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akshay modi

Will Akshay Kumar Be BJP's Candidate From Chandni Chowk?

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Will Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar or Rajiv Bhatia as he is known be fielded by the BJP from Delhi’s Chandni Chowk  Lok Sabha seat?  Well there is a strong buzz that the actor who grew up in Old Delhi could be fielded from the Delhi seat more so since the AAP and the Congress have decided to contest 2024 seats in an alliance. The AAP has already announced four candidates for Delhi. Chandni Chowk is going to be fought by the Congress. The AAP-Congress alliance will certainly impact the BJP’s approach to candidate selection in Delhi since the contest is now bipolar and not three-cornered as it was in 2019. It is believed the BJP, which won all seven parliamentary seats of the national capital in 2014 and 2019, may field the actor. Speculations about Akshay entering the election fray gained strength ahead of BJP’s Central Election Committee meeting on February 29 which is expected to clear about 150 names. Akshay may be replacing former Union minister Dr Harsh Vardhan who won the Chandni Chowk seat twice in 2014 and 2019. Almost preparing for public life, the actor had acquired Indian citizenship, giving up his Canadian passport last year. Posing alongside the snapshot of his citizenship certificate, 56-year-old Akshay had conveyed his emotions, stating, “Dil aur citizenship, dono Hindustani. Happy Independence Day! Jai Hind!”.
Sharad Pawar_010

Letter War In Pawar Family Angers Patriarch, Taunts Nephew Ajit

A letter war within the powerful Pawar clan that has gone viral has found patriarch Sharad Pawar losing his temper when asked about it. The first salvo was lobbed by deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, whose letter was circulated on social media two days ago. In it, he has explained why he has chosen to follow PM Narendra Modi. Which indirectly means that it is a justification to break away from his uncle. In reply, an unsigned letter has described how Ajit was selected to represent the second generation of the family in politics and how his cousin Rajendra was side tracked. Rajendra is the son of Appasaheb Pawar, eldest brother of Sharad Pawar. Their third brother was the late Anantrao, father of Ajit. For the third generation, Rajendra’s son Rohit was selected by the family boss to carry the mantle ahead, keeping aside Ajit’s son Parth. Since then, discontent was simmering. Rajendra told the media that his son Rohit decided to contest the assembly election from neighbouring Ahmednagar district to avert any tension with others in the family. When Pawar was quizzed about the internecine clash, he was livid. “Don’t ask me such trivial questions,” he snapped. However, at the same time, he did not forget to mention that he had read an edit in local Marathi daily Loksatta (belittling Ajit for his letter). Alongside the electoral battle between Supriya Sule and Ajit’s wife Sunetra, the strain among the male members has come out in the open, indicating further disclosures.
Maratha reservation

Maratha Agitation Fails To Consolidate Vote Bank Behind Any Particular Political Block

As the Maratha agitation in Maharashtra may have fizzled out, the political knives are out between Devendra Fadnavis and Sharad Pawar. The agitation was scuttled in the backdrop of allegations of financial kickbacks, secret midnight meetings and even conspiracies to kill Manoj Jarange Patil. While the BJP has fired all guns against the original Maratha strongman Sharad Pawar, accusing him of being the mastermind behind the agitation and even hinting that the conspiracy was managed from Rajesh Tope’s sugar factory, Sharad Pawar has dared that he has nothing to fear and that no phone calls were made from him. Tope admitted that he had simply provided food and water to agitators from his constituency. Jarange Patil has hinted that leaders from all political parties would stand exposed in the SIT investigation, sparking speculation that the agitation had the tacit support from blocks within both the ruling and the opposition fronts. The Eknath Shinde government has been accused of deliberately playing footsie with Jarange Pati. All parties may have unanimously voted for 10% reservation for the Marathas in a special session of the legislature on February 20, 2024, but the aftermath of the agitation has led to a bitter fall out between parties eyeing the politically powerful bloc of Maratha vote bank. This vote bank continues to be splintered across parties and political machinations have failed to consolidate it behind any particular political block.
Sukhu

Himachal Govt Totters Coz Of Rajya Sabha Cross-Voting, Chief Minister Sukhu Still Confident Of Numbers

When all eyes were fixed on Rajya Sabha polling in Karnataka and UP, it was the polling for a single Rajya Sabha seat in the hill state of Himachal that was threatening the survival of the Congress Government of Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu . It is because a high profile candidate like senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi entered the fray and got trounced. Party sources said defeat of the official candidate could cost CM Sukhu his chair but Sukhu dismissed such suggestions saying he must be voted out in the state assembly. At least 9 MLAs — 6 Congress MLAs and 3 independents — backing the 43-member Sukhu Government had cross-voted for the BJP candidate Harsh Mahajan. Himachal has a 68-member state assembly.  The cross-voters were reportedly whisked away in a CRPF vehicle to Panchkula in Haryana. Now the Congress managers are more keen to save their government in the hill state than worried about Singhvi losing. They got a super boss like former Chattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel to reach Shimla.  Party sources say Congress leaders are apparently prepared to sacrifice CM Sukhu and get a new CM face and appeal to those party MLAs who cross-voted to return back to Congress-fold. Sukhu himself made it clear that he is no push over and challenged his rivals to defeat him on the floor of the assembly.  In Karnataka, a determined Deputy CM DK Shivkumar ensured a snub for his JD(S) rival HD Kumaraswamy by ensuring election of all the 3 official candidates, defeat of the JD(S) candidate and cross-voting by two BJP MLAs.  
Mamata_0202

Is Trinamool’s Mega Rally At Brigade Ground A Counter To PM Modi’s Bengal Visit?

Amid major political backlash due to the Sandeshkhali controversy, ruling Trinamool Congress will be holding its third Mega Rally named as Janagarjan Sabha at the historic Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata on March 10. Chief minister and party supremo Mamata Banerjee will address the rally, which is seen as her official poll bugle for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls. Second in command of the party and Didi’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee will also address the gathering. Party insiders pointed out that both the leaders will mainly highlight the issues of pending central dues to the state government under various central-sponsored schemes with a focus on the 100-day job scheme under MGNREGA and the housing scheme under PMAY. It may be recalled that before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, TMC brought all the Opposition parties including Congress under the banner — United Front at a similar mega rally at Brigade Parade Ground to counter Narendra Modi-led BJP. However, the rally did not yield results, rather failed to stop the BJP’s clear sweep. This time TMC has made it clear that every district and block unit must ensure packed houses instead of displaying their personal stature. According to political analysts, Didi finds herself on a sticky ground over the ongoing Sandeshkhali controversy and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s poll campaigns slated during the first week of March, where in all probability he will address a rally in North 24 Parganas district and also meet local women allegedly victims of sexual harassment and violence by TMC’s strongman Sheikh Shajahan.
Etihad CSK

Etihad Replaces India Cements As CSK's Principal Sponsor

  With India already clinching the ongoing five-test cricket series following a 3:1 victory against England, the cricket enthusiasts are now eagerly awaiting one more edition of the popular IPL (India Premier League). The indefatigable Mahendra Singh Dhoni is expected to lead the five-time champion Chennai Super Kings (CSK) yet one more time!  As the expectation of fans rises to a crescendo, CSK will defend the title this time around with a new sponsor! Well, Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, is the new official sponsor of CSK. The partnership was unveiled at a special ceremony held in Chennai some time ago. Edition after edition, The India Cements Ltd (ICL) had been an inseparable principal sponsor of CSK for long. The Etihad partnership will come to life across Chennai Super Kings’ events and platforms with Etihad showcased on the back of the Chennai Super Kings’ jersey. That Etihad has replaced The India Cements as the principal sponsor is hard to visualise for many long-time watchers of CSK, which has become an iconic brand. Since Brand CSK commands quite a respect in the marketplace, the CSK management, perhaps, thought it prudent to pitch the principal sponsorship at a premium. It apparently took a lot to convince the management of India Cements, especially its boss N. Srinivasan. It is a win-win for both CSK and The Indian Cements, nevertheless.
anubhav mohanty_002

Odia Superstar & BJD MP Anubhav Mohanty May Not Get Lok Sabha Ticket?

