Indian media: BJP sounds 'poll bugle'

The BJP's rally in southern Hyderabad city drew huge crowds
Image caption The BJP's rally in the southern city of Hyderabad drew huge crowds

Media in India feel the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has sounded its "poll bugle" for the general elections due next year with a "mega rally" in southern India.

The BJP on Sunday held rallies in the southern city of Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh state to criticise the ruling Congress party's policies and "woo voters", reports say.

The Zee News website feels the BJP's "mega rally" can be seen as the launch of its election campaign.

The CNN-IBN website says the chief minister of the western state of Gujarat and the BJP's poll panel chief, Narendra Modi, has "kicked off" his party's campaign with the rally.

"Mr Modi wooed southern leaders like J Jayalalithaa and Chandrababu Naidu with praise and called for a combined effort to make the country 'Congress-free' during his speech," the NDTV website says.

The BJP also held a rally in the capital, Delhi, with an eye on the forthcoming state elections.

"Keen to wrest power from the Congress, the BJP on Sunday kick-started its campaign for the 2013 assembly polls in Delhi with a massive rally," The Times of India reports.

Soldiers at Gandhi's memorial

Meanwhile, armed soldiers will now guard Mahatma Gandhi's memorial site in Delhi, reports The Times of India.

"The issue of deploying armed guards at the venue… was kept aside for over six years considering the father of the nation's principles of non-violence," the paper said, adding that the decision was made after recent blasts at an iconic Buddhist shrine in the eastern state of Bihar.

In another sign of the changing times, technology owned by an American company is now being used to grow genetically-modified cotton to manufacture the Indian flag, The Hindu reports.

The new cotton is said to make the flag stronger, but has also invited protests since it is traditionally made from "indigenous varieties".

"It is unfortunate that the cotton developed by an American company is being used to make the Indian flag," says Suresh Davande, who heads a flag-making unit in the southern state of Karnataka.

In some sad news for nature lovers, one of India's best-known ornithologists Zafar Futehally has died at the age of 93.

"Mr Futehally spearheaded the early years of the conservation movement in India, serving as a link between conservationists and corporates," The Hindu quotes one of his friends as saying.

In an inspiring story, a polio-afflicted man has decided to drive from the southern city of Chennai to Delhi in a bid to raise awareness about issues faced by differently-abled people, the Deccan Herald reports.

And in another tale of resilience, a 50-year-old has made history by becoming the oldest woman to scale Mount Everest, The Hindu reports.

"Kitchen to mountaintops" is how Premlata Agarwal's husband described her journey to overcome self-doubt and become a role model for women.

In yet another celebration of women's accomplishments, The Asian Age, in an editorial, is all praise for young badminton star PV Sindhu's maiden bronze medal at the World Championship in China.

Sindhu's entry into the semi-finals and winning a bronze "shows how far Indian sportswomen have come", the paper says.

And topping off the spate of inspiring news is the story of Khushi Ram, a Delhi resident who roams the streets at night, identifying victims of drug overdose and accidents. He takes them to hospital and gives the dead the dignity of a decent end, the Hindustan Times reports.

"I've helped 60 people in four years," says Mr Ram, a former drug addict himself who turned his life around after promising his father that he would change for the better.

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