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congress bjp

Bypoll Results: Cong May Gloat Over Badrinath Win But What Cost BJP Was Joshimath

Assembly by-elections are usually won by the party in power. That is why it came as a surprise for the BJP that it failed to retain Badrinath assembly seat and was defeated in Manglaur in Uttarakhand by a margin of 422 votes. While the Congress has been claiming victory in Badrinath as a natural corollary to INDIA Bloc win in Faizabad Lok Sabha seat that hosts Ayodhya and the Ram Mandir, the BJP may have much to mull about its performance.  Defeat of BJP candidate Rajendra Singh Bhandari in Badrinath assembly seat may not be so much a comment on chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami but it could still be an eye-opener for the party. The seat fell vacant as Bhandari had quit the Congress as an MLA during 2024 Lok Sabha polls. He joined the BJP supporting its Garhwal Lok Sabha candidate Anil Baluni. The BJP had fielded him in the by-election hoping his connection with local public would carry him through. What the party did not factor in was lack of enthusiasm among its cadres to the Congress turncoat. “More than BJP cadres letting Bhandari down, Badrinath seat was mainly lost because there was simmering anger among residents of Joshimath over delay in resettlement and relocating them,” pointed out senior Congress leader Prakash Joshi. This was an area which has always given BJP the lead. Joshimath has been declared a landslide-subsidence zone since 2022 and people still have to deal with it. The second seat Manglaur had always seen a proxy battle between the Congress and the BSP.  Congress leader Jairam Ramesh however insisted that the Uttarakhand results “reflect the changing political climate in the country.”
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Kharge Loses Interest In Delhi, Sets Sight On Bengaluru

While there is general rush  among new  ministers in the Modi Government for  a comfortable Lutyens bungalow, it is being said Congress President and Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun  Kharge, who is residing at 10, Rajaji Marg, faces the problem of beehives in his garden. Though it is not clear how much of a challenge it has been to Kharge and his family, the bees have certainly posed a problem to the media team who have gone to cover INDIA bloc meetings at his residence. The bees have stung cameramen and tried to damage their equipment. It is being said ever since the Lok Sabha results, Kharge had become a little quiet. He has apparently conveyed to Sonia Gandhi that he would like to hang his boots. With Priyanka Gandhi all set to get elected from Wayanad, the Congress expects her to play a larger role in the organisation. That actually means Kharge would like to return as CM of Karnataka. The new Parliament building which entails a lot of walking for MPs is also getting to him and his limbs are aching too much it is being said.  KC Venugopal had apparently suggested Kerala ayurvedic massage for the 81-year old leader. Meanwhile in his home state, Karnataka deputy chief minister DK Shivkumar is resisting pressure to ease him out of the state PCC. He says he can be replaced only by his handpicked nominee — say his brother DK Suresh or Lakshmi Hebalkar. Of course the Congress leadership could be too reluctant to effect any change in Karnataka.  Easing out a prudent like CM Siddaramaiah could be fraught with many unforeseen risks.
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Is Rahul Gandhi's "Generous" Post In Favour Of Smriti Irani A Camouflage For His Travel Plans?

Lok Sabha LoP Rahul Gandhi’s social media message to Congress leaders denouncing Smriti Irani ever since she lost Amethi Lok Sabha elections on June 12 came as a bit of surprise. Posted on X, Rahul generally made it clear “winning and losing happen in life” and urged everyone to refrain from using “derogatory language” and being nasty towards” Smriti Irani or any other leader for that matter.” Many wondered if the tweet itself was a diversion. Was the “generous message” deliberately put out by his social media managers as they didn’t want anyone to know Rahul’s travel plans? Party sources said the LoP who had travelled extensively within India during the Parliament break — from Manipur to his constituency Rae Bareli— has apparently taken a two day break. Yes, he is making a very short foreign trip.  Party sources said he must have decided to travel abroad just ahead of the monsoon session next week. No one in the Congress knows where he was headed. In his message, Rahul made it clear “humiliating and insulting people” was a sign of weakness, not strength. The BJP of course hasn’t taken such a condescending message lightly. “This is the most disingenuous message ever. After unleashing Congress leaders, like a pack of wolves, on the woman who defeated him in Amethi and smashed his arrogance to smithereens, this is rich. All this gibberish doesn’t take away from the fact that Smriti Irani forced Balak Buddhi to abandon Amethi”, countered BJP I-T Cell head Amit Malviya.
pooja khedkar

Photo : X

Controversial IAS Probationer Pooja Khedkar’s Mother Too Turns Newsmaker

Controversial IAS probationer Pooja Khedkar’s mother, too, is now caught up in the scandalous disclosures even as details about her father Dilip are being dug up. Pooja has been transferred to Washim from Pune after her many alleged misdeeds to get into the IAS became viral. Even as the barrage of sensational revelations continues, one of her mother Manorama’s astounding videos is in circulation now. In it, Manorama is seen with a revolver and in a verbal fight with some people, said to be farmers of Dhavali village near Pune. The Khedkar family is stated to have purchased several acres of agricultural land in the village and the villagers own adjacent parcels of land. Even as the veracity of the clip is being tested, the Khedkar residence in Baner, a Pune suburb, was found locked and deserted. Similarly, the much-talked about Audi car was also missing from the house. This was the car Pooja had been using by installing a red beacon atop, against regulations. To top it all, it has transpired that Pooja had called up Panvel DCP Vivek Pansare, a few days ago, asking him to release a suspect who was in police custody under his jurisdiction. Pansare did not pay heed to the request but recalled it after reading about Pooja’s acts of omission and commission. He has filed a report to the authorities to put on record the incident. Since the PMO has appointed a one-man-committee to investigate how Pooja could get into the IAS, it is expected that some top officials of the UPSC also will face the music. Meanwhile, the Khedkar family’s antecedents are being unearthed.
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Photo : @GautamGambhir

High Expectations From Team India’s New Coach Gautam Gambhir

Finally, what was doing the rounds on the grapevine has been confirmed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that Gautam Gambhir will take over the mantle of Head Coach of the Indian cricket team from Rahul Dravid.  The BCCI has not mentioned the time span, but it is assumed that Gambhir will be around for a few years. The former India opener, dour but doughty, was part of the Indian team that won the 2007 Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa and the 2011 ICC World Cup in India. Gambhir’s priority will be to shape the national team for the ICC World Test championship title that eluded Virat Kohli, and Ravi Shastri and Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid. Apart from playing Bangladesh and New Zealand in a home Test series, India will face two formidable teams in Australia and England, involving five Tests each, both being away series. Thanks to the remarkable display by Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj, India was able to show its mettle in these countries in the recent past. Gambhir will start with a white ball series in Sri Lanka this month without some of the key players. What’s of much interest is whether the BCCI will change the full support staff; Gambhir would like to have men of his choice but the players may have a different take on the matter. Gambhir turned out to be a successful mentor for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Tata IPL 17, an outcome that hastened his appointment as Head Coach of the Indian team.
annamalai tncc chief

Has Any Congress State Chief Gone To Jail Under Goondas Act, Annamalai Asks

Tamil Nadu politics may not have seen such an intensely personal battle between the heads of two state parties since the days of Karunanidhi-Jayalalithaa. Even in those days it was a battle in which the personalities rarely cursed each other in public and were quite prepared to let the other be, however contemptuous they were of each other. The same rules of engagement do not apply to K Annamalai, head of the BJP in TN and Selvaperunthagai, TNCC chief.  They have been fighting tooth and nail in the media, freely cursing each other. Annamalai has taken it a step further by suing the TNCC head for libel. The verbal duel began when Annamalai said he was forced to refer to the TNCC chief as a “history sheeter” because of the challenges being thrown at him for inducting into BJP some persons with criminal antecedents. It appears that Selvaperunthagai was once detained under the Goondas Act and has several serious cases pending against him even as he jumped across five parties before hitting it big time with the Congress, which has some importance in TN thanks to its ally in the ruling party DMK. Does the Congress have a party chief in any state who has gone to jail charged with murder and jailed under Goondas Act, Annamalai asked. The duel has stirred media interest at a time when TN politics has had a dry run.
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West Bengal Congress Chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury To Be Replaced By Nepal Mahata?