Speculations are rife whether Odia superstar and Biju Janata Dal MP Anubhav Mohanty will get the 2024 Lok Sabha ticket? Unlikely, say BJD insiders. The Kendrapara seat which he won in the 2019 election may be given to former Rajnagar Congress MLA Anshuman Mohanty who switched over to BJD few days ago. So what went wrong with Anubhav?  The marital discord with his ex-wife Varsha Priyadarshini saw him hitting the headlines instead of political work.  He was spending more time on fighting the divorce case than nursing his constituency.  The court did grant him the divorce finally. But, this discord kept him away from attending party meetings, registering his presence at the government programmes, participating in Durga Puja festival or involved in Panchayat poll campaigns, party insiders say. People close to Anubhav reveal that he has been sidelined in the BJD for quite some time now.  It is learnt that BJP’s Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda busy with UP election responsibility is unlikely to contest from Kendrapara. And BJP is yet to announce its list of candidates for Odisha. So given this situation, BJD seems well prepared to defend its traditional “Kendrapara” fort.
Toys

Not A Level Playing Field Complain Indian Toy Makers

Indian toy factories seem to be getting badly affected and many of them are faced with closure because of various issues caused by non-implementation of various rules and guidelines. Members of the Toy Association of India and The All India Toy Manufacturers’ Association feel that both these representative bodies urgently need to present various facts to the government, especially as Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has focused on the toy industry in his own speech stressing the Aatmanirbhar programme. Officials of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), which is tasked with certifying toys among other items, have also been pleading pre-occupation with other work over the past three years. Some foreign manufacturers have invaded the market by flouting BIS norms and rules under various umbrellas provided to protect the Indian industry. Another issue is the huge, continuous supply of imported non-BIS compliant toys – especially from China – because of leakages in the ports, with many customs officers and, later, BIS/ISI inspectors, willing to look the other way for a consideration. Also, the fact that components attract the same customs duty of 50-60% as readymade toys allows importers to misuse this and take advantage of the lower rates of around 20% levied on other products by declaring consignments as other products. This makes it important to define what a ‘component’ is: an organ inside a toy, like mechanical gearboxes, electric motors, coreless motors, PCBs, chips, LED for toys and the like. The duty on these should not be more than 20%, with strict adherence to the law. Unless these and other issues – including the unhealthy challenges from some e-commerce platforms – are addressed at the earliest, the Indian manufacturer will succumb to the uneven competition.
Safety airindia

Incredible! Air India’s Safety Instructions Video Goes Viral

Most of us know about safety instructions video ennui, even as we buckle up our seat belts and wait for take-off. Whether shown as live mime by bored air hostess, or as a video shot with performing robots, take off videos are pushed into the lowest rung of consciousness, except if you are a first time flier. After Tatas took over they are changing many of Air India’s touchpoint profiles — new livery, new aircraft, a whole new attitude to commercial travel’s competitive ethos. McCann Worldwide’s Prasoon Joshi, music icon Shankar Mahadevan and Bharatbala have conjured up a winner in the new safety instruction video which has gone viral. Ingeniously projecting India’s exotic and energetic dances, the safety instructions are embedded and nuanced through eight dance forms set against ancient temple architecture and verdant landscape. India is unique for its art forms…let alone one classical dance, how many countries can boast of such a variety in which the costumes, jewellery and energetic moves make for such an immersive experience? Air India started its first branding image …a child holding up a frame to watch myriad countries to tempt her wanderlust, this new video uses the same frame to view the dances. Incredible India and its facets are packaged in short vignettes…showcasing tourism promo, safety and exotic art all at once. Mile Sur Mera Tumara, Tho Nrithya Bane Hamaara.
Arvind kejriwal_002

AAP-Cong Pact: An Unequal Pact That Everyone Wants To End

When it comes to alliances, it seems, the Congress seems to be getting a raw deal – whether it is from a newbie like AAP or even from an old ally like Samajwadi Party. The Congress with diminishing bargaining power it seems did not have much say on the seats it would contest in states — be it in Gujarat or UP. It was as if everything was left to AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal or SP chief Akhilesh Yadav to finalise the seat sharing pact. That is probably why the party did not bother to resist claims of AAP for Bharuch Lok Sabha seat — a constituency once represented by Sonia Gandhi’s close aide and AICC treasurer Ahmed Patel — or Farrukhabad Lok Sabha seat once represented by former Union Minister Salman Khurshid.  That is why Khurshid, who is a CWC member, did express his disappointment that his Lok Sabha constituency was not part of the Congress-SP alliance. So did the late Patel’s children– Faisal and Mumtaz. They both gave voice to disappointment among Congress workers in Bharuch over the AAP-Congress poll pact. Faisal went a step further to assert that Bharuch which has been with the BJP since 1989 can be won only if the Congress contests from there. Meanwhile, the Congress hopes to wriggle out of this unequal electoral pact thrust on it by AAP only if ED finally catches up with Kejriwal.”If ED arrests Kejriwal, our alliance will end. We are hoping it will happen soon,” admits a Congress leader.
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Photo : BCCI

From Jurel Who? To Jurel The Hero!

When the national selectors chose Dhruv Jurel in the squad for the first two Tests against England in mid-January, there were plenty who shrugged their shoulders and asked: Jurel who? Such was the surprise element in his selection as a spare stumper to Kona Bharat for the Tests in Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam. With KL Rahul not in the scheme of things as the primary ‘keeper — which he was in South Africa — the choice fell upon Bharat who had donned the big gloves in the previous four-Test home series against Australia. The concussion-related like-for-like rule fast-tracked Jurel’s entry into the big league of Test cricket, more so after Ishan Kishan was ‘discarded’ from the selection process. For many talent scouts, Jurel held promise in 2020 when he led India in the under -19 World Cup; then Rajasthan Royals made him its main ‘keeper for IPL 2023. The national selector kept an eye on him and plumped for him for the opening two Tests,  After the Visakhapatnam Test,  Head Coach Rahul Dravid and Captain Rohit Sharma firmed up to look at Jurel as a serious option from the third Test in Rajkot. Bharat’s poor returns with the bat cost him a lot. Thereafter Jurel — son of a Kargil War soldier — has only excelled in front and behind the stumps; his brilliant 90 and 39 ensured India victory in the Ranchi Test and thereby the series 3-1. He’s been top-class with the big gloves too.  So far, so good… Jurel!
saleel tambe _002

Tabla Maestro Saleel Tambe Is The Poster Boy Of Croydon, UK

Multi-talented Saleel Tambe seems to be on a roll. This tabla maestro, wildlife photographer, IT professional must be feeling elated to see his posters all over Croydon in England for a project conceptualised by London Mozart Players as the Face Of Croydon. Saleel’s portrait was created by specialist photographer Kaupo Kikkas from Estonia who was specially commissioned for this piece of work.  For the London-based Tambe who works with Deloitte as senior manager, the year 2024 began on a positive note. He won the First Prize, out of 40,000 entries, in the prestigious International Wildlife annual photo contests conducted by the National Wildlife Federation, USA. Saleel’s two images were awarded in the World Monochrome Photography Contest. Besides photography, he will be on a concert tour over the next 3-4 months travelling across Scandinavia with a Flautist in May, then with a Santoor player for the SAJDA Festival and a series of concerts in Spain with a Sitar player. On his recent visit to India, he did a full house presentation on wildlife to the Army Officers in MCTE, Mhow (Indore) in Madhya Pradesh.
sasikala House

Photo : dtnxt

Sasikala Caused A Storm In Poes Garden With Open House Lunch On Jayalalithaa’s 76th Birth Anniversary

The 24th of February was an unusual day. It was Masi Magam (as per Tamil calendar), the auspicious Magam star of the Masi month — an unusual combination of date of birth and star birthday falling on the same day of the late J Jayalalithaa (Amma). So, VK Sasikala, (Chinnamma), a close confidante of Jayalalithaa hosted the mother of all lunches at her mint new house, Jayalalithaa Illam in Poes Garden, Chennai. Sasikala had formally celebrated the Gruhapravesam, a month back. She planned this grand event on Masi Magam to honour and relive the memory of her patron and friend. Sasikala’s house is bigger than Jayalalithaa’s bungalow and the lunch spread was sumptuous.  Cars were milling around as numerous former AIADMK members and Sasikala faithful’s elbowed for vantage and advantage. Just across the narrow stretch, JJ’ niece Deepa hosted a memorial lunch too at Veda Nilayam, the landmark residence of Jayalalithaa, one of the most powerful women politicians of this country. But one visitor to Sasikala’s house who caught everybody’s attention was the superstar Rajini clad in a dhoti and white shirt with a housewarming gift in hand. As he came out of Sasikala’s house, surmises, presumptions and speculations were buzzing around. To the waiting media Rajini said “This house is like a temple. I pray to God and wish the lady much fame, name and happiness here “. When a journalist asked, “Who will fill the vacuum left by Jayalalithaa”? The superstar quipped “No politics please”, and walked away with super energy.  
eps annamalai

