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 Assembly Elections
Election Commission bans free colour TV distribution in Tamil Nadu - Express Buzz
A day after the announcement of the date for the state assembly election, Tamil Nadu's chief electoral officer Wednesday ordered district collectors and heads of various state government departments to immediately stop distribution of colour television sets, one of the ruling DMK's pet projects.Chief Electoral Officer Praveen Kumar warned officials of severe disciplinary action if the rule was flouted.Polls for the 234-member house will be held April 13.
Affidavit of hope - Rohit Bansal, The Pioneer
The unholy nexus between the money mafia and subsequent governance is taken as given. But my wager is that the unthinkable may repeat itself. After Bihar, this time Tamil Nadu, infamous for money power and its robust electoral mafia, flush with 2-G funds, has a tryst with cheaper elections.Here’s why.
Poll, leaders and paper tigers - Economic Times
One good thing about elections, apart from the ordinary people getting to play masters to their rulers on the day of reckoning, is we all get to know who is a real leader and who a mere pretender. 
WB: Party society melts - Varghese K George, Hindustan Times
Jirai Sheikh, a frail man in his late thirties, returned home last week after four years. Sheikh had ran away from Bhandipura village in Mangolekote, 30 km from the town, after he mobilised people against the CPI(M)'s strong arm tactics before the 2008 panchayat elections. "CPI(M) leaders threatened to kill me," he says. Sheikh's return doesn't mean normalcy in his family.
TN elections: Learning from the last TN election - A Seshan, Business Line
The battle-lines are drawn for the coming Assembly polls in Tamil Nadu. Unfortunately for the electorate, it is a choice between the same pair of Dravidian parties, with little to choose between the two.
TN: Amma, Appa set to fight - Swati Das, Pioneer
The Amma and the Appa of Tamil Nadu politics are all set to fight the mother of all elections in this State. This will be a situation where the public mood will be difficult to ascertain — at least initially. The swing will be determined by all that happens in the next few days: the anti-incumbency factor, alliance bonding, corruption charges and the new trend — freebies. 

Elections 2011: Alliances of convenience, not ideology - The Pioneer
In coalition politics every partner wants to maintain its separate identity and maximise its electoral strength, says CP Bhambhri. The Assembly elections coming up next month in six States are crucial not only for the Congress but also for regional political players like the Trinamool Congress, the DMK, the AIADMK and the Asom Gana Parishad. On the one hand, every State has political specificities of its own, on the other, every State is witnessing contests between multi-party coalitions. 
TN elections: Allies team up against Jayalaithaa - Gopu Mohan, Indian Express
Three weeks ahead of the polls, the political scene in Tamil Nadu took a dramatic turn after Opposition allies ganged up against their lead partner, J Jayalaithaa’s AIADMK, for riding roughshod over them in finalising seats.
WB: Mitra pulls his socks up for polls - Indivjal Dhasmana, Business Standard
If India’s balance of payments crisis in 1990-91 enthused economist Manmohan Singh to enter politics, West Bengal’s economic stagnation and the opportunity to do something about it has prompted economist-turned-business-journalist-turned-industry-lobbyist Amit Mitra to enter state politics via the Trinamool Congress.
WB: Rahul’s team stumbling block in Cong-Trinamool talks - Subrata Nagchoudhury, Indian Express
Should the Congress fail to respond within the Sunday deadline set by its partner Trinamool Congress in West Bengal for announcing its list of candidates for 64 Assembly constituencies, two men will be very disappointed.
Muslims and OBC tangle in WB ahead of elections - Smita Gupta, The Hindu
The Left's prospects in the forthcoming elections will hinge in large measure on the Muslim vote. Post-Nandigram and post-Singur, a big chunk of Muslims moved to the Trinamool Congress and the Congress, making the Left Front vulnerable.
States to spend a fortune on insurance - Namrata Acharya, Business Standard
For Pershuram Singh, a polling officer, Bihar Assembly elections in 2000 meant the end of the road, quite literally. He lost his life on duty, as political parties scrambled to topple each other in one of the goriest elections in the state’s history. Around 60 people lost their lives during the polls.
Big post on mind, Cong rivals stack up numbers - Shaju Philip, Indian Express
Former MLA K Muhammedali has revolted against reports that Aluva is being given to KPCC spokesperson M M Hassan, an Antony loyalist. Muhammedali has contested from Aluva several times.
End of the road? - Coomi Kapoor, Indian Express
Claiming self-respect as more important than merely grasping for power, Vaiko, leader of the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), impulsively walked out of J. Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK-led alliance on Sunday.
DMK pins hopes on strategist Alagiri - A R Meyyammai, The Asian Age
Muthuvel Karunanidhi Alagiri, the man behind many a success in the battles for ballots down south, has once again emerged as the mascot for the DMK campaign in the 2011 elections.
WB: Workshop for Mamata’s 227 - Arnab Ganguly, The Telegraph
If marketing wisdom drove the sales pitch, the product launch is also sticking to the same script.
WB: Pranab logic made Congress accept Mamata’s offer - Saugar Sengupta, Pioneer
Even as protesting Congress workers burnt effigies of the high command at various places informed sources in the Bengal PCC said Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee played a vital role in getting his deal with the Congress sewed up. Sources privy to developments over the last couple of days in Delhi said Congress president Sonia Gandhi who wanted the jot with the Trinamool to be “clinched and not imposed” was finally persuaded by Mukherjee into believing that the Congress had no other choice but to accept whatever Mamata Banerjee put on offer for the party.
TN: Trouble in Tamil Nadu Congress - Nidhi Sharma, Economic Times
A section in the Tamil Nadu Congress has alleged that state unit president KV Thangkabalu has 'manipulated' the panel of candidates in several constituencies and names of "genuine and winnable" candidates were not put up before the election screening committee.
TN: Coalitions of caste - Gopu Mohan, Indian Express
Ahead of the polls in Tamil Nadu, a number of outfits — established, nascent and unknown — have emerged from the shadows with a claim to transfer their captive, caste-based votes for respect, recognition and other benefits.
Coalitions of caste - Gopu Mohan, ExpressIndia
Chennai Ahead of the polls in Tamil Nadu, a number of outfits — established, nascent and unknown — have emerged from the shadows with a claim to transfer their captive, caste-based votes for respect, recognition and other benefits. The power of this transferable vote share has been exhibited best by the Pattali Makkal Katchi, a party of the numerically strong most backward class (MBC) Vanniyar community and founded by Dr S Ramadoss. They comprise nearly 30 per cent of the population. The community has leaders in all parties, yet the poor among its members remain so.
Court seeks EC's response to Karunanidhi's charge - KT Sangameswaran, The Hindu
The Madras High Court on Wednesday directed the Election Commission (EC) and the Tamil Nadu Advocate-General to take notice and advance their arguments on March 28 with regard to a statement by Chief Minister M.Karunanidhi that the EC was “imposing excessive restrictions.”
EC has will, but poll officials have no way - S J Michael Collins, Express Buzz
The Election Commission's will to ensure that the Election Code of Conduct is not violated by political parties at times gets derailed when local officials, who are part of the flying squads, feel intimidated by ministers and local bigwigs, as it happened recently in Tiruchy.
Jaya, Karuna in TN sop opera - Times of India
Jayalalithaa declared a war of populism against the DMK on Thursday, opening her poll bag of freebies that more than matched that of the DMK. If DMK president M Karunanidhi promised free mixers and grinders to women, Jayalalithaa sought to outdo her bete noire, offering both of these as well as a fan to each woman in the state. 
Why bigamy law won't put Karunanidhi in spot - Manoj Mitta, TOI
The assets declared by M Karunanidhi of his two wives on Thursday while filing his nomination for the election has exposed the widespread impunity for bigamy even after it has been outlawed 55 years ago for all Indians except Muslims.Though the second marriage during the lifetime of the first spouse is illegal, many men get away with bigamy because of a loophole in the criminal law.
Very strange bedfellows - Shikha Mukherjee, Hindustan Times
It is striking that in the race to be many things to many segments of voters, the Trinamool Congress has used the strategy of acquisitions and mergers to polarise the political space in West Bengal. 
Assam CM should not be a spokesperson for ULFA - Oinam Sunil, TOI
Gogoi should not become a spokesman of the rebel outfit; he should behave like a responsible ruler (chief minister).
Ticket racket in Sonia’s office - Shaju Philip, Indian Express
Thiruvananthapuram Senior Congress leader and former minister K K Ramachandran on Tuesday alleged that a racket had been functioning in the office of party president Sonia Gandhi to allot tickets in the Assembly elections.
A Bollywood solution to poverty? - Chandan Mitra, The Pioneer
It’s okay if political parties competing for power in Tamil Nadu pander to consumerist zeal, provided they don’t neglect infrastructure and larger governance issues

TN: Dummy run - Indian Express
Thangkabalu becomes the mascot for an election-time curiosity.
TN: Manifesto merchandise - Business Standard
Time was when Tamil Nadu’s voters would handsomely reward their political leaders for getting rice at one rupee a kilo.
Poor choices may derail Congress in Tamil Nadu - Subodh Ghildiyal, TOI
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's bare-knuckle bargaining with ally DMK may come to naught with the poor choice of candidates and threat of rebels, and a growing party lament that Tamil Nadu polls could prove a case of missed opportunity. 
WB: Left vs future - Swapan Dasgupta, Times of India
For the past 100 years, there have been two sharply conflicting perceptions of Bengalis. The first takes off from Gopal Krishna Gokhale’s astonishingly non-prescient testimonial , “What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow.” The second centres on the Bengali bhadralok as the obvious inspiration for Rudyard Kipling’s chattering, disruptive bandarlog in “Jungle Book”.
FICCI credentials aside, Mitra cites ‘political lineage’ - Madhuparna Das, Indian Express
Not many people know that a railway station in a remote part of West Bengal called ‘Belanagar’ is named after Dr Amit Mitra’s mother — a tribute to her contribution to the freedom struggle.
WB: Screen taste - PiyasreeDasgupta, Indian Express
Bratya Basu, filmmaker and theatre personality, knows where he stands politically. His Ruddhasangeet is a theatrical attack on Left rule in West Bengal; now Mamata Banerjee, whom he reveres, has fileded him in Dum Dum against CPM minister Goutam Deb.
Growth, politics, West Bengal - P Raghavan, The Financial Express
A slowdown in agriculture explains the unrest in rural West Bengal. On the industry front, the state has never fared too well. In important social indicators like education, the state lies close to the bottom of the heap after 33 years of the Left Front’s rule.
Mamata's promises - Business Standard
Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Mamata Banerjee remains an enigma to many, despite her long years in politics and her record in government at the Centre, and the jury is still out on what kind of government she will offer West Bengal if her party defeats
Kerala: Church and a state - Shaju Philip, Indian Express
Ironic as it may be, in secular, progressive Kerala, the selection of candidates of both the Left Democratic Front and United Democratic Front is more or less an exercise in managing powerful religious groups and community organisations.

WB: Making a visual impact - Sreecheta Das, Indian Express
Multimedia tableaux, video screens and giant illuminated billboards — this is no corporate presentation but the Trinamool Congress’s latest campaign weapons.
Assam: BJP, ULFA may spoil Cong tea party - Samudra Gupta Kashyap, Indian Express
As the first flush of fresh tea has been sent to the market following the early spring rains, all is not well for the Congress party for which the tea-rich upper Assam districts had long remained a permanent vote bank.

AIADMK way ahead of DMK in social networking - Daniel Thimmayya, Express buzz
While the numbers doing the rounds ahead of the Assembly election remain a mere speculation at this point, the AIADMK seems to have an unassailable lead over the rival DMK in one bastion: Facebook! A cursory search for the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) on the social networking site brings up as many as 55 pages dedicated to the party.
Watch history go by in West Bengal - Subir Roy, Business Standard
Of all the state assembly elections round the corner, the one in West Bengal is by far the most engrossing in terms of the evolution of political forces and the underlying social realities that they bring to the fore.
Kolkata: Left gives in to family politics - Ravik Bhattacharya, Hindustantimes
The Left has softened its hard-boiled resistance to fielding poll candidates who are relatives or family members of established leaders. And this time, they have bettered the record of the Trinamool or the Congress on this count.
Left gives in to family politics - Ravik Bhattacharya, Hindustan Times
The Left has softened its hard-boiled resistance to fielding poll candidates who are relatives or family members of established leaders.
Opinion poll says AIADMK will come to power - The Hindu
The AIADMK is set to return to power in Tamil Nadu winning, together with its allies, more than two-thirds of the seats in the Assembly, according to a Headlines Today-ORG opinion poll.
Spectrum scam is Jayalalithaa's return ticket in Tamil Nadu: Opinion poll - India Today
Piggybacking on corruption and price rise issues, the Amma of Poes Garden will ride back to power in Tamil Nadu in the ensuing assembly elections.
Assam poll and ethnic fragmentation - Ranen Kumar Goswami, The Assam Tribune
Assam is approaching yet another Assembly election. The fractured verdict in last Assembly polls and wafer-thin majority the parties had got in the previous ones are a warning against making any sweeping forecast.
54% say AIADMK alliance will come to power - Outlook
The exclusive outlook MDRA poll in Tamil Nadu ahead of Assembly elections in April brings good news for the AIADMK 
Why AGP has to do well in this election? - Prasanta Mazumdar, DNA
Born after the anti-foreigners agitation of the early eighties, spearheaded by All Assam Students’ Union, the AGP had ruled the state twice —1985 to 1990 and 1996 to 2001.
The inspiring survivor-Prafulla Kumar Mahanta - Umanand Jaiswal, The Telegraph
He has donned every major mantle in contemporary Assam politics — student leader, party president, chief minister and Opposition leader.
Assembly Elections 2011: Jaya Nadu and Mamata Bengal - MJ Akbar, India Today
The rainbows have begun to fade. On May 13, they could be gone from the firmament, banished by the rising glow of two women who have waited for their moment: Mamata Banerjee, who has spent a lifetime trying to rid Bengal of Communists; and Jayalalithaa, who has told Tamil Nadu, perhaps a trifle wearily, that this could be her last campaign.
TN: AIADMK favoured by voters: College survey - News One
A pre-poll survey done by the students and professors of the Loyola College here said the opposition AIADMK has an edge over the ruling DMK in the April 13 Tamil Nadu assembly elections.
Opinion polls on TN Assembly Elections 2011 - Sidharth Goutham Sundar, TruthDive
There are two opinions about opinion polls. One is that they cannot predict the outcome of the elections. Other is that they can predict the results.
Today's election crucial for ruling party in Assam - Sushanta Talukdar, Hindu
Elections will be held in 62 of the 126 Assembly constituencies of Assam on Monday in the first phase of polling. This phase will determine the electoral prospects of 485 candidates, including 38 women.
WB: Buddha fights the big Mamata surge - Saugata Roy, TOI
 It's advantage Mamata Banerjee and these are the first elections since 1977 when the communists have started the race for Writers' Buildings way behind the opposition. 
In West Bengal elections, two economists battle over bandh - Indronil Roychowdhury, Financial Express
In West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya’s constituency of Jadavpur, there is a lovely graffito painted by supporters of his novice opponent, former state chief secretary Manish Gupta.
DMK’s main rival is EC, not AIADMK - KV Lakshmana, Hindustan Times
“We are not fighting the ADMK here. Our main opponent this time is the Election Commission,” declared a soft-spoken DMK leader Sedapatti Mutthiah
DMK misses Raja in his backyard Perambalur, AIADMK jubilant - Indian Express
Perambalur He may be cooling his heels in Delhi's Tihar Jail for his alleged involvement in the 2G scam, but the developmental work and the projects he executed 
TN: Kalaignar 's Swan song? - S. Srinivasan, N.S. Ramnath, CNBC TV18
Neither age nor the Tamil Nadu voter is ready to show any kindness to the old warhorse whose seven-decade long political career is in its late stages.
TN: Sidelined, Dalits struggle for political survival - Swati Das, The Pioneer
To save former Telecom Minister A Raja and the DMK, party president M Karunanidhi has been playing the Dalit card, but the scene here in Tamil Nadu is different. In a society where the Dalit issues have lost focus essentially because of the Dalit leaders’ individual political agendas, Karunanidhi’s game plan is hardly a sell-out.
DMK, Cong have a lot in common: Sonia - KV Lakshmana, Hindustan Times
Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday shared the stage with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi in an election rally, highlighting the strides made by the state under the latter’s leadership.
WB: Criminal Connections - Madhuparna Das, Indian Express
There were 75,000 pending warrants when poll process began; 45,000 warrants executed in last 3 weeks, under Election Commission pressure.
It’s raining cash in poll-bound states - DNA
The election commission (EC), through its various teams and the income-tax department, has seized Rs42.75 crore in cash.
2G buzz pushes DMK to villages - Karthick S & Radha Venkatesan, Times of India
With the chatter of the spectrum scam in the ears of urban voters, DMK's electoral hopes clearly ride on the rural masses this time around.
Tamil Nadu's expensive freebies - K. Venkataramanan, The Hindu
There was a time when a pre-election assurance invited a dismissive shrug or a derisive comment. Not any more.
The politics of migration - Sushanta Talukdar, The Hindu
For 55-year-old Mohimuddin of Goroimari, which falls in the Chaygaon Assembly constituency in lower Assam's Kamrup district.
Strict EC spoils Alagiri’s party - Nistula Hebbar, Financial Express
Madurai awoke this morning to the news that Union chemicals and fertillisers minister MK Alagiri has threatened to sue distrcit magistrate Sagayam and Superintendent of police Asra Garg.
Reviving the ‘M’ factor in Kerala - VR Jayaraj, The Pioneer
For the Jama'at-e-Islami, its branding as an ‘extremist’ organisation by its former allies, the Marxists, was unbearable. Rather than be isolated during the Assembly election, the Jama’at has chosen to swallow its pride and seek accommodation by petitioning the CPI(M). 
Bengal’s big question - Ashis Chakrabarti, The Telegraph
The riddle that is uppermost in most people’s minds is not what will happen in Bengal but what will happen to Bengal after the elections.
Local factors add to DMK woes in Tirupur - Liz Mathew, Live Mint
Tirupur, Tamil Nadu: Closure of dyeing and bleaching units in Tirupur, the textile hub of Tamil Nadu, may prove electorally expensive as locals are holding the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK).
EC curbs on money power - Niranjana Ramesh, Live Mint
The Election Commission’s (EC) effort to contain the influence of money in the assembly elections has taken the polity by surprise and may yet end up influencing the battle of the ballot in Tamil Nadu.
Assam: Mohilary magic - Preetam Brahma Choudhury, Telegraph Calcutta
When the Bodoland Peoples Front (BPF) fought the last Assembly elections, nobody had the slightest idea that it would be part of the next government at Dispur in league with the Congress. And it took one Hagrama Mohilary to turn the party from a non-entity to a kingmaker. From a militant leader fighting for a separate Bodoland state to the chief of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) and later a kingmaker in the state Assembly in 2006, the BPF president has played diverse roles. After making a clean sweep in the 2006 Assembly elections and forming the coalition government, the party under Mohilary also swept the BTC elections in 2010 for the second consecutive time. The BPF, led by Mohilary, also has two MPs today — one each in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and this is by no means a small achievement.
I am not corrupt: Jayalalithaa - NDTV
I am very sure that our alliance will sweep the polls, even though the various election polls have said that we will win anywhere between 164 - 184 seats, my own assessment is that our alliance will win not less than 218 seats.
Election choppers cutting into poll expense - Assam Tribune
Noticed the dozen odd choppers flying around the State, carrying political leaders to election rallies? At many of the places, people flock to the meeting venues just for a close look at the chopper than for anything else.
TN a challenging case but we can't close our eyes: CEC - J Balaji, The Hindu

With over Rs. 42 crore in unaccounted cash already seized in various parts of Tamil Nadu ahead of the April 13 Assembly polls.

Janmat versus Jan Lokpal - Sunil Jain, Financial Express
If the government is being hauled over the coals and doesn’t have a clue as to how to respond to the growing support for Anna Hazare’s fast-unto-death if his version of the Jan Lokpal Bill is not accepted, it’s for a good reason.
Poll winds blow in Jaya’s favour - Pankaj Vohra,, Hindustan Times
Winds of change seem to be sweeping Tamil Nadu. The outcome of the polls to be held for the 234 seats on April 13 could well bring back the AIADMK chief, J Jayalalithaa as the chief minister.
In defence of Mamata - Coomi Kapoor, Indian Express
Mamata Banerjee may win the Assembly Elections, but it will take more than two years for disilluionment to set in.
Does caste really count in Tamil Nadu? - B Kolappan, The Hindu
With the exception of the PMK, caste-based organisations have not been able to make much headway.
PM in Kerala: Left on wrong side of history - Indian Express
Taking on the Left on its turf, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday accused it of doing great damage to West Bengal and Kerala during its rule.
Congress finding it difficult to retain ground in Assam - Nani Gopal Mahanta, Live Mint
The Congress is likely to face unprecedented challenge in upper Assam from the Bharatiya Janata Party ; in northern, central and lower Assam from the Asom Gana Parishad; and in Barak valley from the All India United Democratic Front and the BJP.
Mahanta, Gogoi in high stakes battle for Assam - Ruhi Tewari, Live Mint
Regarded as Assam’s second most powerful politician, Prafulla Kumar Mahanta’s challenge is to turn invincibility in his constituency into another stint at the helm.
Assam: Border inequations - Piyasree Dasgupta, Indian Express
As NH-31 winds from Barovisha in Cooch Behar into Gossaigaon in Kokrajhar, the green in which the Trinamool Congress had drenched most things in West Bengal — road dividers, shop walls, the occasional tree trunk — has given way to a bold neon pink in Assam. The Bodoland People’s Front in Assam has chosen the pop colour and a Facebook fanpage-like tone. From the border till deep inside Gossaigaon, roadsides scream, “I luv BPF” and “BPF is grt”.
Bodo shocker for Congress - Samudra Gupta Kashyap, Indian Express
All is not well with the Congress in Assam. As the state heads for the second phase of the Assembly polls on Monday, the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), a partner in the Tarun Gogoi-led government, has said it is willing to shift sides in the post-poll scenario and join hands with the AGP and BJP if the need arises.
Jama’at to back Left in Kerala - VR Jayaraj, The Pioneer
After days of maintaining suspense, the Jama’at-e-Islami has finally decided to support a majority of the Left Democratic Front candidates in the Wednesday Assembly election in Kerala.
Tirupur units use ballot to win round 1 of do-or-dye battle - Nistula Hebbar, FE
Corporate India knows elections are the best time to hit a feckless government back where it hurts.
“Rahul an Amul baby” - The Hindu
Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan on Sunday hit back at Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi for his jibe at the Communist Party of India (Marxist) stalwart on his age, calling him an “Amul baby.”
‘Congress, DMK partners in graft’ - The Asian Age
Senior BJP leader L.K. Advani on Sunday alleged Congress and DMK were “partners in corruption”, and said the two parties, which had joined hands in both the State and at the Centre, “should be defeated”.
The other Pinarayi: From deep red to light saffron - Shaju Philip, Indian Express
The Kerala battle may be all about UDF vs LDF, but in one of the state’s most prominent Communist bastions, the BJP is making its presence felt. The village of the powerful CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, Pinarayi, is seeing open, door-to-door campaigning by a BJP candidate this time. It was a meeting held at Parapram near Pinarayi in 1939 that had paved the way for the formalisation of the communist party, that had been formed two years earlier, in the state.
Battle of coalitions - TOI
With just a day left for the campaign to conclude, Karunanidhi seems to recognise that he has a tough task in hand.
Assam: BJP post-poll alliance with AGP on the cards - The Pioneer
The BJP is eyeing a post-poll alliance with the Asom Gana Parishad in Assam, where the two phase poll for 126 Assembly seats concluded on Monday. With indications about Assam poll throwing a fractured verdict, both the AGP and the BJP are hoping to improve their tally at Congress’ cost.
TN: There’s family politics beyond Karunanidhi - The Pioneer
If you thought Chief Minister M Karunanidhi’s was the only family that ruled the State and ran a fiefdom in Madurai, then you are mistaken. The Veerapandi family has held sway in the Salem region, especially the Veerapandi pocket since the late 1950s.
Will the tide turn in West Bengal? - The Hindu
While the Left hopes it will be able to stem the rot, the Trinamool Congress believes it can cash in on the momentum of its recent electoral successes.
Assam: Why the Bodo vote matters - Sushanta Talukdar, The Hindu
In 2006, the Bodos, the largest plains tribe in Assam, played kingmakers in Dispur. The Congress, which failed to secure the majority in a House of 126 members
Kerala: Lost in the backwaters - Lalita Panicker, HT
In the sable darkness of the broken ribbon of a highway snaking across the north of Kerala, car headlights like mutant glow worms bounce about, blinding drivers.
WB: From policing to hurly-burly of politics - Sutapa Mukerjee, Pioneer
Mamata Banerjee has hand-picked five former senior police officers to contest the West Bengal Assembly election on the Trinamool Congress's ticket. Each one of them has had a distinguished career in uniform. Now they plan a career shift. Sutapa Mukerjee profiles them
TN elections: Intel agencies predict victory for ADMK alliance - LensOnNews Bureau
When a series of opinion polls predicted that the ruling DMK is set to lose power in Tamil Nadu, and the AIADMK alliance led by Jayalalithaa is coasting to a victory ( the LensOnNews poll had forecast a convincing win for the opposition alliance which was projected to win 144 seats against just 88 for the DMK alliance), Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi had breezily dismissed them as “fabrications”.
How money gets around in Tamil Nadu polls - CNN-IBN, IBN Live
Colour coded tokens, Speed Post and even impromptu blackouts to facilitate distribution. Officials in Tamil Nadu say they are surprised at the myriad ruses being used by political parties to distribute cash ahead of the assembly elections on Wednesday. M. Vijayakumar, district electoral officer at Perambulur, about 60 km from here, says alarm bells start ringing whenever he gets a call on his mobile from a Chennai landline number -- it is more than likely somebody trying to divert the attention of flying squads checking the distribution of cash to voters.