In a significant political development, the Indian National Congress is poised to replace Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, president of the West Bengal Pradesh Congress following his defeat in the Lok Sabha polls. Despite being a trusted lieutenant of the Gandhi family, Chowdhury’s electoral defeat has intensified concerns about the party’s performance in West Bengal, even after forming an alliance with the CPI(M) in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections. Party insiders reveal that the Congress High Command has shortlisted four leaders to replace Chowdhury. They are: Nepal Mahata, Shankar Malakar, Subhankar Sarkar and Abdus Sattar, a former Left minister who joined the Congress a couple of years ago. Notably, Chowdhury himself is reportedly backing Nepal Mahata as his replacement. A crucial meeting with the Pradesh Congress to discuss the leadership change was scheduled but was postponed due to Congress scion Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Manipur. In addition to the four, the name of senior Congress leader Deepa Dasmunshi, widow of the late Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi, has also been doing the rounds. However, there is scepticism within the AICC regarding her candidacy due to her current role as the general secretary of AICC Telangana and Lakshadweep. Amidst the leadership transition, local Congress leaders have proposed creating two separate units for West Bengal, similar to the organizational structure in Maharashtra. This would mean establishing one unit for the state and another specifically for Kolkata.
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Kerala’s Vizhinjam Port All Set To Create A World Record On Turnaround Time

The much-awaited Vizhinjam International Seaport, India’s first deep-water container transhipment port began trial runs with Mothership- San Fernando, a Maersk line vessel berthing at the port with 1930 containers. Once fully operational, the turnaround time of the port is expected to be less than a day (0.9 day), which is better than the U.S. (1.5 days), UAE (1.1 days) and Singapore (1 day). One of the major attractions of the port is its proximity to international shipping routes and its deep draft. Global shipping majors prefer ports with an 18 metre or more draft. Vizhinjam has a 20 meters draft, while neighbouring ports like Cochin and Thoothukudi have insufficient draft of 14.5 m and 14.2 m respectively. The Vizhinjam Port, once fully operational, will be competing with some of the major ports in this region —  Colombo, Singapore, Port Klang and even Dubai. While the projected handling capacity of the Vizhinjam Seaport in the first phase would be One  million (TEUs) Twenty  foot  equivalent units, Singapore does 36.8 million (TEUs) and Colombo 6.85 million (TEUs) as per 2020 figures. Work on the Vizhinjam Port started in 2015 under a public-private development plan. For this purpose, the Kerala Government entered into a concession agreement with Adani Vizhinjam Port Pvt Ltd. Out of the total investment of Rs 8,867 crore, the Central Government has allocated Rs 5,595 crore and State Government Rs 818 crore. The port hopes to be fully operational by October 2024.
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BJP Keeps Its Poll Promises, Green Signals Opening Of Lord Jagannath Temple’s Treasury After 46 Years

After four decades, Ratna Bhandar, the fabulous treasury of Puri’s famed Sri Jagannath Temple will be opened. It was BJP’s poll promise. According to the rules and practices, gold, silver, jewels etc offered to Sri Jagannath Mahaprabhu are to be stored in this Ratna Bhandar. This fabulous Treasury of the Jagannath Temple has been enriched by the contribution and donations offered by the devotees from all over the world.  The decision to open the treasure trove has been taken by the 16-member Ratna Bhandar Committee headed by Justice Biswanath Rath. The previous Biju Janata Dal government headed by Naveen Patnaik has been dragging its feet to open Lord Jagannath’s treasure trove saying its original keys were lost. During the 2024 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections campaign, the BJP leaders including PM Narendra Modi had made Ratna Bhandar inventory and missing keys a major poll issue.  The Ratna Bhandar committee has prepared a draft SOP of how the inspection of the inventory will be conducted. A source from the committee said that “The audit process will be detailed and lengthy” since it was last audited in 1978 when Janata Party’s Nilamani Routroy was Odisha CM. The auditing of Ratna Bhandar will not clash with normal darshan of the devotees.  Experts have been roped in to classify the jewellery and give its valuation. And this report will be made public as per BJP’s poll promise.
pa ranjith MK stalin

BSP Leader’s Murder May See Tamil Films Accomplished Director PA Ranjit Entering Politics

Is the accomplished Tamil film director PA Ranjit who has given a string of hits like Attakathi, Sarpatta Parambarai,  Natchathiram Nagargiradhu to Kaala planning to enter politics? His every directorial and script ventures have brought the lives of the underprivileged and exploited to heights of cinematic brilliance. This young man is idolised by both the class and the mass for his sincere and creative genius. The just released trailer of Thangalan, a film on the Kolar gold mine and how the British exploited and whipped the tribal locals to mine the ore has already drawn a wave of admiration. Suddenly, Ranjit’s hero and ideological guru, Armstrong, the Tamil Nadu president of the Bahujan Samajwadi Party was brutally murdered. Ranjit mourned the killed leader as his own brother and silently took part in the 8 hour procession before Armstrong was interred. A potential violent aftermath was prevented, largely because the cadres went silent and peaceful. It was then that Ranjit took on the ruling DMK party and asked several insinuating questions. “Is this how Dalits are treated? Are they just vote banks? The DMK squirmed even as Mayawati took them on about the incident and the breakdown of law and order in TN. Suddenly a chorus of voices egged Ranjit to take the late Armstrong’s leadership post, it seemed that Ranjit too was veering towards this. Another chorus convinced him that cinema and politics may seem as the perfect alchemy but Ranjit had years to pass and miles to go before folding the director’s chair. For now, Ranjit is keenly awaiting the release of Thangalan. Will he strike gold?
mount road

Mount Road Transformation: Commercial Space Gives Way To Sprawling Residential Complex

Chennai is changing. More precisely, the heart of Chennai is undergoing a major metamorphosis. Yester-year iconic industrial and commercial properties are giving way to new skyscrapers, high-end luxury flats and shopping malls in the heart of Chennai.  What spurs the change? There are opportunities aplenty for redevelopment now. The increased FSI (floor space index), the Metro Rail projects, myriad road bridges connecting central business corridors across Chennai, the rising demand from HNIs (high network individuals) and NextGen family members of the business group have all combined to liven up the real estate scene in the heart of the city of Chennai. Some of the iconic properties in Chennai are going through a re-development process. Crowne Plaza in Adyar, TVS property on Mount Road, President Hotel on RK Salai and Shanthi Theatre on Mount Road, among others, are now undergoing a metamorphosis. The Brigade group has now announced the development of a new landmark – Brigade Icon – on Mount Road in Chennai. It is now developing the property it had acquired from one of the wings of erstwhile TVS group into a residential complex. In the evolving Chennai landscape, owners of old properties find it prudent to relocate their businesses to IT and newer corridors. Indeed, the change is happening at a faster pace in Chennai.
Supreme court Madhavan

Supreme Court Collegium Picks An OBC Judge From Tamil Nadu For Diversity In Bench

In an unprecedented move in picking judges for the top court, the Supreme Court Collegium headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud cited for the first time backwardness of the judge’s caste for his selection as a SC judge. In its resolution, the collegium cited that Justice R Mahadevan who “is presently the Acting Chief Justice of Madras High Court “was” eminently suitable for appointment as a Judge of the Supreme Court as he “belongs to a backward community from Tamil Nadu. His appointment will bring diversity to the Bench”.  The Collegium was aware that Justice R Mahadevan’s elevation would be upsetting the pecking order — that is because he ranks third in the order of presently serving judges of the Madras HC including the judges who have been posted as Chief Justices outside the Madras High Court. For the first time the collegium also recommended elevation of Justice Nongmeikapam Kotiswar Singh who originally hails from Manipur. He was appointed as a Judge of the Gauhati High Court on October 17, 2011. On the formation of the High Court of Manipur, he was transferred as a Judge of that High Court from the Gauhati High Court. On February 15, 2023, he was appointed as Chief Justice of the High Court for Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. He is due to retire on February 28, 2025. The Collegium described Justice Singh’s appointment to the SC bench “will provide representation to the North-East, and in particular he will be the first Judge from the State of Manipur to be appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court.”
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Ajit Pawar Appoints Campaign Specialist Naresh Arora, Reorients Strategy

Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar has appointed political campaign specialist Naresh Arora to plan the strategy of his Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) for the state assembly election, due later this year. The drubbing in the Lok Sabha election suffered by his party has forced Ajit to reorient his plans and strategy. As part of this, Arora has been drafted. He has an impressive list of some successful political campaigns. Arora’s induction and a 90-day plan suggested by him are the subject of curiosity now. In a significant step, Ajit and his close confidants, Praful Patel and Sunil Tatkare, visited the famous Siddhivinayak temple in central Mumbai along with several NCP legislators. The darshan visit has taken place on the eve of the election for 11 seats of the state legislative council. It will be a tough test for Ajit as well as Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray as cross voting will determine the outcome. Uddhav’s right hand Milind Narvekar’s entry into the ring has heightened suspense since he has been liaising with MLAs belonging to all parties to ensure a favourable result for him. As a precaution, Ajit has decided to lodge his party MLAs in a five-star hotel and the Congress party, too, has decided to adopt the same precaution to prevent any poaching of the votes. The election on 12 July will impact the scenario for the impending assembly polls.
tejas thackeray