BJP Gaining In Tamil Nadu At AIADMK’s Expense

Nothing spooked AIADMK more than a recent weekly magazine survey which showed that the BJP had stolen the salience over other Opposition parties in Tamil Nadu and was headed to a larger vote share than the grand old party of MGR-Jaya. Insiders were busy arguing over what was going wrong in the Edappadi K Palaniswami-led party. Naturally, the blame was shifted to the leader for his inability to form an alliance that alone guarantees some success in vote share in the complicated Dravidian politics. There is no doubt that the national BJP, taking baby steps in TN with a reshuffle that found a leader in K Annamalai who has become a well-recognised face in the state, moved up in the party’s reckoning with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s contribution by way of referring often to the state’s Tamil literary luminaries also sizeable. The Lok Sabha polls will throw light on how far the party has come in difficult terrain, but there is no doubt that the Ram temple opening has moved a lot of people of faith into the party’s corner. Meanwhile the AIADMK, struggling to find allies, was picking on the PMK and DMDK not having decided yet on where they will go to offer them a number of seats closer to their expectations. All may not be lost yet for the AIADMK front, but the writing is on the wall that the BJP may be stealing a march in Dravidian turf.
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Wayanad Lok Sabha Contest Gets High-Profile With The Entry Of CPI, Rahul Gandhi Unlikely To Budge

Will Rahul Gandhi contest again from Wayanad (Kerala) Lok Sabha, a seat that he had secured by a comfortable margin in 2019? Or will he again look for a safe seat in Karnataka, Telangana or UP? What triggered the buzz was that the CPI announced it was fielding Annie Raja, the wife of the party’s general secretary D Raja, from Wayanad. It was felt it will not “look good” for the I.N.D.I.A front that one of the prominent leader’s wife will be contesting against Rahul Gandhi. Congress leaders from Kerala, however, made it clear that securing the seat wasn’t going to be an issue. “If Rahulji decides to contest from the seat, he will secure it. He is currently abroad (away to the UK for a lecture) and he has to decide. As for who is LDF fielding against Rahulji is not our concern,” said a top AICC functionary. Party sources also made it clear that his second seat, if any, would not be from the South. It could only be from UP now that an alliance with the Samajwadi Party has been stitched.   Meanwhile, CPI’s D Raja also made it clear that the Wayanad contest should be purely seen as a UDF versus LDF battle, and not as a clash between Rahul Gandhi and his wife.  Congress sources also pointed out that the issue of IUML’s claims over the Wayanad seat — a constituency with Muslim majority voters — had been settled.
Manoj Jarange patil_003

Manoj Jarange Buckles After Eknath Shinde’s Warning, Ends Fast

Maratha reservation agitation’s icon Manoj Jarange Patil has abandoned his audacious plan to lead a march to the Mumbai residence of deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to press his demand. Already roasted by his former associates, chief minister Eknath Shinde’s stern warning to Jarange and his followers that they will face stringent action if they took law in their hand is believed to have resulted in his withdrawal of the march. Even Opposition parties, too, have indirectly expressed unhappiness over Jarange’s impossible demands, like asking the government to take and announce a decision within the next few hours. Now, his associate for 18 years, Baburao Walekar has charged that Jarange is hungry for publicity and had instigated his followers in the past to indulge in violence though keeping himself away from such acts. Walekar is the third leader to come out in the open against Jarange. The first was Abhay Baraskar, who is a noted Keertan exponent. He was followed by Sangeeta Wankhede, who became Jarange’s follower after he launched his agitation. She has alleged that Jarange was taking erratic decisions at the behest of a top NCP giant. Interestingly, Fadnavis had stated a day earlier that Jarange’s script resembled the statements of Sharad Pawar and Uddhav Thackeray. On Monday (Feb 26), Jarange has announced the end of his indefinite fast. The battle over Maratha reservations is expected to enter the precincts of judiciary soon.
congress seat sharing

AAP- Cong Seat Sharing Pact: A Win-Win Or An Alibi For Poor Show In 2024?

The AAP and the Congress are set to jointly contest from Delhi, Haryana, Goa,  Chandigarh and Gujarat.  As per the pact, AAP will contest four of the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi, two of the 26 seats in Gujarat, and one of the 10 seats in Haryana, while the Congress will contest the rest of the seats in these states. In Gujarat, the AAP will contest two – Bharuch and Bhavnagar – and in Haryana, it will contest the Kurukshetra seat. Late Congress leader Ahmed Patel’s children — Faisal and Mumtaz — have opposed giving away their home turf Bharuch to AAP. Incidentally the Congress tie-up with AAP comes full circle nearly a decade after the party first came to power in Delhi riding an anti-Congress wave in 2013. Kejriwal with 28 MLAs was propped by the Congress with its 8 MLAs. It is clear that Kejriwal, who had tasted a tough fight during MCD polls to take control of the Delhi civic body in December 2022 is not keen for a repeat in May 2024. He had boasted about limiting BJP to 20 seats in the 250 member MCD. The BJP went on to notch a cool 104. “It is clear both the Opposition parties are too scared to face the Modi juggernaut alone,” said a BJP poll strategist. It also shows that by joining hands with the Congress, Kejriwal has shelved his PM ambitions for now. It is not Kejriwal alone who has seen his limitations. Congress stalwart in Haryana Bhupinder Hooda also knows there is no way he can beat the BJP bulwark in Lok Sabha. By pitting AAP in Kurukshetra — a seat held by state BJP chief — Hooda has tossed an unwinnable seat in AAP’s lap and got an alibi for poor show in 2024.
Sharad pawar Tutari

Pawar’s Election Symbol 'Tutari' Evokes Discordant Notes

NCP founder Sharad Pawar’s decision to unveil the new symbol, Tutari (Tura), allotted to his faction at the historical Fort Raigad has been facing derision from different quarters. Raigad was the place Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had selected for his capital in 1674. Pawar’s one-time confidant Chhagan Bhujbal has reminded his former mentor in an oblique quip that the NCP was formed in 1999 and had lost a substantial chunk of votes since its symbol, wall clock, was unfamiliar for voters. Water resources minister Girish Mahajan said neither will the Tutari make any noise nor will Uddhav Thackeray’s symbol, Mashal, be alight. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena leader Raj Thackeray, however, disclosed that this was the first time Pawar had shown any regard for Chhatrapati Shivaji. Though Pawar always praised social reformers like Mahatma Jotiba Phule, Shahu Maharaj of Kolhapur or Dr BR Ambedkar in his speeches, the Maratha strongman seldom paid tributes to Chhatrapati Shivaji, Raj remarked. He recalled Pawar telling him on an earlier occasion that he (Pawar) would lose Muslim votes if there was any mention of Chhatrapati Shivaji by him. On his part, Pawar has clarified that the symbol was allotted by the Election Commission and that he had not asked for this particular image of a man sounding a trumpet, called Tutari in Marathi. This is the fifth election symbol Pawar’s party would be using during his long political career.
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Punjab Farm Protest Or A Proxy Battle To Diminish PM Modi?

