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Jittery Congress promises Muslims the moon
The Congress has drawn up a special package to woo the Muslims. Besides creating a ministry for the minorities, the party promises them reservations.

Congress clears 88 sitting MPs for poll
Narasimha Rao's name does not figure in the party's first list.

BJP list ignites AIADMK fury
The saffron party incurs Jayalalitha's displeasure by releasing a list of three Lok Sabha nominees without consulting her.

Rajni rides again!
The superstar was reluctant to make an endorsement, but he had no choice.

Illegal migrants will be thrown out: Vajpayee
Castigating the Assam tribunal entrusted with the task of identifying illegal immigrants, the BJP leader said the task could not be accomplished for several reasons, including the 'lack of will' on the state government's part.

'Vajpayee is the most rabid Hindutvawadi'
Mulayam Singh Yadav attacks the BJP and its leader.

Kesri, Sonia didn't have any fight: Arjun Singh
There wasn't any confrontation between the two about the leadership issue, claims Arjun Singh.

IUML torpedoes Congress move to befriend Kerala Muslims
The People's Democratic Party and the Indian National League are likely to remain untouchables in the state's bi-polar political scene.

Bihar: Shatru's wife may contest from Patna
Maharashtra: JD, SP fight as UF finalises 23 seats
Maharashtra: Salvi to contest from Thane


Cornered Kesri makes song and dance of 'minor developments'
The Congress president appears to be going out of his way to 'celebrate' minor developments as he feels threatened by Sonia's growing clout.

RSS camp gets rousing reception
Saffron brigade show clout with an attendance of over 30,000 who later walked into Nagpur city.

Gujarat: Atmaram's RJP to contest 80 assembly seats
Madhya Pradesh: Kanshi bullies Arjun Singh into changing seat
Maharashtra: Seshan may not get Sena ticket
Maharashtra: Dalit poet Dhasal to contest from Pune
Orissa: BJD, BJP agree on seat sharing
Punjab: Congress vote bank shrinks; Akalis, BSP gain


Sonia begins to assert herself
A day after she kicked off the Congress election campaign, Sonia Gandhi began showing signs that she is in full command of the party. On Monday, she released a signed statement in which she indirectly attacked party president Sitaram Kesri.

Advani to contest from Gandhinagar
Vajpayee will seek re-election from Lucknow, but Banwarilal Purohit is denied a seat. The BJP releases its first list of 202 candidates.

Gujral yields to pressure, won't campaign with Akalis
The prime minister gave an assurance to the UF's core committee that he will not share any political platform with the Akali Dal during electioneering in Jalandhar.

Fernandes will not join BJP govt due to AIADMK
There could be no compromise on corruption at any level, the Samata Party leader said.

Tripura CPI-M forces veterans to retire
In an unprecedented development, all the Marxist stalwarts in Tripura will remain out of the poll battle.


Sonia launches campaign
Sonia Gandhi today asked the nation to "vote the Congress" and save India from those who "brutalised" it in the name of religion. It was a campaign launched with a difference. No political party was named, nor any leader called names. The 'brutalisation' reference was the farthest that she went in making an indirect reference to the BJP.

RSS chief lashes at Congress, Sonia
Addressing a RSS mahashibir in Nagpur on Sunday, Professor Rajendra Singh said Sonia Gandhi's entry into politics had betrayed the Congress's "helplessness." "It is a pity," he said, that the 112-year-old party could not find an Indian to bail it out of trouble.

JD will field 150 candidates
Prime Minister I K Gujral features in the party's first list of candidates. Despite the opposition by some United Front constituents, he will contest the general election from Jalandhar.

BJP, Samata Party sign electoral pact in Bihar
Samata Party spokesman Digvijay Singh said his party would field candidates from the 22 seats it had contested in 1996. The BJP would contest the 32 other constituencies in the state.


Congress finds candidates tough going
The Congress leadership fears the party's inability to iron out seat adjustments with its allies in different states, squabbles between potential candidates and Sonia's involvement in distribution of tickets will considerably delay the selection of candidates.

UF unhappy as CPI-M woos Congress
Adding to the confusion is CPI-M general secretary Harkishan Singh Surjeet's statement that the UF would seek Congress support to form a government at the Centre after the poll.

