the importance of dynasties.

'The housing problem in cities has to be solved because there are no opportunities for our people in villages'
Housing rights activist P K Das believes the problem of housing should be high on any new government's agenda.

'When I have a child, I will not let him have any religion'
Malar on what she expects from this election and the politicians.

Bihar: Congress decides to fight it out with RJD
Karnataka: Hegde will not be deputy PM says Advani
Karnataka: Sonia's campaign postponed

Stories from January 16-January 31
Stories from January 1-January 15
Stories from December '97