Election Commission reminds Tamil Nadu it can countermand polls - DNA
Amidst widespread reports of cash and gifts being distributed to voters in Tamil Nadu, the chief electoral officer has warned that the elections could be countermanded if electoral malpractices are proven.
TN polls: money as candidate - Gnani Sankaran, Live Mint
Money power in another form also dominates the elections. The freebie culture ushered in by a desperate DMK in 2006 has been appropriated by the AIADMK too.
Can Money & Machines influence the Tamil Nadu election outcome? - GVL Narasimha Rao, LensOnNews
The LensOnNews.com poll published a fortnight ago has predicted an emphatic victory for the AIADMK combine in the Tamil Nadu assembly polls. http://bit.ly/dXjOyF

Tamil Nadu elections have been confounding pollsters of late. In 2006assembly elections, most pollsters predicted that Jayalalithaa led AIADMK would get another term in office. Similarly, in 2009 polls, the DMK-Congress combine swept polls surprising poll observers. The reasons for the confounding poll outcome weren’t psephological. They are the result of widespread occurrence of poll malpractices.
TN: MK Stalin faces a tough battle - MC Rajan, India Today
Their presence fails to kindle any curiosity among the people of Kolathur but workers of the DMK's youth wing continue to relentlessly canvass for the party's 'rising son' M. K. Stalin anyway.
Biggest seizure ever of black money in elections from TN - Chetan Chauhan, HT
Tamil Nadu has earned dubious distinction of maximum seizure of black money in any assembly elections so far, highlighting the corruption that rakes country's electoral system.  "About Rs 60 crore has already been seized," a senior election commission official told Hindustan Times, the day Tamil Nadu went to polls. "It is highest seizure of black money for any state elections."
State IB predicts runaway win for Mamata's alliance - Soumen Datta, Hindustan Times
The West Bengal state Intelligence Branch (IB) report has predicted 180-185 seats for the Trinamool Congress-Congress alliance in the assembly polls - a seat count that will allow the combine to form the next government comfortably.
Tempest of change - Shikha Mukerjee, Deccan Chronicle
Adaptive solutions are the weapons with which the Trinamul Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front propose to tackle the anxieties and expectations generated by “climate change”. 
Bengal polls: Will rebels disturb Mamata's equation? - NDTV
In a close election, rebels often decide who will form the next government. The rebel factor is something that every political party has to live with in every election.
Star Ananda-Nielsen opinion poll: Grim tidings for 11 WB ministers - Telegraph Calcutta
Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee may manage to hold on to his fort in Jadavpur but 11 of his cabinet colleagues may not get re-elected, according to the projections of a STAR Ananda-The Nielsen Company opinion poll.
Mamata rides wave for change 215 projected for alliance - The Telegraph
The Trinamul Congress-led alliance is heading towards a landslide in Bengal, a STAR Ananda-The Nielsen Company opinion poll has forecast.
TN: Single-Party rule - GC Shekhar, The Telegraph
The acerbic exchanges between competitors for power in the bitterly fought Tamil Nadu elections has sparked afresh the debate on the asset-liability quotient of families in politics.
Assam: Surviving the third wave - Aditi Phadnis, Business Standard
The question everyone is asking is: will Tarun Gogoi become the chief minister of Assam for the third consecutive time?
Election apps: A mixie for your vote? - Shobhan Saxena, ToI
The freebie culture is not peculiar to Tamil Nadu; it's an all-India phenomenon. The nature of gifts changes from state to state depending on local culture and demographics. In poverty-ridden UP and Bihar, anything — cash, saris, blankets and frying pans — could do the trick. In relatively rich Punjab and Haryana, alcohol is used to sway the voter. Every time there is an election — local, state or national — in Punjab, Jarnail Singh, who drives a taxi in Delhi, makes it a point to visit his native Gurdaspur. He doesn't go there to vote but to claim his share of alcohol.
Ballot scores over bullet in Red hub - DNA
Around 85% polling was recorded in the sixth and last phase of West Bengal assembly polls in the 14 remaining constituencies on Tuesday. A popular but local TV channel in a survey said immediately after the sixth phase was over that the TMC-Congress combine would get 221 seats. The Left coalition, according to the survey, would get 62 or little more with BJP two and others nine.
WB: Progress taunt in whirr of chopper - Anirban Chowdhury and Main Uddin Chisti, Telegraph Calcutta
As the chopper flies, Narendra Modi today marked out the distance between Bengal and his state Gujarat in terms of socio-economic progress. “In the Dooars, tribal children still come out running to watch a helicopter land but in Gujarat, many Adivasi youths are now employed as pilots,” the Gujarat chief minister said at a BJP rally in Jalpaiguri’s Birpara.
As Bengal polls begin today, Mamata faces trouble in north - Subrata Nagchoudhury, Indian Express
Even as West Bengal goes to the polls tomorrow in its first vote of transition in 35 years, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee faces her biggest challenge in the six North Bengal districts.
WB: 84% vote in north Bengal - Hindustan Times
North Bengal on Monday surpassed Assam, Kerala and Tamil Nadu in voter turnout and, like the other three states, remained peaceful on the day of polling. More than 84% of the region's 9.742 million voters exercised their franchise in the 54 constituencies, spread over six districts. Had it not been for a downpour in the Dooars in Jalpaiguri district, the voting percentage would have been higher.
Statehood test by proxy - The Telegraph

When Gorkha Janmukti Morcha candidate Trilok Dewan unexpectedly came face to face with Subash Ghisingh at a polling booth here on Monday and both looked a little confused, it all seemed a little symbolic.

Poll blocks trigger boom in business hub - Zeeshan Jawed, The Telegraph

Burrabazar trader Vinod Agarwal couldn’t have imagined that a board exam would someday help him make a small fortune.

Elections 2011: Is change a certainty? - Tathagata Bhattacharya, CNN-IBN
As the D-Day of May 13 approaches, the four states of Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala and the Union Territory of Puducherry are clearly not on the same page. It seems that Assam and Puducherry are probably not going to be affected by anti-incumbency. West Bengal is almost sure to witness a change of guard. Tamil Nadu and Kerala are two states where none of the contesting alliances has a definitive edge.
Homegrown heroes - Sagarika Ghose, Hindustan Times
The last vote has been cast. The surveys are out. Electronic voting machines stand at the ready. In 48 hours, the voice of the Indian voter will thunder and we will know who has been chosen to rule in West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Assam.  Verdict 2011 has been about local personalities. Every contest this time has been a presidential contest among local heroes. Parties, manifestos and national leaders have faded into irrelevance.
All eyes in the Congress on May 13 - Smita Gupta, Hindu
With polling for the Assembly elections to Assam, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Kerala and West Bengal over, all eyes in the Congress are now on May 13, the day the results will be out. Publicly, the party's spokespersons have been saying that they don't think that the outcome of this set of elections should be seen as a referendum on the United Progressive Alliance government's functioning.
Trinamool poised to create history - Liz Mathew & Ruhi Tewari, Live Mint
Barring in West Bengal, exit polls do not hold out a clear winner in the three other states—Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam—that went to polls in April and May. If trends projected by the poll surveys hold true, then, unlike in the general election of 2009, the Congress is a diminished political force and, therefore, more dependent on its allies.
High voting from start to finish, here’s why - Indian Express
A high turnout in Junglemahal completed what has been a common trend across the four states and the Union Territory that voted this season. And election theorists gave varying reasons for the uniformly high turnout, ranging from a desire to be part of a wave of change in West Bengal, and an assertion of ethnic identity in Assam, to a number of possible factors, some mutually contradictory, in Tamil Nadu.
Friday the 13th, for whom? - C L Manoj, Economic Times
The elections in West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Pondicherry cover a total of 824 assembly segments spanning a little less than one-fourth the total Lok Sabha seats. There will be a temptation to see in the results a pointer, however farfetched, to the emerging popular mood in the country since UPA-II retained power in 2009.
‘No victory rallies, no alcohol, no sound bytes...’ - Ravik Bhattacharya, Hindustan Times
Trinamool Congress chief and railways minister Mamata Banerjee has outlined a list of dos and don’ts for party workers to rein in unbridled jubilation across West Bengal should the party achieve a landslide victory, as predicted by exit polls, when results are announced on Friday.
The voter as consumer - Amrith Lal, Times of India
The manifestos of the two major parties, the DMK and the AIADMK, offered a slew of free goods ranging from cheap rice to laptops, mixer-grinders and fans to voters in the event of gaining office. Free or cheap rice has always been a part of political manifestos and helped many a party win elections. So has been the promise of free/cheap electricity and education. But the promise of free consumer items is a new trend, which seeks to subvert the relationship between the government and the citizen.
Exit polls predict defeat for almost entire cabinet - Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri, HT
Change was in the air in West Bengal, but as it took over the airwaves, the morale of the ruling CPM all but disappeared. Tuesday’s exit polls had not only predicted a rout for the Left in the polls, it also said at least 14 of its ministers would bite the dust. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who is contesting from south Kolkata’s Jadavpur, tops the list.
Why Karunanidhi should lose this election - Sheela Bhatt, Rediffnews
The assembly election results will not be a big help for the Congress in New Delhi because even if it wins impressively, it will still be considered a local win with the help of local issues. It will not help the Congress find an apt response to the question of corruption at the national level, says Sheela Bhatt. Except Mamata Banerjee, all the political leaders and parties involved in the five assembly elections are either nervous (like Jayalalithaa), concerned (like the Congress), or petrified (like the Left parties).
Populist Bengali politician threatens to end Communist era under India’s longest-running gov’t - AP, Washington Post
A statue of Vladimir Lenin draped in rose garlands looms over West Bengal’s capital, circled by hammer-and-sickle flags hanging limp in the tropical damp. But the longtime Communist state in east India may be about to get a makeover. West Bengal’s poverty-weary people, hungry for change, have been captivated during recent elections by populist firebrand Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress party is predicted to unseat the Communist Party of India-Marxist.
Will 'Dalit queen' Mayawati win again in Uttar Pradesh? - BBC
With crucial assembly elections getting under way in India's Uttar Pradesh state on Wednesday, the BBC's Geeta Pandey in Sitapur assesses the chances of Mayawati, its enigmatic chief minister. At the State Inter College Ground in Sitapur, about 100km (62 miles) from the state capital, Lucknow, a crowd of about 10,000 people have gathered for Chief Minister Mayawati's first election rally in the state.
Punjab Polls: Sons & daughters tilt in Cong list - Ramaninder K Bhatia, Times of India
By the fag end of a disma , overcast day, almost every district in Punjab's three regions, Malwa, Majha, and Doaba, had erupted. Seething Congressmen, who were denied tickets, were swearing revenge and sending ultimatums to the high command. With thousands clamouring for 114 Congress tickets, those left out in the cold are expected to create trouble for their own party. 
Cong-CPI divide in Manipur widens, to contest separately - Oinam Sunil & K Sarojkumar Sharma, Times of India
Cracks in Manipur's Congress-CPI coalition have led the parties to decide not to contest the assembly polls together. Led by CM Okram Ibobi Singh, the Secular Progressive Front (SPF) government has ruled for two straight terms, but their "ideological differences" seem to have grown. "Our party can't work with CPI at the grassroots level. We can't have any pre-poll alliance," said N Biren Singh, senior Congress minister and SPF spokesperson. CPI state secretary M Nara Singh said a seats deal with the Congress is "very difficult" and the Left party wants to increase its tally.
With eye on UP polls, push for schemes, sops - Ravish Tiwari, Indian Express
With Rahul Gandhi leading the Congress battle in Uttar Pradesh from the front, and ahead of announcement of the election schedule, the Centre has been more than kind clearing sops and taking decisions that are likely to pay dividend in the coming Assembly polls in the state. These projects are more or less specific to Uttar Pradesh, unlike other major steps like introduction of the Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, and National Food Security Bill that also have poll ramifications but have a national perspective.
UP: Acid test for Rahul, Maya & Mulayam - Times of India
Election Commission on Saturday announced the dates for the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur, setting the stage for a mini-general election which will mark a serious political test for Rahul Gandhi and may potentially provide a window of opportunity to Congress to reverse a pervasive perception of corruption and policy paralysis. 
UP: Hated by most but still a winner - Times of India
Relatively low levels of polling and multi-cornered contests in UP have meant candidates in most constituencies could win with just about 10% of the electorate voting for him. In 2007, in as many as 20 seats, the winner had 10% or less of the vote; in another 306, the winner had 10-20%.
Young voters to swing result - Times of India
The young in UP, who were born post-Babri and grew up in the era of liberalisation, could play a key role in this election. According to data released by the Election Commission, there are 53 lakh first-time voters in the 18-19 age bracket, and this is one segment whose mind is difficult to read.
Going by Lok Sabha results, either Congress or BJP may play key role in government formation - ToI
If the projection of the 2009 Lok Sabha results are anything to go by, the Samajwadi Party might be well placed to grab the lead in the Uttar Pradesh election as it enjoys a narrow but significant edge over its bitter rival Bahujan Samaj Party. With a projected tally of 118, SP has more than bettered BSP which has fallen to less than half of its 2007 magic figure of 206 seats in the UP assembly. With the Lok Sabha results showing BSP at a 100 seats, the other big gainer is Congress with 95 seats. 
Delimitation will make poll calculations tough - Shailvee Sharda, Times of India
This will be the first assembly election in UP after delimitation and the whole exercise has made easy political calculations more complicated. Data obtained from the office of chief electoral officer, UP, indicate that delimitation has drastically changed the political landscape of the state. Of the total 403 assembly constituencies, 163 are new. This means that candidates from various political parties will have to face a new set of voters in over 40% of the assembly constituencies.
Caste cauldron boils as UP stares at split verdict - Sunita Aron, Hindustan Times
The spectre of a fractured verdict looms large over Uttar Pradesh as the state heads for a no-holds-barred multi-cornered contest for the 403 seats in the assembly. Barely five years ago, the people of the state had heaved a sigh of relief when political stability had returned after 16 years. The BSP had crossed the crucial 203-mark to form the government without support. And Mayawati has become the first UP chief minister who had a term that overlapped with the five-year duration of the UP assembly.
BJP to go it alone in UP, other states except Punjab: Venkaiah - Indian Express
Seat sharing talks with NDA ally JD-U in Uttar Pradesh today appeared to have run into rough weather with BJP saying it will go it alone in all poll-bound states except Punjab where it will tie up with Akali Dal. "We will fight the elections on our own. There will be no alliance with any party except in Punjab where we will ally with Akali Dal. We will contest elections on our own in other states," BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu said.
UP elections: More changes likely in Samajwadi Party, BSP poll candidates - Man Mohan Rai, Economic Times
The ruling Bahujan Samaj Party and the biggest opposition Samajwadi Party are likely to change a few more candidates ahead of the seven-phase assembly polls that begin on February 4. The eleventh-hour replacements signal confusion within the top two parties in the state and potential trouble from the candidates being replaced who might work against the interests of their parties. Delayed tickets also give the candidates less time to campaign, hurting the party's prospects. 
Incumbency knife hangs over Maya - Piyush Srivastava, India Today
From the concrete elephants, parks and statues to murder of doctors overseeing the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati is facing allegations of corruption along with accusations of betrayal by various social groups, including Brahmins. Mayawati had to sack several of her MLAs involved in heinous crimes and adding insult to the injury is the fact that many victims of their lawless run were Dalits.
Family woes keep CM Badal on toes - India Today
Several unfulfilled electoral promises and anti-incumbency are haunting the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-BJP alliance Punjab. The assembly elections in the state on January 30 would be a major test for the alliance partners since Punjab has a long-standing tradition of never voting the same party back to power in two consecutive elections.
Seat sharing talks fail, BJP, JD(U) to go alone in UP - Times of India
Seat-sharing talks for Uttar Pradesh polls between NDA allies BJP and JD (U) have hit a low, with JD (U) announcing that it will not contest at all since BJP is not ready to accede to their demands for at least three dozen seats in the state. The situation is reminiscent of last UP polls, when JD (U) had managed to get more seats for its candidates than the usual.
Rahul plays Muslim card in UP - Maulshree Seth, Indian Express
Starting his first tour after announcement of the election dates, AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi on Monday reminded people about the UPA government’s quota within quota for OBC Muslims and said while the Congress governments in other states have successfully implemented recommendations of the Sachar Committee, UP has failed to take any step ahead.
Purging won't hurt our poll prospects: Mayawati - Atiq Khan, Hindu
With barely a month left for the first round of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, the BSP candidates' list is yet to be declared officially. The delay is mainly due to Chief Minister Mayawati's last-ditch effort to weed out ‘undesirable elements.' About 60 sitting members of the Bahujan Samaj Party have been denied ticket and 19 Ministers dismissed by her. While 10 of these Ministers were sacked, within a week of the poll schedule announcement on December 23, on corruption charges and for ignoring their constituencies, another Minister quit the party after he was refused ticket.
Rahul Gandhi takes Lokpal battle to Varun Gandhi's constituency - Man Mohan Rai, Economic Times
It was Gandhi versus Gandhi, Congress versus BJP, when Rahul Gandhi travelled into cousin Varun's parliamentary constituency and carried forward the battle between the two national parties over the Lokpal Bill. "We wanted the Lokpal to have a constitutional status so that it is more powerful and independent. But the BJP backed out," Rahul Gandhi said at a rally in Pilibhit's Puranpur area, lashing out at the principal opposition in parliament that Varun Gandhi represents. 
RLD’s Muslim face to join SP - Vandita Mishra, Indian Express
In an indication of the churning that has been formally inaugurated in UP after the announcement of poll dates, Shahid Siddiqui has quit the Rashtriya Lok Dal, which recently entered into an alliance with the Congress. He is poised to go back to the Samajwadi Party, which he left in 2008.
UP polls: Congress focus on reserved seats - Subodh Ghildiyal, Times of India
Congress has turned its focus on reserved seats to boost its revival efforts in UP, taking a leaf out of Mayawati's book whose 2007 surge was powered by all-Scheduled Caste contests across the state. Away from corruption debates , Congress MPs PL Punia and Ashok Tanwar are scouring the land to identify the winnable among 85 reserved seats. The focus is triggered by feedback that anti-incumbency against BSP and its waning social engineering with upper castes can wrench open Mayawati's grip on her stronghold.
Polls in mind, BSP uses debate to target Rahul - Indian Express
Using the opportunity of the Lokpal debate to make a political point ahead of the Uttar Pradesh elections, Satish Chandra Mishra of BSP today lashed out at Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi and blamed the Congress for the plight of Uttar Pradesh. Without naming Rahul, Mishra said while the Congress leader had been making claims that he would change the face of the state in the next five years, his party had been solely responsible for impoverishing the state.
Congress is helping BSP: Akhilesh - Hindustan Times
The Congress is trying to disrupt the Samajwadi Party (SP) attempts to defeat the Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) government in Uttar Pradesh, said SP leader Akhilesh Yadav. Member of Parliament and son of party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh is the star campaigner for the SP that is trying to return to power after a break of five years.
Rahul takes poll campaign to Varun's Pilibhit - Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi on Thursday continued with his election tour in cousin Varun Gandhi's Lok Sabha constituency — Pilibhit. After addressing an election meeting in Puranpur on Wednesday, he moved to Amaria in the same district. 
Maya sacks 4 more ministers, one quits - Express India
Continuing her efforts to refurbish the BSP’s image, Chief Minister Mayawati on Friday sacked four more ministers and decided to not nominate them for the Assembly elections, saying they had neglected people’s problems and party workers, causing resentment in their constituencies.
Rahul promises Lokpal with constitutional status - Ravish Tiwari, Express India
Smarting under the party’s failure to pass the Lokpal Bill, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi on Friday asserted that his party will establish Lokpal with constitutional status on the lines of the Election Commission of India. “I advocated a strong constitutional Lokpal. Make it on the lines of the Election Commission.... But they (BJP) defeated it in the Lok Sabha saying that it is Rahul Gandhi’s dream... this is not only the dream of Rahul Gandhi but also that of the youth of this country. We will not rest without (achieving) it,” Rahul told a rally in Saharanpur.
Ahead of polls, Maya sacks 4 more netas - Ashish Tripathi, Times of India
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati sacked four more ministers on Friday, taking the number of her ministerial colleagues shown the door in the past six days alone to 10. In all, she has sacked 17 ministers in the past six months on charges of corruption and anti-party activities. One minister resigned on Friday on being denied an assembly ticket. 
Punjab Cong leaders want tickets for kin - D K Singh, Indian Express
With a host of senior leaders from Punjab lobbying for tickets for their kith and kin, the central election committee of the Congress, headed by Sonia Gandhi, on Monday deferred a decision on this issue. A final call on giving tickets to relatives of leaders as also defectors from other parties will be taken later, it was reliably learnt.
The state of the highest stakes - Sudha Pai, Indian Express
Uttar Pradesh has always been the state where new ideas within our political system are tried and tested. The key issues and strategies in the electoral campaign for the UP assembly elections in February 2012 point to the winds of change that have swept the Hindi heartland. In the 1990s, the Ram Mandir movement, Mandal and Dalit assertion drove state politics. Since the early 2000s, the UP electorate, weary of identity politics, has been keen to catch up with states that have taken advantage of the opportunities offered by liberalisation.
Trinamool Congress to contest polls in Congress ruled states - ET
At a time when coalition allies are frequently causing more heartburn to Congress than the opposition benches in Parliament, Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress is going one further by fielding its own candidates during upcoming assembly polls in Goa and Manipur, both Congress-ruled states. 
BSP's image makeover may not attract voters - Economic Times
By showing the door to 10 ministers in as many days and denying tickets to a whopping 60% of the sitting MLAs, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati has embarked on a bold gambit to renew her control over the levers of power in the poll-bound state. While her supporters hailed the move, claiming that it will have a positive impact on the electorate, her opponents scoffed at it, insisting that it was the reflection of "desperation and despondency'' in the BSP camp.
Jokers in the pack - Ashok Malik, Hindustan Times
In the 2007 Uttar Pradesh assembly election, the Congress won 22 seats in a house of 403, with 8.61% of the vote. Two years later, in the Lok Sabha election, the party won the equivalent of 95 assembly seats, with 18.25% of the vote.
UP may hold balance for the Central government - Vinod Sharma, Hindustan Times
A good performance in smaller states headed for polls between January-end and March would boost the morale of a beleaguered Congress. But it’s squarely in the hands of the UP electorate to bolster the numbers the UPA badly needs in Parliament to pursue policy.
Punjab elections: Negative mood can affect all parties - Pankaj Vohra, Hindustan Times
The outcome of the Punjab elections will depend largely on how the Congress overcomes the national mood, which is not favourable to it at the Centre, and how it exploits the huge anti-incumbency factor against the ruling Akali Dal-BJP combine.
Even minus CPI, Congress set for a hat-trick - Rahul Karmakar, Hindustan Times
Political instability was blamed for much of Manipur’s problems until Okram Ibobi Singh became the first chief minister to complete a term in 2007. He extended that record to two terms, but on both occasions, his Congress had the CPI as an ally. Few doubt Ibobi Singh’s ability to make it three in a row. But the focus of Mandate 2012 is on the ability of the Congress to form a government on its own — more so after parting ways with the CPI ahead of the January 28 election to the 60-member House.
The disease of scion-itis: Rahul Gandhi vs Akhilesh Yadav - Lakshmi Chaudhry, FirstPost
With the UP elections in the air, and our most famous political baby facing off against his local counterpart, the media are displaying full-blown symptoms of scion-itis. Take, for instance, the recent India Today profile of Akhilesh Yadav, which opens with party worker’s Samsung cell phone, lingers lovingly on his daughter’s iPad, and then goes on to hit all the usual notes.
Cong banks on Beni to get Kurmi votes in 100 seats - Ravish Tiwari, Indian Express
Taking a cue from Nitish Kumar’s success in breaking RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s Muslim-Yadav support base in Bihar, the Congress, it is learnt, is banking on Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma to break Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Muslim-Yadav support base in about 100 seats in the 403-member Uttar Pradesh Assembly.
No one in her pocket - Virender Kumar, Indian Express
In just over a week, UP Chief Minister Mayawati has dismissed 10 of her ministers. The reasons are as diverse as the failure to discharge their duties, misuse of official position, corruption and lack of interest in “people’s problems” — all leading to resentment in their constituencies. Clearly, none of them will get a BSP ticket for the February election. They are among the one-third of her 200-odd MLAs that Mayawati is weeding out. This is a work in progress, for no one knows what the final figure will be given that there has been no official announcement.
War for UP: Cong fires compensation salvo - Subodh Ghildiyal, Times of India
The Centre has more than doubled the compensation for offences against dalits like murder, rape, sexual exploitation and various barred forms of caste-related harassment. The compensation, paid by states under the Prevention of Atrocities Act, is a crucial part of the two-pronged process to address the damage caused by caste crimes against SCs and STs, with the other being the trial and punishment of the perpetrator. 
Congress new caste equations - Vineeta Pandey, DNA
For the last 22 years the Congress has been sidelined in the power play of the country’s most populous state — Uttar Pradesh. This time, as it gears up to regain the lost ground under its heir apparent Rahul Gandhi, the party is also banking on some realignment of the caste combinations to reap electoral dividends.
Congress threat to SP’s M-Y formula - Asian Age
The Congress party, fighting the Uttar Pradesh electoral battle against the BSP, SP and the BJP simultaneously, is posing a threat to the SP’s M-Y (Muslim-Yadav) winning combination. The Sonia Gandhi-led party is banking on minorities, Most Backward Castes (MBCs), Jats and upper castes to check the BSP, SP and the BJP who had ruled the state for over two decades.
Talks fail, JD(U) to fight all seats alone - Indian Express
Given the cold shoulder by the BJP in its overtures for seat adjustment in Uttar Pradesh, the Janata Dal(United) has decided to go it alone in the Assembly polls. “We will fight all 403 seats in UP,” NDA working chairman and JD(U) president Sharad Yadav announced here on Wednesday.