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Who is behind the farmers’ agitation near Delhi? The two Punjab-Haryana border points – Khanauri and Shambhu – have been the epicentre of the clashes as police personnel fired tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons to disperse the farmers trying to march to Delhi. Farmers have rejected a government offer on MSP for five crops and crop diversifications to save the water table. The basic aim of the protesting farmers is not to secure a MSP for all the 23 crops that they produce– they want a law guaranteeing MSP. Such a law farmers argue will ensure that market prices will not go below the MSP. It is also possible that it could force the government to buy farm produce that is not picked up by the market. The thrust of the protests organised by AAP and the Congress is to take the sheen out of PM Modi’s popularity and continue the protest till the April-May Lok Sabha elections. The game is to pull Modi down politically. In this game, while AAP in Punjab is trying to project itself as “friend of the farmers”, with its chief minister Bhagwant Mann playing mediator in the Centre-farmer talks, the Congress, which rejected Swaminathan Committee report in 2006, has also lent support to the farmers’ demands. Punjab urgently needs sustainable agricultural practices. But AAP and Congress are intent on backing the agitation to downsize Modi.
Modi_017

PM Modi Lambasts Rahul For Calling Varanasi Youth ‘Nashedi’

It was an abuse that shocked everyone in UP and Delhi. Rahul Gandhi who hollered away in Amethi about drunkenness and dancing in Varanasi and had also stretched his aversion for Hindu rituals by deriding those chanting Jai Shri Ram. That too at a time when Ram Mandir at Ayodhya has been drawing huge crowds – upwards of 50 lakh devotees within a month’s since its inauguration. So it was expected that the Gandhi scion would be appropriately trashed. And that’s what happened.  PM Modi, who reached Varanasi on a two-day visit, panned Rahul for hurling a pejorative ”nashedi “at Varanasi youth — young men of his Lok Sabha constituency from where he plans to contest for a third term. So it was a protective Modi who came to the fore. “They spent the decade abusing Modi. But now they are taking out their frustration on the people. “Jinke aapne hosh thhikane nahi hai, wo UP ke, mere kashi ke bachcho ko nashedi keh rahe hai,” he said. Strongly condemning Rahul Gandhi’s comment, Modi said “A person who belongs to a dynasty is always threatened by the common youth force. And now they have another reason to not like Uttar Pradesh after Ram Mandir’s inauguration. They do not like the new face of Kashi and Ayodhya. I did not know Congress had so much hatred towards Lord Ram. They can’t see or think beyond their family and vote bank”. He also made it clear that the SP-Congress alliance would make no impact. It is an alliance where they come together before every election and then abuse each other after they get ‘nil battey sannata’.
devendra uddhav

All Doors Shut For Uddhav To Come Back, Declares Fadnavis

Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has shut all doors for the Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray. In a TV channel interview, Fadnavis freely expressed his hurt over the way he was treated by Uddhav after the 2019 assembly election in the state. Fadnavis said political differences can be ironed out. But it will not be possible for the BJP rank and file to overlook the insults hurled by Uddhav at Prime Minister Narendra Modi day in and day out. Recalling his friendly relations with Uddhav for 25 years, Fadnavis said that the Sena leader even refused to take his telephone calls after the assembly election results. It is extremely hurtful to be stabbed in the back by someone you had close ties with, the DCM said. He also attacked NCP founder Sharad Pawar for going back on his pact to form a government with the BJP. Fadnavis made it clear that the people flocking to the BJP were coming by accepting its ideology. “We had just two MPs in 1984. Now we are in power. But throughout, we have never compromised with our basic principles,” he maintained. His statements have indicated that more incomings into the BJP are still possible. One such name being discussed is that of Eknath Khadse, a pillar of the Maharashtra BJP once upon a time. The Congress, too, is worried by the possible exodus. The state BJP leadership will soon administer some more political shocks, it is felt.
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Has Didi Softened Her Stance On Seat-Sharing With Congress?

After striking a deal with the Samajwadi Party and AAP over seat sharing for the state of Uttar Pradesh and New Delhi, Congress High Command is once again in talks with Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee on seat-sharing. Congress spokesperson Jairam Ramesh has said that the party is hopeful that I.N.D.I.A Bloc will fight the BJP unitedly. Sources said that a new proposal has been formulated for seat sharing with TMC. Insiders of Congress say that Congress is seeking 6 out of 42 seats in Bengal including its own seats of Baharampur and Maldah Dakshin. In exchange for this Congress is willing to offer TMC seats in other states. Apparently, discussions are on with TMC over the seats of Maldah Uttar, Raiganj and Darjeeling constituencies, plus one more. In lieu of this it will leave two seats for TMC in Assam and one in Meghalaya. Although there’s no confirmation from the TMC, sources said that Didi has softened her previous stance where she was categorical that her party would go alone in Bengal since the Congress is in talks with the Left. Congress insiders further said that it will ask NCP patriarch Sharad Pawar and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav to convince Didi on the same. Meanwhile, political observers viewed that this might make Mamata rethink since seat sharing in other states with Congress might help TMC gain the national party recognition.
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BJP Bengal Get In Election Mode, PM To Address Series Of Rallies

In an attempt to go all out on the target of gaining 35 Lok Sabha seats in Bengal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to visit West Bengal to kick off the 2024 Lok Sabha Election campaign. He will be addressing a rally at Arambagh in Hooghly district on March 1. Arambagh is BJP’s stronghold but it lost the seat in 2019 to TMC’s Aparupa Poddar. Notable, the Hooghly seat is held by BJP MP Locket Chatterjee. Followed by Arambagh, the PM is likely to hold a rally in Krishnanagar on March 2 which was helmed by TMC MP Mahua Moitra before being expelled from Parliament over ‘cash-for-query’ case. While BJP has been accused of vendetta politics in the removal of Moitra from Parliament, Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee has already announced her re-nomination for this seat. Modi’s last meeting in this first leg of campaigning is likely to be held at Barasat, on one of TMC’s strongest turf in South Bengal on March 6. Significantly, Didi has begun a series of district-to-district tours announcing a slew of projects. Meanwhile, BJP insiders said that the meeting at Kachhari Maidan in Barasat on March 6, Modi is likely to meet the ‘victims’ of Sandeshkhali. They are likely to be brought from Sandeshkhali under the leadership of BJP state president Sukanta Majumder. Political observers said that since the state BJP has not succeeded in countering Didi, bringing Modi from the beginning of the poll campaign is nothing but a clear attempt of challenging the ruling party ahead of the polls.
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Photo : BCCI

Resting Bumrah Not A Wise Call Says Karsan Ghavri

India took the field for the fourth Test against England in Ranchi without its best bowler in the series, Jasprit Bumrah. The BCCI explained that Bumrah has been rested taking into account the “duration of the series” and the workload he has taken in recent times. It takes some guts to keep a player, nay a match-winner in many ways in the previous two Tests in Visakhapatnam and Rajkot, out of a winning combination. England would not be disappointed with the decision taken by the Indian team, selectors and the BCCI. With India leading 2-1 in the five-Test series the “rest Bumrah” call has not gone down well with former India left-arm seamer Karsan Ghavri. “When you are getting a chance to play for India, keep playing. The series is in a vital stage and to rest a key player in the middle of a series is not a wise call” said Ghavri who has taken 100 plus Test wickets. Beset with injuries to key players, India has been handicapped to field a full-strength team in the last three years. The national team’s head coach Rahul Dravid pointed out this aspect after winning the second Test in Visakhapatnam. Ghavri added:  “Bumrah could have taken a break after the fate of the series is decided, as much as he wants.” India may win the fourth Test in Ranchi and thereby the series, but England thinks it can win the series 3-2. So was it the right call to rest Bumrah for the Ranchi Test?
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Tamil Superstar Suriya To Play Karna In Rakeysh Mehra’s Rs 500 Crore Epic Extravaganza

It is happening…ancient Indian ethos and its myriad mythologies are mined for breathtaking cinema, to combine scale, complex story plots, heroism, venality and religious fervour into spectacular cinematic art. Most would agree that after Lord Rama, Karna is the most recalled warrior hero. Bollywood director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra has zeroed in on this epic character, Karna and plans to create a pan India screen extravaganza at a cost of 500 crore. Popular Tamil hero Suriya has been signed for the same. Suriya is now striding the pan India scene with his about to release Kanguva, another period drama. Sudha Kongara of the Surarai Pottru fame is directing Suriya in Purananuru.. Suriya’s leading lady in Karna is late Sridevi’s daughter Janhavi Kapoor, a choice that is bound to add value to this Kapoor who is yet to snag that super hit status her mother repeated in many films. Karna is a character with a gold mine potential to explore his many facets …a first born whose mother Kunti does not acknowledge him, his five Pandava brothers who are unaware of Karna’s blood bond, and a warrior who stands by Duryodhan for all the wrong life decisions, and how Lord Krishna cajoles him to part with his life guarding Kavach appealing to Karna’s legendary largesse. Even the most cynical audience is bound to be moved by his charisma. A hero like Karna and a talent like Suriya’s ….waiting to happen. POWERED BY : IDFC FIRST BANK
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Has The Entry Of Ashok Chavan Into The BJP Fold Put Narayan Rane In A Spot?