AIADMK alliance runs into rough weather
"Though no one expected the talks to be as easy as the media might have expected, there is some hard bargaining to do," confides an AIADMK source. According to him, both the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Marumalarchi DMK seem to be perched on a high pedestal, lately, "though an agreeable solution will be found in time."

RJD ministers resign from UF
With the resignation of Kanti Singh, Jai Narain Prasad Nishad and Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, the RJD's ties with the UF have been formally severed.

Bihar: Going gets tough for UF due to SP-JD tussle
Karnataka: Hegde ties up with BJP


BJP's ambitious plan to reverse UF's economic policy
If it comes to power, almost 60 per cent of the allocations would be in the rural sector. Not only the agriculture sector but also the development of infrastructure would be targeted so that the migration from villages to cities could be checked.

Congress denies Sonia-Kesri loyalists's clash
The rift seems to have been fuelled by Rashtriya Janata Dal president Laloo Prasad Yadav's statement that Sonia should not be in the prime ministerial race.

Kesri may give ticket to Rao
This clear climbdown in the Congress president's policy of denying tickets to such tainted leaders seems to stem from his fears regarding the Sonia Gandhi juggernaut.

AIADMK convention gives Jayalalitha a boost
There is no denying that the AIADMK-led alliance could gain electorally from the conference, though how Jayalalitha's party will gain from its allies remains to be seen. The AIADMK does not really require the votes of its allies -- not that any of them are strong enough -- in constituencies where it has a winning edge against the DMK-TMC combine.

BJP will bring PM under Lok Pal
Atal Bihari Vajpayee also reiterates that his party will protect the minorities's interests.

Mulayam unveils prime ministerial ambition
The Samajwadi Party president said he would be in the prime ministerial race if his party manages to secure 70 seats in the coming Lok Sabha election.


Mayhem expected in six states during poll
Violence is expected in as many as six states --- Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir -- when India goes to the hustings from February 16, according to initial intelligence reports filed with the Union home ministry.

Priyanka to accompany Sonia during campaign
It is, however, not known whether she will campaign for the party.

Gujral in dilemma over Jalandhar seat
The prime minister's political future appears to be at stake following indications that the UF leadership would forbid his contest from Jalandhar with the Akali Dal support.

Left-UF economic contradictions come to the fore
With an agenda diametrically opposed to that of their finance minister, the Left parties would have a tough time convincing the electorate of how serious they are about their common manifesto.

All are happy in Kerala 'cos Sonia is campaigning
The Congress is happy, the LDF is happy, and so is the BJP. But for different reasons.


Promises, promises
Stability, secularism, the conspiracy to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi and the need to embark on a second phase of economic liberalisation will be the issues that the Congress party will project in its election manifesto.

Sonia to launch her campaign on Jan 11
Former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's widow Sonia will begin her nationwide campaign for the Congress at Sriperumbudur where her husband was assassinated six-and-a-half years ago.

Gujral should not contest from Jalandhar: Mulayam
Union Defence Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav today came out openly against Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral contesting the Lok Sabha election from Jalandhar with the Akali Dal support.

UF move sparks speculation on ties with Congress
The United Front's decision to leave 28 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra for secular parties has triggered rumours that the combine has reached a tacit understanding with the Congress.


Congress will not take action against party rebels
In an effort to create a semblance of unity within the party, the Congress leadership has decided to withdraw action against the 40-odd members of Parliament who hobnobbed with the Bharatiya Janata Party.

To defeat the BJP, Communists will go soft on Congress
Communist Party of India-Marxist general secretary Harkishan Singh Surjeet told his party's Kerala conference in Palakkad on Friday that the BJP is the bigger enemy for the Left parties. Wherever the United Front is not strong enough to take on the BJP directly, Surjeet said, the Communists would work to get BJP candidates defeated.

Seat-sharing exercises yet to take shape in Tamil Nadu
For her part, Jayalalitha is fighting her life's battle. If she cannot stage a political comeback in the full sense of the term, she at least wants to be seen as a political force to reckon with in state politics.

No change in poll schedule: Election Commission
The EC has not taken a decision on the counting dates so far.