Uddhav Thackeray’s Son Tejas Dancing At Ambani Bash Attracts Barbs

The upcoming wedding of Anant Mukesh Ambani with Radhika Merchant has started making waves by assuming a political hue. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Mumbai on 13 July to attend, among other engagements, the grand bash, top international figures in business, industry, finance and entertainment have begun arriving. The ceremony will be spread over three days from Friday, 12 July in Mumbai. Traffic restrictions are to be implemented in view of the VVIP movement. Politically, the first to attract the media attention is Tejas, Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray’s son. He is seen dancing along with many Bollywood celebrities to the tune of “Yeh Ladki Hai Allah” in one of the events. Expectedly, Tejas has invited barbs from the political opponents of his father and elder brother Aaditya. Shiv Sena (Shinde) leader Sheetal Mhatre has ridiculed him by remarking that “while father is Natsamrat (great actor), son is Nrutyasamrat (great dancer).” Mumbai BJP Ashish Shelar has lampooned the Thackeray scion by reminding him that Tejas has never danced at a Marathi celebration. Similar sharp derision is replete on social media. The point being made is that Uddhav and his followers publicly criticise the Ambani’s and their Gujarat link but surreptitiously keep close to them. Uddhav and wife Rashmi earlier had attended the ‘Mehndi’ function of Anant and Radhika. So far, there is no response from anyone concerned.
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PM Modi To Attend Ambani Wedding, Sonia & Rahul To Stay Away?

Even as Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani on July 4 met former Congress president Sonia Gandhi at her 10 Janpath residence and presented an invitation card of his son Anant Ambani’s wedding to Radhika Merchant, daughter of businessman Viren Merchant, it is being reliably learnt that the Gandhis — both Sonia and her son Lok Sabha LoP Rahul Gandhis may not be attending the wedding.  The wedding will take place at the Jio World Convention Centre in Mumbai on July 12. The three-day celebration will feature several rituals and celebrations including ‘Shubh Vivaah’ on July 12, followed by ‘Shubh Aashirwad’ on July 13 and concluding with ‘Mangal Utsav,’ (wedding reception) on July 14.  The Gandhis have reportedly conveyed their inability to attend the wedding to Mukesh Ambani who had spent nearly an hour at 10 Janpath.  The Gandhis seem to be staying away from the wedding because of Rahul Gandhi’s politics. He had attacked Ambanis and Adanis as recently as last week during his visit to Gujarat while addressing a Congress function. Rahul Gandhi is reportedly very particular that he does not wish to cramp his political style by attending an Ambani wedding. During  the Lok Sabha elections, PM Modi had wondered why Rahul Gandhi had stopped attacking Ambanis and Adanis as soon as the elections were declared; he had sought  to know if the Congress had gone silent after receiving funds from these corporate groups. Several senior ministers, including PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, are expected to attend the high-profile Ambani wedding. While Anant-Radhika’s first pre-wedding celebration was held in Gujarat’s Jamnagar, the second took place on a cruise in Europe in June.
air kerala

Air Kerala: A Dream Come True For Malayalees

Air Kerala, the long standing demand of Malayalees, is finally taking shape. The brainchild of two UAE entrepreneurs, Afi Ahmed and Ayub Kallada, Air Kerala will be the first regional airline originating from Cochin. The airline which is registered under the name, Zettfly Aviation, has received the NOC from India’s Civil Aviation Ministry to operate scheduled commuter air transport services for three years. With NOC in hand, the promoters will now have to obtain an Air Operator’s Certificate. The next step also involves zeroing on the right type of aircraft. Initially, Air Kerala plans to buy/lease ATR 72-600 model aircraft to connect tier-II and tier-III cities. The intention is finally to graduate to tier-I cities and expand to international routes. For this, the airline will have to expand operations over a period of three years with an expanded fleet including wide-bodied Jets. Air Kerala has been the dream-child of the Kerala Government since 2005, to operate a low cost air service offering economical fares to expats. Last year,  Afi Ahmed, one of the promoters who owns Smart Travels, bought the domain name airkerala.com for a whopping Dh 1 million. The promoters plan an initial investment of DH 1.1 billion. Zettfly Aviation’s board comprises Afi Ahmed, Ayub Kallada and Kanika Goyal all having expertise in the aviation field.
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Photo : @SrBachchan

At 81, Big B Proves He Is Bankable

Whoever watched Kalki 2898AD is all praise for Amitabh Bachchan …for his role as Ashwathama. And interestingly, the box office numbers prove that Big B is a big draw. Trade analyst Taran Adarsh tweeted that Kalki2898AD is the third Telugu film, dubbed in Hindi, after Baahubali2 and RRR to cross the Rs 200-crore mark in 10 days. Big B who has worked in over 248 films — 12 waiting to be released – hasn’t really got this kind of response to his films in recent times. In the last few years he acted in a number of multi-starrers like Unnchai, Goodbye, Runway 24 and Jhund but none of them impressed the audience save for Brahmastra. Bachchan, at 81, seems to be a big draw as he is constantly reinventing himself. At the peak of his career in the 70s, 80s, he with his angry young man image was a phenomenon; a one-man industry whose name drew the audience to theatres. Then on the advice of an investment banker he set up ABCL which drove him to bankruptcy. He got a lifeline from the late Subrata Roy of Sahara Group and a break in small screen to host Kaun Banega Crorepati?  On TV Salman Khan may be getting bigger money than Bachchan but the kind of respect Big B commands after hosting KBC is unbelievable and it continues for two decades now. According to an election affidavit, he and his wife Jaya Bachchan’s combined net worth is Rs 1,578 crore. Industry observer Girish Wankhede says, “Mr Bachchan rewrote the history with his performance and the enormous box office numbers consolidate his eternal domination. He has been the king of box office in the past and with Kalki 2898AD, he is again back with the bang.”  Big B has proved that age is just a number.
sanjay pandey

Ex-Mumbai Police Chief Sanjay Pandey Enters Political Arena, To Float His Own Party

Former DGP, Mumbai Police Commissioner, Sanjay Pandey will contest forthcoming Maharashtra state assembly elections of 2024. A source reveals Pandey’s plan to float his own party, field candidates for state assemblies, civic elections of Mumbai. This comes after failing to secure a ticket from Sharad Pawar’s NCP, Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena and Congress. It is pertinent to note that Pandey was arrested by Enforcement Directorate as well as CBI in relation to two cases over illegal phone tapping contracted to his privately founded forensics services firm by two erstwhile SEBI directors, who were arrested earlier. Pandey’s arrest followed his retirement as Mumbai Police Commissioner with then opposition leader, now BJP’s Deputy Chief Minister, Devendra Fadnavis demanding action against him raising speculation of political motivation. The CBI filed a closure report in its case while Pandey battles court to clear his name in the ED case. The no-nonsense cop was appointed to helm Maharashtra police by erstwhile CM Uddhav Thackeray who led the MVA government. The no-nonsense IPS officer may contest from either Lalbaug or Dadar in Mumbai. Pandey is credited for unearthing the multi-crore cobbler scam as DCP in Mumbai Crime Branch where unscrupulous corporates siphoned off crores in the name of your friendly neighbourhood, humble cobbler when he was posted in the economic offences wing. Pandey was subsequently kicked upstairs to less significant postings. In the last phase of his IPS career Pandey was brought to the fore by the MVA government that suffered a serious blow due to the abysmal performance by former police commissioner Paramveer Singh for acts of omission and commission following which the CBI registered cases against Singh also.
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Chennai Police Commissioner Pays Price For A Gangland Murder

The chief of the virtually non-existent BSP party in Tamil Nadu, Armstrong, was a Dalit leader with a following among his caste people. He may have paid the price for playing the good Samaritan in recovering some money from a gold loan Ponzi scam for his people. But those who ran the popular scheme before dropping out of circulation had hired goon Suresh to threaten people who came claiming refunds. And this is where Armstrong came into the picture as he ordered a hit on Suresh. The rest was pure gangland stuff as Suresh’s brother, thirsting for revenge, had Armstrong eliminated, symbolically, on his late brother’s birthday. The police had a whiff of the gangland undercurrents but not about who had taken the contract to dispose of Armstrong. While the cops are generally helpless when gangsters roam in the city with their ‘aruval’ (sickle) weapons hidden in their clothing, what the top men in their department did not do was to handle the spillover. Dalit protesters had a free run through central Chennai and ambulances trying to reach General Hospital were gridlocked and people travelling through Central station had a rough time. Armstrong paid with his life for daring to ask for refunds from gangsters and the top cop lost his post for not being better informed about the fallout. A government, already smarting from the hooch tragedy, had to be seen acting firmly and the top cop’s head rolled in the process.
chirag shetty

Will Maharashtra Govt Act On Chirag Shetty’s Plea?

