Going with the wind
Many say this Himachal family is a fairly reliable indicator of which way the wind might be blowing in the state. On Monday, state politician Sukh Ram (pictured) joined the Congress along with his grandson Ashray Sharma. Ram's son Anil Sharma had quit the Congress weeks before the Himachal Pradesh Assembly polls in 2017, following which a BJP government replaced the Congress one in the state. Congress sources said Ram's grandson could contest on the Congress ticket from the Mandi Lok Sabha seat. Ram is also known for the 1996 'telecom scam', after which he and his son were expelled from the party. There are indications Ram's son might also quit the BJP.
Mix and match
Elections are a good time not only for turncoats but also for those from other fields wanting to enter the world of politics. On Monday, apart from Sukh Ram and his grandson quitting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP ) to join the Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal Jharkhand unit chief Annapurna Devi and Paralympic gold medalist Deepa Malik joined the BJP. The most curious case, however, is that of Danish Ali. Until recently with the Janata Dal (Secular), Ali joined the Bahujan Samaj Party as part of an understanding between the two parties and is now the candidate of the Mayawati-led party from Amroha, Uttar Pradesh. Interestingly, the Congress on Monday replaced its declared candidate from Amroha. It will now field Sachin Choudhary instead of Rashid Alvi, which should help Ali. BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi is set to be denied the ticket from the New Delhi constituency and could contest against the UPA chairperson, Sonia Gandhi, from Rae Bareli. Cricketer Gautam Gambhir is likely to contest from Lekhi’s seat.
Symbol of change
The Communist Party of India (CPI) on Monday wrote to the Election Commission (EC), urging it to improve the printing quality of its election symbol, corn and sickle, claiming that the poll panel was using “a hand-drawn image” since 1952. In the letter, the party’s general secretary, S Sudhakar Reddy, said the CPI was the only party to have contested all elections since independence on the same symbol. Reddy suggested to the EC that new printing technologies should be adopted and symbols should be printed in colour so that they were more “photo realistic” and easier to recognise. He said this would address the repeated complaints of similarity of candidates’ symbols. Since the CPI was a party representing the downtrodden and working class, it was essential that the symbol of corn and sickle be easy to recognise, he said.