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#PollVault: From Comedy on 'Chowkidar' to Condolences on Manohar Parrikar

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New Delhi: Indian politics took on a rather light tone for most of Sunday, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others in the ruling party changed their Twitter handles to say “chowkidar.”

However, the mood took a sombre turn by the evening, as confirmations began coming in of the death of former Union defence minister Manohar Parrikar.

Parrikar was the sitting chief minister of Goa until his demise yesterday and a four-time chief minister of the state. The public will be allowed to pay their respects to Parrikar for 5.5 hours on Monday, after which the final rites will be performed.

President Ram Nath Kovind tweeted that Parrikar died “after an illness borne with fortitude and dignity.” He said that the former chief minister was “an epitome of integrity and dedication in public life.” Political leaders across party lines condoled his death.

Twitter handle gimmicks

Prime Minister Narendra Modi began a Twitter campaign by prefixing ‘chowkidar’ to his handle. A number of other prominent BJP leaders did not follow suit, and alliance partners gave it a skip completely. By the end of the day, there were a number of BJP accounts that had followed suit including Amit Shah, Piyush Goyal, J.P. Nadda, Sushma Swaraj and Harsh Vardhan.

Goa Congress stakes claim 

As news was pouring in that Parrikar’s health was deteriorating, the Goa Congress was trying to stake claim to form the government in Goa and avoid President’s Rule, in the event of the chief minister’s death.

Digambar Kamat of the Congress  in Goa denied rumours that he was joining the BJP or that he was a possible chief ministerial candidate. He said he had visited Delhi for personal reasons and was returning to Goa to work with the Congress. Kamat had quit the Congress in 1994 to join the BJP. He returned to the Congress in 2005.

Alliances

Despite being left out of the the SP-BSP alliance. Congress has decided to respect the mahagatbandhan idea and has not fielded candidates in Kannauj against Dimple Yadav and in Mainpuri against Mulayam Singh Yadav. The party has also not fielded anyone against heavy weights in the RLD and BSP like Jayant Chuadhary, Ajit Singh, Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav.

The matter of a partnership between the Aam Aadmi Party and Congress is still not settled. AAP has announced candidates for all seven seats in Delhi now, although they were holding back on announcing the seventh. Balbir Singh Jakhar has been named the candidate for West Delhi. Discussions on the AAP- Congress alliance have been going on for a while and apparently still are underway.

Congress leaders in West Bengal have reportedly said they don’t want any alliance with the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

The BJP in Bihar announced the formal seat-sharing formula with its alliance members, the Janta Dal (United) and the Lok Janshakti Party. The BJP and JD(U) said they will contest 17 Lok Sabha seats each in Bihar and the LJP will contest six.

MPs flow in and out

The BJP gained two parliamentarians on Sunday – K.S. Radhakrishnan, the former chairman of the Kerala Public Service Commission, and Prakash Chandra Behera, former Congress MLA from Odisha who resigned from the party a day before.

Who is getting a ticket?

DMK released one list of their candidates on Sunday, including several heavyweights such as Kanimozhi, Dayanidhi Maran and A. Raja. M.K. Stalin said that the selection had happened in a “democratic way”.

New and old parties

The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena said they will not be contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha elections at all.

Former IAS officer Shah Faesal launched his own political party, the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement. Faesal recently quit as a civil servant, citing increasing bloodshed in Kashmir and rising crimes against minorities elsewhere. On Sunday, his party released their vision document. Former Jawaharlal Nehru University students’ leader Shehla Rashid also joined the party.

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