The entry of one ex-chief minister Ashok Chavan into the BJP fold seems to have landed another ex-CM, Narayan Rane on a sticky wicket. It has upset Rane’s plan to take the easier option of taking the Rajya Sabha route to Parliament. Instead, he is now forced to contest for Lok Sabha elections from the Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg constituency, from where his elder son Nilesh Rane lost twice in a row in 2014 and 2019 to Uddhav Sena’s Vinayak Raut. Raut has now developed a strong local base and presents a formidable challenge here. The Rane’s continue to share bitter relations with the Uddhav’s Sena. Elder son, Nilesh Rane recently, issued threats to Uddhav’s legislator Bhaskar Jadhav from the dais of a public rally following a riotous situation between warring party workers with stone pelting leading and police lathi-charging and tear gases being used. Also, the Uddhav Sena faction has not forgiven Rane for his rebellion in 2005 and is gunning to defeat him. Rane, who is a party hopper, having moved on from the Shiv Sena to the Congress before joining the BJP with his two sons, is facing competition for his ticket from his own alliance partners. His constituency is being eyed by Eknath Shinde supporter, industries minister Uday Samant for his brother Kiran Samant, who has already started campaigning there. The Konkan belt had always been a Shiv Sena stronghold which the BJP is keen to get Rane to spearhead its party into the region.  
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Action Hero Vidyut Jammwal, An Outsider Who Created His Own Space In Bollywood

Action hero Vidyut Jammwal who has completed 13 years in the film industry with 24 films to his credit has turned a producer with his latest film Crakk. The 43-year old model turned actor, a rank outsider, has a loyal band of followers due to his own dedication and martial art skills. He is a keen practitioner of Kalaripayattu, a form of martial arts popular in Kerala. Vidyut made his debut with John Abraham in Force in 2011. The turning point of his life was Vipul Shah casting him in the successful franchisee Commando. One of the fittest actors Vidyut built his loyalty like south actors. As a trade expert said, “His films are a safe bet as he has a loyal audience that watches his films both in cinemas and TV. His IB 71 was a well appreciated film. His film Crakk with co-star Arjun Rampal is on the lines of Mission Impossible. The day is not far away where we will see Vidyut taking the crown of the best action hero of Bollywood.” Girish Wankhede, Movie Trade Analyst says, “With movies like Commando he carved a niche for himself as an action star and created his own fan following. I personally believe that he has got a great potential as a star but to achieve Stardom he needs to work on his diction and hone his acting skills further.”  The actor who hasn’t worked in any multi-starrers turned producer to focus on the action genre. Vidyut who has managed to keep himself out of controversy was engaged to fashion designer Nandita Mahtani but things didn’t work out. POWERED BY : ICICI LOMBARD
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UK Recruitment Platform TERN Offers Big Opportunities For Indian Doctors

The healthcare and IT employers in the UK and EU are facing critical staff shortages and to address their problems, the UK-based TERN Group, a recruitment platform provides a full-stack solution for sourcing, upskilling, and placing top-tier medical and IT talent from India. Founding members Avinav Nigam and Dr. Anjali Nigam have chalked out plans to tap this huge UK market by hiring doctors from India. In this journey, they have tied up with BAPIO Training Academy, a prominent educational UK headquartered academy with innovative learning modules. TERN and BTA Partnership plans to bring 1,000 senior Indian doctors to the UK by the end of 2025. As part of this partnership, the BTA will offer an exclusive fast-track training programme for Consultant and Registrar level doctors to meet UK requirements and be eligible to work in the UK. TERN’s partnership with BTA and the Indian government’s National Skills Development Council will allow the National Health Services, UK to access thousands of fully trained doctors from India that the UK so desperately needs.  Dr Prof Parag Singhal, Chief Executive at the BTA stated that the partnership aims to promote healthcare excellence, foster collaborations, and implement initiatives across both nations. This alliance will open big opportunities for Indian healthcare providers but ironically, even India faces acute shortages of doctors, nurses, and health workers.
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PM Modi’s Lok Sabha Political Policy, Ignores Big Names, Surnames, Aristocracy

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BJP’s 2019 ‘Political Decade Policy’ empowering cadre, gen-next portends ill for more famous leaders two tenures old and over 75 years old. Brahmin Medha Kulkarni, RSS ‘Karsevak’ Ajit Gopchade secured Rajya Sabha nominations since Kulkarni relinquished her Pune assembly seat for Chandrakant Patil in 2019, while Gopchade’s prominence rose after 1992 Babri mosque demolition. BJP spokesperson Atul Shah says, “Mega party BJP always emphasises generation next and is always widening our political horizon. While Maratha leader (newbie) Ashok Chavan secured Rajya Sabha, two BJP workers got nominations too.” Maharashtra BJP Executive Committee member Mahendra Jain notes, “Kulkarni sacrificed her Pune constituency so, her RS nomination satiates Pune’s Brahmin community. Clear political message is that famous leaders may not take their Lok Sabha candidatures for granted.” BJP’s policy saw Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar moved to Madhya Pradesh assembly as speaker earlier. Union minister Parshottam Rupala may not get Lok Sabha seat to set right Gujarat caste dynamics, unreasonable pressure from Patels. Rajnath Singh (73) may still secure candidature, Shivrajsingh Chauhan asked to prove election mettle after being sidelined for MP CM ship just like Vasundhara Raje. Narayan Rane is unlikely over health issues although his son may be fielded. Similarly, Chandrakant Dada Patil and Pankaja Munde may lose out. “No decision till now on holding simultaneous polls for Maha assemblies with general polls but, PM Modi who keeps plans close to chest, may still spring a surprise.” BJP will contest 28/30 Maharashtra parliamentary seats itself while also fielding candidates from Eknath Shinde’s party (like Milind Deora got Rajya Sabha). Shinde won’t seek many parliamentary seats, lacking worthy winning candidates,” the source added. Will Vinod Tawde be BJP’s Konkan face in ensuing polls?
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Cracks In Tatkare Family, Thanks To Sharad Pawar

After a political split in the family of veteran leader Sharad Pawar, there is repayment in the same coin as NCP splinter group leader Sunil Tatkare’s elder brother Anil has declared his allegiance to Pawar. The announcement of Anil’s decision is considered a part of Pawar’s strategy to defeat his one-time confidant Sunil in the coming Lok Sabha election from Raigad. It is the first development of this kind since so far, the incoming was towards either the BJP or the Shiv Sena led by chief minister Eknath Shinde. The Pawar clan is already feeling elated since one of the nephews of Ajit Pawar has decided to work for the grandfather. The political greenhorn, Yugendra, was abroad for several years. His entry in the fight for Baramati Lok Sabha constituency will intensify the family dissensions, it is felt, as Ajit’s wife Sunetra is likely to be the candidate from his party. Similarly, Anil’s decision to work for elder Pawar is designed to breach Sunil’s vote bank, which the family has built up over the years. Once a fiefdom of the Congress party, Raigad district was ruled by Peasants & Workers Party (PWP) for a while. After Sharad Pawar formed the NCP in 1999, Sunil Tatkare had become the face of the party in Konkan region. Pawar is determined to wrest the LS seat back by roping in Anil against Sunil, who enjoys immense public support.
SRK ultratech

Sports Icons, Film Stars Endorse Cement Brands

Cement is not just what we all perceive. For a long time, it has been viewed as a commodity. This perception has changed. In the world of intense competition, cement has now become a crucial component of building solutions. So much so, branding has become an inevitable part of cement marketing. After consolidation of cement capacity, top players are shifting focus to position their brands strongly by roping in celebrities and sports stars. Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan is the brand ambassador for industry leader, Ultratech. Not to be outdone, Damia Cement signed up another Bollywood star, Ranveer Singh, as its brand ambassador. A few years ago, JSW Cement brought on board former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly and captain of India’s national football team Sunil Chhetri as its brand ambassadors. The India Cements, headed by industry veteran N Srinivasan, launched conkrete super king (CSK) as a game-changing cement. It was endorsed and powered by CSK’s iconic captain M S Dhoni’s Power of 7. Dhoni cement, as is called by dealers and influencers, CSK cement has become a hit in the last one year. With the construction activity at its peak on the eve of  Lok Sabha elections, there is bound to be intense  competition among top cement players  to garner more volume and market share . Not just the power of the brands but also the ability of the ambassadors to pull business will be under test now.
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Average Income Of Farmers Up 10 Fold, Says TISS Report

