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#PollVault: Congress Goes to Town With NYAY, Rajan Raps Modi Govt – The Wire

Every morning till the elections, The Wire‘s reporters and editors bring you Poll Vault – a summary of the most important political developments, all in one place. To get it straight in your mailbox, sign up here.

New Delhi: A day after Rahul Gandhi whipped out the Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY) from Congress’s poll armoury, pushed on the backfoot, the ruling BJP harped on the ‘chowkidar‘ theme.

Rhyming his praise for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, home minister Rajnath Singh, at an event in Moradabad said, “Chowkidar chor nahi, chowkidar pure hai. Next PM sure hai, problem ke liye cure hai (The watchman is not a thief, he is a pure man; sure to be next PM, he is a cure for problems).”

With barely three weeks left before the 17th Lok Sabha polls unfold, the verbal duel between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress on Tuesday played out at campaign rallies across the country.

Sensing NYAY’s poll potential, the Congress president, at a campaign rally in Rajasthan’s Suratgarh constituency said, “We will eradicate poverty in the country. This is a dhamaka (blast). No country has done this in history. There should not be a single poor person in the country.” Taking a leaf out of Modi’s vocabulary, Gandhi assured his party would carry out a “surgical strike” on poverty.

Also read: Will Congress’s NYAY Really Mean Justice for the Poor?

The reference was to the strikes by Indian armed forces following the 2016 terror attacks on an army camp in Uri, killing 20 soldiers. The ruling BJP has repeatedly since invoked these surgical strikes to drive home the idea of a Modi-led ‘strong’ state as against the earlier ‘indecisive’ UPA government led by Manmohan Singh.

Raghuram Rajan raps BJP government

Coming just ahead of the polls, former RBI chief’s disapproving comments about the Modi government’s economic direction, predictably set tongues wagging.

In a discussion around his new book The Third Pillar, Rajan told NDTV, “Enough time has now passed by for us to look back at demonetisation and ask what the learning has been from it? Did it work or not? And what were the positives and negatives… Self-examination is something that every government must do for better governance and efficiency.” Rajan said the government’s lack of focus on creating jobs and joblessness was “worrying”.

Adding to criticism about the government’s refusal to make employment-related data public, Rajan said, “Given the kind of anxiety that exists, there is a need to convey to the world that our data is credible. India has had a good record with credible data and we need to convey that,” he said.

EC urges makers of Modi biopic to respond to notice

Delhi’s Chief Electoral Officer is still waiting to hear from the makers of a Narendra Modi biopic, scheduled to be released six days before polling begins. On March 20, East Delhi’s returning officer K. Mahesh served notices to the producers of PM Narendra Modi and two leading newspapers for publishing advertisements of the film. The Commission has asked them to respond by March 30.

Seeking a stay on the film, opposition parties have said the film, in its attempt to woo voters, should be treated as campaign material which violates the model of conduct.

Star power for BJP

After electoral stints with several political parties, from Telugu Desam Party to Samajwadi Party, actor-turned-politician Jaya Prada on Tuesday joined the BJP. Describing her decision as an “important moment” in her life, Jaya Prada said, “I am a part of national party and I’m in a party, where the leader leads on issues of national security”.

Also read: Opposition Airs Sting of ‘BJP Worker’ Exchanging Crores After Demonetisation

The new BJP recruit is likely to take on Samajwadi Party’s Azam Khan in UP’s Rampur constituency, which she represented in 2004 and 2009, on a Samajwadi Party ticket.

Surveys raise concerns about misinformation, use of cash, liquor in polls

Over 40 % of respondents in a nationwide survey conducted by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), covering more than 2.7 lakh people, showed distribution of cash, liquor and freebies impacted the way voters make electoral choices.

Another recent survey by the Pew Research Centre found that three on every four (77%) of Indian adults worry about the authenticity of information they receive on their mobile phones. In addition, 43% of the respondents expressed concerned about misinformation spreading via mobile phones. BJP as well as Congress supporters shared these concerns.

Poll betrayals and new alliances

Reneging on its earlier decision to field Tejaswini Ananth Kumar – widow of former Union minister Ananth Kumar – in Karnataka’s high-profile Bangalore South constituency, the BJP instead chose 28-year-old lawyer Tejasvi Surya as its nominee for the seat.

The BJP also decided to field  Union minister Maneka Gandhi from Sultanpur and her son Varun Gandhi from Pilibhit. Former UP Congress president Rita Bahuguna Joshi (2007-2012), who joined the BJP in 2016, will contest from Allahabad.

Meanwhile, recognising the importance of smaller parties in the poll outcome, the opposition alliance on Tuesday teamed up with the Nishad Party, Janwadi Party (Socialist) and the Rashtriya Samanta Dal.

#PollVault: Congress Goes to Town With NYAY, Rajan Raps Modi Govt – The Wire

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