BSP supremo Mayawati and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav during a joint press conference in Lucknow | PTI
BSP supremo Mayawati and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav during a joint press conference in Lucknow | PTI
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SP-BSP alliance has left this Bollywood actor stranded in UP

The Samajwadi Party (SP)-Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) alliance in Uttar Pradesh has poured cold water on Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Raj Babbar’s hope of shifting to Mumbai to contest the Lok Sabha elections.

Having lost to former Indian Army chief General V.K. Singh from Ghaziabad in the 2014 election, the actor-turned-politician, who was in the Janata Dal and the SP before joining the Congress in 2008, was planning to shift base to Mumbai.

Senior Congress leaders from Maharashtra, who have been deliberating over the names of contenders for party tickets, now say that Babbar can opt for any of the 78 Lok Sabha seats in UP — excluding the two Nehru-Gandhi family pocket boroughs of Amethi and Rae Bareli — in the absence of an alliance with the SP and the BSP.

Keen on shifting to Mumbai, Babbar had offered to resign as UP Congress chief about a year ago, but Congress president Rahul Gandhi has been keeping him on the hot seat until a successor is found.

There is already a scramble for Congress tickets in Mumbai. Following former MP Priya Dutt’s announcement that she won’t contest the 2019 Lok Sabha election, actor-turned-politician Nagma has staked claim to the Congress ticket for Mumbai North Central constituency, which Priya, the daughter of the late actor-politician Sunil Dutt, had lost in 2014 to the BJP’s Poonam Mahajan.

Cricketer-turned-politician Mohammad Azharuddin, one of the working presidents of Telangana Congress, is also seeking a party ticket from Mumbai.

Also read: Numbers don’t lie: Why SP-BSP alliance can defeat BJP’s legendary poll arithmetic

Missing ally at Modi event triggers speculation

Prime Minister Narendra Modi released a commemorative silver coin and stamp on the birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh this Sunday at a function attended by his predecessor Manmohan Singh and former Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar, among others.

However, conspicuous was the complete absence of representation from Punjab’s Badal family, which leads the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), a BJP ally. SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal, a member of the Badal family, is also a minister in the Modi government.

The BJP has been at odds with several of its allies lately, with many even leaving the NDA fold. The party’s equation with the SAD hasn’t quite been friction-free either and the absence of the Badals from the function has fueled speculation about its political implications.

Modi govt renames another initiative with ‘PM’ prefix

The National Children Awards for prodigies, given out by the President, have been renamed the Prime Minister National Children Award, the latest government initiative to be rechristened after the Prime Minister.

The order to rename the award was conveyed to the Union Women and Child Development Ministry, which instituted the honour in 1996, by the Prime Minister’s Office this week.

Since the BJP-led NDA government came to office in 2014, eight schemes have been renamed, some just to add the prefix “Prime Minister”. These include the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Matrutva Vandana Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana, and Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana.

Also read: The SP-BSP alliance in UP is rare, formidable and perfect

Contributors: Moushumi Das Gupta, DK Singh and Ruhi Tewari

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