Even as farmers in Punjab and elsewhere are flexing their muscles to force the government to fulfil their various demands, their counterparts in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh are seeing a tenfold increase in their mean annual income per acre, thanks to the interventions of a Parli, Marathwada-based NGO working in agricultural development. An independent impact assessment study by the Centre for Excellence in CSR of the Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) has found that 1248 surveyed farmers’ average income had jumped from Rs 38,723 to Rs3,93,986 because of the initiatives of the Global Vikas Trust (GVT). The comprehensive report has been prepared by TISS based on a meticulous survey of these farmers, who represent 15% of a total of 8299 farmers in eight clusters within GVT’s operational domains in the two states. The focal point of the analysis was to assess the tangible effects of the NGO’s work among the farmers. Nearly two in every three of these farmers — 63.9% — had incomes below Rs 25,000, far lower than the average. Covering the project locations of Palghar, Nanded, Beed, Solapur, Osmanabad (Dharashiv) and Jalgaon in Maharashtra and Burhanpur and Dhar/Barwani in Madhya Pradesh, the study was conducted with the specific objective of evaluating the impact of agriculture development initiatives on the rural communities, analysing the stakeholders’ engagement with communities in the areas, and suggesting measures for the effective implementation of GVT’s activities in the focus areas. As the GVT tagline says: “India can wait no more!”
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Kerala Jumbo Stirs Storm In Karnataka Teacup

Decision of the Siddaramaiah Government in Karnataka to disburse Rs 15 lakhs in “compensation” to a deceased individual from Rahul Gandhi’s Wayanad constituency in Kerala, attributing his death to elephant trampling, claiming that the wild animal belonged to Karnataka has raised political storm of sorts in the southern state. Opposition BJP has questioned how could the state government divert funds “amidst severe drought and distress in Karnataka with over 600 farmers ending their own lives”.  It wanted to know how the Congress government, facing severe fiscal deficits and resource shortages for vital development, was diverting “taxpayer’s money” to appease Rahul Gandhi. All the tell-tale signs to this controversy was contained in Karnataka’s Forest Minister Eshwar Khandre’s letter to Rahul Gandhi where he acknowledged that as per Rahul Gandhi’s advice to AICC leader KC Venugopal and the phone conversation he had with the Kerala leader, his government had announced compensation to the person killed by the tusker Makna. Khandre admits that Makna was captured near Belur, radio collared and released into Bandipora Tiger reserve in November 2023. “Two months later he was sighted in Wayanad area of Kerala and attacked Mr Ajeesh, leading to his death, which is an unfortunate incident.” Khandre also put on record how his state had the highest number of elephants — 6395 — in the country and declining forest cover was posing threat to the tuskers in the region.
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Photo : BCCI

Rohit Sharma Guarded On Yashasvi Jaiswal

Skipper Rohit Sharma held back his assessment of Yashasvi Jaiswal’s spectacular display with the bat in the third Test against England at Rajkot. “I won’t say anything on Jaiswal. Everyone is talking about him. Let him play. He is playing well, it’s good for us and he is in good form. I am not going to say much more than that. Itna bas hai abhi ke liye (this should be enough for now). Seven Test matches is only a small sample to pass judgment on a player, but Jaiswal has played seven Test matches without a break and has already won admirers from the cricket world. The Mumbai left-hander Jaiswal began with a century on debut against the West Indies in last July, was put through the wringer in South Africa by its fast bowlers and in the home series, he has taken apart the English bowling. It’s not the question of hitting the World’s greatest swing and seam bowler Jimmy Anderson for three sixes in an over and much more, it’s the manner of his batting that has seen him take the centre stage. A natural striker of the ball, Jaiswal has flayed England’s top pacers Anderson and Mark Wood and the inexperienced spinners.  A double century each in the Visakhapatnam Test and another one in Rajkot has earned him kudos, but the skipper who has seen Jaiswal score 171, 209 and 214, chose to be guarded.  POWERED BY : IDFC FIRST BANK
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Stalin Leaves Nothing To Chance, Election Manifesto Planned As Precisely As A Rocket Launch

Coming to power after a 10-year hiatus has taught the DMK about unique, multiple dimensions of appealing to the electorate. Poll strategist Prashant Kishor has imprinted his distinctive stamp on the DMK’s playbook. So before finalising the party’s election manifesto, teams led by party leaders have undertaken surveys to find out what people want in the DMK manifesto. Party supremo MK Stalin is dinning into his party generals, “Fixing your targets firmly is the first step to victory”. Kanimozhi’s team has already completed the survey. What is overtly and covertly evident is the master stroke of involving her…leaving no room for doubt …backroom gripe is ruled out. Her team has surveyed 20 districts, 10,000 direct responders, received 4000 responses, apart from harvesting suggestions and demands from 18,000 phone calls and social media responses. February 25 is the deadline for such suggestions to reach the DMK citadel, Arivalayam. The dovetailing of the TN budget presented by Thangam Thennarasu is an amazing alchemy of populist schemes poured into a shiny chalice of Tamil rhetoric …it covers education, healthcare, roads improvement…in fact it showcases the Ram Rajya golden orb in a Dravidian gift wrap.  And Stalin’s Assembly motivation speech left its imprint. “A budget in Tamil is Nidhi arikkai…but we have made it a Needhi Arikkai. Social justice to all, with speed in implementation. TN is second in GDP with a growth rate of 8.19%.” The bugle has sounded …it’s left for the cadres and leaders to drum up a resounding victory.
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Anurag Kashyap Critical Of Falling Standards Of Bengali Cinema Content

Indian arthouse filmmaker Anurag Kashyap criticised present-day Bengali cinema content citing that remakes of South Indian movies led to this downfall. In a one-on-one conversation with Kashyap during the inauguration of maiden French Film Festival in Kolkata and screening of his movie Kennedy, he was categorical in stating that Bengali content doesn’t attract him anymore. His last watched Bengali movie remains cerebral filmmaker Mrinal Sen’s Padatik. According to him, deterioration in Bollywood is not as evident as in Bengali cinema since it used to be class apart because of the maestros like Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Ritwick Ghatak. Kashyap mentioned that he could only recollect quality work from Bengali filmmaker Srijit Mukherji’s Autograph and Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury’s Antaheen which was essayed by actor Radhika Apte and Rahul Bose. Talking about the ongoing controversy of director Sandeep Vanga Reddy’s film Animal, Kashyap mentioned misogynistic themes, and glorification of toxic masculinity had always been there in Bollywood — but viewers were less aware. Commenting on being targeted by a section of film as well as the political sphere for his provocative works, Kashyap said that everyone in today’s world is provoking in some way or other including the media. Citing the example of Ray who was targeted as selling poverty like porn in his films, he added that it does not affect him anymore.
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Third Attempt For Maratha Reservations Could Boomerang

The vexed reservation of the Maratha community, which the Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde was hoping to capitalise on, doesn’t seem to have gone well. Not only did it fail to halt the fast by Maratha leader Manoj Jarange Patil, it further upset him and he stated that the community had felt let down by the CM. “It clearly shows that the government doesn’t care much for the demands of the Maratha community,” he rued before announcing further intensification of his hunger strike and refusing treatment. The reservation issue has already been creating much unrest in the Marathwada region with bandhs and protests being part of the agitations playing out there. Analysts view the Maratha reservation issue as a box of false promises brought out before every election to woo the 28% Maratha electorate that is spread across all political parties. This was the third attempt by the Maharashtra government to promise reservations for the Maratha community, with earlier attempts being made by the Devendra Fadnavis government in 2018 and the Prithviraj Chauhan government in 2014. Each time the decisions were stuck down by the courts. Even Shinde is aware of this challenge and kept emphasising that this time, it should stand legal scrutiny, backed up as it was with data from an empirical survey from 1,58,20,264 households using computer assisted personal interviews. Even Jarange Patil is not convinced if it will stand in courts, and this fear could actually boomerang in the Lok Sabha polls.
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Maratha Reservation To Cross SC Ceiling, Though Reduced

The Maharashtra government has decided to cross the 50% reservation ceiling by granting 10% educational and governmental job reservation to the Maratha community. Already, the state’s total reservation is around 52%. Chief minister Eknath Shinde has said that 22 states in the country have crossed the ceiling so far. While moving a resolution to grant Maratha reservation, Shinde said the quota in Tamil Nadu was 69% whereas it was 75% in Bihar. The Maratha reservation demand was first raised in 1980. It was first granted in 2014 and then in 2018. While the first reservation was struck down by the Mumbai High Court, the second was rejected by the Supreme Court. Explaining this history, Shinde claimed that this time, the provision has been structured in such a manner that it will survive judicial scrutiny. He said nearly six lakh objections and suggestions have been received over the draft of the resolution, made public earlier. The Maratha reservation quantum, however, has been reducing in the state. While the 2014 reservation quota was recommended to be 16%, it was suggested by the High Court that the educational quota should be 12% and governmental job quota could be 13%. The reservation now will be 10%, if allowed by the court of law.
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Will Sandeshkhali Incident Hurt TMC’s Lok Sabha Numbers?