Manipur’s Oppn parties put up united front - Esha Roy, Indian Express
With the Congress looking stronger than ever in the upcoming state Assembly elections in Manipur to be held on January 28, all Opposition parties, both national and regional, have decided to join hands to form an alliance called the Progressive People’s Front. The two main players in the alliance are BJP and the Manipur People’s Party (MPP). This is the second alliance that the MPP has formed in two months.
Maya’s Man Friday to Vibhishan - Masoodul Hasan, Hindustan Times
From Mayawati’s “Man Friday”, Babu Singh Kushwaha on Wednesday is the BJP’s “Vibhishan”—the sobriquet affectionately bestowed on him by BJP vice-president Vinay Katiyar while welcoming him into the party. The brother of the mythological Ravana who had switched sides, helped steer Lord Rama to victory. Doubtless, the BJP’s hopes are on the same lines. Lucknow equals Lanka and the epic battle for it is at hand.
Congress gets AIUDF to woo Muslims in Uttar Pradesh - Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times
For the crucial assembly election in Uttar Pradesh that has a bearing on the UPA government at the Centre, the Congress is set to get support from its main political opponent in Assam—Badruddin Ajmal’s All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF). 
Trinamool Congress tests waters in UP & Goa - Times of India
The Trinamool Congress is likely to field candidates in four poll-bound states, including UP. While it has firmed its plans in Goa, UP and Manipur, in Punjab it will be finalised in consultation with Rajya Sabha MP K D Singh (elected from Jharkhand but a Chandigarh resident). Days after it inducted former Goa CM Dr Wilfred de Sousa to head its Goa unit, Bhagwan Singh was appointed state convener in UP. 
Strange bedfellows in Manipur - Sachin Parashar, Times of India
Politics makes strange bedfellows and its latest manifestation is playing out in Manipur where BJP has joined hands with RJD and CPM to oust the 10-year-old Okram Ibobi Singh-led Congress government. BJP leaders insist this is a part of a "broader alliance" of all non-Congress parties. But the prospect of RJD, whose leader Lalu Prasad remains the most rabid saffron-baiter coming together with BJP, has evoked interest in the upcoming elections. 
Muslim votes hold the key in UP elections - Devesh Kumar, Economic Times
The master key to political ascension in Uttar Pradesh might lie in combining a greater share of the Muslim votes with their traditional vote-banks for three of the four main contending parties. Recognising this, Congress, the Samajwadi Party and the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party are going all out to woo the Muslim voters. 
Congress trying to get its caste calculus right - Bharti Jain, Economic Times
While scion Rahul Gandhi is busy selling the UPA government's welfare agenda and benefits from its flagship schemes such as the employment guarantee scheme, Congress is busy stitching together an unlikely caste coalition behind the scenes, taking a leaf out of Nitish Kumar's social engineering in Bihar. 
Underlining son Akhilesh is the new boss, Mulayam sacks ‘rebel’ SP spokesman - Ravish Tiwari, Indian Express
A day after he disagreed with Akhilesh Yadav’s decision to keep DP Yadav out of the Samajwadi Party, senior leader Mohan Singh was sacked as the party’s national spokesman — an unambiguous signal from Mulayam Singh Yadav that in the run-up to the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, the word of Akhilesh would be final.
Mayawati drops MLAs who won by narrow margins - Ramendra Singh, Indian Express
BSP chief Mayawati has sacked several of her ministers and denied them and several MLAs the party ticket, claiming they failed to discharge their duty or misused their official position. However, records reveal that most of them had won by a small margin in 2007 and, according to a BSP leader, would not have been able to defy anti-incumbency factor this time.
Plea to EC wants statues of Maya, elephants covered - Ravish Tiwari, Indian Express
Over a year after the EC disposed a petition that sought freezing of the BSP’s election symbol of elephant as its statues and those of party president Mayawati have been installed in public places, the petitioner has returned to the poll panel seeking “appropriate steps” to ensure a “level playing field” in the elections.
Congress faces a royal dilemma over Patiala seat - Subodh Ghildiyal & Ramaninder K Bhatia, ToI
A 'royal dilemma' in Congress pushed the Patiala seats to a last-minute decision, but keeping aside concerns that state party chief Capt Amarinder Singh and son Raninder Singh contesting neighbouring seats of their erstwhile kingdom may not send the right message to Punjab at large, the high command chose to field his son from Samana in Patiala district.
There's a Badal burst over Lambi - Mukesh Tandon, Times of India
Lambi is under a thick Badal cover. It always was, having elected CM Parkash Singh Badal thrice to the assembly. This time around, the blanket is thicker than ever, given that two men bearing the Badal surname are in the fray. A third is likely to be the Congress nominee. The CM and younger brother, Gurdas, were till recently on the same side. Gurdas nursed the constituency for Parkash Singh Badal. 
Regional aspirations prevail in Assembly polls - CP Bhambhri, Pioneer
Former Prime Minister, Mrs Indira Gandhi had delinked the Lok Sabha election from Assembly elections, which were held simultaneously throughout the  country prior to 1971 and 1972. As a result of this decision, every State Assembly election now attracts national attention, and all-India parties along with State-specific regional parties  engage in a tough electoral battle for survival.
BJP leaders convinced of gains from Maya discards - Vikas Pathak, Hindustan Times
The top BJP leadership put up an official show of unity on Friday on the induction of tainted former UP ministers, even though leaders, such as Maneka Gandhi and Gorakhpur strongman Yogi Adityanath, expressed their objection in no uncertain terms.
Election Commission’s jumbo shocker for Mayawati - Rajiv Srivastava, Times of India
The Election Commission of India has in principle decided to have all statues of Mayawati and that of her party symbol, the elephant, covered ahead of the polls in the state. The announcement could be made on Saturday.  Mayawati is the only leader in the country who ordered her own statues to be built, and they tower beside those of Gautam Buddha and B R Ambedkar in the many concrete parks constructed during her five-year rule to commemorate dalit icons. BSP had claimed the statues were built to honour the wish of Maya's mentor, Kanshi Ram. 
India Inc plays safe; prefers lawful funding of political parties - Naren Karunakaran, Economic Times
The Aditya Birla Group increased its contribution to political parties about fourfold to Rs 30.5 crore in 2009-10 while the Bharti Group cut it from Rs 17 crore to zero. The two main national parties, Congress and BJP, received Rs 84 crore and Rs 82 crore, respectively, as contribution from all sources while a regional party like Sharad Pawar's NCP obtained only Rs 3 crore. 
Prakash Singh Badal: The grand old leader and his politics - Aditi Phadnis, Business Standard
At 85, Prakash Singh Badal, chief minister of Punjab, believes in keeping things in the family: three of his nephews are senior Cabinet ministers in the government he heads. In January 2009, his son Sukhbir became deputy chief minister. It is succession planning without parallel. This is as it should be. The best known word in Punjabi is “pind” (village). Everything is “pind”: whether relationships or business or tragedies or celebrations, you do it with the pind.
Family battles to take pride of place in Punjab polls - Viney Sharma, Economic Times
Relatives of top leaders across the political spectrum crowd the list of candidates for the upcoming polls in Punjab, strengthening the nationwide trend of perpetuating dynasties. Raninder Singh, son of former chief minister and chief of the Congress party's state unit Captain Amarinder Singh, has finally made the cut. So has Vikram Bajwa, son-in-law of the Congress legislative party chief Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.
It's BJP vs BJP on Kushwaha - Economic Times
The outburst of "moral indignation" in BJP against the induction of tainted BSP dropout Babu Singh Kushwaha is threatening to mar the party's poll campaign in Uttar Pradesh. While senior leader Murli Manohar Joshi told reporters in Varanasi on Friday that there should have been proper deliberations within the party on the issue, Aaonla MP Maneka Gandhi said the decision to accommodate Kushwaha was wrong. "We are angry with this decision. We have people who are honest and hard working," said Gandhi. 
'Jai Ho' Cong; 'Utho, Jaago, Badlo' - Bharti Jain, Economic Times
Hoping to replicate the success of the 2009 campaign, Congress has decided to readapt the catchy 'Jai Ho' song for its poll blitzkrieg in Uttar Pradesh. The campaign song, to be officially launched in a couple of days, showcases Congress as the party of the poor, farmers, working class, artisans, unemployed youth, minorities, Dalits as well as intellectuals and promises to make UP the front-ranking state in the next five years. 
Blow for Cong: Amarinder’s brother joins SAD - Harpreet Bajwa, Indian Express
In a major blow to the Congress, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Saturday roped in Malvinder Singh, brother of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president and former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh. Malvinder, who was up in arms after being denied party ticket from the Samana constituency with the Congress deciding to field Amarinder’s son Raninder from there, ended his 35-year-long association with the Congress and joined the Akalis in the presence of party chief Sukhbir Singh Badal.
Outrage will not influence UP poll - Swapan Dasgupta, Pioneer
Having been at the receiving end of metropolitan derision for more than a year, the Congress has reason to believe the tide is finally turning. If its Christmas celebrations were not entirely joyous thanks to the “fleedom at midnight” saga in the Rajya Sabha over the Lokpal Bill, 2012 has begun on a happier note for three reasons.
Sparring scions: Akhilesh connects, Rahul inspires - Swati Mathur, Times of India
LUCKNOW: In distinctly different styles - their similar attire notwithstanding - the two flag-bearers of dynastic politics, Congress's Rahul Gandhi and SP's Akhilesh Yadav, have hit the campaign trail talking the same language of development and promise of change.
BJP puts Kushwaha’s entry on hold - Times of India
NEW DELHI: BJP president Nitin Gadkari on Sunday completed the formality of Babu Singh Kushwaha's "request" that his entry into the party be put on hold, but there were strong indications that the saffron outfit wants the controversial BSP discard to help it cash in on any angst among backward castes over the Centre's move to carve out a quota within the OBC quota for Muslims.
To rope in OBCs, BJP uses Kushwaha - Vikas Pathak, Hindustan Times
Even as he preferred to stay out of the BJP till he proved his "innocence" in a health scam, former UP minister Babu Singh Kushwaha has pledged support to the saffron party in UP to buttress the OBC quota. He said this was necessary to prevent the quota from being drained off to the minorities.
In Manipur, Congress well placed for a hat-trick - Iboyaima Laithangbam, Hindu
The advancing of the date for the Assembly elections in Manipur to January 28 has caught political parties unawares. Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, on an inauguration spree of several new government facilities — only last month did he and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh cut the ribbon for four new building complexes in Imphal — had several more openings lined up but now finds himself restrained by the model code of conduct. The Opposition is in disarray, with many of its members knocking at the doors of the ruling Congress.
Black faces flak in UP, Punjab, Goa - Preetam Srivastava, Pioneer
Use of black money has cast its shadow on the ensuing Assembly elections. Amid intelligence inputs suggesting that black money worth a whopping Rs 10,000 crore will be pumped into Uttar Pradesh alone, heightened checking of vehicles in States is already yielding recoveries of unaccounted cash worth crores daily, in the run-up to the elections.
Akhilesh hints at SP-Congress alliance - Annapurna Jha, Pioneer
The Congress’ efforts to find a “buffer” support of MPs to reduce impact of Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee’s repeated threats in recent past appears to have yielded results with Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav conceding that an alliance with Congress is possible.
RLD's leaders Anuradha Chowdhury, Shahid Siddiqui join Samajwadi Party - Manmohan Rai, Economic Times
LUCKNOW: In a setback to the Rashtriya Lok Dal, its Rajya Sabha MP Shahid Siddiqui and Anuradha Chowdhury, the party's national general secretary, on Sunday joined the Samajwadi Party ahead of the UP Assembly polls.
Among 8 dropped by Cong, Rahul campaigned for 2 - Indian Express
For the first time since the onset of campaigning, the Congress has changed eight candidates in UP after declaring their names. The party had reportedly received “negative feedbacks” about their performances. Ironically, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi had campaigned for two of them last month and now local Congressmen feel that the change would send a wrong message to the people.
Modi star campaigner for party in UP - Indian Express
Focussing more on the development plank rather than Hindutva, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who was conspicuous by his absence in the Bihar Assembly polls after key ally JD(U) raised objections, will campaign for his party in Uttar Pradesh next month.
Eye on non-Yadav OBC votes, BJP flays minority quota - Indian Express
Hoping to win over the sizeable non-Yadav backward castes in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP is going all out to highlight the “unfair treatment” meted out to OBCs by the UPA government’s decision to carve out 4.5 per cent quota for minorities out of the 27 per cent reservation for them.
Last phase on March 4 defers counting by two days - Pioneer
Counting of votes in the Assembly elections in five States will now be held on March 6, the Election Commission decided on Monday after rescheduling the first phase of polls in Uttar Pradesh from February 4 to March 3.
Ailing Vajpayee to boost BJP prospects in Uttar Pradesh - Pioneer
To attract voters in Uttar Pradesh, BJP has fallen back on its most trusted persona - Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The ailing patriarch figures at the top of the party’s list of campaigners that also include Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Akhilesh rejigs the Mulayam baton - Nistula Hebbar, Financial Express
IT is by now well-established that the Samajwadi Party has affected its very own generational shift, well in time for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. Instead of ‘Netaji’ Mulayam Singh Yadav, his son Akhilesh Yadav is the face of the party’s campaign through his Kranti (revolution) Yatra. That Akhilesh is more than just a face for his party became evident last week when he blocked the entry of Yadav strongman DP Yadav into the Samajwadi Party. Yadav is the father of Vikas Yadav who had been convicted in the Nitish Katara murder case.
SP on a strong wicket - Devesh Kumar, Economic Times
Despite winning less than 100 seats in the 2007 UP assembly polls, the Samajwadi Party managed to secure 25.43% of the voteshare. Its candidates kept the party flag flying in the central districts Etawah, Mainpuri, Unnao and Kanauj, and in Lakhimpuri of Rohillakhand region - areas which have over the years turned into SP strongholds.
Rhetoric won't help 'em reap farmer votes this time - Madhvi Sally & Sutanuka Ghosal, Economic Times
Agrarian distress and growing awareness among farmers, tired of poll-time rhetoric and freebies, may make it tougher for political parties to woo this large electorate with worn-out promises in the upcoming assembly polls. Ahead of elections in five states, including in Uttar Pradesh, the country's most populous and politically-critical state, many farmers say they are ready to pay market rates for power and other inputs provided there is reliable supply.
Congress tries to ride out storm in Trinamool ties - Rajeev Deshpande, Times of India
Congress intends to ride out the stormy phase of its ties with Trinamool Congress, choosing to ignore its ally's provocative actions in the expectation of smoother sailing after the current round of state polls. The pragmatic decision to "live with Mamata" sits uneasily with the daily exchanges between state Congress leaders and Trinamool, and Mamata Banerjee's dismissive "door is open" taunt, but reflects the view of the Congress high command not to rise to the bait. 
Manpreet entry adds triangular edge - Prabhjit Singh, Hindustan Times
The People's Party of Punjab (PPP), less than a year old, is eyeing a key role in government formation in case the January 30 elections throw up a hung assembly. The party led by Manpreet Singh Badal, a rebel from the ruling Badal clan, is likely to force triangular contests in at least 10 seats. The party has so far declared candidates for 94 of the 117 seats in Punjab.
CEC: May shunt out more UP officers - Ritu Sarin, Indian Express
Saying that he has received a “long log” of complaints, Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi has said that the transfer of two top Uttar Pradesh officials, including the Director General of Police, on Saturday could just be the first in a series of transfers of IAS and IPS officers in the run-up to the Assembly polls.
Badal vs Badal, Singh vs Singh - Sukhdeep Kaur, Indian Express
It all started with the ruling Badal family. Manpreet Badal parted ways with uncle and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to launch his own political outfit, the People’s Party of Punjab. While the stated reason was the “over-dominance” of cousin and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal, Manpreet’s father Gurdas Badal said the falling-out happened after an astrologer advised Sukhbir to throw Manpreet out if he wanted his dreams to become the chief minister to come true.
UP, up and away - Seema Chishti, Indian Express
The importance of Uttar Pradesh, which is still the largest state in terms of parliamentary constituencies — 80 out of 543 — and which has over 400 assembly constituencies, cannot be overstated. Intricate, four-cornered contests and very aware voters make UP a pollster’s nightmare.
Khurshid's Muslim quota ploy boomerangs on wife - Pioneer
Uttar Pradesh’s minority quota row is getting shriller. The Election Commission on Tuesday slapped a show-cause notice on Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid for promising a nine per cent quota within the 27 per cent OBC reservation if voted to power in UP. While State election authorities served a similar notice on Congress’ Farrukhabad nominee Louise Khurshid as Khurshid had made the statement during one of her campaign rallies.
Unfazed, BJP to carpet bomb UP with leaders - Pioneer
Initial reports suggesting improved electoral prospects for the party has prompted the BJP to go all out in Uttar Pradesh where the Centre’s decision in favour of reservation to Minorities within the OBC quota, threatens to polarise the voters. The BJP will launch a Parivartan Padyatra under which a three-day foot march would be organised in every Assembly segment. Senior party leaders from Centre, UP and other States would remain confined to a particular area and campaign for the party candidates.
Rebels give sleepless nights to Congress, BJP leaders in Uttarakhand - Sandeep Joshi, Hindu
Though electioneering in Uttarakhand is still to gain momentum due to heavy snow and rains in most parts, the main political rivals — Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party — are facing a big challenge from their party rebels in at least a dozen seats. These party rebels are giving sleepless nights to their leaders and official candidates in both Garhwal and Kumaon divisions, which could change equations and give out surprising results as the State goes to polls to the 70-member State legislature on January 30.
Congress, SP risk alienating OBCs through Muslim quota - Liz Mathew, Mint
The race to win Muslim votes in Uttar Pradesh by proffering reservations in jobs and education could boomerang on the Congress and the Samajwadi Party (SP), as it may end up alienating a section of the other backward classes (OBCs) and also polarize votes along communal lines in the politically key state.
India TV survey predicts BSP as single largest party in UP, win for Cong in Punjab, Uttarakhand - IndiaTV
In its pre-poll survey conducted in three poll-bound states, India TV-Amar Ujala C-Voters Survey  has projected UP chief minister Mayawati's BSP as the single largest party in the Assembly elections, while predicting easy wins for Congress in Punjab and Uttarakhand. Mayawati's BSP is projected to win 143 out of a total of 403 seats in UP, 59 short of majority, while Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party comes a close second with 137 seats, the pre-poll survey report said. The survey projects BJP at third position with 48 seats, and Congress with 40 seats.
Samajwadi Party plans a Muslim-quota ace - Pervez Iqbal Siddiqui, Times of India
The Muslim quota politics seems to be the flavour of UP poll season. Even as the Election Commission directed the Centre to put on hold the 4.5% sub-quota to minorities it announced recently, the Samajwadi Party think tank is busy finalising the party manifesto that might push the Congress to the wall on the issue of reservation to Muslims. "It would be something no one would have imagined," said a senior SP leader who is also a member of the party's manifesto drafting committee. 
Mayawati shuts all her parks - Neha Shukla, Times of India
With cardboard shielding Mayawati statues from public gaze and yellow tarpaulin draping the elephants, the government took the unusual step of closing down the city's parks altogether. The EC on Saturday ordered covering of Maya's statues and that of her party symbol, the elephant, at the city's parks till the polls were over to ensure BSP does not have an edge over other parties in publicity. Wednesday was the deadline to complete the cover-up operation. 
Rahul Gandhi’s new caste calculus - Arati Jerath, Times of India
In a radical departure from his party's reliance on upper castes, Rahul Gandhi is gambling with the Mandal card in UP with a huge increase in tickets to OBC ( Other Backward Caste) and MBC ( Most Backward Caste) nominees. Out of 325 candidates declared by Congress so far, around 90 are from these groups. Congress leaders say it is double what the party gave OBCs and MBCs in the 2007 Assembly elections.
Minority quota draws BJP-Cong battle lines - Pioneer
The minority quota row is becoming a major poll issue in Uttar Pradesh with both the BJP and the Congress sharpening attacks on each other on Wednesday, a day after the Election Commission served notice on Law Minister Salman Khurshid for violating Model Code of Conduct.
Son reinvents papa’s party - Rajesh Singh, Pioneer
All eyes are on Chief Minister Mayawati and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi in the election to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly. While the first is seeking to retain power, the second has led the Congress’s high-profile campaign to dislodge her. But, in the acrimonious battle between the two, sufficient attention has not been paid to the rise of another force who could, in the coming months, determine the politics of the State that has the maximum number of Assembly seats in the country — 403 — and also sends the largest contingent of members — 80 — to the Lok Sabha. That force is Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s son, Akhilesh Yadav.
EC cites code, stays minority quota in 5 poll-bound states - Hindustan Times
The Election Commission (EC) on Wednesday directed the Centre to stop the implementation of the 4.5% quota for minorities in the five election-bound states till the poll process is over. The government had announced its decision to carve out the 4.5% sub-quota from the 27% reservation for OBCs on December 22, two days before poll dates were out and the model code of conduct kicked in.
His effigy burns, Rahul faces Batla probe call - Maulshree Seth, Indian Express
Students of Azamgarh’s Shibli National College demanding a judicial inquiry into the September 2008 Batla House encounter burnt Rahul Gandhi in effigy outside the college this morning. Rahul, who has been concentrating his poll campaign on Muslim pockets of Azamgarh and Mau, stayed inside the college guest house where he had spent the night.
It’s raining cash in poll party - Sukhdeep Kaur & Varinder Bhatia, Indian Express
In Punjab’s poll season, currency notes are flying as much as party flags and promises. Wednesday saw wads of notes being thrown in the air during poll rallies of at least two candidates — one each from the Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal — violating guidelines of the Election Commission. In the afternoon, currency notes of Rs 100 and Rs 20 denominations were thrown in the air at a rally of Congress candidate from Ferozepur, Parminder Singh Pinky. 
JD(U) eyes all seats, Nitish to campaign - Sanjay Singh, Indian Express
With allies BJP and JD(U) falling apart in UP, a face-off is expected between Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi during the election campaign in the state. JD(U) president Sharad Yadav announced today that his party would contest all 403 seats and Nitish would be their star campaigner. The BJP has also said Modi will campaign for the party’s candidates.
Race for Punjab: It’s anybody’s game - Raghvendra Rao, Indian Express
Historically, ever since it was reorganised in 1966, Punjab has always voted against an incumbent government. Going by that record, the Congress is smelling blood in the forthcoming Assembly polls in the state. But it is probably for the first time ever in decades that the incumbent government — the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine in this case — is eyeing to achieve something unprecedented: a consecutive second shot at power. With less than three weeks to go for the polls, the 117-seat Punjab Vidhan Sabha could be anybody’s game. Here’s the lowdown on why it is turning out to be a never-before contest in Punjab.
Limited by delimitation - Sanjay Singh, Indian Express
Apart from the tight contest at the hustings, top Uttar Pradesh politicians are facing another challenge: the delimitation exercise has left them with constituencies with changed geography and demography. Around 90 of the old Assembly seats no longer exist while about 126 constituencies have been either reconstituted or are now known by new names; many general seats have now been reserved, and vice-versa. UP has a total of 403 Assembly seats.
UP poll surveys: same pollster, different outcomes - Abhishek Upadhyay, Hoot
How come one company produces two contrasting opinion poll results for two rival news channels around the same time? When the TRP measurement agency conducts poll surveys, anything is possible.
Congress' muslim quota: BJP tries to stir up OBC wrath - Economic Times
With 'politics of entitlement' becoming the principal issue in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, Congress and BJP have positioned themselves to reap electoral dividends. Congress' efforts are clearly aimed at breaking the OBC-Muslim coalition cobbled up by 'social justice' parties such as SP and BSP, and BJP has used Congress' election-eve promise of 9% job quotas within the 27% quota for OBCs to fan the perceived anger among the less-privileged Backwards. 
Elephant could go up the Hill - Bharti Jain, Economic Times
In Uttarakhand, which goes to polls on January 30, the main opposition Congress is expecting gains by "exposing" the ruling BJP's "misrule". BJP, on the other hand, hopes that the last-minute makeover - replacing Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, perceived by many as corrupt, with 'Mr Clean' BC Khanduri as chief minister - will pay off. 
Politics of populism plagues Punjab polls - Viney Sharma, Economic Times
Punjab's outstanding debt is set to balloon to 77,585 crore by the end of this fiscal. Congress party leaders in the state are, however, hoping that finance minister Pranab Mukherjee will still more than match the ruling alliance in promising subsidies when he finalises the manifesto for the upcoming polls. 
Dalit and the dominoes - Revati Laul, Tehelka
“The elephant is shit.” The voice of a single disgruntled voter in election season does not count for anything by itself. But when it comes from the heart of Mayawati’s vote base, in Uttar Pradesh’s Bundelkhand region, is the voice of a Dalit farmer, and is part of a growing crescendo of discontent, it’s an alarm bell. This time, as she readies for the state Assembly election in February-March, the challenge before the Dalit leader is formidable.
The turnaround man in hill county - Baba Umar, Tehelka
Uttarakhand chief minister Bhuvan Chandra Khanduri, 77, usually wears one of three faces these days. There’s a furious, shocked one — often worn while facing a confrontational scribe — in which his forehead furrows, cheeks go red, black eyes roll, and he pants in surprise that somebody has yet again misinterpreted a statement. Then there’s a kindly and attention- paying look: jaw stiffened, eyes contracted, head nodding in affirmation. And lastly, an enigmatic smile that inspires both devotion and discipline.
It's parivar time for BJP in Azamgarh - Shekhar Iyer, Hindustan Times
MP Ramakant Yadav, whose wife, son and nephew are contesting polls this time, has made the BJP a force to reckon with in Azamgarh. The party was weak in the district until the one-time close associate of Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav joined the BJP and won the Lok Sabha seat in the 2009 elections.
Delimitation casts it dark shadow on at least 13 sitting MLAs - Faisal Fareed, Pioneer
After throwing several firsts and last of polls segments, the delimitation  exercise is now set to seal the fate of abut a dozen sitting MLAs in the Assembly polls. The simple reason being that nearly 26 MLAs are pitted against each other after delimitation in 2012 Assembly polls. This is a clear indicator that at least 13 MLAs will lose the right to enter Vidhan Sabha as an MLA.