Mumbai and Maharashtra’s Chirag Shetty may have stirred the hornet’s nest by telling the Government of Maharashtra to look at the achievements of sportspersons of the State in Olympic sport and reward them, just as they do for cricketers. He was only refreshing the people in authority that he, too, as a son of the soil, had helped India win the ultimate prize in badminton — the seven-plus decade-old Thomas Cup in 2022. A doubles specialist — his partner being Satwiksairaj Rankireddy from Telangana — Chirag had played his part in the historic win. The young shuttlecock player made a timely appeal soon after the Government of Maharashtra feted the Mumbai players and support staff of the Indian team that won the Twenty20 World Cup in Barbados on June 29 with a cash award of Rs 11 crore.  Former India player and coach Uday Pawar has hit the nail on its head, saying that a mechanism in place for winning World Cup level competitions would straightaway reward sportspersons and that achievers like Chirag can focus on their sport. Chirag, along with his partner, are among the top doubles pairs in the World, and the badminton community in India is fondly hoping for a medal from the doubles pair in the forthcoming Summer Olympics in Paris. On the count of sweat and toil, Chirag is no less than any other champion performer. Chirag doesn’t grudge the cricketers being applauded before the lawmakers in the Vidan Sabhan, and most importantly, he is only asking the likes of Eknath Shinde, Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar to pat achievers in other sports on their back and be generous on money matters.
Raayan

Popular Star Dhanush At The Launch Of His 50th Film Cries A River Of Regret And Angst

Tamil cinema’s popular star Dhanush unloaded a plethora of angst at the music launch of his 50th film, Raayan. But why? He has travelled from Kolly to Bolly to Hollywood in the span of 24 years, no mean feat for a guy who came from nowhere (literally), body shamed for his looks…thin, dark and  passable visage, a far cry from matinee idol. But this hugely talented star had immense confidence in his ability and quickly made his place in the clawing competitive space of Tamil cinema. His acting talent was evident. Talking about his rise, popularity, star saleability and versatility Dhanush recalled those days …when he lingered in Poes Garden hoping to catch a glimpse of his hero..,his future father-in-law  Rajinikanth. He idolised Superstar Rajini, craved and coveted his lavish house, its location; so too J Jayalalithaa’s iconic home and address. “I am going to get a home here in Poes Garden”, he vowed. And he did. He built his imposing home (Rs 100 plus crore) very near to the Superstar. While his professional life zoomed up as one of the most sought after cinematic talents …actor, director, script writer, singer, his personal life plunged into chaos.  He separated from his wife Aishwarya and two sons. Dhanush reminisced about all this even when he should have proudly launched his 50th film, talked about maestro AR Rahman, ensemble cast. When Dhanush opened up about his regret for building this opulent home in Poes Garden, the overwhelming sense of emotional pain spilt out as angst.
keshav_Abhishek

Exit Rao, Enter Singhvi

Finally, A Rajya Sabha Berth For Abhishek Singhvi From Telangana

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The Congress party which could not get senior lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi elected from Himachal Pradesh in February this year –he lost the Rajya Sabha election to BJP’s Harsh Mahajan — has been trying to find ways to send him to the upper house. It seems to have finally found a Rajya Sabha vacancy because of defections from BRS to the Congress. Eighty five year-old BRS MP K Keshav  Rao who had two more years in Rajya Sabha in this term, quit as MP, “consequent upon his joining the Congress .” Significantly, the Telangana Government promptly appointed Rao “advisor to the Government with status of Cabinet Minister” on July 6. Keshav Rao making way for Singhvi brings to closure all high drama and efforts to accommodate the learned counsel from AAP’s Delhi quota. Getting AAP MPs like Swati Maliwal or Sanjay Singh to relinquish their RS terms in favour of Singhvi had become too episodic. The Congress finally found a way out when BRS leaders in Telangana began to show interest in joining the party — 6 MLCs, 7 MLAs and one Rajya Sabha MP seemed eager to jump ship.  While chief minister Revanth Reddy saw the   defection of MLCs as an attempt to gain numbers in legislative council, many within his own party say he was executing a BJP plan to finish off the BRS. “Even the BRS guy who defeated me in the assembly election has now joined the Congress,” pointed out an AICC spokesperson, who had contested from Hyderabad.
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Mahayuti Vs MVA: Maharashtra Upper House Election To Be Gamechanger

The election for 11 seats of the Maharashtra legislative council will be a gamechanger since there are 12 candidates in the fray. In other words, there will be cross voting unless one of the candidates retires, though the possibility of this happening is remote. According to the present house statistics, the BJP being the largest party in the lower house will have no problem in getting its five candidates elected in the election to be held on July 12. Similarly, the NCP led by Ajit Pawar and the Shiv Sena under chief minister Eknath Shinde have fielded two candidates each. The vote quota for the winner being 23, both these factions will need to organise a little support from smaller parties and unattached independents. The real test will be faced by the Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray, who has fielded his close confidant Milind Narvekar in a surprise move. Given Narvekar’s excellent equation with all prominent leaders in Maharashtra, his win is considered certain. Sharad Pawar’s NCP has decided to support Peasants and Workers Party leader Jayant Patil while the Congress has decided to contest for just one seat. Thackeray was jolted two years ago when nine of his supporters had voted for his opposition candidates. Thus, cross voting will be inevitable, whatever the result. Political management skills of the ruling Mahayuti and the opposition-led Maha Vikas Aghadi will be tested once again soon.
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Pressure Mounting Against Ajit Pawar Within Mahayuti

Pressure is mounting against deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar within the ruling Mahayuti alliance in Maharashtra in view of the ensuing assembly election in the state. Ajit, too, is bracing to face the onslaught as he has been repeatedly proclaiming his allegiance to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. BJP has made it clear it will fight the assembly election together with Ajit. But, ever since the Lok Sabha election results are out, the disappointing performance by the NCP(A) and the heavy price paid by the BJP in several constituencies owing to its decision to take Ajit on board are the twin topics of discussion in political circles. Open opposition to continuance of the NCP(A) in the Mahayuti is being expressed by local leaders of the BJP. CM Eknath Shinde’s certain supporters, too, feel that taking along him will be burdensome for the Mahayuti. The latest flashpoint was Ajit’s decision to invite former minister Nawab Malik at his residence for a party meeting. The BJP is vehemently opposed to Malik’s association as he was detained by the ED in some sensitive matter. Another major factor is Ajit’s reported demand for 85 seats in the 288-member house. Expectedly, the BJP and Shinde’s Sena will vie to become the first and second largest partners in the saffron alliance. According to this arithmetic, the NCP(A) will have to satisfy itself by accepting the third place. Ajit will have to play his cards by keeping this likelihood in sight.
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Eknath Shinde Proves He Is No Pushover, Emerges Stronger In The Run-Up To Polls

Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde is emerging as an independent leader which even the might of the BJP has acceded to. Soon after Shinde assumed power two years back on June 30, 2022, it was largely believed that the Shinde’s faction of the Shiv Sena would eventually be made to merge with the BJP and the name and symbol would be wiped out. However, far from being wiped out, Shinde has kept the Sena flag so strong that the BJP has officially announced that Shinde would be leading the BJP-led Mahayuti alliance into the polls. Meanwhile, both his deputies — Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar — are busy struggling to retain their base within their own parties as they face power struggles from within. Fadnavis’ stature has witnessed sharp climb down post-Lok Sabha debacle while Ajit Pawar support base is being debilitated by an astute Sharad Pawar. The Manoj Jarange Patil-led Maratha agitation has further consolidated his position; any attempt to dislodge this Maratha CM would not be acceptable to the Maratha community. The BJP which suffered strong backlash from the Maratha community in the Lok Sabha poll would not want to antagonise Marathas at this stage. Shinde is also working on crafting his own individual brand. His strategy of tagging chief minister to the monthly stipend for women scheme — Mukhyamantri Majhi Ladki Bahin Yojana — has resonated well with rural women who are flocking to government offices in large numbers. He also got the winning Indian Cricket team to visit the Maharashtra assembly, the posters for which bore the CM’s face along with his two deputies, rather than the faces of the popular cricketers.
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Absentee Bengal Governor Bose Disappoints Local BJP