The idyllic village of Sandeshkhali in West Bengal has been in the news recently due to demonstrations by several women who claim that Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Shajahan Sheikh and his associates had grabbed their land and sexually assaulted several. Shajahan notoriety came to the fore following his followers attacking Enforcement Directorate officers who had gone to raid his property on January 5 in connection to a ration scam. With Lok Sabha Elections around the corner, Opposition leaders claim they were denied permission to visit Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas district, later getting permission from the court. However, TMC supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee refuted these accusations blaming the BJP and RSS by terming it as a sinister design at play. Didi even promised to send her officials to clear the dues of the locals and set up special police teams to address any criminal issues. Incidentally, Sandeshkhali falls under Basirhat Lok Sabha seat which is predominantly a Muslim belt and Nusrat Jahan is the outgoing MP. It may be recalled that Mamata gained maximum votes from women through her pro-women policies and benefits. Political analysts are citing this as a massive personal betrayal along with a political controversy. This is all because Didi’s image as the supporter of the oppressed and women is fundamentally threatened by this controversy. Many also view that Shahjahan’s arrest can open up a can of worms and lead to an anti-Didi movement just like the Nandigram and Singur which overthrew the Left-led government.
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PM Modi Flummoxed By Protests Again, Farmers 2.0 To Lose Twice Over MSP Ultimatum

The farmers’ stir 2.0, has flummoxed Prime Minister Narendra Modi who withdrew his three farm bills (under protest) following the last uprising by agriculturists in 2021, who refused to settle unless he backtracked. Modi expressed disappointment back then that the triple laws, aimed at doubling agriculturists’ revenues by migrating agricultural produce to open market rates over minimum support price (MSP) valuations, had to be withdrawn. A senior BJP leader tells shortpost.in, “Please consider the ironic fact that the price of wheat was Rs 570 when the three revolutionary farm laws were withdrawn over political orchestrations and large scale violence. Subsequently prices of wheat skyrocketed to over Rs 1000 in 2022, in the wake of the Ukraine war. Migration to market valuations based on demand and supply and open market rates would literally have made Indian farmers richer, almost doubly. But Indian agriculturists lost out on the opportunity thanks to the anti CAA Shaheen Baug protests, followed by farmers 1.0 amplified nationally, politically.” The BJP leader added that the Ukraine conflict saw demand for wheat grow manifold and it was India that stepped in to fill the global void in the Gulf region, Ukraine, Russia, Afghanistan and other markets impacted by wheat scarcity. Ongoing news media narratives over 2.0 protests scaling up and demanding MSP for 23 foodgrains, on pain of unleashing anarchy once again, fail to factor in the lost commercial value that farmers suffered after 1.0 and will likely hurt farmers doubly once again.
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Question Mark On Pinaki Misra's Political Future In BJD?

The rumours are flying thick and fast about the future of Biju Janata Dal’s (BJD) four term Lok Sabha MP Pinaki Misra. The MP from Puri since 2009 has been seen as the political face of Naveen Patnaik in Delhi. Misra, a successful senior advocate in the Supreme Court was accused by the Odisha BJP unit a few months ago for helping Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra in the cash-for-query controversy. And BJP has conveyed its displeasure to Patnaik. Also, Misra who had defeated BJP’s Sambit Patra in 2019 from Puri constituency by a slender margin, is in no mood to fight a direct election. He was hoping for a Rajya Sabha nomination but that did not happen. Instead Patnaik nominated BJD’s Debashis Samantaray, Subhashish Khuntia and BJP’s Ashwini Vaishnaw, Union minister for Railways. Sources within BJD say that erstwhile student leader Arun Kumar Sahoo, MLA from Nayagarh may be given Puri ticket. Puri residents say they want a full time MP who will look into their concerns and challenges of everyday life and not an occasional visitor politician.
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Not A Proud Ranking: Tamil Nadu Has The Highest Outstanding Debt In The Country

When out of power and in the Opposition, political parties talk differently from when they are in power. This is a given and a glaring example of this popped up at the time the Tamil Nadu Budget was presented by the ruling DMK government for 2024-25. Having spent with a great deal of profligacy in having to keep up poll promises like free bus rides for all women, etc, the State is now expected to bear a debt burden well past Rs 8 lakh crore, with the outstanding Tamil Nadu debt by March 31, 2025 projected to be Rs 8,33,361.80 crore. The government is planning to borrow Rs 1,55,584.48 crore during 2024-25 and make a repayment of Rs 49,638.82 crore. “The amount to be borrowed constitutes 26.41% of GSDP in 2024-25. The Outstanding Debt as a percentage of GSDP is expected to be 25.75% in 2025-26 and 25% in 2026-27, which are well within the norms 107 prescribed by the Fifteenth Finance Commission,” was the finance minister Thangam Thennarasu’s statement in the Assembly. When the debt of each Tamil was measured to be around Rs 2.5 lakh, the DMK made a song and dance about it before the 2021 polls. Now that figure will pass Rs 3.5 lakh. Tamil Nadu has the highest outstanding debt in the country.
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Why PM Modi Honoured Expelled Congressman Acharya Pramod Krishnam

Former Congress leader Acharya Pramod Krishnam who was recently expelled from the Congress for six years for praising PM Narendra Modi for the Ayodhya Ram temple consecration ceremony and criticising  party leadership for skipping the event, was honoured by PM Modi as he launched his Kalki Dham Temple in Sambhal, UP. Krishnam, believed to be close to Priyanka Vadra had been pushing for the Hindu cause in the Congress. He had done so at the 2022 Udaipur Chintan Shivir but was outshouted by party leaders from Kerala. Recalling his recent interaction with Krishnam, Modi said that he had known him only as a political personality but recently came to know about his 18-year old struggle to build the temple. PM Modi used Krishnam’s stated inability to offer him anything to take a jibe at the recent Supreme Court on electoral bonds. He said “Today, If Sudama gave rice to Krishna, the Supreme Court would dub it as corruption. Acharya Pramod ji, it is good that you did not give me anything. In today’s era, if Sudama would give rice to Shri Krishna, a PIL would be filed in the SC and the judgment would come that something was given to Lord Krishna in corruption”. Why did PM Modi give so much time and attention to Krishnam? Well, in its quest for winning all the seats in UP, the BJP is not sparing any effort. Besides the Kalki temple, Krishnam is of political value too; he had contested the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Lucknow on a Congress ticket but lost. He, however, garnered an impressive 1.8 lakh votes. In 2014, he unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha elections from UP’s Sambhal — a SP stronghold.
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Jayant Patil Denies Plan To Join BJP, Few Ready To Believe

Though NCP founder Sharad Pawar’s right hand Jayant Patil has discounted any possibility of crossing over to the BJP, there are few believers to trust him as his bonhomie with the saffron party has been a matter of speculation in Maharashtra for a long time. When the NCP split in 2021 and Pawar’s nephew Ajit teamed up with the BJP as well as the Shiv Sena faction led by Eknath Shinde, those remaining loyal to the veteran leader included Jayant Patil, who once was the state’s home as well as finance minister. In fact, his supporters started projecting him as a future CM of Maharashtra when the murmurs about Ajit’s restlessness were heard in NCP circles before the split. Though Patil downplayed this image building exercise, his ambition has not remained a secret. A highly qualified politician, Patil has kept himself away from any scandal all these years. In spite of the efforts to sully his name by his detractors, Patil had managed to keep himself above any acrimony, meekly accepting Ajit’s hegemony in the united NCP. However, since the split, Patil has emerged as the unofficial spokesman of the faction, in the belief that he speaks out Pawar’s mind. But the shock administered by former CM Ashok Chavan is too fresh in the public mind to take Patil on face value. Patil and Supriya Sule have vehemently refuted the possibility of him joining the BJP. However, even his own party workers feel that ‘wait and watch’ is the only option available to them before taking any decision about their own future.
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Photo : @sarfarazkhan977

Another Khan On The Horizon, His Name Is Sarfaraz!