Brahmins wary of Mayawati - Prashant Pandey, Indian Express
Brahman shankh bajaayega, haathi aage jaayega (the Brahmin will blow the conch and the elephant will march forward)” was one of the slogans of the BSP, which successfully experimented with “social engineering” by bringing together Dalits and Brahmins — the two opposite poles of the Hindu caste order — in the 2007 Assembly polls. Five years later, the conch blowers are reportedly feeling let down, and are even angry, with the elephant rider.
In Uttarakhand, both Cong and BJP face revolts - Pradeep Kaushal, Indian Express
Discontent among important leaders is set to undermine the prospects of both the BJP and the Congress in the Uttarakhand Assembly polls. The two rival parties have to contend with open revolts, following the distribution of tickets. The Congress played it safe by first re-nominating all its 21 sitting MLAs. Thereafter, AICC general secretary Birender Singh, who is in charge of the state, called on veteran party leader Narayan Dutt Tewari to buy peace with him.
Mohammad Ayyub disturbs parties peace of mind - Sruthijith KK, Economic Times
Mohammad Ayyub is the most interesting new face in Uttar Pradesh politics. A reputed liver surgeon, Ayyub launched the Peace Party of India in February 2008. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, his party fielded candidates in 21 seats. None tasted success, but the party polled 4.5% votes, the statistical equivalent of 18 assembly seats and came sixth in vote share. 
Cong, SP eye quota vote bank - Biswajeet Banerjee, Pioneer
Though electioneering is yet to pick up in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, the State is already divided along religious lines. This is all thanks to the bogey of reservation of religious minority, particularly Muslims, raised by the Congress and the Samajwadi Party. The BJP, on its part, has given a new twist to the raging controversy claiming that this religious quota politics could lead to another Partition.
BSP to poach in Congress bastion - Rajendra S Markuna, Pioneer
The Nainital-Udham Singh Nagar Parliamentary constituency has given us tall leaders like Govind Ballabh Pant, ND Tiwari and KC Pant. Tiwari held sway in the area for nearly three and a half decades but his defeat from the seat in 1991 sealed his fate and he could never fulfill his ambition of becoming the Prime Minister. Later, Pant took refuge in the BJP.
Making a U-turn, Congress distances itself from Khursheed's quota promise - Smita Gupta, Hindu
The Congress on Friday distanced itself from Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid's election speech promise of nine per cent reservation for minorities within the 27.5 per cent quota for the OBCs in Uttar Pradesh. Days after defending him, pointing out that such a quota commitment had not just figured in the party's earlier manifestos but it was likely to feature in the manifesto for U.P. (which is yet to be released), the Congress did a volte face. 
Akhilesh designs new SP, from head to toe - Pankaj Jaiswal, Hindustan Times
The Samajwadi Party has gone ‘black & white’ to kill its ‘gray’ image. Call it the dress code or uniform, the party has one in place as part of its image management. The code is supplemented with grooming and behaviour guidelines as well. 
Yadav Jr for CM: Uncle says why not? - Pankaj Jaiswal, Hindustan Times
Around the time Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi embarked on mission UP about two years ago, Samajwadi Party state president Akhilesh Yadav, too, embarked on his political journey.   Yadav, however, had a battle of succession to fight before he arrived on the scene.
In ‘clean-up’ drive, Samajwadi Party rejected D P Yadav, look who all got in - Manish Sahu, Indian Express
Fighting the perception that it lost the last elections because it was infiltrated by criminals, state Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav blocked western UP’s history-sheeter D P Yadav’s entry in the party and promised a clean-up. Facts show otherwise. Those contesting polls this time on an SP ticket include many history-sheeters like Vijay Mishra, an accused in the bomb attack near minister Nand Gopal Nandi’s house in Allahabad in July 2010 in which The Indian Express Senior Reporter Vijay Pratap Singh was mortally wounded. Mishra and at least two other candidates are in jail.
Liquor barons join Punjab poll party - Chitleen K Sethi, Indian Express
The Punjab poll party is on, and the state’s rich and mighty liquor barons have made sure their presence is being felt. A number of them are contesting the elections this time from different seats across the state. On the top of the heap is Rana Gurjeet Singh, former MP and MLA and now the Congress candidate from Kapurthala.
Manpreet Badal: The third man - Vipin Pubby, Indian Express
For nearly half-a-century, since the reorganisation of states in 1966, Punjab has not returned the same party to power. Some efforts were made to form a third front, comprising Left parties and minor political outfits, but the contest has always been between the Congress on the one hand and the Akalis in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party or its earlier avatars on the other. Punjab’s voters had also been coming out with a clear verdict, generally, leaving little space for horse-trading.
Cash seized from ATM vans in UP - Pradeep Thakur, Times of India
The Election Commission's crackdown on candidates using black money in electioneering has forced politicians to come up with innovative methods. Two ATM vans, belonging to two private banks, were seized with nearly Rs 13 crore cash in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh last week by Income Tax's flying squad, a part of which has remained unclaimed for the last four days. 
BJP may field Uma Bharti in UP to garner OBC support - Times of India
NEW DELHI: The agonizing debate within BJP on whether to field Uma Bharti in UP polls is likely to be over shortly amid indications that the central leadership was working hard on the state satraps to let the former MP CM take the field as part of the party's plan to garner OBCs' support.
Congress calls Samajwadi Party’s 18% Muslim quota pledge misleading - Times of India
NEW DELHI: Congress slammed Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav for misleading Muslims by promising 18% reservation which was not possible and accused it of being in league with RSS, raising the decibel level on minority politics in UP elections.
'Cong is playing divisive politics for poll gains' - Hindustan Times
Leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley has accused the Congress pursuing a divisive agenda in UP for electoral gains. At a press conference on Saturday, the BJP leader said the party was trying to shift the focus of elections from the issues of corruption and law and order to “divisive politics” by offering 9% reservation to minorities.
Punjab's Dera woo: Vying for the crucial vote - Harjinder Sidhu, Hindustan Times
Deras have been playing a vital role in elections in Punjab and this time is no different. Essentially religious sects, deras are the hub of all things worldly, come elections. Political parties, except for the Left, have never shied away from tapping the vast network of dera followers.
For Congress, it's Muslim-only poll - Swapan Dasgupta, Pioneer
It is impossible to not feel sorry for Union Minister Salman Khurshid for being told by the Congress high command that he spoke out of turn by announcing a proposed nine per cent reserved quota in Government jobs and education for ‘minorities' — the secular legalese for Muslims. Khurshid is too clever a player to unilaterally pluck the nine per cent figure out of a skull cap at a public meeting in his Farrukhabad parliamentary constituency.
UP: Clash of the scions - Deepa Jainani, Financial Express
They are the young Turks. Fresh, confident, high on technology and with foreign education to boot. Clad in the trademark white kurta pyjama and a black vest, they are also scions of political families, seen widely as harbingers of change and transformers of their respective parties. As they hit the campaign trail of the closely contested Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, corruption is the single-most recurring theme in the speeches of both these youngsters.
Cong quota flip-flop: Now questions EC - Indian Express
With its decision to give 4.5 per cent sub-quota to backward minorities within the OBC quota ahead of the polls in five states getting stalled by the Election Commission, the Congress on Saturday expressed its disagreement with the poll panel. It also attacked Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav for making “hollow promises” to woo minorities ahead of the polls.
Akhilesh follows Rahul to Azamgarh, seeks Batla probe - Indian Express
Starting his three-day election campaign in Azamgarh close on the heels of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the area, Samajwadi Party state president Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday demanded a judicial probe in the Batla House encounter case, accusing the Congress of doublespeak on the issue.
BJP set to take hi-tech route in campaigning - Kumar Uttam, Pioneer
The BJP is all set to launch its own Internet Protocol (IP) TV — a dedicated news and views channel — that will be aggressively used in campaigning in the five States going to poll between January and March. IPTV is a system through which television services are delivered using the Internet, instead of traditional terrestrial, satellite signal, and cable television formats.
BSP reworks caste formula - Rajesh Kumar Singh, Hindustan Times
While releasing the list of candidates for the assembly election, the BSP has modified the social engineering formula the party tried successfully in 2007. From laying stress on an upper caste-Dalit combination, the BSP has tilted in favour of the Dalit-Muslim- OBC card to regain power.
BJP's new slogan is 'Khanduri hai zaroori' - Shekhar Iyer, Hindustan Times
The BJP’s complete dependence on Uttarakhand chief minister BC Khanduri’s clean image to retain power in the assembly elections has resulted in a new slogan that will form the running theme of its publicity blitz.
Beni Prasad must win to vindicate Rahul trust - Preetam Srivastava, Pioneer
With notification for the first phase of Assembly polls in place for voting in 55 segments of central and terai districts, Union Minister for Steel Beni Prasad Verma would be facing a stiff litmus test. Most segments are in or around his home turf and he had virtually promised to Congress honcho Rahul Gandhi on winning back the ‘Kurmi’ and OBC voters.
Flock of leaders join SP with eye on Parliament - Faisal Fareed, Pioneer
In the run up to the UP Asssembly polls, several Samajwadi Party (SP) leaders are nursing their Rajya Sabha dreams. Many of them have recently flocked to SP with an eye on entering Parliament after the elections. Aspirations of these leaders are fuelled amidst reports that the SP is likely to improve its tally of legislators in the Vidhan Sabha. The SP had 97 MLAs in the 2007.
Raninder Singh: His father’s son - Sukhdeep Kaur, Indian Express
Soon after filing his nomination papers, Raninder Singh, the Congress candidate from Samana, leaves for Gajewas with Sangrur MP Vijay Inder Singla driving his vehicle. A long line of SUVs reaches Gajewas, Singla’s native village, with local residents welcoming the scion of Patiala royal family with a siropa. With his mother by his side, this is Raninder’s first stop in his constituency.
Congress places bets on turncoats - Virender Kumar, Indian Express
When it comes to handling turncoats in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress has been smarter than the BJP. It has kept its distance from notorious characters like Babu Singh Kushwaha, but has quietly given the ticket to many who have crossed over from the SP or the BSP recently. By a rough estimate, political turncoats constitute about 25 per cent of the 320-odd candidates it has announced so far.
279 ready to contest in Manipur - Pioneer
Two hundred and seventy nine candidates are in the fray for the January 28 Manipur Assembly polls after scrutiny and withdrawal of papers by contestants, election officials said on Sunday. Altogether 298 candidates had filed nomination papers till the January 11 deadline. The candidature of eight aspirants was rejected during scrutiny the following day, while 11 candidates withdrew their papers, they said.
Pauri has General battling out of his den - GP Semwal, Pioneer
In Army lingo, the political scene of Assembly segments falling in Garhwal Parliamentary Constituency can be best described in the following words: “To win the war, the General has to win the battle in his den.” This Parliamentary constituency is one of the most sensitive in Uttarakhand. Chief Minister Maj Gen (retd) BC Khanduri has represented this segment four times, though Satpal Maharaj of the Congress won the 2009 election.
Sukhbir attempts to reinvent Akali agenda - Amitabh Shukla, Pioneer
Battling anti-incumbency, the fatigue factor and a rotation system in which no party has been repeated on the Punjab post-1966, the Shiromani Akali Dal has shed its panthic agenda, which it followed for decades, and is now pitching for development and administrative reforms for the 2012 Assembly polls.
Mayawati goes Sarvajan for 2007 redux - Ashish Tripathi, Times of India
Looking to arrest anti-incumbency, the Bahujan Samaj Party on Sunday gave tickets to many new faces, while relying on its tested 'Sarvajan' formula. Party supremo and UP CM Mayawati released the list of 403 candidates, and general secretary SC Mishra said nearly 100 MLAs were denied tickets following adverse feedback. The 'Sarvajan' formula of dalit, Brahmin, Muslim and most backward classes, which brought the party to power with a majority in 2007, is being adhered to. In fact, a closer inspection reveals that Muslims have got a bigger share of the Sarvajan pie compared to Brahmins. 
Cong scouting for new partners in UP: Arun Jaitley - Times of India
BJP leader Arun Jaitley today said that the C o n g re s s was scouting for new friends in U t t a r Pradesh after its "troubled relations" with allies like the Trinamool Congress. "The Congress is weak in Uttar Pradesh and is scouting for new friends there," he told reporters here. "They want new friends (also) given their troubled relations with partner from West Bengal (Trinamool Congress)," he observed. 
Maya banking on rainbow coalition - Man Mohan Rai, Economic Times
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati signalled that she is banking on retaining support from across the social spectrum, when she announced her party's candidates for the upcoming assembly polls amid a low-key celebration for her 56th birthday on Sunday. The distribution reflects the contribution made by each caste and community to the growth of the Bahujan Samaj Party, she said, adding that she has thrown out tainted members and sacked several ministers and leaders in order to clean up the party.
Punjab politics deep in luxury - Viney Sharma, Economic Times
Punjab's fiscal health may be alarmingly poor, but candidates contesting the upcoming state polls have a rich array of exotic hobbies - ranging from Arabian horses and imported rifles to luxury watches and choppers. Congress' Kewal Singh Dhillon, MLA from Barnala, has emerged as the richest candidate with his family's joint assets valued at 136 crore. "Among cars, Mercedes and Lexus are my favourites," says Dhillon, who loves luxury watches as well, with a collection worth 17 lakh. 
Three-way race to woo MBCs in UP - Economic Times
By giving a substantial number of tickets to Most Backward Castes (MBCs) in the forthcoming assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, BSP supremo Mayawati has joined other parties to corner a big slice of votes of the less privileged among Backwards. As the polling day approaches, jockeying for the MBC vote has become more intense, with Congress and BJP too launching earnest efforts. 
The 3 Ds that can roil up poll math - Anil Padmanabhan, Mint
Depending on which groupie you speak to about the coming election to the Uttar Pradesh state assembly, there is every chance of you coming away convinced that either the Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Congress or the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will be able to form the government on its own or in tandem with the single largest party. Dubious opinion polls have only further complicated things.
Acid test for Ibobi as as he eyes hat-trick - Oinam Sunil, Times of India
Okram Ibobi Singh is credited with bringing political stability to Manipur. That seems to be one big factor working for him. Eyeing a hat-trick, the 2012 polls are an acid test for him. Having been at the helm for 10 years, during which there have been agitations, ethnic conflicts, fake encounters and a 121-day economic blockade, Singh has always managed to check the slide. The state goes to poll on January 28. Singh sounds confident. "We'll win an absolute majority," he says. "Manipur has lots of problems. We tried to address them by respecting the interests of all sections."
Will give Muslims quota: Mulayam - Indian Express
The Samajwadi Party will set up a commission to “survey the backwardness of Muslims” in Uttar Pradesh and give “exemplary reservation” to them if it forms the next government in the state. The promise was made by SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav in a letter to Syed Ahmed Bukhari, Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid in Delhi. Mulayam was replying to a letter sent by Bukhari last month, urging the former CM to include a list of proposals for the minority community in the party manifesto.
From babudom to politics, ‘to serve the people better’ - Harpreet Bajwa, Indian Express
D S Guru, till last month the principal secretary to the chief minister, leads a list of seven retired public servants who have taken the political plunge in Punjab. Also contesting the elections is the wife of a bureaucrat, while the wives of two IPS officers past and present will face off in one seat. “The political executive is superior to the bureaucratic set-up,” says Guru, contesting on a Shiromani Akali Dal ticket from Bhadaur. “So, to serve the public, I decided to contest the elections.”
Peace Party stirs the waters in Uttar Pradesh - Sanjay Singh, Indian Express
At a time when the BSP, the Samajwadi Party and the Congress are wooing Muslims, the Peace Party threatens to upset their calculations. In the short time since it was formed in 2008, the party has created its own political space, with the agenda of helping a Muslim become the Uttar Pradesh chief minister. The Peace Party has so far declared 215 candidates, besides entering into an alliance with the Bundelkhand Congress Party and the late Sone Lal Patel’s Apna Dal.
Reserved seats on Rahul's radar - Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times
fter shifting the centre of gravity of the Congress party away from the upper castes, Rahul Gandhi has now launched a special focus campaign to get the best results in 85 constituencies reserved for Dalits in Uttar Pradesh. The idea is that such constituencies are spread across the state and lifting them up will have a spin-off effect that would help the party overall. Dalits constitute 21% of the total population in UP and is considered a strong vote-bank of the ruling BSP.
Congress to promise MBC sub-quota too - Bharti Jain, Economic Times
Congress is readying to redress discontent over its plans to promise a sub-quota for minorities by pledging itself to yet more reservation, this time for the Most Backward Castes (MBCs) in Uttar Pradesh. It is set to declare in its election manifesto a sub-quota for MBCs within the 27% reservation for the Other Backward Classes. The move follows disquiet among dominant OBCs over its plans to reserve 9% jobs for Backwards among Muslims.
Maya rejigs her social alliance - Biswajeet Banerjee, Pioneer
In 2007, when Mayawati stitched two diametrically opposite social caste groups — the Dalits and the Brahmins — together, poll pundits called it ‘social engineering’ for want of a better terminology. There was talk that alluring as it seemed, the move would not fetch dividends in the Assembly election. However, that rainbow coalition helped the Bahujan Samaj Party romp home, proving many exit polls and political commentators wrong. But five years later much water has flown down the river Gomati, and the situation has changed in the run-up to this year’s Assembly election.
All eyes on the Muslim vote in Uttar Pradesh - Ashish Tripathi, Times of India
The battle for Muslim votes is getting fiercer by the day in UP. All major parties, barring the BJP, are trying to come out with the best strategy to win over minority voters who have the power to influence results in over 130 seats. But BJP, too, is interested in this multi-corner contest for Muslim votes. If this leads to a polarization on communal lines, it would be the party to benefit the most.
Congress inducts a 'Kushwaha' in Goa - Economic Times
Congress in Goa gave BJP a potent electoral weapon by inducting tainted MLA Jitendra Deshprabhu into the party. Deshprabhu, an accused in an illegal mining case and arrested earlier by the state crime branch, has been fielded from Porvorim. The thriving illegal mining mafia in Goa has made the Congress-led Digambar Kamat government the target of a sustained attack from Opposition. BJP and many civil society groups have been crying hoarse about the alleged involvement of several state Cabinet ministers in the massive illegal mining scam going on in the state. 
Poorvanchal: High on mantris, low on progress - Rajiv Srivastava, Times of India
The de facto capital of the proposed Poorvanchal state has produced an enviable number of ministers - far more than any other UP region. Yet, Gorakhpur and Basti divisions remain backward and caught in a time warp. If Mayawati had six ministers from the two divisions, there were seven in the Kalyan Singh government . In 2003, when Mulayam Singh was CM, he had 13. Maya dropped four of the six Gorakhpur ministers. Some among them had progressed from being mafia to MLA and then ministers.
EC warns Mayawati, calls for ‘decorum’ - Indian Express
Objecting to BSP’s criticism of its order to cover statues of Mayawati and elephants till the conclusion of polls in UP, the Election Commission has warned BSP that it may “relook” its earlier decision of not freezing its symbol. The warning was delivered in writing to BSP general secretary Satish Mishra in response to his complaint about the order being “one-sided, discriminatory, opposed to law” and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.
Manipur: CM’s colleague, rival & nephew’s opponent - Esha Roy, Indian Express
It’s a head-on collision between two of Manipur’s biggest political stalwarts. Chief Minister Ibobi Singh and his rival within the Congress, Y Erabot Singh, will battle it out, one by proxy and the other in person, in Wangkhei, the latter’s home seat in the heart of Imphal.
Gadkari finally plays Uma card in UP - Times of India
BJP president Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday said that party leader Uma Bharti will contest the UP elections. The announcement comes after weeks of speculation. Bharti will contest from Charkari in Mahoba district of Bundelkhand. "There was a lot of speculation in the media about Uma Bharti and we have decided that she will contest from Charkari. In fact, I can tell you that she won't just contest elections , but will also be one of the star campaigners for the party," Gadkari said.
Three sons rise, take big bets on UP - Nistula Hebbar, Financial Express
At a crowded rally in Agra’s Khairagarh constituency, it is difficult to spot Jayant Chaudhary, Rashtriya Lok Dal MP and son of Union civil aviation minister Ajit Singh. Swamped by supporters, he reaches for the microphone and rather than chide the crowd, in an example of good old Jat humour, says, “Lok Dal main thodi bahut kohni bhi chal jati hai.” (In the Lok Dal, a little bit of pushing and shoving is allowed). The audience laughs, backs off and allows Chaudhary to finish his speech.
Manipur: Rebels throw Congress into a tailspin - Iboyaima Laithangbam, Hindu
Till January 4, the ruling Congress party was sure of scoring a hat-trick in Manipur with 16 Opposition members applying for a Congress ticket. But that evening, the applecart was upset when CorCom (Co-ordination Committee), of seven armed rebel groups — the UNLF, the RPF, the KCP, the PREPAK, the PREPAK(Pro), the KYKL and the UPPK — banned the Congress from contesting the elections, warning candidates and activists against any election-related activity.
Dera support to count in Punjab - Vinay Kumar, Hindu
As Punjab prepares for the January 30 elections for the 117 seats in the State legislature, the role of religious sects or ‘deras' assume importance for the candidates who seek the support of religious leaders to bolster their electoral fortunes. Punjab has nearly 300 major deras across the State, as well as in neighbouring Haryana and Rajasthan. 
Eye on OBC votes, BJP fields Uma from Bundelkhand - Hindustan Times
The BJP has decided to field fiery sanyasin and OBC-Lodh leader Uma Bharti from the Charkhari seat in UP’s Bundelkhand region. It has, however, left the question of CM candidate open, saying the party will go to polls collectively.
Uma Makes it 4-Cornered in Bundelkhand - Devesh Kumar, Times of India
With Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi renewing his campaign in Bundelkhand,BJP on Wednesday night announced Uma Bharatis candidature from Charkhari.This has set the stage for an intense quadrangular contest in the region for the UP assembly polls.It was in Bundelkhand that Gandhi had kicked off his oust-Mayawati political project,accusing the state government of doing precious little to uplift the living conditions of the people of the region.
196 and counting... Punjab candidates line up at Dera for ‘blessings’ ahead of vote - Maneesh Chhibber, Indian Express
This is one place where politicians, big and small, line up. And they register themselves, either in person or on phone, for appointments to meet the one person they all want in their corner. Welcome to Dera Sacha Sauda, the controversial but highly influential religious sect based in Sirsa, Haryana. Its support is being sought by candidates of every party for the Punjab Assembly elections.
Anna-Baba to canvass against Cong in Ukhand - Times of India
In a development that could bring comfort to BJP,Team Anna has decided to strike a deal with Baba Ramdev to campaign against Congress in Uttarakhand.Team Anna members said the Yoga Guru,who commands considerable following in Uttarakhand,has been invited to join their campaign in the hill state.The invitation to Ramdev comes just days after he became the target of an ink attack in New Delhi.
Bundelkhand backdrop for Uma, Rahul slugfest - Haidar Naqvi, Hindustan Times
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi on Thursday took a swipe at BJP candidate Uma Bharti, former Madhya Pradesh chief minister who is contesting from Charkhari in UP's Bundelkhand. In Kulpahad, a hilly, small town, he asked: "Someone thrown out of MP is contesting from here. 
UP polls: Youth Cong leaders protest as ‘turncoats’ get tickets - DK Singh, IE
With the Congress making winnability the sole criteria in pursuing Rahul Gandhi’s Mission 2012 in Uttar Pradesh, resentment in the Youth Congress (YC) rank and file came to the fore on Thursday. A group of the party’s youth wing leaders sat on a “hunger strike” outside party headquarters, protesting the removal of a YC leader as party candidate from Sikandarabad to accommodate RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav’s relative.
Punjab bets: Cong most likely, but just ahead on seats - Harpreet Bajwa, IE
The race for Punjab may have been predicted as close, but the satta market’s indicators at this point show the Congress as far more likely to win than the ruling Akali Dal-BJP alliance. It is in the number of seats that the race will be close, with the market predicting a difference of seven.
Amarinder races ahead - Mail Today
Punjab is set to repeat history by voting out the incumbent government in the upcoming polls. Projections by the INDIA TODAYORG opinion poll, conducted in the first week of January, show the Congress is heading for a comfortable majority by securing 69 seats in the 117-member House.
Race for Muslim votes in UP - Rasheeda Bhagat, Business Line
Maulana Syed Kalbe Jawad, one of the most important Shia leaders in the country and Member, All Indian Muslim Personal Law Board, is not cagey, but genuinely circumspect, when he tells me, seated in his house on a windy and freezing night in Lucknow: “The UP Muslims are totally undecided on who to support in this election. They are not confused, but hesitant, about backing this party or that, because, honestly, no party has done anything for their welfare.”
Evenly poised battle for power - Kalyani Shankar, Pioneer
While the entire attention of the BJP and the Congress is towards improving their positions in Uttar Pradesh, where they stand third and fourth respectively, the two parties are lagging behind in that energy in Punjab and Uttarakhand where they can show results.
Uma Bharti, Rahul Gandhi battle for Bundelkhand - Economic Times
The Bharatiya Janata Party may have stopped short of announcing Uma Bharati as its chief ministerial candidate but rival Congress chief campaigner Rahul Gandhi labelled her an outsider on Thursday, a day after her candidature for the assembly polls was announced. Bharati retorted, saying she was just from neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, where she had defeated Gandhi's mentor Digvijaya Singh, and vowed that this time she would defeat both the mentor and the disciple. Singh is Congress election in-charge in Uttar Pradesh.
Took outsiders as didn’t have good candidates: Digvijaya - Maulshree Seth, IE
As many as 30 per cent of the Congress candidates are people who have come from other parties and the challenge now is to ensure that all Congressmen work for the candidates, Digvijaya Singh said on Thursday. The AICC general secretary told The Indian Express that the “outsiders” had been picked where the Congress could not find strong potential candidates in its cadres, “but 70 per cent tickets have been given to Congressmen”.