West Bengal BJP has begun to feel the burden of having a former bureaucrat CV Ananda Bose in Raj Bhavan. He poses no problem for the TMC regime but remains out of bounds for them. Bengal BJP leaders find that they are never able to access him. Half the time, much harassed Bose is always catching a flight to Delhi to fill the ears of central leadership. They feel Kolkata Raj Bhavan should have a politically savvy governor like Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan or Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi who keeps local governments on toes.  Party sources feel with assembly elections in 2026, there must be an effective, political governor who will be able to keep chief minister Mamata Banerjee on her toes. Instead, they find Governor Bose is embroiled and immersed in fighting his own personal battles.  Two years after he took charge as governor, Mamata pinned him down with one of the Raj Bhavan staff alleging inappropriate conduct in May 2024. The TMC supremo who is buffeted by corruption allegations and scams, tried using allegations made by a contractual woman employee of Raj Bhavan to put the Governor on the defensive. Didi made it such a political issue  that even her two MLAs — Rayat Hossain Sarkar and Sayantika Banerjee — elected in the bypolls recently, refused to go to the Raj Bhavan to be sworn-in. They were sworn in by the Speaker at a special session of the Assembly on July 5. Bose has filed a defamation suit against Mamata after she remarked that “women are afraid to visit Raj Bhavan due to recent incidents”. Meanwhile, hunt is on for new Bengal BJP chief as Dr Sukanta Majumdar is a Union Minister now.
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Chinese Technician's Visa Issue Hurts Kothari Group's Footwear Project

In a country of over a hundred crore people, job creation must be the principal objective. Viewed from that perspective, the Make In India campaign of Prime Minister Narendra Modi must be welcomed whole-heartedly. Generating a slogan is a lot easier. Making it a reality, however, is a tough proposition. There are so many hurdles in the way for making the Make In India pitch a reality. It can become so only if all arms of the government – both at the Centre and at state level – work in complete coordination with each other. This ambitious non-leather footwear project in Perambalur district of Tamil Nadu promoted by the Kothari group is facing a peculiar problem. The technology partners — those setting up units in the non-leather footwear park — are unable to get fly in technical experts from China to India. Their presence is critical to get these units off the block quickly. Notwithstanding recommendations from assorted agencies, the authorities concerned are yet to clear Chinese technicians’ visas. Issues of minor nature like this can jeopardise the Make In India focus. Border skirmishes notwithstanding, bilateral trade between India and China in FY23 stood at $ 113.83 billion. As of 2022-23, China was India’s third-largest trading partner.  Well, New Delhi must find ways to remove the glitches coming in the way of the Make In India campaign.
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Time For Mumbai Cricket Association To Look Within, And Not Get Browbeaten!

Members of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) are peeved by the gall shown by their own ilk to prop up individuals — for the post of President — who have no connection with the rich tapestry of Mumbai cricket. Political class thrust upon the association as President is nothing new, a handful of them — Sheshrao Wankhede was one — have done good things for the association. That the association has been helmed by politicians for a long period of time is an indictment of the general profile of the association that seems to lack dynamism to lead and rise above the partisan. The time is upon the MCA to choose someone from within as President to fill the vacancy caused by the untimely demise of Amol Kale. It is virtually impossible in the prevailing circumstances to keep the vested interests with political heft at bay, especially with the BCCI disbursing around Rs 100 crore from the previous fiscal. Members of the MCA should be proud that they belong to an institution that has won the national title — the Ranji Trophy — 42 times and delivered world class cricketers to the national team. So a correction course taken at the next election of the President a couple of weeks from now will go a long way in setting the house in order, by giving strength to people who have worked for the association, know the ropes and not allow strangers to usurp positions. Their motto should be to put such undeserving and power-seeking people in their place. The time is upon the 300 plus members and cricketers with a right to vote, to demonstrate common sense and a good deal of guts!
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Unusual Move: Election Setback Sees CPI (M) Seek Feedback From The Public

In a bid to revitalize its political strategy following recent electoral setbacks, the Bengal CPI(M), has broadened its outreach to include public opinion outside traditional party lines. The Left party recently made a public appeal to share their perspectives via email, an initiative that quickly garnered significant attention. Although the specific contents of these messages remain confidential, sources within the district CPI(M) have revealed that the feedback highlights several critical issues such as concerns about organizational weaknesses, structural problems, leadership fragmentation, and inefficiencies in booth-level operations. Additionally, there is growing discontent regarding disconnect between the youthful representation at the state level and its effectiveness in grassroots activities. This outreach initiative underscores the party’s commitment to introspection and its efforts to address internal challenges by engaging directly with the public. Despite reserved positions for an age group of under-31 members in Area Committees aimed at youth inclusion, numerous committees across the state have struggled to fill vacancies even after three years, prompting widespread lower-level discontent. A CPI(M) member expressed concern that while the party organizes social media campaigns at the state-level, there is a disconnect at the booth level. A senior CPI(M) district leader questioned why state-level leaders are not more active at the grassroots, lacking awareness of local constituents, despite booth-level workers engaging with senior leaders on social platforms. Furthermore, allegations have surfaced alleging ‘understanding’ between local leadership and the Trinamool in various areas, reaching the attention of Alimuddin Street, the headquarters of the Left. Senior state leaders have acknowledged in internal discussions that they lack awareness of the true organizational dynamics at the booth level.
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@trishtrashers

The Trisha Factor In Thalapathy Vijay’s Bursting Political And Filmi Agenda

Trisha Krishnan and Thalapathy Vijay were the best-selling Tamil cinema on-screen pair in the mid-2000s. Their first film, Ghilli, Rs 50 crore hit, still draws repeat audiences for bubbly entertainment and a fast moving story. Four back to back films including Kuruvi naturally lead to cotton candy talk of the two getting serious. The pairing stopped. Only when Lokesh Kanakaraj announced Leo, Trisha came back to the Vijay pairing after a gap of 15 years. Lokesh, Vijay and Trisha alchemy is expected to sizzle at the boxoffice. Parallel to cinema happenings, Vijay is super busy and super present in the news for the launch of his party Tamizhaga Vettri Kazhagam.  Social media is full of news about his “powerful and planned “thrust into politics, with all kinds of imaginary status about his marital life, parental non proximity, even his son rising as a challenge. What about his love life? Ah, this is where it becomes hot and humid. The infamous Suchitra leaks hit Vijay and Trisha with hot Saravana Bhavan rasam like spice. For those who are not in the know, Suchitra, a former singer and now suffering from delusional disorders puts out the most atrocious claims on the life, liaisons and love of filmi denizens. A birthday wish picture on Vijay’s 50th on Trisha’s Insta set the cats screeching. Suchitra wrote: “Trisha is a parasite. She is preying on Vijay’s loneliness in the absence of Sangeeta, pushing her way closer to fulfil her own political ambitions through Vijay. I am warning Vijay”.
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NEET Way: DMK Leader Bharati’s Dogged Pursuit Against Upper Cast

DMK leader RS Bharati known for his acerbic wit, often packaged as motivational twits was presiding over the July 3 shrill decibel DMK student wing protest against NEET, when his usual foot-in-the-mouth talent surfaced, socking and shocking the audience and media. “Even a dog gets a BA degree now,” lambasted lawyer Bharati. “We are not doctors or lawyers because of our privileged caste status, or Sanathanam or Gothram. We owe our education and status to the Dravidian alms (pichai).” Even as BJP’s TN chief K Annamalai raised a volley of protests against Bharati’s dog label insult, the damage control machinery of the DMK moved fast to assuage feelings. As Bharati deftly took his foot out, he spewed another bout of venom on the educated particularly the Brahmins whose sole aim in life was to exploit the lower castes, deny them entry to development. NEET was one of the most unshakable barriers. Bharati’s message on X put all in perspective. “A particular high bred caste prevented people like us, the downtrodden, from getting educated, even access to education. So what heights we have achieved is clearly the largesse of the Dravidian ideology.”
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PM Modi Sets Up 8 Cabinet Committees, FM Nirmala Sitharaman Figures In 7

In an interesting move that came around the same time as the inaugural Parliament Session concluded, PM Narendra Modi constituted 8 Cabinet Committees in which the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman  was included in as many as seven of the eight cabinet Committees. While, PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah constituted the Appointments Committee, the FM was included in as many as seven. These include: Cabinet Committee(CC) on Accommodation, CC on Economic Affairs (CCEA), CC on Parliamentary Affairs, CC on Security and CC on Skill Development, Employment and Livelihood. External Affairs Minister  Dr S Jaishankar figured in CC on Economic Affairs and CC on Security.  Significantly several NDA leaders such as JD (U) leader HD Kumaraswamy figured in CCEA. So did BJP’s ally from Bihar Lallan Singh. TDP leader & Civil Aviation Minister Kinjarapu Naidu was in CC on Parliamentary Affairs. CC on Political Affairs again had Naidu from TDP and Jitan Ram Manjhi from Bihar. Chirag Paswan was accommodated in the panel on investment and growth. In the CC on skill development INLD leader Jayant Chaudhry was included.
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Photo : BCCI

Message From The BCCI: Win ICC Titles And Take The Big Money!

