All in the Family
The BJP bypasses party principles to make room for ex-Congressmen and leaders’ kin
In Uttarakhand, the 2017 election has become one where dissidence rules. Even a party like the BJP which likes to flaunt its chaal, charitra, chehra (character and image, as the party slogan goes) has had to kowtow to it. Of the 70 seats in the state assembly, the BJP has given 13 tickets to Congress rebels who crossed over.
The party has given tickets to all the 10 Congress rebels who were involved in trying to destabilise the Harish Rawat government last year, including Saurabh Bahuguna (son of former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna) from Sitarganj. In addition to this, Satpal Maharaj, who joined the BJP during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, gets a ticket from Chaubhattakhal.
The laudable aim, of being a party which does not promote dynastic rule, too, has been thrown to the winds. So former chief minister and retired general B.C. Khanduri’s daughter Ritu gets a ticket from Yamkeshwar, senior state leader Munna Singh Chouhan gets a ticket for himself from Vikasnagar and one for wife Madhu Chouhan from Chakrata. In Devaprayag, former minister Matwar Khandari’s nephew Vinod Khandari is to fly the saffron flag. In Dhanaulti, Union minister Rajnath Singh’s daughter’s father-in-law Narayan Singh Rana gets a ticket. There’s also another first for the BJP, father-son duo DEHRADUN schools (mostly run by the church). The BJP has, indeed, taken note of his presence. The party had to deny a ticket to assembly speaker Anant Shet from Mayem, where Velingkar has a huge fan following. “We will get the next chief minister to cancel the grants to English-medium schools,” he says. “That’s my sole goal.”
At the Calangute and Baga beaches, popular among Indian tourists, now sculptures of fishermen symbolise local culture. The idea came from Calangute MLA Michael Lobo, who has become the BJP’s young Christian face in the last five years. Lobo, 40, was a panchayat head from the Congress in 2012. Now, the BJP points to him whenever it faces questions about the state’s 27 per cent Christian voters. “I am working towards fulfilling Manohar Parrikar’s dream of a developed Goa,” says Lobo.
EX-RSS GOA CHIEF VELINGKAR HAS LAUNCHED A POLITICAL PARTY, WHICH IS BENT ON TARGETING THE BJP
Elvis Gomes, a Goa government employee, was peeved when the state government in 2014 recommended two of his juniors for induction into the Indian Administrative Service. Though Gomes won a ruling against his juniors’ elevation from the Bombay High Court, he eventually joined the AAP and was unanimously chosen as its chief ministerial candidate.
Gomes, 52, says the government machinery in Goa has become unproductive since the staff is currently “overworked”. He is all for non-polluting industries and arresting the flow of migrants to the state. The AAP’s backing for grants to English-medium schools is likely to attract Christian voters, but that also means Gomes may find it hard to please some of the majority Hindu voters.