Nagaland CM takes on Manipur counterpart in his own backyard - Esha Roy, IE
Around eight months after his ugly standoff with his Manipur counterpart, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio is back touring this poll-bound state, urging Nagas to vote against the ruling party. In May last year, Rio was to visit all four Naga districts in Manipur — Senapati, Ukhrul, Tamenglong and Chandel — to launch his party, the Naga People’s Front, in this state. 
Cold, fog trips Uttarakhand poll trail - Times of India
Bitter cold and fog have tripped up political parties in the assembly poll campaign, with Uttarakhand being the worst hit. Senior political leaders across political lines told TOI that the cold snap has all but stalled canvassing in many places. In Uttarakhand, less than a fortnight ago, 11 people were killed when their vehicles were hit by landslides due to rain. Heavy snowfall has followed, and more election rallies have been cancelled in the state than held. 
30% UP voters say no to caste politics - Swati Mathur, Times of India
Results of the baseline survey of knowledge, attitude, behaviour and practices of voters in Uttar Pradesh suggest nearly 60% voters believe that tickets should not be given to corrupt candidates. In what may come as a rude shock to most political parties in the state, nearly 30% voters also said that politics of caste should be discouraged. The findings are based on the survey commissioned in UP by Election Commission of India in June 2011.
Beni might turn out to be Cong's bane in UP - Ashish Sinha, Mail Today
Fanfare often, has limited utility because sound theoretical assumptions tend to go haywire during elections, particularly when the turf is as complex as UP. This appears to be a not-so-remote possibility for the Congress which has placed heavy bets on Union steel minister Beni Prasad Verma's capacity to transform the party's fortunes in the elections.
Team Anna's pamphlet attacks Congress - Gargi Parsai, Hindu
Even while claiming that it will not target any single party in its campaign in poll-bound States, Team Anna released a pamphlet on Friday in which it accused the Congress of betraying the country on the Lokpal issue. The four-page pamphlet titled ‘Your Vote can Change the History of India — Betrayal by Central Government on the Country' also questions Rahul Gandhi, Mulayam Singh, Mayawati and the BJP on Lokpal, Lokayukta, autonomy of the CBI, land acquisition and participatory democracy.
Uttarakhand: After the blizzard - Prarthna Gahilote, Outlook
Every hundred metres or so on the highway from Roorkee to Dehradun, the Uttarakhand capital, life-size hoardings of incumbent chief minister Maj General (retd) B.C. Khanduri loom up with this message: ‘Khanduri hai Zaroori’. The slogan, coined by the BJP last week, is splashed liberally all across the state, on posters, hoardings, even newspaper advertisements.
Battleground Badal - Raghvendra Rao, Indian Express
A journey of around 300 km from Punjab’s capital Chandigarh into the heart of its Malwa region, is what it takes to get a flavour of the kind of political churning Punjab is witnessing in the run-up to elect its next government. The state, which for decades has never allowed an incumbent government a consecutive term, is witnessing a keenly contested fight. And while some unprecedented strict monitoring on poll expenses by the Election Commission of India appears to have taken much sheen off the poll campaign, politicians are putting in all their energy into their campaigns.
Manpreet Singh Badal is the third force - Pratul Sharma, Mail Today
Manpreet Singh Badal, the estranged nephew of Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal, has reinvented himself since he resigned from the Akali government as its finance minister almost two years ago. Soon after ending things on a bitter note with his uncle, and cousin and deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal, Manpreet floated his own People's Party of Punjab (PPP) to claim the middle space in the bipolar state politics.
Uma Bharti: Congress deviating from core poll issues - Times of India
BJP leader Uma Bharti on Saturday accused the Congress of maligning her and urged Rahul Gandhi to "stop trivialization and consequent digression from serious poll issues in UP". Taking a dig at Rahul's oft-repeated slogan, "Maya's haathi paisa khata hai' (Maya's elephant eats money)," Uma said "it was the Congress which was hell bent on feeding the elephant". "They have been feeding Mayawati's elephant, so that they can keep their pet elephants in Delhi well-fed. Corrupt brigade sitting in Delhi, including Suresh Kalmadi, A Raja, P Chidambaram, Sheila Dixit, are being sheltered by the same strategy," she said. 
Lesser OBCs critical to UP's poll outcome - Chandan Mitra, Pioneer
In the wake of the implementation of the Mandal Commission Report by VP Singh and its fierce fallout, Syed Shahabuddin, then infamous for making incendiary remarks (a Digvijay Singh of his times?) suggested that India ought to have a fully caste-based quota policy wherein each caste and community should get reservation in Government jobs in proportion to its numbers. Naturally this drew frenzied protest from analysts and politicians alike. 
Christians are the focus of BJP's Goa gameplan - Shekhar Iyer, Hindustan Times
The BJP is going all out to woo Goa's Christians, who account for 25% of voters and have traditionally backed the Congress. The party has taken this step after losing electoral battles in Goa, particularly in the southern parts of the state. 
Minority hogs majority agenda in UP election - Tavishi Srivastava, Pioneer
The minority vote bank continues to be the decisive factor in determining the victory margin of the major political parties. No wonder there is a virtual race among all the outfits to catch their votes. Come elections and the “luring game” begins with a package of poll promises. Minority welfare and reservation politics have assumed top priority in the manifesto of the parties.
Cynicism stumps hope in Manipur - Laishram Nandalal Singh, Pioneer
The Assembly election in Manipur is not so much about choosing among the candidates of different political parties. It is an occasion for a large number of the voters to access free meals, engage in merry-making and push for the realisation of many of their demands that the politicians have so far ignored. 
New seat, new state, otherwise familiar ground for Uma - Sanjay Singh, Indian Express
Murlidhar Lodhi of Uttar Pradesh works anxiously at preparing a welcome for his close relatives from across the Madhya Pradesh border. He lives in Supa village of Mahoba district, part of Uma Bharti’s Charkhari Assembly seat, and each of his four grandsons has married a girl from MP’s Chhatarpur district, part of the Khajuraho Lok Sabha seat that the leader has won several times.
Miffed Muslim board may hurt UPA in UP - Pervez Iqbal Siddiqui, ToI
Annoyed over the uncertainty looming over their demands for amendments in RTE Act, Waqf Property and Direct Taxes Code bills, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board has started public meetings to mobilise public opinion against UPA government's 'dilly-dallying tactics'. Speaking to TOI, AIMPLB spokesperson Abdul Rahim Qureshi claims that the board had appraised the ministry of finance and the parliamentary standing sommittee chaired by senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha about the concerns, but to no avail.
Assembly elections a litmus test for UPA - Liz Mathew, Mint
Starting later this week, five states, including Uttar Pradesh, will go to the polls. The results could not only define the contours of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) but also influence the future of a new generation of leaders. A big win for the Congress, a key contestant in all the five states, could create pressure from within the party on general secretary Rahul Gandhi to play a larger role.
Congress suspects Maya has an ace up her sleeve - Kay Benedict, Mail Today
After the initial euphoria - triggered by the good response to Rahul Gandhi's election campaign in Uttar Pradesh (UP) - the Congress now fears that BSP supremo and state CM Mayawati might just turn the tables on it. On Friday, the party's core committee, comprising PM Manmohan Singh, party chief Sonia Gandhi, and senior leaders Pranab Mukherjee, A. K. Antony, P. Chidambaram and Ahmed Patel, discussed the feedback from the pollbound states and came to the conclusion that the Congress had to work harder, particularly in UP.
CEC sees polls as biggest source of corruption - Hindu
Elections are the biggest source of corruption in the country. When a candidate spends Rs. 5 crore to Rs.10 crore for getting elected, the first thing he does is call officials and ask them how they're going to help him recover his expenditure. This was stated by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) S.Y. Quraishi here on Monday.
Uttarakhand: ‘Mr. Clean’ fights anti-incumbency - Sandeep Joshi, Hindu
Riding on the economic growth achieved in the first term of the United Progressive Alliance government, the Congress swept all five Lok Sabha seats in the General Elections in Uttarakhand in 2009, a result which no political pundit predicted. Two years on, as the State goes to the Assembly polls for the third time since its creation in 2002, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is back in the game, hoping to gain from the return of B.C. Khanduri as Chief Minister and the enactment of the Lokayukta Bill — certified as a model anti-corruption Act by no less than Team Anna.
Manipur: A quick speech and hot samosas - Susanta Talukdar, Hindu
It's 2.30 p.m. Sunday afternoon. The high security convoy of Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh rolls into the sprawling Kanglatombi football ground for an election rally of the Congress candidate for Sekmai Assembly constituency. Sekmai, a scheduled caste reserved seat in the 60-member Manipur Assembly, is also known for its indigenous liquor, which is also called ‘Sekmai.'
Goa: Congress, NCP seal pact, finally - Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times
After days of wrangling over seats, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have firmed up a pre-poll tie-up in Goa, a move that has come as a morale booster for the scam-battered ruling alliance ahead of the March 3 elections in the state.
Poll in Manipur, anxiety for Congress in Nagaland - Rahul Karmakar, Hindustan Times
Mandate 2012 in Manipur isn't just a fight between the ruling Congress and the rest. It's a clash of ideology between Manipur CM Okram Ibobi Singh and his Nagaland counterpart Neiphiu Rio. It is also a battle for survival for the Congress in Nagaland, on the slide since the 2008 assembly election there.
The unchanging value of Amarinder’s properties - Shyamlal Yadav, Indian Express
Properties bought in 2004 have increased 10 times in value in some areas, and even more in others. In the case of Amarinder Singh, Raja of Patiala, former Punjab Chief Minister and once again a Congress candidate, nothing has changed — at least as far as his declarations are concerned.
Malwa remains key among Punjab’s three regions, never mind last time - Chitleen K Sethi, Indian Express
The Malwa region, with 65 of Punjab’s 117 seats, remains key as ever to the elections, even though the trend here last time was for once not a reflection of the overall result. In 2007, Malwa voted overwhelmingly for the Congress, giving it 37 seats. However, the Congress fared so badly in the other two belts, Majha and Doaba, that it failed to form the government — the first time it has happened to the leader in Malwa since 1966.
Opinion poll gives Punjab to Cong & Uttarakhand to BJP - Times of India
The Congress is poised to wrest Punjab from the rival Akali Dal-BJP combine, but will have to see the saffron party holding on to power in Uttarakhand, according to a STAR News-Nielsen opinion poll released on Monday. The poll suggests that the Congress will win 63 seats in the 117-member Punjab Assembly, the rival alliance, now in power, will win 53 and the People's Party of Punjab, led by Manprit Badal, nephew of Punjab chief minister Prakash Singh Badal, will get a solitary MLA in the new House.
Cong leader accuses party of nepotism - Annapurna Jha, Pioneer
Agitated over RJD president Lalu Prasad’s relative Jitender Yadav replacing Nizam Malik as Congress candidate from Sikandrabad in Uttar Pradesh, the latter’s supporters demonstrated outside the party headquarters on Monday. Shouting slogans against changing Malik’s candidature at the last moment, they demanded that Congress president Sonia Gandhi should revert the decision.
Uma’s entry adds colour - Biswajeet Banerjee, Pioneer
With BJP announcing Uma Bharti’s candidature from Charkhari it not only changed the political equation in Bundelkhand but also added colour to otherwise insipid election campaign in this rugged region besotted with poverty and inequality.
Sister sense & sensibility - Preetam Srivastava, Pioneer
The much publicised speculation that the charisma of star campaigner Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will now also be used by the party in other parts of the State is likely to be put to rest. The growing resentment within loyalists in Rahul’s own bastion — Amethi and Rae Bareli — is said to be noticed by Priyanka, though she is the non-political scion of the Gandhi dynasty. 
Punjab voters have little to choose between parties - Viney Sharma, Economic Times
Barely a week before Punjab goes to the polls, Kippal Singh from Sahnewal near Ludhiana is yet to firm up his choice. Like many other debt-ridden farmers in the agrarian state, he is fed up with empty words and too-good-to-be-true promises being hurled at voters from every poll podium. Little has changed over the past three decades, the 55-year-old laments, despite both the Akali Dal and Congress getting ample opportunities to turn the tide in the state where the debt is likely to cross Rs 77,000 crore by the end of this fiscal. 
Uttarakhand heads for hung assembly - Appu Esthose Suresh, Mint
Uttarakhand may be heading for a hung assembly with no political party likely to win a majority on its own in the 30 January assembly elections. The Congress had been initially favoured to unseat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from power in the northern state of 10 million people, but now it appears to be an election too close to call.
Post-poll deals hold the key - Sudhir Panwar, Mint
The Uttarakhand election campaign was marred by the uncertainty regarding the programmes of the star campaigners due to hostile weather conditions. This uncertainty may extend to government formation in this small state. Taking a cue from the voting behaviour of the state in past elections and the inability of the two major parties—the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress—to thrash out election issues, it seems that anti-incumbency will be the single dominant issue when the state votes on 30 January.
Mud flies in Malwa - Vandita Mishra, Indian Express
Walk deep into the Malwa heartland and “development” begins to split into two: Akali development, Congress development. In the village, start a conversation on public works and government schemes that have or have not been implemented, and two groups are formed immediately on party lines. Soon, tempers rise. What began as a conversation threatens to become a violent argument.
NSCN ‘interferes’ in Manipur polls - Esha Roy & Samudra Gupta Kashyap, Indian Express
The NSCN(IM), which sees parts of Manipur in its vision of a “Greater Nagalim”, is interfering in the elections there and even fielding some proxy candidates in some constituencies, a Home Ministry official said in Guwahati on Tuesday. Parties and voters in Manipur, too, have complained about this to poll authorities.
BJP tars Mayawati and brother in graft paint - Times of India
The BJP on Tuesday alleged that Mayawati and her brothers had amassed wealth worth thousands of crores of rupees in the past five years and demanded a CBI inquiry. A PTI report quoting BSP said it had already rubbished the charges. The party said the allegations had been levelled by BJP out of frustration due to the party's "rejection" by the poor, dalits, backwards and minorities. 
Caste arithmetic could play decisive role in Punjab polls - Siddharth Singh, Mint
Malle Walan (Faridkot District): The local Congress party candidate is a veteran of many electoral campaigns. Avtar Singh Brar—a former education minister—is trying to tell a small gathering of Dalits not to succumb to the blandishments of liquor and money while deciding whom to vote for. His hint is not subtle: his opponent is a liquor baron who is not a local.
Punjab: How caste matters and doesn’t matter - Surinder S Jodhka, Mint
Bahujan Samaj Party (BJP) leader and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati has urged the electorate of Punjab to vote for her party’s candidates in state assembly elections to fulfil the dream of BSP founder Kanshi Ram. The late Kanshi Ram, who has become a symbol of contemporary Dalit assertion and political success, was born in Punjab and was active in the state’s politics for a long time. Notwithstanding its newly projected image of being a party of all, the sarvjan, the core constituency of the BSP has been and continues to be scheduled castes (SCs), or Dalits.
Daughters and wives carry family legacy in Punjab - Amitabh Shukla, Pioneer
They are the daughters and wives of prominent and not-so-prominent Punjab leaders. For them keeping alive the family tradition of politics is more important than anything else in life and contesting election a mission to keep the flag of family surname flying high. They want that the surnames of their fathers, husbands and family to remain in public domain, now and forever.
In Punjab, Deras can swing polls - Ajai Sahni, Pioneer
An election, we are led to believe, is an opportunity for change. A closely contested election to the State Assembly in Punjab, due on January 30 between old rivals, the ruling Shiromani Akali Dali (Badal) — Bharatiya Janata Party combine, on the one hand, and the Congress, on the other, however, provides little promise of significant transformation, whatever the outcome. Both formations have enduring histories of corruption and misrule, and populist manifestoes and election rhetoric notwithstanding, there is little to suggest that this is about to change.
Beni’s hour of reckoning - Maulshree Seth, Indian Express
The Congress’s rising OBC star Beni Prasad Verma will be on test in the first phase of the Uttar Pradesh elections, polling for which takes place on February 8. More than 60 per cent of the tickets for the 55 seats going to polls in the first phase were allotted on the recommendation of Verma, the Union Steel Minister, in the hope that he would swing the votes of his Kurmi community, plus other OBCs, their way.
Uttarakhand BJP banks on Khanduri image - Yojna Gusai, Asian Age
In Uttarakhand, “Khanduri is zaroori (chief minister B.C. Khanduri is needed)” for the ruling BJP. Banking on Mr Khanduri’s clean image and hoping that recent announcements made by the BJP government in the hill state, which also includes a “strong” Lokayukta and better healthcare, primary school, transport facilities, other than jobs for youth, will help the party regain its credibility, which had been dented during Mr Khanduri’s predecessor Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank’s tenure.
Punjab polls: Dalit self-pride holds key in fertile Doaba - Sachin Parashar, Times of India
Hummer wich aounde putt chamaran de (chamar kids arrive in Hummer), panga na le chamara de nal (don't get into a fight with chamars), Ravidassan di chandi (Ravidasis are doing great) and fighter chamar are some of the songs which the fertile Doaba region in Punjab is grooving to as it goes to polls next week. Until not so long ago, it was yaari jattan di, tu jatt di pasand and jatt di daang, songs which became popular even outside the state.
BJP goes low on star quotient, looks for winners - Shekhar Iyer, Hindustan Times
Wary of past mistakes, the BJP seems to be sticking to its strategy of avoiding an over-hyped campaign.
So far, there is no word on whether Gujarat CM Narendra Modi will campaign in Uttar Pradesh. It is almost certain that he will not visit Punjab or Uttarakhand either. 
Picture perfect, star caste - Sunita Aron, Hindustan Times
The successive fractured verdicts in UP elections until 2007 were often regretfully interpreted in terms of the state’s fractured society. But now it is an acknowledged fact that UP has only caste leaders in various parties. 
Crorepati Punjab candidates never filed I-T returns - J Balaji, Hindu
With the Punjab Assembly elections just a few days away (January 30), affidavits filed by contestants show that the top three candidates, who are crorepatis, have never filed Income-Tax returns. Congress candidate from Muktsar, Karan Kaur, owns movable and immovable assets worth Rs.128 crore, Ramanjit Singh Sikki (Congress), contesting from Khadoor Sahib, and Gurpartap Singh Wadala (Shiromani Akali Dal-SAD), Nakodar candidate, have total assets worth Rs 20.12 crore and Rs 13.71 crore respectively.
In Manipur elections, a test for ‘Nagalim' - Vasundhara Sirnate & Rahul Verma, Hindu
“Last year, Ibobi and his cabinet decided that they will not allow the Naga Chief Minister to enter the State, but now that the elections have been announced, he no longer has the power to prevent me from coming here and meeting you … But if you let him win again I will not be able to come to Manipur to meet all of you.” That was Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, speaking at an election rally in Manipur's Tamenglong district on January 19. 
Rahul and his youth brigade missing in Uttarakhand - Sandeep Joshi, Hindu
In his bid to bring back the Congress to power in Uttar Pradesh, Rahul Gandhi and his youth brigade seem to have left poll-bound Uttarakhand to State party leaders. As a result, from ticket distribution to campaigning, the Congress general secretary and his lieutenants have taken the back seat in this hill State that goes to the polls on January 30.
In Uttarakhand, BJP banks on a one-liner and RSS - Pradeep Kaushal, Indian Express
A sole election slogan, created by a Mumbai-based advertising agency, defines the BJP campaign in Uttarakhand and the party’s very fate could hinge around it. “Khanduri hai jaroori,” goes the slogan, showing literally how key the Chief Minister is to the party. “We told the agency that Bhuvan Chand Khanduri, with his clean image and credibility, is our only ray of hope, our sole USP,” a senior party functionary said. “And, it got back to us with an ideal slogan.”
Malwa: Lots of buzz at palace and rulers’ fort, little on way between - Vipin Pubby, Indian Express
The sprawling Moti Bagh Palace, residence of the former Maharaja of Patiala, is for once not closed to the public. Its massive gates now open up for anyone who gives his identity and mobile number. Inside, the huge lawns are filled with people waiting for the scion of the royal family, Raninder Singh, contesting his first Assembly election from Samana. His mother, Union MoS Preneet Kaur, who is managing his campaign, is talking to groups of people as many more mill around her and try to touch her feet.
Malwa: The final frontier - Monika, Pioneer
For either the Congress or Akali Dal, ‘Destination Power’ can seldom be reached until it traverses successfully through this part of the region, comprising the cotton and agricultural belt. Located between the Sutlej and Yamuna rivers, Malwa, with 10 districts, makes up the majority of Punjab region; and often catapults to power the party which emerges victorious from this part of the State.
Rahul's campaign ‘ground zero' lukewarm to Congress - Smriti Kak Ramachandran, Hindu
In May 2011, Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi sounded the bugle for the Uttar Pradesh election from Bhatta and Parsaul — two adjoining villages in Gautam Budh Nagar that had exploded in a frenzy of protests over alleged forced land acquisition by the Mayawati government.
BJP-MGP tie-up on cards in Goa - Economic Times
BJP is likely to join hands with the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party to unseat the Congress-led alliance in Goa, a move that is being seen as an attempt by the saffron party to prevent a split in the anti-Congress votes. Talks between the two parties on forging an alliance for the upcoming assembly elections in the coastal state have reached an advanced stage.
A doddering Tiwari eyes CM chair at 87 - Poornima Joshi & Raju Gusain, Mail Today
The Congress has been bitten by the BJP bug in Uttarakhand. The party already had a problem of plenty in terms of chief ministerial aspirants - just like the BJP with its many prime ministerial aspirants - without the 87-year-old N.D. Tiwari doing an L.K. Advani on his beleaguered party.
Battling the enemies from within - Kalyani Shankar, Pioneer
Will Punjab repeat the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP rule or will the Congress form the Government? If one goes by past experience the State has not repeated the same Government twice in a row. Now it should be the turn of the Congress to rule. The people of Punjab may wish to vote for the Congress but the Congress itself seems to be complacent.
Cong manifesto mum on 9 per cent Muslim quota - Pioneer
The Congress created a political storm when its leaders promised nine per cent reservation for backward Muslims if the party regained power in Uttar Pradesh, but in its vision document released on Friday, the party forgot the promise. In a jugglery of words, the party promised sub-quota reservation that was commensurate with their population. There was clear indication that the Congress feared backlash against aggressive minority appeasement and backed out on its controversial promise.
Sad-BJP battles to retain border - Nishu Mahajan, Pioneer
The ruling SAD-BJP and key Opposition Congress are battling it out to wrest the maximum number of seats in Majha region of Punjab, which has 25 Assembly constituencies. The area borders Pakistan and had faced the brunt of terrorism in the 1980s plays a key role in deciding the prospects of a party in the Assembly polls. It has major towns including Amritsar, Pathankot, Gurdasur, Taran Taran, Majitha and Qadian.
Doaba: Caste for three-way fight - Samaan Lateef, Pioneer
Apart from development, the caste factor in the politically capricious Doaba region will play a key role in deciding the fate of the Congress and Akali Dal-BJP combine. The agriculturally prosperous Doaba comprises Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Nawanshahr districts, with 23 constituencies, including eight reserved for Schedule Castes.
Flip-flop on elephant ownership puts BSP on notice - Ravish Tiwari, Indian Express
Over two years ago, a petition to the Election Commission, eventually dismissed, had sought a freeze on the BSP’s election symbol because of the number of elephant statues being erected in UP. Now, the EC has warned the BSP that it may take a fresh look at that decision. A new petition has cited another ground in seeking a similar freeze. And what has put the BSP on the back foot is the way it has contradicted itself after it responded to that first petition and to the events that have taken place since.
BJP promises abolition of Muslim sub-quota - Financial Express
After the Samajwadi Party, the BJP has also promised to give tablets and laptops free of cost to poor students if the party is voted to power in next month’s Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. The party has also promised an annual unemployment allowance of Rs 24,000, which is double of what the SP had promised.
BJP banking on Khanduri’s clean image to return to power in Uttarakhand - Purnima S Tripathi, Business Line
“Khanduri Zaroori Hai” (Khanduri is necessary) is the feverish pitch on which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is running its campaign in Uttarakhand seeking people's support for a second term for its government headed by Maj. Gen. (Retd) B.C. Khanduri. Banking on his squeaky clean image, the party is at pains to convince voters that its previous Chief Minister Mr Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank may have been removed by them on suspected charges of corruption in September last, but the party is serious about providing a clean government now, under the leadership of Mr Khanduri.
'Sulking' Modi stays away campaign in Uttarakhand, Punjab - Times of India
Curtains came down on campaigning in poll-bound Punjab and Uttarakhand without BJP's star campaigner Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi contributing to the party's grim effort to retain power in the two states. Modi, who features at the top of the list of party's central campaigners, did not address a single meeting in the two states, sparking off speculation about his continuing unhappiness with the leadership's decision to rehabilitate his detractor, Sanjay Joshi.
Aspiring MLAs breaking law with impunity - Himanshi Dhawan, Times of India
Potential lawmakers have no qualms in breaking the law. Across the three states - Uttarakhand, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh - that are going to polls next week, over 30% of the candidates have never filed their income tax returns. To make matters worse, about 13% have not given their PAN card details.
Weather holds the cards as campaigning ends - Pioneer
The three-week election campaign in Uttarakhand and Punjab which saw everything — nepotism, inclement weather, war of words, wads of notes and cartons of liquor -- culminated on Saturday. The three week-long campaigning for 117-seat Punjab Assembly and 70-seat Uttarakhand Assembly ended with ruling SAD-BJP alliance in Punjab and ruling BJP in Uttarakhand putting their best foot forward to ward off a spirited assault from the Congress to wrest power in the January 30 polls.
North takes a leaf from South freebies’ book - Annapurna Jha, Pioneer
The Dravidian culture is now being emulated by Aryan India. The trend of luring the voters by dangling the laptop/tablet bait — set by the DMK and AIADMK during the Tamil Nadu polls last year — has been lapped up by almost all major political parties in the ensuing State elections. Youth and technology has come to matter big time.