The BCCI’s announcement of a cash prize of Rs. 125 crore to the Indian team — the support staff included, and the national selection committee members too – for winning the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Barbados has not surprised anyone. Thirteen years ago, the World Cup-winning Indian team was given Rs 30 crore, with each of the 15 players getting Rs 2 crore after a request was made by a player to increase the sum from Rs 1 crore to Rs 2 crore because 30% plus will go towards income tax. After 11 years, each playing member could get Rs 5 crore or a little more for winning an ICC title. Last November, the Indian team was trounced by Australia in the World Cup (50 overs) final in Ahmedabad, but Rohit Sharma, who had a significant say in team selection, especially on the matter of taking four spinners (Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal), showed the way with his leadership and with the bat — going hell for leather at all times. The BCCI Secretary Jay Shah did not waste time declaring the cash award, but there was a clear message: Win the big prize, the ICC signature events and reap the rewards.  It was a fabulous achievement for the Sharma-led Indian team. But it must be said that a bit of providence – in naming Sharma as the captain after Hardik Pandya was laid low by a lower limb injury in the World Cup match against Bangladesh in Pune – allowed India to field an experienced team for the competition held in the USA and Caribbean.
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First Time: LoP In Maharashtra Legislative Council Suspended For Using Unparliamentary Language

Maharashtra legislative council’s leader of the opposition (LoP) Ambadas Danve’s five-day suspension from the house is unprecedented in the state’s history. The fact that Danve used swear words denigrating womanhood while challenging a BJP member on the floor of the house has proved more shocking. Realising the gravity of his offence, Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray has apologised, though conditionally. Danve was engaged in a verbal battle with BJP’s Prasad Lad when the reprehensible language was used by him. When a resolution to suspend Danve for five days came up, the opposition demanded discussion on the motion. However, quoting precedents, deputy chairperson Neelam Gorhe declined it. Uddhav later regretted the utterances of his party leader. However, Danve was unrepentant. He used threatening language against Lad once more. Moreover, he said that the BJP had no right to teach him democratic norms as it had suspended 150 members from the Lok Sabha. The conflict began when Lad made some statement pointing a finger at Danve, who vehemently objected and at one point was seen advancing menacingly towards Lad. The swear words used during this exchange stunned both sides of the house. The unsavoury incident is bound to impact electioneering for the assembly as the level to which elected representatives can stoop will create an impression among the rank and file about to take any liberties they wish.
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Milind Narvekar Enters Legislative Council Election Arena, Adds To Thrill

The election to 11 legislative council seats in Maharashtra later this month will be fraught with suspense with the entry of Uddhav Thackeray’s Man Friday Milind Narvekar as a candidate. Known to be close to every influential leader in the state, despite party affiliations, Narvekar has always remained in the news for a variety of reasons. Uddhav’s decision to field him has added to the electoral thrill as the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) has the adequate number to bag two seats, while Milind will have to toil to win the third seat, in case the election does not happen unopposed. According to the current party strength in the legislative assembly, a winner will have to garner 23 votes. Given the statistics, the ruling Mahayuti can win nine seats and the MVA two. However, as Milind has entered the fray, the possibility of cross voting is appearing distinct since voting for the election is through a secret ballot. Previously, large scale cross voting has taken place in Maharashtra. Since the splits in the Shiv Sena and the Nationalist Congress party (NCP) are not too distant in the past, the recurrence of changing loyalties can hit either side. Knowing this, back office efforts to make the election unopposed are underway. Narvekar has started calling on his buddies, who were earlier with his party but have parted ways recently to make it happen.
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Satrajit Bhattacharya To Acquire A Mumbai-Based Housing Finance Company?

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The deal street is abuzz with the news that the former HDFC executive Satrajit Bhattacharya is close to acquiring a Mumbai-based mid-sized housing finance company. People in the know of the deal, say it is perhaps one of the biggest acquisition deals by a start-up in recent times.  Bhattacharya is expected to make a public announcement soon of his acquisition as well as the launch of Weaver Services. Ever since the 54-year old Satrajit quit his high profile job from HDFC, the country’s premier housing finance company, he has been on the radar of I-bankers and Executive Search firms with a job offer. But he was keen to become an employer not an employee. As soon the cooling period was over Satrajit made his entrepreneurial plans of getting into affordable housing finance space public. Being an M & A specialist, his strategy to hit the ground running by acquiring a housing finance company seems to have attracted well known PE players. It is learnt that they are willing to bankroll him for more acquisitions. Satrajit’s entry into the housing finance space seems well-timed given the fact that the government is keen to address the massive housing shortage in India –estimated at around 10 crore units — with the bulk of the shortage being in the lower income segments.
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Who Will Head BJP TN Unit With Annamalai Going To UK For 3-Month Study?

The latest news that Tamil Nadu’s BJP chief K Annamalai has been chosen to study International Politics at the Oxford University for three months is making waves both in the Tamil Nadu BJP and the DMK circles. Many are reading between the lines of his study assignment as he goes in September and will be back only in the New Year. Reportedly, many within the BJP are eyeing his seat albeit even if it’s a short reign. Ah, the Teacher’s pet is going away, with any number of carpetbaggers of the club sashaying in to lead the charge of the fight brigade. Annamalai is truly maha kicked by such an honour to be one among 12 international people to be invited by Chevening Gurukul Fellowship for Leadership and Excellence programme. He is also going away as the big bang state Assembly election will be in 2026. Now with the BJP tasting blood in the Lok Sabha polls, and TN promises to be the coveted catch if it happens in 2026 – a BJP win will reset Dravidian politics. For the two well entrenched Dravidian parties fending off the major offensive led by Annamalai will be the real challenge.
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Modi Surprises Officials By De-Emphasising On PMO, Asks MoS/Secys To Ideate

At least in two recent meetings, PM Narendra Modi has apparently indicated to both ministers and secretaries that they must not constantly look to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for administrative initiatives or governance ideas.  First, at a meeting with Ministers of State, he had suggested that they must come up with their own ideas of governance. And not wait for signals from the PMO. He had given similar advice during his interactive session with secretaries of the Government of India. In short, Modi has begun to de-emphasise the PMO and wants more ideas from all levels to give inputs for governance. The lack of top down control over the administration from the PMO seemed like a fresh idea. It also seemed to coincide with his idea to rebrand his PMO as “people’s PMO” at the beginning of his new term. Official sources feel Modi’s call for more ideas from all levels of governance in the third term instead of just the PMO marks a big shift in governance emphasis.  It may be also recalled that in his first interaction with officials of the PMO, Modi had not only lauded staff for their work in the past, he had also explained the concept of “people’s PMO” to the staff. Modi said that the government means new energy of strength, dedication and resolve and expressed confidence that the PMO is primed to serve the people with dedication. He highlighted that it is not Modi alone who runs the government but thousands of minds that come together and shoulder the responsibilities.
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Does Vashu Bhagnani’s Financial Crisis Epitomise Bollywood Producers’ Plight?

Bollywood’s successful producer Vashu Bhagnani is cash-strapped and has put one of his properties on the block. Reportedly, he has not paid Rs 65 lakhs to his crew who worked in three of his films. Besides has also not paid the stars like Akshay Kumar who has agreed to wait. Incidentally, most of his films in recent times starring Akshay Kumar and Tiger Shroff have bombed at the box office. In the case of Akshay, all his four films with Vashu have done badly. Industry insiders say a film bombs because of poor script or high cost of stars or lavish production cost. It is an open secret that some of the popular stars take about 40% of the cost of production of the film.  Vashu Bhagnani who entered Bollywood in 1995 has given a series of superhits, so it’s surprising he landed in a financial mess. He invested about Rs 1,000 crore in Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan Mission Raniganj, Ganpath and Cutputli. But earnings have been very poor. Also, signing big stars does not guarantee box office success. In the past Raj Kapoor landed in financial trouble after Mera Naam Joker flopped; Prakash Mehra after Bal Brahmachari and Zindagi Ek Jua and Manmohan Desai after Anmol and Toofan. But, these producers failed not because of the high cost of stars but because the audience did not like their stories. In the case of Bhagnani’s high cost of stars is also one of the reasons. There is surround sound that actors should cut their price. Will they?
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Ajit Pawar Faces The Biggest Test Of His Political Career

The leadership of Ajit Pawar faces its most critical litmus test as he gears up to lead his faction of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to fight not just his uncle Sharad Pawar but some disgruntled leaders within his own party, besides, facing hostile vibes from his alliance partners — BJP and Shiv Sena (Eknath Shinde). This attack from multiple fronts is on account of the poor show of his party in the Lok Sabha polls; it bagged just one of the four seats. Even RSS openly expressed its displeasure of BJP entering into an alliance with Ajit Pawar in view of his blemished track record. Luckily, he has got a big relief; BJP has sent out a message that it will fight the forthcoming Assembly polls together. The other problem he is facing is poaching. Srom some of his own ex-party colleagues now in Sharad Pawar’s camp are trying to woo leaders from his camp. There have been constant claims in the media about how 10-12 of his legislators are in touch with the Sharad Pawar’s faction and may cross over. Some of the senior leaders within his own party are not particularly happy about his unilateral decision to nominate his wife Sunetra Pawar who lost the Lok Sabha battle to Supriya Sule, to Rajya Sabha. It is learnt that strong leaders like Chhagan Bhujbal have already begun strengthening his Samata Parishad platform, through which he has been very vocal in supporting the OBC agitation. Whether Ajit Pawar is able to retain his flock, put up a strong fight and bounce back, now remains to be seen.
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Poll Vault: MLAs In Maharashtra Keenly Await Budgetary Allocations Before They Change Parties