Call it a lovely cameo or what not, Sarfaraz Khan gave a master class to not only respond to the England spinners, but also flay them with a kind of confidence that not a single Indian batter has been able to since the first Test in Hyderabad. The surface may have been amenable to stroke play without fear, but the young debutant’s raw nerves exposed to the highest level of the game for the first time, smashed the England spinners all over the park, with his penchant for the slog sweep evident against off break bowler Joe Root. Sarfaraz has been reminding the selection committee of his gifts for a few years now, and he got the nod once both KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer were not in the squad picked for the third Test. It was an emotional moment for the Khan family, especially for his father Naushad who has chaperoned his son right through his career and with a dream to see the day he would walk out to bat for India. Sarfaraz with 10 years of first class cricket behind him and tons of runs and a good number of centuries showed courage and skill for an hour and twenty minutes and proved that he has the goods to succeed in Test cricket. So another Khan has arrived, not in the tinsel world though.  Can India ignore him for the Twenty20 World Cup!
priyanka rahul

Priyanka Vadra To Keep Off UP Leg Of Yatra, To Allow Focus To Remain On Brother Rahul

Just as Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra entered Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka Vadra made a surprise announcement in a social media post saying that though she was “really looking forward to receiving the BJNY in UP today” she wouldn’t be doing so as she was “admitted to hospital”. Party sources were  surprised that Priyanka who  was  seen with her mother Sonia Gandhi only early this week in Jaipur to file Rajya Sabha nomination would not be participating in the UP leg yatra and  “report sick” . “It is difficult to accept that Priyankaji will not be on the yatra even in UP. She is being deliberately sidelined in the party. First, Rahul did not allow Priyanka to travel to Manipur for the launch of BJNY. Now he is preventing her from showing up even in UP. For some reason, Rahul fancies he has a good chance to reduce the BJP’s numbers. That’s why he wants to keep Priyanka out of the yatra, so that he gets the credit for demolishing PM Modi,” points out a Priyanka loyalist. Party sources pointed out that Priyanka was being isolated ever since she had goofed up while making some recommendations for appointments to Karnataka corporations and boards.  Some names created such an upheaval within the party that the state government had to settle for appointing MLAs to these bodies. Since then Priyanka has been advised to “stay aloof” from party matters. Promising to be in UP once she is “better” , Priyanka signed off wishing all the yatris,”my colleagues in UP who have worked hard towards making arrangements for the yatra and my sweet brother, all success as they reach Chandauli”.
Hindustan photo films

Chennai-Based Healthcare Major Acquires Hindustan Photo Films’ 291 Acres Via Auction Process

It was an iconic name once upon a time. This Tamil Nadu-based central public sector undertaking Hindustan Photo Films Manufacturing Company Ltd (HPF), however, failed to survive the test of time. HPF has long been consigned to the pages of history. Through the IBC (Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code) route, HPF went into liquidation when the official liquidator invited bids for its sale as a “going concern” with a “disputed leasehold land to an extent of 291 acres” late last year. A fast-emerging Chennai-based group, which is coming up rapidly in the healthcare space, is reported to have successfully acquired land and other properties owned by HPF through the auction process. This health care company a few months ago signed up to take over another Chennai-based hospital in a over Rs 125-crore deal. HPF was incorporated in 1960 in the backward Nilgiris district in Tamil Nadu. Its main plant is located at Udhagamandalam. The company’s photographic films were sold under the name ‘Indu’. The company’s operations have been at a standstill since June 2013. A combination of factors — from obsolete technology to weak marketing and high input costs — pushed HPF to the brink. The digital revolution proved the last nail in its coffin. The acquisition indeed pictures the propensity for expansion by this healthcare group.
congress it

Cong Battles I-T Notice On Poll Eve: A Legacy Issue

The Congress faced a temporary hurdle after the Income-Tax department froze its main bank accounts over its returns pertaining to 2018-19. It received a temporary relief after the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal granted relief by de-freezing the accounts until a final hearing next week. In his tweet on X Congress treasurer Ajay Maken said  the I-T department sent “Two Notices — 1st to AICC bankers, and the 2nd to IYC Bankers; A sum of Rs 135,06,88,984/-…(+ Rs 75, 17, 97, 015/- for IYC bank account) is due from the Indian National Congress”.  The Congress party is mandated to ensure that a sum of Rs 115 crore is maintained in its bank accounts. Maken had initially cried foul and tried to dub the I-T action as a vengeful move of the Modi government a day after the Supreme Court had quashed the electoral bonds– some leaders even called for freezing BJP accounts linked to bonds. Maken later conceded that the I-T action had begun long before the Apex Court verdict.  The I-T department had raised a demand of Rs210 crore from the party.  Maken said they were supposed to file their I-T returns for 2018-19 by December 31, 2019, but the party was late by 40-45 days. Maken said since 2019 was an election year, the party had submitted the receipts of Rs 199 crore spent on the elections. Party sources however feel the I-T returns case is a Ahmed Patel legacy issue — it is something that Patel who remained AICC treasurer till his last breath could have easily sorted out. Maybe it was Patel’s way of getting back at an heir apparent Rahul Gandhi who never cared for him.
shashi Rajeev

Shashi Tharoor Or Rajeev Chandrasekhar: Who Will Win Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha Seat?

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, minister of state for IT, Electronics and Skill Development was not re-nominated to Rajya Sabha from Karnataka. Indications are that he will be the BJP candidate for Thiruvananthapuram seat to take on superstar politician, Shashi Tharoor. The three time Congress MP had recently gone on record that even a Narendra Modi will not be able to unseat him from the Kerala capital seat. The BJP candidates have come second in the Thiruvananthapuram seat in the last three elections. Tharoor had won by handsome margins in 2009 and 2019 while in 2014 he won by a narrow margin of 2% against former Railway Minister, O Rajagopal. Hindus account for 66% of the population in the seat followed by Christians 19% and Muslims 15%. Chandrasekhar, a Malayalee by birth, owns Kerala’s number one media house, Asianet Group. After selling off the number one Malayalam entertainment channel, Asianet TV to Star TV, he retained Asianet News, by far the number one Malayalam news channel. Despite being a BJP Minister, the channel has all along maintained a straight forward news stand. Chandrasekhar’s chances of grabbing the Thiruvananthapuram seat looks bleak but he could well build up his chances for 2029 when Tharoor relinquishes the seat as promised.
jhanvi kapoor

Janhvi Kapoor: An Insider Who Is Proving Her Mettle

  Janhvi Kapoor, daughter of Sridevi-Boney Kapoor, has in a short span of time matured as an actress. The new generation looks up to her for her choice of films, fashion sense and visibility quotient. She entered Bollywood in 2018 with Dhadak, a remake of a Marathi film Sairaat and then went on to be nominated for Filmfare Award for Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl and Mili. The 27-year old actress has been working on big screen as well as on OTT. Of the dozen films she has acted in, many like Roohi have bombed at the box office but that has not deterred her from trying even harder. That confidence perhaps is seeing her being signed by various brands and even big producers. The latest rumour is that she may replace south star Sai Pallavi to play Sita in Nitish Tiwari’s Ramayana featuring Ranbir Kapoor as Lord Ram. Her line-up is pretty impressive; she will be seen along with Rajkummar Rao in Dharma Production’s Mr and Mrs Mahi. Besides, she has signed three biggies in South out of which one is Devara with junior NT Rama Rao Jr which is releasing in April. Her energy, her willingness to challenge herself, keeping herself updated and being media friendly is standing her in good stead. She may be an insider but in the end it was her talent, hard work and adaptability that won her recognition in the Hindi film fraternity.
Manoj Jarange patil_004

Maratha Reservation Demand Will See Political Tightrope Walks

The Maratha reservation demand issue has now reached a critical stage as the Maharashtra government has reiterated that the reservation to the most influential community in the state will be granted by remaining within legal limitations and ensuring that it will not hurt the OBCs or any other section of society. Chief minister Eknath Shinde made this announcement as the fast-unto-death by Maratha reservation crusader Manoj Jarange Patil has warned the government of a mass agitation if the demand is not conceded in full. A moot point in his charter is that even ‘relatives’ of the caste members should be covered by the reservations. An extraordinary session of the legislature has been convened on 20 February to consider the demand and endorse it. It is bound to be stormy as the OBCs have again declared their determination to challenge the Maratha reservation, as and when it becomes law in the state. Already, the court has once struck down this reservation in the past. To ensure peace, Shinde has appealed to Jarange to call off his fast. On the other hand, the war of words between senior minister Chhagan Bhujbal, the OBC spokesman, and Jarange is becoming more and more abrasive. The state government will have to do a lot of tightrope walking in view of the elections taking place later this year on this sensitive issue.

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.