Congress vision document a bundle of lies: Mayawati - Pioneer
Terming Congress’ Vision Document as a bundle of lies, Chief Minister and Bahujan Samaj Party national president Mayawati said this party is out of power in UP for more than 20 years because of its faulty and anti-people policies that talked about many things but did nothing.
Manipur: In high voting, a wish ‘to move on’ - Esha Roy, Indian Express
Till 4 pm Saturday, the Manipur state elections had already clocked a high 78 per cent turnout. Nowhere was this enthusiastic participation more visible than in Thoubal, the constituency of Chief Minister Ibobi Singh. Unlike most of Manipur outside state capital Imphal, Thoubal boasts of smooth metalled roads, a new hospital building and infrastructure that any district would be envious of.
‘Criminals' and crorepatis in fray in Uttar Pradesh - J Balaji, Hindu
Political parties shout from rooftops that politics should be delinked from criminals, but a look at their nominees for Phase I of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections makes it clear that both are inseparable and, in fact, two sides of the same coin. As many as 109 (out of the 284 analysed) candidates have declared in their affidavits that they are facing criminal cases and 46 of them have been booked for serious offences such as murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, robbery and extortion.
Struggling economy, lavish manifestoes - Smita Aggarwal, Indian Express
Punjab may well be sitting on a ticking financial time bomb, but the election manifesto of neither of the two leading parties seems to recognise it. The agrarian state’s economy has been sluggish compared with even its neighbours and its deficit has been continuously in the range of 3.5-4 per cent of the gross state domestic product.
Two major parties, a third key player and lots of snow - Pradeep Kaushal, Indian Express
Over 63 lakh voters in the hill state of Uttarakhand are listed to exercise their franchise, to elect 70 from among 788 candidates in the fray. That is, assuming that all of them will brave the snow. The Election Commission has turned down the plea of Chief Minister Bhuvan Chand Khanduri to defer elections in snow-clad areas. As such, the task will be difficult for officials, not to mention voters. 
Where voters fret about addiction and brute force - Vandita Mishra, Indian Express
In the Punjabi kolaveri, the angsty male voice sings about “ik kudi, Pinky Moge-wali”. Pinky from Moga is enticing but she is not a nice girl to know. She has mast eyes and a mast smile, but wears “black jean, not clean”. He longs for her when she is elusive, spurns her when she comes close. The song ends with the boy finally giving up on Pinky as he heads to the local liquor shop with his merry band. “Balle, balle/balle, balle/yaar taan theke chale”.
All set for polling in Punjab - Hindu
Amid elaborate arrangements, more than 1.77 crore voters will exercise their franchise to elect 117 legislators for the 14th Assembly of Punjab in polling scheduled for Monday. As many as 1,078 candidates, including 93 women, are in the fray. According to the details provided by the office of the Chief Electoral Officer here, 19,841 polling stations, including 117 auxiliary booths, have been set up across 22 districts. Of these, 2,718 have been declared hyper-sensitive and 6,378 sensitive. More than 1.35 lakh civil and police personnel have been deployed.
Uttarakhand grappling with the problem of migration - Sandeep Joshi, Hindu
A decade ago, when Uttarakhand was carved out of Uttar Pradesh, Bhairav Datt hoped that his sons would not have to leave their home to look for jobs in either Delhi or Lucknow. But now, while his third son is preparing for his class X examination, his two sons are already in Delhi working in a restaurant trying to earn a living.
Dera hedges bets, goes for 'clean' candidates - Harjinder Sidhu, Hindustan Times
The politically influential Dera Sacha Sauda has hedged its bets on the Punjab assembly polls Monday, asking followers to collectively vote for candidates they deem "good and clean".
Neck & Neck in Punjab, Uttarakhand - Economic Times
Punjab and Uttarakhand will vote on Monday, in what will determine whether Congress, despite being rattled by allegations of corruption, has retained its winning habits and has the ability to turn the tables on its chief rival BJP. Both states have a history of voting out incumbents. While Congress would be hoping that the anti-incumbency disadvantage for SAD-BJP in Punjab, and BJP in Uttarakhand, would work to its benefit, BJP and its partner are working overtime to buck the trend. 
Too close to call, Congress holds slight edge in Punjab - Sachin Parashar, Times of India
'Chitte bagule, neele more; ae bhi chor, te o bhi chor' was a slogan used decades ago in Punjab to suggest that there wasn't much difference between the leadership of Akalis and Congress, many of whose leaders, in any case, had an Akali background. Its use again by a Sikh manager of an industrial unit in Amritsar's focal point area, Harmeet Singh, probably best sums up the sentiment on the eve of an assembly election in Punjab which has not thrown up any real issue to polarize voters, causing experts to make wildly varied predictions.
Illicit Liquor has Licked EC Yet Again in Punjab Polls - Viney Sharma, Times of India
The Election Commissions model code of conduct notwithstanding,liquor flowed freely on the eve of assembly polls in Punjab on Sunday,as campaign managers of different political parties sought to lure voters.This was especially the case in and around the industrial city of Ludhiana,where more than a million migrant workers abound in Sherpur,Samrala Chowk,Mullanpur and Dhaka colony,among other areas.
Rita opposes Cong ticket to Lalu’s kin - Ravish Tiwari, Indian Express
Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi is learnt to have complained to party general secretary Rahul Gandhi for withdrawing the candidature of a Youth Congress member to accommodate RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav’s relative in Sikandrabad Assembly segment. Former Bulandshahr Youth Congress chief Nizam Malik was declared as Congress candidate last month.
High turnout in Punjab, Uttarakhand fuels suspense - Times of India
A record voter turnout of 77% in Punjab and high 70% polling in Uttarakhand threw political parties into a tizzy as the current round of assembly polls reaches the half-way mark with a major four-cornered contest looming in UP besides a smaller, but no less hard fought showdown in Goa.
No word from Narendra Modi on campaigning in UP - Amita Shah, Economic Times
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi is keeping BJP on tenterhooks on whether he will campaign in Uttar Pradesh. His absence during campaigning in Punjab and Uttarakhand has turned the spotlight on Modi, who is yet to confirm his plans of going to UP. BJP campaign managers in the state had worked out six-seven days - a day in each phase - of campaigning for Modi. A party leader told ET on Monday that there was no word from the chief minister till now. 
EC has fresh turnout figures; an amazing 78.67% voted! - Amitabh Shukla, Pioneer
The unprecedented turnout in the Punjab Assembly elections, the highest in the history of the State, has stunned the political parties here with a guessing game on over the beneficiaries of the high turnout. As the Election Commission tabulated the data from the constituencies on Tuesday, the polling percentage surged to a high of 78.67 per cent, a unique figure which the poll officials too found slightly above their expectation.
Voting trends tell a complex tale - Sunil Kumar, Pioneer
The revised figures of January 30 polling issued by Election Commission on Tuesday has put it at 66.8 per cent. The details released by the poll panel shows diverse voting trends in the State with areas dominated by minorities and Dalits, the BSP strongholds, witnessing as high a turnout as 83 per cent whereas the urban constituencies falling in Dehradun, where Team Anna campaigned intensively, recording a ‘low’ turnout between 60 and 62 per cent.
Mulayam vows to convert Maya’s parks into schools - Pioneer
At his election meetings at Allahabad and Kaushambi on Tuesday, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav announced to open hospitals and schools in memorials and parks set up by Mayawati. “It will be the most appropriate utilisation for these as nearly 40,000 acres of land has been gobbled up in the name of these parks,” said Mulayam.
Where’s the 9% sub-quota, Khurshid? - Pioneer
The much publicised campaign to give a sub-quota of 9 per cent to most backward minorities after cutting the 27 quota for other backward castes (OBC) is missing from the Congress election manifesto. It is obvious that Salman Khurshid, in-charge of the drafting committee, had just played the card merely to polarise the vote bank in the Congress’ favour.
Avadh crucial for Congress prospects - Devesh Kumar, Economic Times
For Congress to improve its tally significantly in the next round of electoral battle in Uttar Pradesh, it is imperative that the party retains the gains it made in the Avadh region in the 2009 Lok Sabha election. Riding on the support extended to it by Muslims, Kurmis and large sections of upper castes, and the pull of the Nehru-Gandhi family, Congress did exceptionally well in the region in 2009 elections. As many as eight of the 20 constituencies that it won from the state came from Avadh. 
MGP snaps ties with Congress, to join hands with BJP - Economic Times
The Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), which is on the verge of forging an alliance with BJP, has decided to part ways with the Congress-led government in Goa, ahead of the assembly polls on March 3. The working president of the state's oldest regional outfit, Narayan Sawant, told reporters in Panaji on Tuesday that the party will no longer be a part of the ruling alliance.
Behan and Bahu Spar in Uttar Pradesh - Economic Times
Mayawati and Sonia Gandhi, defending champion and aspiring challenger, were united in the battle for the ballot exactly a week before the Uttar Pradesh electorate begins to choose the winner in phases, when they focused on their rivals more than on what they had to offer. 
Cong or SP: Which way will Muslim board go? - Hindustan Times
The rivalry between the SP and the Congress for Muslim votes before the assembly elections in UP has caused a division in the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. One group comprising leaders mostly from UP is siding with the SP, while the other, more dominant on the board's national landscape, is with the Congress.
Advani’s UP campaign kick-off from Ayodhya - Vikas Pathak, Hindustan Times
Ayodhya might be peripheral to the BJP’s poll campaign in Uttar Pradesh but the party is taking care to not leave it out altogether so as to keep the dwindling core Hindutva constituency in good humour. Party patriarch LK Advani, the architect of the 1990 Ram Janmabhumi Rath Yatra that eventually catapulted the party on the national stage, will visit Ayodhya on February 4, the first day of his UP campaign.
Regret allying with Vijayakanth: Jaya - Pioneer
It was like a war between two titans in the Tamil Nadu Assembly on Wednesday when the DMDK took on the ruling AIADMK, with Opposition leader Vijayakanth and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa crossing swords.
Beni forced off stage again - Pioneer
Sonia Gandhi was a bit upset with the scene in Uttar Pradesh when she came face to face with the anger brewing among party workers towards Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma.
Congress has lost the plot in UP - Rajesh Singh, Pioneer
Appearing on a television channel last Saturday, Congress spokesperson Abshishek Manu Singhvi dismissed with scarcely hidden contempt the findings of India Today’s latest ‘Mood of the Nation’ survey that showed the Congress in a dismal position across the country and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the favourite choice as Prime Minister, far ahead of Congress’s heir apparent Rahul Gandhi. 
Maya: Beware of Cong's divide & rule policy - Pravin Kumar, Times of India
Launching her campaign to retain the crown in UP, Dalit queen Mayawati cautioned large crowds at her two rallies in Sitapur and Barabanki against Congress's "divide and rule" policy. She warned her followers - Dalits and backwards - to be on guard against Congress's sub-quota politics that would split them into Dalits and maha-dalits or backward and most backward. 
Cong fearing OBC backlash over Muslim quota pledge? - Times of India
Congress appeared guarded in its commitment for Muslim quota in Uttar Pradesh poll manifesto, triggering speculation if it was apprehensive of the reaction among Hindu OBCs owing to aggressive BJP campaign.
Rahul chose her for polls, police want her husband for murder - Navjeevan Gopal, Indian Express
A week after Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi addressed a massive rally in Ferozepur for his handpicked candidate Satkar Kaur, the candidate’s husband is on the run from the police, who want him for alleged murder.
For once, these Muslim zones unlikely to see en bloc voting - Prashant Pandey, Indian Express
The avidly wooed Muslim vote isn’t likely to go en bloc to any party this time, at least in the Muslim-dominated constituencies of Bhadohi and Jaunpur (Sadar).
Rivals give doctor a taste of his own medicine - D K Singh, Indian Express
Dr Mohammad Ayub, president of the Peace Party of India (PPI) who is contesting from Khalilabad, finds himself at the receiving end of a strategy he had used successfully against his rivals.
New tactics to flout Election Commission rules on 'paid news' - J Balaji, Hindu
Even as it is tightening the noose around the media-candidates' nexus to thwart “paid news” instances through its district media committees and expenditure observers, the Election Commission has come to know about new strategies worked out by them to break the rules.
Apex court verdict blunts congress' UP weapon - Economic Times
The Supreme Court's decision to cancel 122 spectrum licences granted by the Manmohan Singh government over graft charges is yet another blow to the credibility of the ruling dispensation, which has over the past three years hurtled from one corruption scandal to another. It is also seen as a huge setback to coalition leader Congress in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, where it has been accusing BSP of loot of public resources and mismanagement of state funds. 
Beni Prasad Verma booing bad omen for Congress - Economic Times
The constant heckling of Union steel minister Beni Prasad Verma at Congress rallies holds ominous portends for Congress, which seeks revival in the state. The anti-Beni mood is visible in the central Uttar Pradesh belt, which would vote on February 8, and where Congress expects to do well. 
2G issue to the fore in UP - Smita Gupta, Hindu
Caste still remains the determining factor in the Uttar Pradesh elections otherwise bereft of issues, but running subliminally is the question of corruption and lawlessness. Less than 24 hours after the Supreme Court ordered the cancellation of 122 telecom licences, it has become a talking point not just in the corridors of the Allahabad High Court but also in the surrounding rural areas as well as among pilgrims who have come to attend the annual Magh Mela at the Sangam from nearby districts.
UP’s month-long vote paralyses Punjab, Uttarakhand Govts - Amitabh Shukla, Pioneer
The Election Commission has forced Punjab and Uttarakhand into an administrative paralysis where no decision can be taken nor implemented as Model Code of Conduct is still in force and would continue to be so for over a month.
LK Advani all set to join poll campaign - Pioneer
Senior leader of Bharatiya Janata Party, Lal Krishna Advani, will join the party’s election campaign in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday. Firebrand BJP Member of Parliament Yogi Adityanath will also address election meetings in favour of party candidates on Saturday.
Is fear of BJP’s defeat keeping Narendra Modi in Gujarat? - Jumana Shah, DNA
Is it fear of defeat that is keeping BJP's star campaigner, chief minister Narendra Modi, away from the campaign trail in the five poll-bound states? One doesn't need a psephologist to tell that the BJP is nowhere near coming to power in any of the five states where the campaign is currently underway. "He is wary of giving his detractors more ammunition to use against him. In the past, when BJP has lost after Modi has campaigned, he has invariably been held responsible for the party's defeat. If he needs to rise to the next level in national politics, he needs to shed this image," a political observer in the BJP said.
Chouhan shares stage with Uma - Indian Express
After seven years of strained relations, BJP leader and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and former chief minister Uma Bharti shared a stage in UP. The occasion was a rally in Charkhari of Mahoba district from where Bharti is fighting the polls. It was Chouhan’s first day of campaigning in the state.
Block by block in ‘family seats’, Priyanka sings Rahul’s praise - Indian Express
Eight public meetings and over 15 roadside interactions with people in just one Assembly constituency, reminding people of Rahul Gandhi’s hardwork in contrast with “opportunism” and “corruption” of others in the state. This is how Priyanka Gandhi Vadra began her election campaign in assembly constituencies falling in the Lok Sabha constituency of her brother on Friday.
Opinion poll: SP is likely to emerge as single-largest party - Times of India
An opinion poll conducted for a TV channel points to the Samajwadi Party (SP) emerging as the single largest with a projected 135 seats in Uttar Pradesh, while Congress makes impressive gains winning 99 seats along with partner Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD). Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is likely to lose power, being reduced to 101 seats, while BJP finishes a poor fourth with 61 seats. 
Samajwadi Party's soft spot - Aditi Phadnis, Business Standard
Although the first phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh is due next week, reports from the field suggest the Assembly election is all but wrapped up. Subject to the usual disclaimers – “multi-cornered contests are notoriously unreliable to predict”; “it is too early in the game to decide on the outcome” and so on – it appears that the Congress is on the path of remarkable recovery from the 22 seats it currently has in a house of 403 and should it cross 60, will find itself in the position of being a kingmaker.
No post-poll alliance with any party in UP: Rahul - PTI
Sant Kabirnagar/Varanasi(UP), Feb 4 - Seeking to put a lid on speculation of Congress striking a post-poll alliance with Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, Rahul Gandhi today asserted that his party will have "no truck" with any party. "We are winning the elections and I will continue to work for you till my last drop of blood and sweat. Even if you give two or four seats to Congress, we will not ally with thieves and goondas," he said at election meetings in Mehdawal area in Sant Kabirnagar and Pindra in Varanasi. "The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh is going to be from the Congress (after the Assembly polls).... we are not going to have truck with any other party," he said.
Myth of the Muslim bloc - Seema Chishti, Indian Express
From being wrapped around shoulders in the Arab world, the kaffiyeh (Arab scarf) has gone on to make appearances on European fashion ramps and sent out fashion and political statements all over the world. It also keeps the looms of Tanda, a small town in Uttar Pradesh, spinning. Says 40-year old businessman Shakeel Akhtar alias ‘Tiger’, “Tanda is the only one to stand up to the invasion of cheap Chinese fabric. We are still holding on to our share of world supplies of kaffiyehs.”
The EC’s watching - Lalmani Verma, Indian Express
Mitrasen Yadav is an old hand at politics, but these days, the 67-year-old Samajwadi Party candidate bats with caution. So when a group of cricket enthusiasts asked Yadav, who is contesting from Bikapur constituency in eastern Uttar Pradesh’s Faizabad district, to inaugurate a match, he refused. “The Election Commission can turn around and say the cost of the entire function will be added to my election expenditure. These days, I avoid attending weddings of family and friends,” he says as he leads a group of people in Ismailpur Simora, a village in Bikapur where he is campaigning.
BSP to be biggest loser, major gains for Congress: Opinion poll - Economic Times
Uttar Pradesh is heading for a hung assembly with Samajwadi Party set to emerge as the single largest party, an opinion poll conducted by a television news channel has said. The survey said no party or alliance would get anywhere close to the majority mark of 202. 
Anti-dhakka shahi - Vandita Mishra, Indian Express
Among the 40 shabads and one shloka of the 14th century Bhakti saint Ravidass that are included in the Guru Granth Sahib, is “Begampura”. Be-gam-pura, or the land without sorrow. The spirit of the verse is this: Begampura is the name of the city where there is no suffering or anxiety, no fear or downfall/ Begampura is the city where there is sovereignty of god/ Where there is lasting peace and safety for all/ All are equal, no one is second or third in Begampura/ Ravidass the Shoemaker is a friend of all who are citizens of Begampura.
Vote to create Ram rajya - Pioneer
Accusing Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party of having tacit understanding with the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari on Sunday said that his party would have no direct or indirect post-poll alliance with these two parties in UP whatever be the verdict of the electorate.
Cong works hard on UP social engineering - Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times
Ahead of the assembly elections in politically crucial Uttar Pradesh, the Congress has gone all out to woo not only the minorities but Dalits and most backward castes (MBCs) as well. Apart from promising job quota to minorities and MBCs, the Congress has also pledged to set up a fund to research on the heroes of freedom movement, especially from Dalit and MBCs such as Lochan Nishad, Samadhan Mallah, Uda Devi Pasi and Mahaviri Bhangin.
Congress shuts SP out for Muslim strategy - Kay Benedict, Mail Today
Rahul Gandhi's 'no alliance with thugs' statement on Saturday amplifies the Congress's latest strategy to go for a course correction in Uttar Pradesh. He said in Sant Kabirnagar and Varanasi the Congress wouldn't ally with 'thugs and criminals', thereby attempting to quash all speculations of a post-poll alliance with the Samajwadi Party (SP) in the state.
BSP in tight corner on dalit turf - Pravin Kumar & Akhilesh Kumar Singh, Times of India
To experience the sharp erosion of support for Mayawati, one must visit Ambedkarnagar. A district named after the dalit icon and personally "adopted" by the chief minister, it remains enveloped in darkness. As Lucknow's Rs 2,000-crore Ambedkar Memorial Park dazzles, 200 km from the state capital Ambedkarnagar is a sea of darkness. It's 8pm and the town is already half asleep. The only signs of life are in little small patches lit up on the occasion of Barawafat by diesel-guzzling generators. 
Projection of SP as an ally may backfire on Congress - Subodh Ghildiyal, Times of India
Congress strategy to enthuse workers by being seen as an SP ally in government has hit the law of diminishing returns, triggering concerns in the party that it would hurt its strategy of poaching into Mulayam Singh Yadav's votebank.
Goe: BJP’s first list includes five Catholic faces - Pioneer
In an apparent indication of its eagerness to cast off its pro-Hindutva image, the BJP’s first list of 22 candidates for Goa includes five Christians including a former State Tourism Minister who joined the party recently. The BJP’s Central Election Committee had met in Delhi last night to finalise the first list of candidates for the coastal State going to polls on March 3.
There's visible fatigue with the Gandhi family in Amethi - Smita Gupta, Hindu
A greying Jagdish Piyush arrives at 9. 30 am at the heavily guarded Munshiganj guesthouse and hands out Priyanka Gandhi's itinerary for the day. A family loyalist, he's made a career out of composing paeans to the Gandhis. His latest offering is “Maya ki Lanka, Jalayegi Priyanka” (Priyanka will set Mayawati's Lanka on fire).
New alliance alters Goa pollscape - Prakash Kamat, Hindu
Brushing aside continued pressure from the ruling Congress Party, the regional Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party has withdrawn support to the Congress-led coalition government and announced its decision to forge an electoral alliance with the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Family matters hold up Cong list - Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times
The Congress' second list of candidates for the assembly elections in Goa has been held up due to the kin factor. The party has already announced 22 candidates in its first list. There are 40 seats in the assembly.
Robert Vadra hops on, says can contest polls - Maulshree Seth, Indian Express
Robert Vadra, the businessman son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi, today declared that he could enter politics if “people want”, a statement that his wife Priyanka attempted to downplay shortly afterward. There was another controversy after an election officer in Salon in Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Nagar district stopped him while leading a bike rally.
BJP gives 25% seats to christians in Goa - Economic Times
In a clear message that BJP wanted to mitigate its pro-Hindu image in Goa, at least a fourth of the party's candidates for the assembly elections will be Christians, the highest representation the party has so far given to minorities. The party's first list of 22 candidates includes five prominent Christian leaders - party MLA Francis D'Souza (Mapusa), former minister Mathany Salhanha (Cortalim), Michael Lobo (Calangute), Carlos Almeida (Vasco) and Glenn Ticlo (Aldona).
55 seats up for grabs in UP Phase-I polls today - J Balaji, Hindu
The Bahujan Samaj Party-led Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh will undergo the first litmus test as over 1.71 crore voters exercise their franchise in the first phase of the Assembly elections, covering 55 seats, on Wednesday. The constituencies are located in the districts of Barabanki, Sitapur, Faizabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Bahraich, Shrawasti, Balrampur, Gonda, Siddhartnagar and Basti.
Will Peace spoil the party in UP? - Sunita Aron, Hindustan Times
On a wintry evening, a pandit held forth at a roadside dhaba in Balrampur. "Sita Ramji will win," he declared, sipping his tea. His audience agreed. "Masterji (as the Peace Party candidate is popularly known) is getting 75% of the Muslim and 25% of the Hindu votes." 
Cong social engineering faces first test today - Sanjay Singh, Indian Express
The 55 seats voting tomorrow in the first phase of elections in Uttar Pradesh will test the Congress’s experiment in social engineering. By fielding a large number of “ati-pichda (most backward)” among the OBCs, the backwards among the Muslims and Koris/Pasis among the Dalits, the party is aiming to upset calculations of the ruling BSP as well as the main opposition SP.
Brahmins stay away from BSP, Satish Mishra no help - Prashant Pandey, Indian Express
The BSP’s Brahmin face, Satish Chandra Mishra, has been holding meetings to help the party win the community’s vote. But he doesn’t appear to have cut much ice, at least in Allahabad and Varanasi which go to polls on February 15, in the third phase of UP elections.
Big test for the BSP’s big tent - Rahul Verma, Indian Express
With every passing day in the run-up to assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, the stakes are rising for the Bahujan Samaj Party and its leader, Mayawati. In 2007, her government became the first single-party-majority government since 1985. In a state that has seen 19 chief ministers and 31 governments in the 60-plus years of its existence, Mayawati is also going to be the first CM of UP to have held office for the full five years of her term.
Ph 1: Stakes highest for Congress, BSP - Economic Times
The first phase of the assembly elections on Wednesday in 55 constituencies across 10 dis tricts in central UP and a part of the terai region will witness a key contest between BSP, Congress and SP with BJP trying to make it four-cornered.
Rahul Gandhi finds Congress’ very own Kushwaha - Economic Times
Rahul Gandhi never lets go of an opportunity to hammer BJP for inducting NRHM scam key suspect B S Kushwaha. But he has quietly done what they tried to do - given a ticket to taint ed ex-BSP minister Anees Ahmad Khan aka Phool Babu, from Bilaspur in Pilib hit. Khan replaces earlier announced candidate Dev Swaroop Patel. 
BSP has a poor track record on reserved seats - Ashish Tripathi, Times of India
The Bahujan Samaj Party is a dalit-based party but its track record in reserved constituencies has been poor in comparison to other parties in all previous elections barring the 2007 assembly poll. Sample this: In 1993, out of total 88 assembly seats reserved for dalits, BJP grabbed 33, BSP and SP 23 each, Congress and others four each In 1996 again, BJP was top runner with 35 seats followed by BSP (20), SP (18), Congress (2), and others (12).
Swing voters' day out - Economic Times
Bahujan Samaj Party will fervently hope for a repeat of 2007, as polling begins in the seven-phase assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday, while Congress, SP and BJP expect to benefit from the perceived anti-incumbency sentiment in the state.
Cong holding Prez Rule sword over UP: Akhilesh - Pioneer
Lashing out at the Congress, Samajwadi Party’s (SP) State chief Akhilesh Yadav stated that after being sure of losing out in the battle of ballots, it is now threatening to impose President’s rule in the State. “If SP takes action, it will be difficult for them to save the Central Government. It will collapse if SP is threatened anymore,” said Akhilesh while addressing an election meeting at Allahabad on Wednesday.