The last budgetary allocations before the October assembly polls in Maharashtra hold much political significance. Legislators across the political spectrum are eagerly waiting for fund allocations before deciding their next political move –which party to crossover. Currently, budgetary allocation is the only thing holding MLA’s from jumping on to other parties for tickets or even to contest as independents to protect their careers from coalition compulsions. It’s an open secret that budgetary allocations for works in constituencies are crucial for legislators not just as brownie points for seeking votes for elections but also serves as indirect funding for their elections through kickbacks from contractors. Ajit Pawar, who continues to retain the finance ministry despite change of governments in Maharashtra and has recently presented his 10th budget, is known to be partial towards providing allocations for his supporters. He has earlier been accused of walking away with fund allocations for his legislators even as overlooking those for the others. His nephew and most vocal critic Rohit Pawar has already accused the Mahayuti government of bringing out tenders with lax conditions to suit their favourite contractors with an eye on funding elections. The state, whose debt has already mounted to Rs 7.8 lakh crore, is planning to table supplementary demands worth over Rs 1 lakh crore for various works.
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LoP Rahul Gandhi’s Self Goal In Lok Sabha; Modi, Ministers Take Him On For Attacking Hindus

In his maiden speech in the Lok Sabha, Leader of Opposition Rahul Gandhi on July 1 triggered an uproar in the House with his remark targeting the BJP, saying those who call themselves Hindus “only talk about violence, hatred and lies. Those who claim to be Hindu only talk about violence, hatred, and untruth… You are not a Hindu.” His sweeping remarks against Hindus earned quick response from PM Modi, interrupting Rahul’s speech. Modi, who extended the courtesy of listening to LoP’s speech and sat through his nearly 2-hour speech in the House, objected to him painting the entire Hindu community as “violent” as a serious matter. After the exchange, Union home minister Amit Shah demanded an apology from Rahul Gandhi. It was interesting to see that the LoP’s remarks were promptly countered by top ministers from the Modi Government — like Rs 1 crore that is paid to Agniveer martyrs by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh while Rahul’s remarks about MSP for farmers were dealt with by Agriculture Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan. In a tweet, UP chief minister Yogi too sought apology from Rahul for his remarks against Hindus.  Meanwhile as Rahul’s speech went awry the one person who rushed to his defence was his sister Priyanka. She insisted that her brother only spoke against the BJP and would never speak against the Hindus. Rahul who kept personally attacking the PM for always being serious, even mockingly said the PM had said (Mahatma) Gandhi was revived by a movie. In his speech, Rahul talked about his 55-hour interrogation by the ED and how leaders “are” still kept in jail on the order of the PM.
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All Eyes On Odisha's New Chief Secretary Manoj Ahuja

In the earlier regime, the mindless interference by Naveen Patnaik’s private secretary VK Pandian upset not only the bureaucrats but even politicians across the party lines. Putting an end to that unilateral style of management the new BJP government in Odisha headed by Mohan Charan Majhi is ensuring a high degree of professionalism. For starters it has started making changes at the top by appointing Manoj Ahuja, a 1990 batch Odisha cadre IAS officer, as the Chief Secretary. Sources say that Ahuja has been selected because leadership at the highest level have reposed faith in him for his administrative acumen and rich experience across the departments. He was the former Secretary of the Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Secretary of Steel & Mines, Food, Supplies & Consumer Welfare and Commissioner of Commercial taxes. All these experiences will help him to fast track numerous administrative issues, and ensure that the common man can feel the difference. It may be recalled that the PM in his election campaign has promised to make Odisha No 1 state and Ahuja needs to ensure the entire bureaucracy is in sync to work towards that goal. Now, with absolute majority, BJP cannot pin blame on BJD.  Ahuja will retire on December 31, 2024 and there are strong indications that he, like the former two secretaries, will get an extension.  
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Rahul Gandhi Happy To Be LoP In The Lok Sabha, Govt Allots Him Huge Office

For all the confrontation between the Congress and the Government over NEET and resolution over Emergency in the opening session of the 18th Parliament, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is apparently quite happy with the large office that has been allotted in the Parliament House to him in keeping with his new status as Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha. Entitled to maintain a small core team, Rahul is keen to maintain a social media team drawn mainly from the AICC. For the initial day-to-day work, Rahul has made it known that he wants to share the experienced team assisting Mallikarjun Kharge, the Rajya Sabha LoP. Such as Kharge’s secretary Ravindra Garimella. Party sources said Rahul has already indicated that he may not be interested in routine meetings like business advisory committee meetings that fix the agenda  for Lok Sabha sittings and may be only too happy to delegate it to senior colleagues like KC Venugopal or Gaurav Gogoi. He was apparently making inquiries about panels where PM Modi would be present. As such, it is not that PM Modi will be present in any of the parliamentary panels. But then as Lok Sabha LoP, Rahul would also get to preside over the Public Accounts Committee– a panel that reviews functionings of the PSUs. The PAC is a prized panel where PSU chiefs would be keen to please the PAC chief. For his new role as LoP, Rahul was initially seen wearing a kurta that most netas tend to wear. However by Friday a clean shaven Rahul  decided to shed the old world image and  was back to  sporting his favourite gear– white T-shirt and jeans —  something he was identified with during his Bharat Jodo Yatra days.
damani NSrinivasan Birla

India Cements: A Win-Win Deal For Srinivasan, Birlas And Damani

He knows inside out of cement. He breathes cement, and is passionate about his organisation. He is also acutely aware of the fast-changing dynamics in the cement industry. All along, he has run the cement business in a co-existing system. Initially, he worked with the Chemplast group as a co-promoter. Subsequently, he carried on with the Radhakishan Damani of DMart fame as passive investors. With the Damanis selling their stake to Aditya Birla Group company UltraTech Cement, N Srinivasan has to co-exist with the Birlas now. Is there a definite method to the latest twist? The way things are panning out, it appears a win-win for all the three players. Damani has cashed out happily. Birlas have gained more than a toe-hold into The India Cements, which has a legacy going back to pre-Independence days. Birlas have, for now at least, chosen to stop at the level of financial investor. Given the tall stature of Srinivasan and also considering his age, Birlas have taken a wise course. For Srinivasan, the situation is not new and yet new in a way. This time, he has to co-exist with a financial investor who is also a cement maker.  For stakeholders across the canvas, this could be a welcome development. After all, Birlas have a rich background in terms of culture and values. That bodes well for India Cements. What lends credence to the emerging new setting was the unreported informal confabulations at India Cements a few days prior to the sale of stake by Damani in the open market to UltraTech people. The current arrangement seems perfect given the fact that both Srinivasan’s daughter and granddaughter are passionate about driving the cricket franchise Chennai Super Kings. Interestingly, for Birlas there is a Tamil Nadu connection, Kumar Mangalam Birla’s mother Rajashree was born in Madurai. She went to St Joseph’s Convent School and Fatima College. After her marriage to Aditya Birla she moved to Kolkata.
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Photo : BCCI

Why Axar Patel Was Selected

Why two left-arm spinners? Why not a right-hand off-spinner… was the question raised by the cricket fan and even some experts when the team was announced. The team’s think tank had convinced the national selection committee that though Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel are like spinners, the wiry Patel was sort of a most valuable player with splendid skills in bowling, batting and fielding and that he had to be on board. Patel was India’s best left-arm spinner in the two years, starting from 2022, and no way was he not going to be travelling to the USA and West Indies for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. Arshdeep Singh, Jasprit Bumrah and Kuldeep Yadav may have bagged plenty of wickets, but Patel has quietly chipped in with eight scalps at 15.50 and with a strike rate of a wicket for every two point some overs. He has played the supporting cast role exceptionally well; it was his three strikes against England that, in a way, paved the way for India to call the shots after posting 171 on the board in the semi-final. The Nadiad-born Patel converted a miraculous catch of Australian captain Mitchell Marsh: his spectacular effort in the deep just about demonstrated his commitment to the game. An injury suffered during the Asia Cup last September kept him out of the World Cup in India. The decision-makers kept faith in him, and the results are there. Patel has been the cynosure of all eyes in the Twenty20 tournament. He has sent down 108 balls for eight wickets as against Jadeja’s 78 balls for one wicket.
Mahayuti conference