New front vows to back Congress
''Our principal aim is to see that the BJP does not get to the 190 mark it secured in the eleventh Lok Sabha,'' says Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Kanshi Ram, who launched the alternative secular front along with Rashtriya Janata Dal President Laloo Prasad Yadav.

Laloo puts UF leaders in a tizzy
The RJD chief is deriving much pleasure in pulling away Union Textiles Minister R L Jalappa from the UF.

11 new faces in Left list for Bengal
West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu does not find a place in the roster.

No censorship on poll surveys: Press Council
But newspapers should adhere to certain guidelines to avoid political parties from using the media to influence the poll outcome.


Smoking Gun
''Bofors is once again on the national agenda because of Sonia's entry into politics,'' a United Front leader told Rediff On The NeT. The Quattrocchi factor is bound to be highlighted during the election campaign when Sonia addresses nearly 100 rallies in a 20-day tour across the country.

Sonia should not contest poll says Laloo
In a significant development, the former Bihar chief minister came out on Monday against the popular demand in the Congress that Sonia Gandhi be made the prime ministerial candidate and said she should confine herself to campaigning for the party to avoid controversies.

'Kesri wants Sonia to know who the real boss is'
Apprehensive of Sonia's growing influence, the Congress chief has asserted his authority by declaring the names of the candidates for three parliamentary constituencies in Delhi.

BJP will not deviate from secularism 'come what may'
The party has appealed to Muslims not to view it through the "coloured glass" of its adversaries and pledged that it is committed to secularism in the true sense as enshrined in the Constitution.

Samata Party asks BJP to stop playing big brother
In yet another instance of the emerging strains in the Bharatiya Janata Party's relations with its poll allies, Samata Party general secretary Jaya Jaitley told Rediff On The NeT that the BJP should not take its poll partners for granted.


Congress in a dilemma
Having roped in Sonia Gandhi as the party's star campaigner for next month's general election, the Congress leadership is now divided over a sensitive issue. Should the party's main poll plank be stability or the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi?

Ayodhya, Article 370, UCC to figure in BJP manifesto
The party is unlikely to dilute its Hindutva plank for the general election. It fears antagonising its cadres and committed voters who have brought it to the porch of power, riding the crest of an anti-Muslim Hindutva wave.

BJP ready to form coalition govt
Party president L K Advani says the modalities for such an arrangement, however, could be decided only in the post-election scenario.

Vajpayee promises free education till graduation for girls
The former prime minister also reiterated the BJP's commitment to the Constitution amendment Bill on reservation of 33 per cent of Lok Sabha and state assembly seats for women

Poll schedule: Election Commission to consider requests from parties
The Election Commission is likely to consider requests of various political parties to reduce the gap between the polling dates in the interest of a free and fair election to the Lok Sabha and five state assemblies.


Chacha plays an ace to kill rivals's designs on Sonia
For every trick, there is a countertrick. And Sitaram Kesri, the grand old man of rug-pulling, knows 'em all by-heart.

Will Madam contest?
Uttar Pradesh Congress president N D Tiwari is hopeful. Sonia is 'actively considering' the proposal to contest from Amethi, says he.

BJP objects to long poll schedule
The party says the entire electoral process should be shortened. Senior BJP leader Professor Vijay Kumar Malhotra said such a schedule was ''unprecedented'' and would cause several problems.

With appropriate noise and fanfare, AIADMK convention gets underway
Hotels, tea shops, juice centres, all of them played songs from old MGR movies -- indicating again that the AIADMK, after a flirtation with the omnipotence of Jayalalitha, is back to relying on its founder-icon, the late matinee idol turned chief minister, to pull in the votes. A Ganesh Nadar reports from Tirunelveli.

Should CPI-M 'lend' Jyoti Basu as the next PM?
Well, that -- and a few other crucial issues -- are what the party's Kerala unit is deliberating in Palakkad now.

EC will be very strict about poll expenses: Dr Gill
Chief Election Commissioner Dr M S Gill says the Commission had sent a revised proforma to all 43 recognised political parties for maintaining election accounts.

Handsome raise in poll expense ceiling
From Rs 450,000 to Rs 1.5 million for large constituencies, and Rs 150,000 to Rs 600,000 for assemblies.

Poll kills Clinton's ardour for Delhi trip
The US president will wait for a "more stable political situation" before travelling to India.

Stories from December '97