Sonia echoes Rahul: No post-poll tie-up - Indian Express
Congress president Sonia Gandhi said her party was contesting the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections to form a government and not to forge a coalition with any party. Addressing an election meeting in Chamrauli area of Unnao on Wednesday, she said there was no difference between the BJP, the BSP and the Samajwadi Party, as all these parties had entered into alliances with each other at different times and ruined the state by distributing “chairs” (posts) to serve their vested interests.
In heartland Deoria, Brahmins 'let down' by BSP, upset with SP - Seema Chishti, Indian Express
Boasting a quality dahi market and a tradition of supporting a culture of dissent and ‘Samajwad’, Deoria district, with seven Assembly constituencies, is at the heart of the Poorvanchal experience. Student of politics remember it also as the place where then chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav planned to stop L K Advani’s Ram Rath Yatra in 1990, only to be pipped at it by chief minister Lalu Prasad in neighbouring Bihar.
Where Kabir rests, it’s Hindu vs Muslim again - Surbhi Khyati, Indian Express
Today, the shrine at Kabir Nirvana Sthal, where people of both religions pay tribute, includes a mausoleum built by Hindus and a tomb by Muslims. But “like then, Hindus and Muslims are fighting again”, says a saint at Kabir Nirvan Sthal. “This time, it’s the elections”.
In UP polls, local dalit histories vie with BSP's grand storyline - Badri Narayan, Hindu
All social communities have a history that is experienced, or perceived, or both. Communities survive and sustain themselves on these histories. When political forces try to mobilise these communities, they usually do so by exploring their history and then giving it a political meaning that suits their agenda.
Hold the ‘core' and chase the ‘plus' votes - Vidya Subrahmaniam, Hindu
If election waves could be conjured up in party backrooms, the Congress should have already won Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections-2012 by a mile and more. The loudest noise in this poll season has been around the Congress, with party and pundits alike predicting an ‘almost-there' power burst from the slowest runner on the field.
'Is there a bigger brahmin than Rahul Gandhi?' - Sheela Bhatt, Rediff
In the towns and cities of Uttar Pradesh, you would not know that there is an election on. The contest for this politically key state is bereft of the proverbial hot button -- an issue that can grab people's attention across the state. The vacuum created by the absence of the hot button has been filled by an intense caste war. Uttar Pradesh of 2012, observers say, resembles the badlands of Bihar before the Nitish Kumar era. Voters are determined to have their caste representative as their lawmaker.
Goa polls: Congress in tailspin over dissidence - PTI
PANAJI: In a bind over largescale dissidence in the party ahead of March 3 Goa Assembly polls, Congress poll managers are pulling all stops to placate the dissenters who have raised the banner of revolt after being denied tickets. The anxiety in Congress is palpable from the fact that the ruling party has withheld announcing its third and final list of four candidates out of 33 seats it is contesting in alliance with NCP which is fielding candidates on 7 seats.
Amid polls, it's Beni vs Punia in Congress - Times of India
LUCKNOW: Union steel minister Beni Prasad Verma picked the first day of voting in UP to claim credit for Congress's improved traction with the backwards. With this, his rivalry with Barabanki MP P L Punia, credited with bringing dalits closer to Congress in 2009, came out in the open. Verma, Congress's OBC face, called former bureaucrat P L Punia "an outsider" in UP.
EC 'sveeps' polls in 1st phase - Rakhi Chakrabarty, Times Of India
NEW DELHI: The Election Commission on Wednesday claimed credit for the record turnout in UP's first phase. EC director-general Akshay Rout said, "Our sustained efforts in voters' education, motivation and facilitation have improved the turnout in UP. It's the SVEEP (Systematic Voters' Education and Electoral Participation) effect at work."
Maya blames Gandhis for Amethi, Rae Bareli woes - Hindustan Times
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati on Thursday lashed out at the Congress for the backwardness of its strongholds Rae Bareli and Amethi-Sultanpur. Addressing an election rally in Amethi-Sultanpur, Mayawati said the Nehru-Gandhi family members never took interest in the development of the region that successively elected them to the Lok Sabha.
Campaigning for UP Phase-II ends - Economic Times
Campaigning for the second phase of polls in Uttar Pradesh, covering 59 assembly constituencies spread across nine districts, drew to a close on Thursday evening. Polling in the eastern parts of the state will take place on Saturday, and will go a long way in determining whether the state is heading for change in its power structure.
How Salman Khurshid lost himself in the Muslim ghetto - Venky Vembu, FirstPost
Look closely in the bylanes of small towns in Uttar Pradesh that are going to the polls, and you might just find the lost soul of Salman Khurshid wandering about. Notionally, the man is the country’s Law Minister, who even up until last year wasn’t afraid to speak out against the “ghetto-isation” of Muslims, and had the intellectual honesty and the courage of his convictions (so rare among Congress politicians) to argue that Muslims should look beyond their narrow interests and become “mainstreamed”.
Khanduri sure of victory: 'Tally will be around 40' - Pradeep Kaushal, Indian Express
Uttrakhand Chief Minister B C Khanduri is confident of getting a renewed public mandate for his government in the recently concluded Assembly polls, but a blame-game has erupted between him and his predecessor Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank over their role in the elections.
High turnout worries parties - Ashish Tripathi, Economic Times
It might be too early to predict which way the wind is blowing in UP, but the high turnout in the first phase has left all parties worried . In public, all major players claim the record 62% turnout signals a wave in their favour, but in private they admit they have very little clue of what this surge in numbers actually means. 
Clean voter rolls helped - Rakhi Chakrabarty, Times of India
The record turnout so far in the current round of Assembly elections are being seen as testimony to the election commission's sustained campaigns to instill voter awareness and successful updating of electoral rolls. The cleaning up of rolls that often contained inaccurate data, feel political leaders as well as EC officials, has helped boost voting percentages. This has particularly impacted first-time voters who seem to have turned up at polling booths in good numbers. 
Mirzapur cold to Rahul Gandhi - Rajeev Dikshit, Times of India
Is the strain telling on Rahul Gandhi? Or is it just a bad day at work? The Congress general secretary, who has kept up a punishing schedule crisscrossing UP rallying partymen and campaigning, didn't quite manage to work his charm on the audience at a rally in tribal-dominated Marihan assembly constituency on Thursday. 
Congress' double talk in UP polls - Kavita Chowdhury, Business Standard
Congress scion Rahul Gandhi, party president Sonia Gandhi and coal minister and U P election campaign committee in-charge Sriprakash Jaiswal have lately asserted the party would ‘go it alone’ in Uttar Pradesh. “The party is in coalition only with the poor,” Rahul Gandhi had recently said, adding it was not interested in allying with any other party. Quick to realise that the likely scenario of a Samajwadi Party(SP)-Congress tie-up after the polls was leaving voters confused, and dampening its prospects, he swung into a damage-control mode.
Modi will campaign in Uttar Pradesh: Gadkari - Mahim Pratap Singh, Hindu
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi will be campaigning in the Uttar Pradesh elections, Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari told media persons here Friday. Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the International Conference on Cooperatives, Mr. Gadkari said the party would soon fix a schedule for Mr. Modi's campaigning in Uttar Pradesh.
Uma Bharti sees split in Gandhi family - Aarti Dhar, Hindu
Taking on the Gandhi family once again, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Uma Bharti on Friday said she suspected “a split’’ in the Gandhi family going by the way Priyanka was using her children to seek votes for the party and her husband Robert Vadra expressing keenness to join politics. Ms. Priyanka had subsequently denied that Mr. Vadra was interested in politics.
Angst of the UP Muslim - Atiq Khan, Hindu
Uttar Pradesh's Muslims are a disillusioned lot today, and nowhere is this sentiment more evident than in Azamgarh district and neighbouring Mau. They resent being looked upon only as a ‘vote bank,' wooed during the elections, and forgotten thereafter. “Muslims are with all the mainstream political parties barring the Bharatiya Janata Party and yet it is strange to find the Congress, Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party turning a blind eye to the rights guaranteed to the Muslims by the Constitution,” says Maulana Umair-us-Siddiq, the senior ‘Rafique' (Fellow) and Joint Editor of Ma'arif, a monthly news magazine published by Darul Musannefin Shibli Academy in Azamgarh.
Goa: EC upsets the Church - Prakash Kamat, Hindu
The simmering controversy over the raid by an Income Tax officer belonging to an election “flying squad” on a parish church at Velim in south Goa early this week following complaints of “cash” disbursal is refusing to die down. Fr. Romano Gonsalves, the Parish Priest of St. Francis Xavier Church, Velim and his followers in the village have expressed outrage and sought an unconditional apology from the authorities for the raid which failed to find any unaccounted monies, but only humiliated the priest. The ruling Congress has been quick to condemn the “irresponsible action.”
Phase 2: Small parties may play spoiler - Ashish Tripathi, TOI
LUCKNOW: On Saturday, nine communally sensitive and crime-prone districts in east UP, known for mafia dons and political heavyweights , will go to polls. In the fray are 31 sitting MLAs and 24 former ministers and some notorious dons. This phase will also be an acid test for the smaller parties - like Peace Party - which could cut into votes of the major players and spoil their chances of winning.
All is not well in Gandhi fief - Ajay Kumar, Mail Today
Cheerful yellow patches of blooming mustard amid red brick houses looked like Shah Rukh Khan would any moment break into a jigholding Kajol's hand. Had I not been heading towards 'the Gandhi borough', I could well have imagined I was in the middle of Yash Chopra's Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge.
Poll-bound States: Airport witnesses huge cash movements - Pioneer
With elections in Punjab, Uttarakhand and Manipur over and due in Uttar Pradesh, Manipur and Goa, movement of huge amount of cash, to and fro from the election-bound States, is rife at the Delhi Airport. Security agencies speculate the rampant cash movement has an association with the ongoing and upcoming polls in various States.
High turnout a surprise element in UP polls - Aditi Phadnis, Business Standard
How does voter turnout impact elections? In Uttar Pradesh, the results, when they come, may be a surprise for political analysts. But, the turnout has been an even bigger surprise. In the first phase of elections, 65 per cent people came to vote, compared to the 45 per cent in 2007. This was despite heavy rains in many parts of the 55 constituencies spread over 10 districts that went to polls on February 7. All India Congress Committee General Secretary Rahul Gandhi saw in this people’s craving for change. “Whenever the poll turnout crosses 60 per cent, it indicates a change,” he said in a campaign speech.
The cost of democracy - Chander Suta Dogra, Outlook
It’s getting bigger by the day. If the sheer number of notices sent by the Election Commission to candidates and media houses is any indication, paid news is big news in the assembly elections in Punjab. By the time polling came to a close on January 30, the commission’s media monitoring committees (MMCs) in the districts had issued some 300 notices. More than 200 of those served notices have even admitted to paying or accepting payment, the candidates among them agreeing to show this spending in the Rs 16 lakh they are permitted to spend on canvassing.
High turnout in UP stumps parties, calculations go awry - Biswajeet Banerjee, Pioneer
In absence of any perceptible wave, the unprecedented large percentage of polling in Uttar Pradesh has baffled political pundits. The State did not witness turnout of this scale even during the Mandal-Kamandal days. On Saturday, second time in a row, people came out in large numbers and used their voting rights as 59 constituencies went to poll in the second phase. Polling percentage was recorded at 59 per cent. Turnout in the first phase election was 62 per cent.
Gandhis yes, but Congress? - Sunita Aron, Hindustan Times
UP chief minister Mayawati was both right and wrong when she said recently: “There would have been no need to beg for votes if the Gandhis had worked for the development of the area (Rae Bareli and Amethi).”
Goa’s power player game for third stint as CM - Ramesh Babu, Hindustan Times
Nattily dressed, flashing gold and diamond rings on all fingers, Churchill Alemao, 62, is the sum of all his parts and more in his larger than life presence in Goa’s political landscape. From a labourer at the Goa shipyard to one of the most influential men in the state, the Congress leader’s rags to riches journey has made him a Konkan legend.
Will release MLA arrested in Nandi attack: Mulayam - Indian Express
While Samajwadi Party national president Mulayam Singh Yadav has been promising that criminals and goondas will be behind the bars if his party was voted to power, on Sunday he promised to release historysheeter and sitting MLA Vijay Mishra his party formed the next government.
Up to 42 times richer in five years - Ramendra Singh, Indian Express
The assets declared by many of Uttar Pradesh’s sitting MLAs have multiplied several times since the last election. here are 10, and how much their wealth has grown in the last 5 years.
The young will decide the fate of Uttar Pradesh - Appu Esthose Suresh & Liz Mathew, Mint
The record turnout in the first two phases of assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, normally symptomatic of anti-incumbency, could spell trouble for the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), especially if the trend, driven by an impressive participation of youth, endures in the remaining five phases and the BSP is unable to come up with a counter-offensive.
Team Anna in Rae Bareli today - Economic Times
While Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi addresses a rally in Pratapgarh on Monday, Team Anna will be mobilising public opinion in the family stronghold of Rae Bareli. Four months ago, Anna Hazare's team had claimed sweeping support in Rae Bareli and Amethi for the Jan Lokpal bill after taking a referendum on people's opinion on whether they would vote for those who oppose the legislation. 
Soup Show, Flop Show... - B Raman, Outlook India
In about a month from now, India will know who wins the elections to the new Assembly of Uttar Pradesh, the largest State, for which the election campaign is in full swing. The elections will have a twofold significance from the point of view of the next elections to the Lok Sabha due in 2014.
The 'Untouchable' - Sadanand Dhume, Foreign Policy
Millions of voters will head to the polls this week for the first phase of what are often called India's second-most important elections -- for a new government in Uttar Pradesh, the country's largest state and home to about one in six of its 1.2 billion citizens. If it were an independent country, UP, as it is commonly known, would be the world's fifth-most populous, roughly the size of Brazil.
War rooms are latest quiver for parties in UP - Aditi Phadnis, Business Standard
It is clear that the Samajwadi Party (SP) is a late entrant in the call-centre-as-war-room business. It is equally clear that the Mulayam Singh-led political force means business. As for the Congress, its war room started weeks before the election that is now underway. The war room is located inside the party’s state headquarters here, and is manned 24/7 by young people who have all the election-related information at their fingertips. This wing is the nerve-centre of the poll campaign, and its functionaries are busy putting candidates in touch with campaigners, forwarding requests and keeping everyone in the loop.
EC shifts officers from Gandhi turf - Times of India
In a swift decision, the Election Commission ordered the transfer of six senior officials in the Gandhis' home turf of Rae Bareli and Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Nagar (CSM Nagar, Amethi) on Monday. Though the commission gave no clear reason for the sudden move, sources said the transfers were likely made following complaints by the Congress. Rae Bareli's district magistrate Amrita Soni has been transferred to itapur, while Sitapur district magisrate Ajay Kumar Shukla has been packed to Rae Bareli. Five other officials, the sub divisional magistrate, additional district magistrate and inpectors have been shifted to non-election duties. 
No Raj Babbar effect in play this time - Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar, Hindu
When film star-turned-politician Raj Babbar contested the 2009 Lok Sabha election from Fatehpur Sikri on a Congress ticket, he had little to lose. In the 2007 Uttar Pradesh Assembly election, the Congress had altogether managed only about 5,000 votes in four of the five Assembly segments under this parliamentary constituency.
Dusttrack: Samajwadi Party moves in for the kill - Bishwanath Ghosh, Hindu
In Prayagpur, a village of Thakurs in Auraiya district in Uttar Pradesh, they love neither Mayawati nor Mulayam Singh Yadav. They would ideally like to vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party, but since the chances of the party coming to power are bleak, they will settle for Mulayam Singh's Samajwadi Party this time.
Dalit trap: The undoing of Maya? - Varghese K George, Hindustan Times
A gathering of elders at a hamlet of Kushwahas — a most backward caste — in the Saidpur assembly constituency in Ghazipur district, takes a while before opening up.
Akhilesh takes fight to Cong turf, won't tie up with party - Hindustan Times
Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav slammed the Congress on its home turf on Tuesday, claiming on the eve of the third phase of UP polls that his party would form the government with a majority.
Phase 3: Polls get the right masala mix - Ashish Tripathi, Times of India
UP's third phase of polls promises to have a bit of everything: there's dynasty and royalty, there's crime and corruption, and there are former bureaucrats in the ring as well as politicians snared in sex scandals. In the fray are seven ministers and 29 sitting MLAs. And at stake is the prestige of the Nehru-Gandhi family as Amethi and Phulpur are among the 56 assembly constituencies in 10 districts going to polls on Wednesday.
Mayawati stalling central schemes: Sonia - Times of India
Rae Bareli turned out to be the hottest political destination on Tuesday with an avalanche of top leaders including its MP and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, BJP president Nitin Gadkari, his predecessor Rajnath Singh, and Samajwadi Party state president Akhilesh Yadav trying to charm the voters.
Next door to Rahul & Sonia domains, a Raja stays aloof - Maulshree Seth, Indian Express
Days ahead of polling in the region, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra held a joint road-show in Sultanpur along with Sanjay Singh, the local Congress MP. And locals say it was sight rarely seen, for the party here is not as united as the public appearance would suggest. “We saw all three together for the first time, including Raja Saheb (Sanjay Singh). Apparently, he is being ignored in the party,” Pradeep Singh, a farmer, says after the roadshow has passed through his village.
Mayawati's divide & rule strategy turns out a dud - Man Mohan Rai, Economic Times
Chief Minister Mayawati's demand to split Uttar Pradesh into four smaller states has figured just perfunctorily in her poll campaign so far, highlighting her inability to turn it into an election issue. The proposal, rushed through the state assembly and sent to the Centre just before campaigning began for the ongoing polls, now finds mention only towards the end of her speeches.
Delimitation squeezes incumbents - Appu Esthose Suresh, Mint
Varanasi/Allahabad/Jaunpur/ Pratapgarh/Rae Bareily: Shyam Deo Roy Chaudhary has won the Varanasi South seat on a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket in the last five Uttar Pradesh state assembly elections.
Campaigning with Priyanka: Problems in the family borough - Sheela Bhatt, Rediff
In the first of a two-part feature, Sheela Bhatt travels with Priyanka Gandhi deep into the villages of Amethi, and discovers that all is not well in the pocket borough of the Congress First Family. "She is not wearing bangles. She is not wearing a mangalsutra. She is not sporting a bindi on her forehead." Sonna, a vegetable vendor sitting on the roadside on the outskirts of Dhema, a small hamlet near Amethi, points this out in the Awadhi language when she sees Priyanka Gandhi on February 6.
Dust Track: In Mulayam's turf, a neck-and-neck fight - Bishwajath Ghosh, Hindu
“I can give it to you in writing,” declares Jitendra Singh, the driver, as he proceeds to open the door of the moving taxi and spit out the paan in order to complete the sentence, “the Samajwadi Party will form the government this election, but with the help of Congress.”
When dons become netas: the changing face of U.P.'s politics - Smita Gupta, Hindu
Akhilesh Singh's office in Rae Bareli is minimal — a table, some dusty chairs and a luminous Subhash Chandra Bose in his Congress avatar looming down from one wall. Ask Akhilesh about the portrait and out gushes his version of the freedom struggle -- in which Bose is the hero, Jinnah, Ambedkar, Lohia the supporting cast, and Gandhi and Nehru the villains. The Rae Bareli MLA sees himself in the grand tradition of the “real” Netaji (it's also Mulayam Singh Yadav's sobriquet) taking on the Nehru-Gandhis well into the 21st century.
Cong keeps tie-up options on the table - D K Singh, Indian Express
Depending on the numerical equation in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly after the elections, the Congress is prepared to share power with the Samajwadi Party, notwithstanding public assertions to the contrary by the top party leadership. Party sources, however, added that they would try to stake claim for chief ministership in the event of the Congress-Rashtriyal Lok Dal combine reaching close to three-figure mark in the 403-member Assembly.
Khurshid’s image makeover is on test in wife’s seat - Sanjay Singh, Indian Express
Salman Khurshid’s attempt at a change of image will be put on test in Farrukhabad, from where voters had elected him to the Lok Sabha in 2009, and from where his wife Louise is now contesting as an Assembly candidate. She is “Louise Salman Khurshid” in all her publicity material.
UP hits the high polling notes again - Times of India
A clear trend seems to have emerged after three phases of polling in UP: polling this time is likely to remain high. The 62% polling in the first phase was not a one-off. On Wednesday, east UP, which in 2007 polled only 42.56% votes, saw a 57.25% turnout, a surge that has now all political parties worried about the final outcome.
The decline of captive voters - Varghese K George, Hindustan Times
Tune into a conversation between a Brahmin, a Yadav, a Muslim and a Nai (barber) in a village in Handia constituency near Allahabad. The Brahmin is not voting for the Brahmin candidates of either the BSP or the Congress; the Yadav is not voting for the Yadav candidate of the BSP. 
Congress struggles at Gandhi homestead - Raj Bahadur Singh, Pioneer
The district headquarters, some 90 km from the State capital, is known more for its long political association with the Nehru-Gandhi family than for any other reason.
5 Union ministers in race for CM - Asian Age
About half-a-dozen Union ministers are seen as chief ministerial candidates in the Congress circles if the party wins the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand Assembly elections.
UP Muslims and the ‘P’ factor - Akshaya Mishra, Firstpost
First Salman Khurshid and now Beni Prasad Verma. The Congress’ desperation shows. It seems to have either lost the plot when it comes to Muslim votes or is grappling with new realities in the Muslim space — which no more conform to the accepted stereotype when it comes to voting.
BSP vs ex-BSP in Bundelkhand - Rajesh Kumar Singh, Hindustan Times
For three decades they worked on the same mission – to strengthen their supreme leader Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party. This election, however, they stand on different sides — for mission Bundelkhand.
EC sniffs out 42 ‘paid news' cases in UP - J Balaji, Hindu
Even as “money-chasing” media persons and news organisations are coming up with innovative ways to hoodwink the Election Commission (EC) in its drive to seek out “paid news”, the authority has so far detected as many as 42 instances of alleged paid news in Uttar Pradesh where the Assembly polls are being held.
Now, Beni does a Salman Khurshid on Muslim quota - Hindustan Times
A day after closing the case against union law minister Salman Khurshid for his “sub-quota for minorities” comments, the Election Commission has another challenger on its hands — union minister for steel Beni Prasad Verma.
Beni Prasad Verma does a Khurshid, dares EC - Times of India
Just two days after law minister Salman Khurshid regretted his 'Muslim quota' remark, another Union minister Beni Prasad Verma belonging to UP dared the Election Commission to act against him for saying that reservation for Muslims would be increased if Congress came to power. 
Rich & related in Goa test - Vijay De Souza, Economic Times
Two weeks from polling, Goa, with a 40-seat assembly, is all set for multi-cornered battles with a sudden spurt in the number of political parties contesting on March 3. Though the main fight will be between Congress and BJP, rebels, parties in the fray for the first time and voters seeking state accountability will make it a keen battle.
In Rae Bareli, family still charms but MLAs offend - Maulshree Seth, Indian Express
In Rae Bareli, Sonia Gandhi’s home turf, the support her family has enjoyed so far will now need to overcome resentment against her party’s sitting MLAs, disappointment with its dream projects, and the mass following of a rival candidate whom voters identify with merit rather than party.
Beni committed a mistake: Priyanka - Economic Times
Congress star campaigner Priyanka Gandhi defended Union steel minister Beni Prasad Verma's comment on the Election Commission, saying that such mistakes happen during electioneering and the party had full respect for the constitutional body.
Sonia runs PMO: Katiyar - Pioneer
The Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday alleged that the Prime Minister’s Office was being run on the directives of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the country’s premier was not even empowered to take decisions on his own.
Rahul may jump off stage after Ph-IV - Pioneer
Samajwadi Party State president Akhilesh Yadav promised Metro for the State capital while giving finishing touches to election fever by campaigning on the last day before polling in Lucknow on Friday. Akhilesh undertook a whirlwind road show and addressed five meetings in Lucknow on Friday.
Maharashtra rout bad news for Congress in UP? - Economic Times
Congress suffered a setback on Friday, with the Shiv Sena-BJP combine winning the prestigious municipal polls in Mumbai and adjoining Thane in a contest which consolidated the position of Sena rebel Raj Thackeray as an independent force in Maharashtra.
Spotlight on Charkhari - Aarti Dhar, Hindu
Picturesque Charkhari has been called the ‘Kashmir of Bundelkhand,' and a ‘mini Vrindavan,' among other things. This pretty town in Mahoba district remained with Uttar Pradesh at the request of Govind Vallabh Pant, even though a major chunk of land in its environs went to Madhya Pradesh during the reorganisation of States. Unfortunately, though, Charkhari never got anything more.
A dynasty in danger - Sudheendra Kulkarni, Indian Express
The Dynasty is angry. The Dynasty is frustrated. The Dynasty is rolling up its sleeves. The Dynasty is, literally, tearing up the Opposition parties’ right to make promises in their manifestos, claiming that right exclusively to itself. The Dynasty has ordered its minions to defy the Election Commission. The Dynasty is also parading its seventh generation. In a side-show, its son-in-law is saying, “My time will also come.” The dynastically enslaved Congress party is doing all this and more in the ongoing elections to the Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha.
Maya challenges Sonia, Rahul on black money - Press Trust of India
Orai: Coming down heavily on the Congress, Uttar Pradesh chief minister and BSP supremo Mayawati on Saturday alleged the maximum black money in foreign banks was that of Congress leaders. Addressing an election meeting, she dared Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her party's general secretary Rahul Gandhi to make public names of those having accounts in the foreign banks. Both did nothing to bring back the black money stashed abroad, Mayawati said.
UP assembly elections: Where feudalism still holds sway - Ashish Tripathi, Times of India
The fourth phase of assembly elections on Sunday covers constituencies known for loyalty to individuals, not parties. Caste, faith, money and mafia are as usual a part of the politics but all the factors revolve around "feudalism".