With Eye On Assembly Elections, Maharashtra Budget Showers Sops

Maharashtra’s three-party alliance government’s last budget has instigated a war of attrition. As anticipated, the budget has showered a bevy of announcements with an intent to please as many sections of society as possible in view of the coming assembly election. Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, after presenting the budget, expressed confidence that it will dispense justice to all. Similarly, opposition leaders including Uddhav Thackeray have attacked the budget, saying that it lacks imagination and initiative to develop the state. The state is under a debt burden of over Rs 7 lakh crore though its ratio with vis a vis state GDP is within norms. The proposed measures in this budget are bound to add to the indebtedness as over Rs 50,000 crore will have to be shelled out during the year towards the interest payment. At the top of Pawar’s basket is the “CM’s Mukhyamantri Majhi Ladki Bahin Scheme (My Dear Sister Scheme)” under which all women between 21 and 60 years of age will receive Rs 1500 every month. It is a replica of a similar scheme under implementation in Madhya Pradesh. Farmers, too, are wooed by promising them to write off all their dues towards the power consumption for their agricultural pumps.  Girls desirous of taking professional courses and falling in specified economic categories will not have to pay any tuition or examination fees. Pawar, while presenting the interim budget for 2024-25, has promised three cooking gas cylinders free of charge to eligible families annually. The resultant additional burden is being calculated by the opposition to sharpen its attack during the current session.
Mamata _Campaign

Mamata Banerjee Warns TMC Ministers And Party Leaders to Shape Up

In a recent state cabinet meeting, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has expressed her frustration with several ministers and leaders over allegations of corruption and non-performance. Giving stern warning to her cabinet, she has made it clear that she will not tolerate any lapses in governance, particularly in addressing civic issues and ensuring the general functioning of the government. It is speculated that her dissatisfaction with her ministers stems from a deeper analysis of the Lok Sabha election results. Despite the TMC securing a decisive victory by winning 29 out of Bengal’s 42 Lok Sabha seats, a closer examination reveals underlying vulnerabilities in the party’s standing. While the TMC won both parliamentary seats in Kolkata, the party’s performance in the city’s municipal wards indicated a less dominant position. The TMC led in 93 wards under the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, but the BJP’s significant presence, leading in 48 wards, highlighted growing opposition strength in urban areas. The BJP’s lead extended beyond Kolkata, with notable inroads in several civic bodies across the state. Didi’s displeasure is rooted in reports of corruption, inefficiency, and lack of responsiveness by local leaders. Such issues have eroded public trust and provided the BJP with an opportunity to gain ground. The CM’s stern reaction towards her ministers appears to be linked to her nephew, Abhishek Banerjee’s, critical assessment of the government’s performance. As the party’s national general secretary, Abhishek has been vocal about issues like corruption and inefficiency within the administration.
MVA mahayuti

In Maharashtra, Both Mahayuti And MVA Face Similar Predicament

The opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi in Maharashtra is finding itself in a similar situation, faced by the ruling Mahayuti alliance. Both sides are engaged in concealing the fissures within. Leaders from both camps keep claiming that several MLAs from the opposite side are on their way to their fold. The simmering unrest came to the fore when Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Sanjay Raut set off a fierce debate in the MVA by obliquely suggesting that Uddhav Thackeray should be the CM face of the Aghadi for the coming assembly election. State Congress president Nana Patole has discounted the demand by merely remarking that his party has decided not to comment on any of Raut’s statements. Incidentally, the Congress has won the largest number of LS seats in the state. Jayant Patil, leader of the third partner, the NCP (Sharad Pawar), says that the priority for now is to concentrate on winning the election unitedly. Conversely, the Mahayuti is in the same boat. Though ruling, its three partners are not on the same page over several issues. Already, sections of the BJP and Sena (Shinde) have started blaming the NCP faction led by deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar for the Mahayuti’s Lok Sabha debacle. Some local units have gone to the extent of demanding removal of the NCP(A) from the Yuti. Countering statements against each other are becoming common for the Mahayuti, posing a challenge for the leadership.   
devendra fadnavis_004

Are People Close To Fadnavis Belying His Trust?

Maharashtra’s BJP deputy chief minister, Devendra Fadnavis offered to resign over the 2024 Maha Lok Sabha debacle the party suffered but the high command rejected it. Then the social media faux pas happened, when BJP’s Maharashtra IT cell head Shweta Shalini sued well known Marathi journalist Bhau Torsekar who in his Youtube show Pratipaksha equated Shweta with south Indian actor and party counterpart ‘Ramya’ who cost the party badly down south India some years ago. Fadnavis’ outreach to Bhau met with the latter’s follow-up parody episode further impacting the deputy CM’s public persona. Consequent social media outburst from party insiders exposed all the Fadnavis men for mismanagement of Rs 550 crore party funds during Lok Sabha polls in Maharashtra. Sources say, one close confidant of Fadnavis is accused of usurping Rs 25 crore to purchase a high-end apartment in tony Malabar Hill, and also renting a plush office in Mumbai at Rs 10 lakh a month. Likewise another confidant from Nagpur is believed to have secured plum posting in MSEB. BJP’s Lok Sabha debacle in Maharashtra is being attributed to wrong selection of candidates, conceding more Mumbai seats to CM Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena and disconnect with BJP cadres. Will Fadnavis mend the tear, put his house in order in time to face state assemblies? Time will tell, even as BJP additionally invests ‘Tan, Man & Dhan’ upon Fadnavis’ NCP counterpart Ajit Pawar for edge in the Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha elections of 2024.
Om birla

NDA Speaker Elected By Voice Vote, Heals Bruised Egos

Om Birla, the NDA nominee, was elected as the Lok Sabha Speaker on June 26, through a motion moved by PM Narendra Modi, which was adopted via voice votes. The only redeeming feature of the election that happened after 50 years in the Parliament was that there was no counting of votes. Election was by voice vote –by ‘Ayes’ and ‘Noes’. In fact after pro-tem speaker Bhartruhari Mahtab declared Om Birla as the Speaker of the lower house, JD(U) leader Rajiv Ranjan even wondered why there was no headcount or division. Mahtab told him that “it was beyond division of votes”. The Opposition, which had filed K Suresh as the Speaker candidate of the INDIA bloc, did not press for a division vote. It was not keen to showcase how much behind NDA it was in terms of numbers. The best part of the Speaker’s election was that it brought together PM Modi and Rahul Gandhi, who in his new role as Leader of the Opposition. Both of them were spotted shaking hands as they escorted Birla to the Speaker’s chair. As PM Modi noted Birla’s “warm smile brightens up the entire House,” and how efficiently he ran the House in the last 5 years .Opposition leaders were quick to harp on how he had suspended 146 MPs in 2023. Rahul Gandhi in his speech hoped Birla would allow the Opposition to speak and said “The question is not how efficiently the House is run. The question is how much of India’s voice is being allowed to be heard.” Congress sources say there would have been no hype over the Speaker’s election if only KC Venugopal had not bargained about deputy speaker’s post in his initial meeting with Rajnath Singh.

TRENDS & VIEWS

Editor’s Note: Big Punch In Small Pack

It is the Third Anniversary of Short Post and as a news media startup launched during the Covid-19 pandemic it certainly feels better than good to find ourselves where we are today. Here, I must cite the unstinted support of our seasoned contributors, all senior editors in the country, who brought a great degree of maturity and sagacity to the Short Post newsroom. But for them, our tagline “Authentic Gossip”, an Oxymoron, would not have matured viably. Our user numbers may be small but our stories have created the desired impact among people who matter — decision makers and influencers. We offer a big punch in a small pack and Short Post with its 225-word stories has been punching above its weight category. Having posted close to 3,000 stories in the last 36 months, Short Post, I feel, is an idea whose time has come.
And this is vindicated by our two marquee advertisers – IDFC FIRST Bank and ICICI Lombard. Both believed in our story and have supported us from Day one. A big thank you to both.
If you look at the media landscape – print, TV and digital — it is a mixed bag. There are job losses as some outfits have closed down while a lucky few were bailed out by large corporate houses. Yes, there is a lot of action in the digital space. However, the entry of corporate houses has raised the question of independence of news media outfits. Sadly, there are just a handful of independent media outfits in the country that are highly respected for their neutrality. At Short Post, our credo is not to take sides, prejudge issues or be biased but, informing readers of behind-the-scenes happenings. In essence, Short Post strives to be a neutral editorial platform — neither anti-establishment nor pro-establishment.
As I said last year, disruptions in the media world are moving at a fast and furious pace. Technology is playing a very big role in how content is generated and consumed. But, we are neither alarmed nor perturbed as it is all a part of the evolution process. What gives us comfort is that AI is unable to create original gossipy content. And that is the news arena where we have achieved a distinction.