Off the record

Women in command

Posters featuring Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s wife Dimple Yadav with Priyanka Gandhi in some towns in the state may have reinforced the talk about their roles in their respective parties. But what is clear, is that they are helping Akhilesh and Rahul Gandhi with their campaign strategies. Both women are expected to join the campaign once the candidates are decided. There is also a suggestion that in the event of a grand alliance, the two should take the stage.

If Priyanaka has been guiding Congress strategist Prashant Kishore and others in the UP campaign, Dimple Yadav, also a Samajwadi Party MP, is credited with a lot of ideas that the state government has pursued under Akhilesh to win over different sections of voters, particularly women. She was instrumental in persuading her husband to come out of the shackles of SP elders and rejuvenate the party with fresh faces. Apparently, even the proposal of a grand alliance involving the SP, Congress and the Ajit Singh-led Rashtriya Lok Dal has become a serious possibility because of the interactions involving Priyanka and Dimple, says insiders in both parties.
Shekhar Iyer, New Delhi

Family foes

The fight in the Samajwadi Party clan will end up with father-son duo paying a huge political cost in the UP Assembly elections. State ruling party sources said that both the factions — that of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav — are determined to sabotage each other’s prospects in the election.

Conspiracies being hatched on both sides of the family divide know that the faction which emerges stronger will decimate the other. Their threat, right now, is from within and not posed either by the BJP or the Congress.
Dalip Singh, New Delhi

Chugging the right way

Will the change in the direction of the ‘railway engine’ of Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) change its electoral fortunes? As Mumbai heads for civic polls, the fate of several parties hangs in balance, including of the MNS, which is going to pitch hard for its dominance in the elections.

The railway engine — which is the MNS party symbol  – will now appear to be moving from right to left, as it was prior to 2014. During the 2009 Maharashtra Assembly elections, the steam engine ran from right to left and the party received a good response. However, ahead of the 2014 polls, it was changed from left to right – thus resulting in the story of fortune reversal. But now, it is back to its original avatar.
Mrityunjay Bose, Mumbai

Batting for quota

MoS for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale’s statement in Jaipur demanding quota in the Indian cricket team has stirred a debate across social, political and sports circles. The idea, initially pitched by BJP MP Udit Raj, found strong resonance in Athawale. “I am in support of Dalits in Indian cricket team to keep the team from losing matches often,” he said at a press conference in Jaipur recently.

Later, drawing an analogy, the minister commented in a lighter vein, “Like Virat Kohli, Narendra Modiji's team is also defeating every opponent.” Expressing his concern, Athawale said that inter-caste marriages are the only way to put an end to the atrocities faced by the Dalits in India. However, when questioned on the reservation issue, he said, “Constitution should be amended to allow Rajput/Brahmin/others to demand for reservation, without disturbing the quotas of SC/ST/OBC.”
Tabeenah Anjum, Jaipur

CM hopeful

Comic artist-turned-AAP Parliamentarian from Punjab, Bhagwant Mann, considers himself a potential chief ministerial candidate if his party comes to power in the border state. The MP is trying to connect with his supporters by seeking their response to the idea of him holding Punjab’s reins. Mann, who is accused by the Akali Dal of being an alcoholic, stoked controversy after he uploaded a video clip that “jeopardised” the security of the Lok Sabha.

His aspirations notwithstanding, party senior leaders have discounted any such possibility, at least for now. AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal has said that his party’s CM candidate, if the AAP wins the elections, will be announced after the poll results. The only hint Kejriwal has thrown is that the AAP’s CM candidate will be a Dalit, which Mann is not. The AAP is buoyed up by some opinion polls projecting the party with a sizeable number of seats.  
Gautam Dheer, Chandigarh

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