In the heat of UP elections, a dynastic dustup - Bodhisatva Ganguli, Economic Times
Rahul Gandhi, the 42-year-old scion of the political lineage started by his great grandfather, independent India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, is on a mission to revive the fortunes of India's grand old party. 
40% voter jump this time keeps parties guessing - Ravish Tiwari, Indian Express
Over 50,000 more people voted on an average per assembly segment in the first three phases of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections than the number in the 2007 elections.
Foot & mouth disease bites Congress - Tavishi Srivastava, Daily Pioneer
Guess who is trying to sabotage Rahul Gandhi’s mission 2012? You are wrong in case you are thinking it is the Opposition parties.
EC-stung Beni develops amnesia - Pioneer
Annoyed over Union Ministers — first Salman Khurshid and now Beni Prasad Verma — daring the Election Commission by raking up the minority sub-quota issue, the poll watchdog on Saturday issued notice to the Steel Minister holding him prima facie responsible for “deliberately and wilfully” violating the Model Code of Conduct by his act.
Cautious Cong gets 'realistic' - Kay Benedict, Mail Today
The hype is being replaced by cautious optimism. After the first three phases of polls in UP, covering 170 of the 403 constituencies, Congress mandarins are guarded in their assessment of the outcome.
UP Assembly likely to be hung beyond repair - Sunday Guardian
With Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh halfway through, one no longer needs a psephologist or an astrologer to know that a badly hung house awaits the state on 6 March when the counting of votes takes place.
Bitterness against Jaiswal and in Cong too - Prashant Pandey, Indian Express
In Kanpur, home ground of Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal, one of the Congress’s many hurdles is infighting as it seeks to improve on the two seats it won (out of seven then) in this BJP stronghold in 2007. Another challenge is the city’s problems, mainly its dying industries. The party is hoping to have earned some goodwill with the implementation of JNNURM projects, though that too has been late.
Over 57% polling in UP - Economic Times
In keeping with the trend of a higher voter turnout noticed in Uttar Pradesh so far, the fourth phase of assembly polls in the state recorded over 57% polling on Sunday. The first, second and third phases had earlier registered voting percentages of 63, 59 and 57.2, respectively. The voter turnout in 2007 was a mere 46%. 
UP: Turnout free fall continues - Pankaj Jaiswal, Economic Times
Lucknow failed to walk its talk about raising the voters' turnout. The fourth phase of Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, which included nine constituencies of Lucknow, showed 57.2 % voting, the lowest so far. The overall polling figure for Lucknow district was 55.89%.
For Assembly polls, MNS gears up as ‘real contender’ - TN Raghunatha, Pioneer
He may not have emerged as a “kingmaker” in the Mumbai civic poll, but MNS chief Raj Thackeray has definitely served a notice on two major political formations in the State that his party would be a real contender than a spoiler in the 2014 Assembly poll.
Election Committee can give a 'mouthful' but not punish the Benis - Ashish Sinha, Mail Today
After Union law minister Salman Khurshid, it is certain that steel minister Beni Prasad Verma will now apologise to the Election Commission (EC) for allegedly violating the model code of conduct in Uttar Pradesh. The poll panel has asked Verma to reply to its notice by Monday. The EC has described the minister's speech, where he promised higher job quotas to Muslims, as violating the model code "willfully and deliberately" because he had dared the poll panel to slap a notice on him and he was well aware of the Khurshid case.
Willing to wound, yet afraid to strike - Smita Gupta, Hindu
In 2004, when Rahul Gandhi contested his first election from Amethi, and campaigned for fellow Congress candidates in Uttar Pradesh, it was a blur of frenzied crowds, rose petals, marigold garlands and gulal: he was an instant hit. Those who lined village roads and filled the balconies of mofussil towns didn't want to know what he stood for, or whether he had a vision for U.P. A young good-looking Gandhi again symbolised hope, and the promise of the return of a family that had served the people well.
UP polls: Priyanka magic or Maya raj? - Deepak Gidwani, DNA
The fourth phase of the Uttar Pradesh assembly election passed off peacefully on Sunday with a couple of incidents being reported from different parts of the state. The overall polling percentage recorded at 5 pm was 57.2, an impressive 32 per cent more than the 44.84% polling in the same area in the 2007 election.
UP polls a big picnic for Gandhi family: Mayawati - Times of India
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati has seized upon Robert Vadra's growing public profile to direct a sharp putdown at the Gandhi family. "For the Gandhi family, UP elections have always been a big picnic. Brother, sister, mother and now even brother-in-law come for outings, sometimes with foreign friends," Mayawati said in an interview to Al Jazeera TV channel.
SP safe bet, BSP stocks down - Deep Saxena & Rohit K Singh, Hindustan Times
At the end of the fourth phase of polls in Uttar Pradesh, punters are putting more money on the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the BJP. No party gets a clear majority, but the SP, which was tipped to win 137-141 seats before the polls began, is now expected to get 139-143 seats – good odds are offered on scores below 139 and above 143.
Yadavs likely to stay Mulayam in phase V - Devesh Kumar, Economic Times
The fifth phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh, scheduled to take place in 49 assembly seats spread across 12 districts falling in the Bundelkhand and parts of central UP, will cover the Mainpuri-Etawah-Firozabad-Etah belt, popularly known as the Yadavland. 
Anti-NCTC Group may stall reforms - Economic Times
The 'alliance of chief ministers' forged for a combined assault on the Centre over the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) will not just delay the formation of the proposed anti-terror body but also possibly impede several other policy initiatives. 
SP hopes brighten in Jat-Muslim hub - Sachin Parashar, TOI
MUZAFFARNAGAR: "Ek do zakhm nahi, saara jism hai chhalni; dard bechara pareshan hai kahan se uthe," says Mufti Zulfiqar, the shehar mufti of Muzaffarnagar, ruing the lack of higher education among the region's Muslim youth famous for sugarcane farming. "In the land of sugarcane, there is bitterness all around," he adds.
Central rule a bad option for Congress - Vinod Sharma and Sunita Aron, Hindustan Times
Union coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal’s statement on President’s rule in Uttar Pradesh in the event of a fractured verdict is loaded with strong political meaning. Unlike some Congress leaders, Jaiswal is not known to speak out of turn. He is also not the first Congress leader to have projected such a scenario after the multi-phase polling.
Family football - Pushpa Iyengar, Outlook
The people of Goa, which goes to the hustings on March 3, seem trapped between some bad political options and the deep sea: the choice is between the clan-ridden Congress and the BJP, with which the sizable Christian population is uncomfortable.
Voteswagon: Voter turnout in assembly elections is on a rise - Shobhan Saxena, TOI
Every election in India busts some cliches . As Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand , Punjab and Manipur record high voter turnouts in Election 2012, poll pundits - used to set patterns like ''anti-incumbency factor'' and ''caste calculations'' - are struggling to make sense of this surge.
Uttar Pradesh hangs in balance for BJP - Poornima Joshi, Mail Today
There is an uncanny meeting of minds between Sriprakash Jaiswal and the BJP. The BJP agrees with Jaiswal not on his first presumption that the Congress will form the government in Uttar Pradesh, but on the assertion that the Centre may impose President's Rule in the state.
UP: Women beat men to the poll booth - Pankaj Jaiswal, Hindustan Times
For the first time in the electoral history of Uttar Pradesh — assembly or Lok Sabha — women voters have outdone men. The turnout in the first four phases of the assembly elections so far totals thus, men 55.88% and women 60.03%.
Goa’s missing poll carnival - E P Unny, Indian Express
Goa joined Indian democracy late when the Portuguese finally left in 1961. The state’s politicians have made up for lost time. More than the last 50 years of freedom and the 450 years of Portuguese legacy, they seem to be celebrating that formidable 15th Century Florencian, Niccolo Machiavelli.
Silver-lining for BJP: Uma, Kushwaha ‘getting votes’ - Sanjay Singh, Indian Express
The mood in the BJP camp is upbeat with party’s internal reports giving a feedback that many candidates have performed much better than expected across the state where elections have been held till now.
The bittersweet truths about UP’s sugar belt - Vinod Sharma and Sunita Aron, Hindustan Times
A new political crop has emerged in the verdant sugarcane belt of western Uttar Pradesh. They’re leaders with a lineage but have a persona of their own. Regardless of what the electorate will, they’ve come to stay and shape the politics of the region where identity survives but is peppered strongly by aspiration.
Coaching colonels in Bundelkhand, Einstein Public School in Lalganj - Shekhar Gupta, Indian Express
Why we call this random series of writings from different and diverse parts of India, often during the elections, “Writings on the Wall” needs repetition. So many years of training as a reporter-writer have taught me that one of the best ways of figuring out what is going on in our country, what is changing, for better or worse, or not changing at all, is written, literally, on our walls.
Illegal mining heats up poll scene - Sruthijith KK, Economic Times
PANAJI: A raging controversy over illegal mining and a host of new parties trying to make a mark in Goa politics dominate conversations here on the upcoming polls, even as tourism is reeling from the early deadlines on bars imposed by the poll panel.
Didi poaches Cong rebels to queer the pitch in Goa polls - Krishna Kumar, Mail Today
After trying to damage the Congress prospects in Manipur, Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress has turned its attention to Goa. While many would say that the Trinamool is not a serious contender the party itself would not be bothered with the outcome, as its sole purpose in Goa seems to make it difficult for the Congress.
Rookie party steals Cong's 'Peace' of mind in UP - Kay Benedict, Mail Today
Such is electoral politics. The rookie Peace Party of India (PPI) has become a thorn in the flesh of the grand-old Congress in the crucial Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.
High voter turnout in Uttar Pradesh baffles parties - Biswajeet Banerjee, Pioneer
The dance of democracy in Uttar Pradesh is in full swing as people, shedding their inhibitions, have swarmed the polling booths to exercise their right of franchise. In this almost month-long Assembly election, spread over in seven phases, the voting percentage has so far almost touched the 60 per cent mark — the best in the last two decades.
Cracks in her statues - Varghese K George, Hindustan Times
The BSP's formidable organisational structure and the unmistakable assertiveness of its core Dalit base make Mayawati a serious contender for another term as Uttar Pradesh chief minister. The huge rallies that she addresses should restrain those who may be tempted to predict herb downfall.
The sarvajan experiment - Smita Gupta, Hindu
The constituency office of the local Bahujan Samaj Party candidate from Chaprauli, Devpal Singh Shastri, is buzzing with activity. Milling around or sitting on dusty standard issue plastic chairs are two distinct groups: the candidate's posh personal campaigners, including family members, and the BSP's traditional workers.
Waiting for Rahul to deliver - Vinod Sharma and Sunita Aron, Hindustan Times
The Bahujan Samaj Party’s reactionary pitch of yore that helped it appropriate the Dalit vote in UP is being turned upside down. In the belt running parallel to the under-construction Taj expressway, which triggered a massive land row, it’s hard to miss the upper-caste assertion for the primacy they lost to scheduled castes under Mayawati — “Tilak, taraju aur talwar, nahin sahenge atyachar”.
Cong headache: Corruption, illegal mining, rebels... - Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times
The picture is not all rosy for the Congress in Goa. The ruling party is on the back-foot following allegations of illegal mining and corruption charges. The BJP has directly accused chief minister Digambar Kamat of involvement in the Rs 25,000-crore illegal mining scam, which is being probed by a judicial commission headed by Justice MB Shah.
Congress-RLD stuck in unnatural alliance - Sidharth Mishra, Pioneer
Three decades ago, Chowdhary Charan Singh scripted his epitaph by allying with the Congress. The current polls to Uttar Pradesh legislative Assembly could prove to be a setback for his son, Union Minister Chowdhary Ajit Singh.
‘Reformed’ party vs the one & only - Vandita Mishra, Indian Express
As the Uttar Pradesh election enters its last phase, Akhilesh Yadav claims a leher in the Samajwadi Party’s favour and asks for bahumat or majority, not just votes. He promises free laptops, scholarships and debt waivers among a range of direct transfers.
Turning Lohiaji on his head - Shekhar Gupta, Indian Express
India has probably produced more variants of socialism than all of Europe. And as you’d expect, these varying ideological strains often end up arguing with each other. So, today, our pure-bred Kolkata Marxists would sit under giant portraits of Mao in their offices and dismiss Naxalite-Maoists as “leftist degenerates”.
Much at stake for Congress-RLD, Samajwadi Party in Phase VI - Economic Times
NEW DELHI: The sixth phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh - which takes place in 68 assembly seats spread across 13 districts in the western parts of the state - will test whether Congress' decision to forge an alliance with RLD would reap electoral dividends, and whether the Samajwadi Party's claims of emerging as the main beneficiary of the Muslim vote holds good.
Congress looks up to Rahul to rewrite 'west side story' - Aditya Menon, Mail Today
He came, he saw and he went away. Rahul Gandhi's roadshow took Shahjahanpur by the storm for the half an hour that it lasted. But soon after he left, the sleepy little city was back to normal and it seemed as if nothing had happened there at all.
J-factor holds key in west win - Vinod Sharma and Sunita Aron, Hindustan Times
Asked to comment on electoral reforms, Union minister Ajit Singh chuckled, “Reforms? We believe in capturing booths.” That was late last year and Singh was referring to his clan’s one-time image of preventing Dalits from casting their votes.
A photo-finish for Jayant on home turf? - Vinod Sharma and Sunita Aron, Hindustan Times
The cool breeze through lush green fields on languid afternoons was in contrast to rising political temperatures in the run-up to an unprecedented turnout in Mant on Tuesday. The choice before the voters was between RLD’s Chandragupta, Jayant Chaudhary and Mathura’s Chanakya, Shyam Sunder Sharma of the Trinamool Congress.
In high stakes Jat land, voting exceeds 60% - Atiq Khan, Hindu
Polling records continued to tumble in the ongoing long-drawn, seven-phase Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. In the penultimate round on Tuesday, the voter turnout was 60.1 per cent, up from 46.81 in 2007. Polling was held in 68 constituencies, spread across 13 districts of western Uttar Pradesh.
Numbers in search of a narrative - Suresh Nambath, Hindu
Elections are now regularly held in several phases, and the time gap between the first phase of polling and the counting date can stretch to more than a month. In the suspenseful interim, voter turnout is seen as the key to unlock the secrets of the Electronic Voting Machines.
Ajit-Cong Jodi breaker or maker? - Pramod Kumar Singh, Pioneer
The battle of the ballot for 68 Assembly seats spread over 13 districts of Western Uttar Pradesh ended on Tuesday with 59.78 per cent voters exercising their franchise. This was the sixth and the penultimate phase while the seventh and last phase will be held on March 3.
Smirks that speak and a doctor with no prescription - Shekhar Gupta, Indian Express
You know you are walking on treacherous ground when not merely all journalists but even fund managers on blue (stock market) channels start calling an election the same way — hung house, the SP in front, BSP distant second, Congress and BJP fighting for the wooden spoon.
Muslim turnout augurs well for SP - TOI
LUCKNOW: After the sixth phase, which saw 60.08% polling, SP had some reasons to smile. The high turnout could augur well for Mulayam who could only have done better than his party's 2007 dismal score of only 3 in the 13 districts against BSP's 37.
Jatavs' heartburn to test Mayawati’s hold - Subodh Ghildiyal, TOI
Do Jatavs equal Yadavs? Campaign trail 2012 abounds with the formulation that jatavs are the "ruling elite" in the Mayawati regime just as the yadavs were under Mulayam, a sentiment that marks the arrival of a new politically-aligned social group in UP.
The import of higher voter turnout in U.P. - Smita Gupta, Hindu
Dominating the visual electoral landscape of Uttar Pradesh are the Election Commission's enormous billboards exhorting citizens to cast their votes, not the flags, banners and posters of political parties.
Muslims in Uttar Pradesh signal a paradigm shift - Liz Mathew, Mint
Sartaz Khatoon, 28, has never seen a classroom in her entire life. Married at 13 to Zahir Ahmed, 30, she has six children. Four of them are first-generation school-goers and live in Chandpur constituency in Bijnor district in north-west Uttar Pradesh.
Final phase to test Rahul Gandhi's popularity - Devesh Kumar, Economic Times
NEW DELHI: The final phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh is expected to test whether Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi's aggressive campaign to connect with the electorate is finding any traction.
There is an elephant in the room - Vidya Subrahmaniam, Hindu
Two conflicting narratives, both built around the BSP, dominate the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. A government official in Lucknow says this of the 2012 Assembly election in Uttar Pradesh: “This is an election where every party thinks it is forming the government.”
It’s BSP vs bijli, sadak, paani - Vandita Mishra, Indian Express
At the Samajwadi Party rally in Binawar on the penultimate day of the campaign, Mulayam Singh Yadav looks visibly drained and sounds chief ministerial.
Differences with RLD on ground may cost Cong dear - Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times
The Congress-Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) alliance failed to take off on the ground, and the strain was particularly visible in Jat-dominated western Uttar Pradesh. In their separate assessment reports to the central leadership, many Congress observers have stated that the alliance existed only at the top level and the leaders of the two parties “failed to activate” their foot soldiers in several constituencies.
Samajwadi Party clearly ahead in UP: Exit polls - TOI
NEW DELHI: The Samajwadi Party is the clear No.1 in Uttar Pradesh, perhaps even in line for a majority, while the Congress has the edge in close races in Punjab, Uttarakhand and Manipur, and the BJP in Goa, if exit polls are to be believed.
UP makes history, Goa shatters records - TOI
LUCKNOW: History was created in the UP elections with over 59.16% of the state's 12.54 crore electorate voting in the monthlong seven-phase polls that ended on Saturday. This was the highest polling percentage in the state after Independence.
Will Rahul step up and take responsibility for defeat? - First Post
We are tracking the experts who are tracking the counting across three television channels – CNN IBN, NDTV and Times Now. Tracker of Trackers, if you will. 1:30 pm: Lord Meghnad Desai: The Congress will reason that since the party organisation is weak, Rahul should not be wasted on election campaigns. They will retain him in Delhi to take up leadership positions.
Uttar Pradesh: the end of status quo - Anil Padmanabhan, Mint
If there is one enduring image from a road journey into the interiors of Uttar Pradesh, ignoring for a moment the visible poverty and bad roads, then it is that of the girl child going to school.
BJP may win in Uttarakhand: STAR News-AC Nielsen poll - Business Standard
The STAR News-Nielsen exit poll has projected incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerging victorious in the Uttarakhand Assembly polls, bagging 36 seats, in a departure from other television exit polls. The Congress is projected as being six seats away from the magic figure of 35.
Election Results: Badals true Lions of Punjab, Akali-BJP combine is winning - R Jagannathan, First Post
The Akali Dal-BJP combine looks set to make history by becoming the first combine to overcome an anti-incumbency trend and return to power in the 2012 state assembly elections. Counting trends at 9.30 am on Tuesday showed the combine leading comfortably with 42 leads against the Congress’ 30 in a 117-member assembly. Others were at six leads.
Battleground UP: It's Behenji vs Maya Memsaab - Anant Zanane, NDTV
Before Uttar Pradesh began voting, the veiling of super-size elephant statues planted by Mayawati in memorial parks that honoured Dalit leaders including herself became an international headline. The Election Commission said that because the elephant is her party's symbol, its giant shadow over voters would give Mayawati an unfair advantage.
Rahul Gandhi’s charisma fails in Uttar Pradesh - Mint
The Congress party was trailing in fourth place as counting of votes got underway in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday, a stunning blow to Rahul Gandhi who had staked his political future on reviving his party’s fortunes in the populous northern state.
For Akhilesh Yadav, mission accomplished - NDTV
The Samajwadi Party says Mulayam Singh Yadav will be the next UP chief minister; his son Akhilesh Yadav is being credited with winning him that fourth term. 
Punjab jinx for parties ends with Akalis, they return to power - NDTV
For the first time ever, Punjab has given a second consecutive term to a party in power. The alliance of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the BJP had won 62 seats out of 117 and was leading in another 6 while the Congress managed 45 seats and was leading in one.
Gandhis humbled in bastion of Rae Bareli, Amethi - First Post
The safety belt for the Congress party and Gandhis in Uttar Pradesh just snapped. In the 15 assembly seats under their traditional three Lok Sabha bastions of Rae Bareli, Amethi and Sultanpur, the Congress was completely wiped out in Rae Bareli and Sultanpur.
Congress set to form govt in Uttarakhand - DS Kunwar, Times of India
It couldn't have got tighter than this. The Congress, expected to romp home in Uttarakhand riding the anti-incumbency wave against the ruling BJP, got into a photofinish on Tuesday, emerging as the single largest party with 32 seats. It beat a surprisingly robust BJP by just one seat, although the saffron party, too, had to suffer the ignominy of its incumbent chief minister B C Khanduri losing in Kotdwar by 4,632 votes. 
BJP Rides anti-Cong wave in Goa - Times of India
Riding high on a double wave of anti-incumbency and support from the minorities, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) created history on Tuesday by coming to power on its own in Goa with 21 seats dealing a crushing blow to the Congress who were reduced to just nine seats in the 40-member state legislative assembly.
Ibobi Singh on crumbling cake for Congress - K Sarojkumar Sharma, Times of India
Hordes of political heavyweights including NCP Manipur unit president and opposition leader Radhabinod Koijam had to bite the dust as new giant killers pushed them down to the ground, changing the political map of Manipur as the results of the state's 10th assembly election were declared on Tuesday. 
Many a slip did Congress in - Annapurna Jha, Pioneer
The Congress, which was hoping to ride the Samajwadi Party’s bicycle in Uttar Pradesh in the role of a king-maker, received a major jolt on Tuesday as it was not only relegated to a poor forth place but also lost Punjab and Goa while being locked in a neck-to-neck contest with the BJP in Uttarakhand.
Mixed bag: Some hit bullseye, others off the mark - Hindustan Times
Two exit polls had predicted that the Samajwadi Party would be in a position to form a government in Uttar Pradesh without seeking support from any other party.
2/10, Congress flunks turf test - Sunita Aron, Hindustan Times
The writing was on the wall. Gandhis perhaps had read it but not the Congress party. Priyanka Gandhi knocked at almost every door during her fortnight-long whirlwind tour of her family’s pocket borough Rae Bareli and Amethi, the two parliamentary seats that have remained with the Gandhi family since time immemorial.
An ocean of opportunities - Rajiv Bhatia, Hindu
Recently, a report by non-governmental experts suggested that in order to counter China, India should be in a position “to dominate the Indian Ocean region.” A little later, the Foreign Ministers of China and India agreed to establish and institutionalise maritime dialogue, aiming to promote cooperation and coordination between naval establishments of the two Asian majors.
Catholic votes key to BJP win - Swatee Kher, Indian Express
The BJP’s victory in the Assembly polls in Goa this time has been marked by a significant change in its political identity. Traditionally seen as a party representing the Hindus, it managed to enter the Catholic strongholds of the Congress this time. This, party leaders and observers said, was the key reason behind its victory.
Peace Party debuts in UP with 4 seats - Indian Express
The Peace Party has made its debut in UP, winning four seats. The party’s chief Dr Mohammad Ayub won in Khalilabad, Kamal Yusuf Mallik in Doomariyaganj, Akhilesh Kumar Singh in Rae Bareli, and Aneesurrehman in Kanth.
69 Muslims win, UP’s highest ever - Faisal Ahmed, Indian Express
Amidst the rush to woo Muslims by all parties, a total of 69 Muslim candidates won the Assembly elections this time, the highest since independence. In 2007 elections, 56 Muslims candidates were successful in reaching the Assembly. Out of the 69 Muslim candidates who won, 43 belong to the SP. The party had fielded 78 Muslim candidates. The BSP, which gave tickets to 85 Muslim candidates, could get 16 of them elected.
Rahul’s campaign fails to deliver a lift for Congress - Elizabeth Roche, Mint
He was billed as the Congress party’s star campaigner in the Uttar Pradesh elections, the one who would revive the fortunes of the party, out of power in the politically key state for more than two decades.
BJP-MGP combine ousts Congress in Goa - Shamsheer Yousaf, Mint
The ruling Congress had its worst performance in assembly polls in Goa since the territory became an Indian state in 1987, retaining only nine of its 16 seats in the 40-member assembly and losing power to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Manipur lone bright spot for Congress - Elizabeth Roche, Mint
When chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh said his Congress party-led coalition would return to power in Manipur for a third consecutive term by a two-thirds majority, few believed him.
Catholics sponsor BJP carnival - Sruthijith KK, Economic Times
The Catholic voter deserted Congress as Goa gave a clear mandate to the BJP-MGP coalition, voting out the Congress government besieged by allegations of corruption, illegal mining and 'family raj'. BJP won 21 of the 28 seats it contested , while Congress won nine out of 33. MGP and NCP both contested seven seats, MGP won three and NCP managed only a seat. In 2007, Congress won 19 and BJP 14.
Cong MPs fail to stem rout - Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times
Weak fundamentals may have been the major factor for the dismal show of the Congress in Uttar Pradesh but the party even failed to restore some pride in the parliamentary constituencies of six Union ministers who come from the state. The party lost all the five assembly segments that comprise the Farrukhabad parliamentary constituency represented by law minister Salman Khurshid. His wife, Louise Khurshid, stood fifth in the overall tally and lost her deposit from Farrukhabad despite his attempt to polarise the elections  by playing the Muslim reservation card.
Manipur: Taking hills and plains along - S Mangi Singh, Indian Express
On the morning of March 6, just as the counting for the 10th state assembly elections began in Manipur, Gaikhangam, the president of the Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee, said on AIR Imphal that he was expecting an unprecedented victory for his party. Even he would not have presumed what the final picture would turn out to be in the evening — the Congress winning a clear two-thirds majority, with 42 seats. Before 2012, no party has won a majority in any of the previous nine state elections.
 
2014 Election LensOnNews Pitch Report Phase 3
 

Verbatim

Rahul Gandhi must accept that people are angry with the Congress. They are not 'ullus' when they vote against the Congress. The prospects of defeat should not make a leader lose his graciousness. Those who vote against the Congress may have good reasons to do so. The angry voter is not a four letter word that Rahul Gandhi has chosen to describe them.
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