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Shocker! Mahayuti Will Win Only 30 Seats In Maharashtrra, Says ABP Majha-C Voter Opinion Poll

The ruling saffron alliance in Maharashtra is predicted to suffer in the coming Lok Sabha election, according to an Opinion Poll conducted by the Marathi news channel ABP Majha and C-Voter. The channel has flashed the inferences drawn by the poll conducted across the state. The highlight of the prediction is that the three-party Mahayuti will have to content itself with just 30 seats, yielding the remaining 18 to the Opposition-led I.N.D.I.A front. The Mahayuti had won 41 seats in 2019. The shocking prophecy in the poll is that the NCP led by deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar will not be able to win a single Lok Sabha seat. The broad findings of the poll are as follows: BJP 21/22, Shiv Sena (Eknath Shinde) 9/10, Shiv Sena (UBT) 9, NCP (Sharad) 5 and Congress 3. Moreover, in Baramati, Supriya Sule is likely to be re-elected, the poll says. The Congress party will improve its tally to three from the lone Chandrapur seat it won in the 2019 election. The NCP under Sharad Pawar will retain Satara and Shirur while the results in Madha, Nanded and Parbhani will be astonishing, according to the poll. The Sena under Uddhav Thackeray will receive a much-needed boost if it can win about 10 seats since most of its sitting MPs and MLAs have gone with chief minister Eknath Shinde.
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Will Raj Thackeray Share Dais With PM In Mumbai?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much-awaited Mumbai rally has raised extra curiosity since Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray is expected to share the dais with him. Although no formal confirmation has been forthcoming about either the date or venue of the public meeting, it is likely to take place at the historic Shivaji Park grounds in the heart of Mumbai. Thakeray’s son Amit has indicated in Pune about Raj addressing the rally in Modi’s presence. Only recently, Raj had had asked his rank and file to work for Modi’s return and the NDA’s success. If his presence at Modi’s rally is announced officially, MNS workers will campaign for the saffron alliance more enthusiastically, it is felt. Amit hinted at the joint rally during his visit of Pune, which was for expanding his party’s presence there. BJP’s Pune Lok Sabha candidate Murlidhar Mohol, a former mayor, called on him during his stay, to enlist the MNS support. A BJP stronghold for a long time, the party had to face a defeat in the recently held Pune assembly byelection. Hence, the party is unwilling to leave anything to chance this time. The meeting between Amit and Mohol is a boost for the NDA in this situation. About Mumbai, Amit said that the Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray will suffer heavily since in the capital city of Maharashtra.
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Why Has Congress Pitted A Young Minister Against Actor Kangana Ranaut?

The Congress which lost a Rajya Sabha seat after six of its MLAs cross voted to the BJP candidate is trying to amp up its game in the Lok Sabha polls by fielding a royal heavyweight — PWD minister Vikramaditya Singh for Mandi in Himachal Pradesh against actor Kangana Ranaut. The Queen film actress has been in the limelight ever since BJP announced her nomination from Mandi. Historically, the Mandi constituency has favoured scions of erstwhile princely states, electing royals in 13 out of 19 elections, including two polls since 1952. However, with Singh and Kangana competing against each other from Mandi, the politics of Himachal has spiced up. Vikramaditya is the son of six-time chief minister Virbhadra Singh and Pratibha Singh. His mother Pratibha is the sitting MP from Mandi and the Congress’s state unit president.  Pratibha Singh did not want to contest as MP. Himachal Congress leaders said Vikramaditya was the best bet against BJP bulwark. BJP sources said Kangana was a self-made woman and symbolised what any driven person can achieve. Resting on the laurels of his family, Vikramaditya was conscious that his father Virbhadra Singh and mother had each won from Mandi thrice. He called Kangana “queen of controversies”, the actress termed him “Chota Pappu”. Party sources said before entering the fray both Pratibha and Vikramaditya had called on Sonia Gandhi. It is quite possible the Singhs may have sought a post-election deal — a deputy CM post for Vikramaditya if he fails to win.
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Dalits Miss Out Seats In The Post-Split Maharashtra Scenario

Dalits, who constitute 11.81 % of Maharashtra’s population, have failed to find space in the seat-sharing arrangements from either of the political coalitions in the post-split Maharashtra political scenario. Ramdas Athawale, the erstwhile Union minister for social justice and empowerment, and probably the most prominent Dalit face in the country, has failed to bag even a single seat for his party. Athawale revealed that he has been promised cabinet ministership in the forthcoming Maharashtra government, posts in a few corporations in and assured seats in the forthcoming assembly elections. He also revealed that his supporters had asked him to stay put in the ruling NDA alliance since being in power had benefited his party. He is also cool right now as his own Rajya Sabha term continues till 2026. Ambedkar did rue that despite being an old alliance partner with the BJP-led Mahayuti coalition, those who came in much later like the Eknath Shinde received much better terms than him. Athawale’s pitch for Shirdi constituency had to be given up to accommodate the seat for Eknath Shinde-supporter sitting MP Sadashiv Lokhande. He did admit that deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had reached out to him to cool tempers after he publicly expressed his displeasure. The other senior Dalit leader, Prakash Ambedkar has already put up 20 candidates from his Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi. This time around though Ambedkar has decided to put up candidates from all communities and not necessarily only from the Dalit community.
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In Dharmapuri Its No Holds Barred Fight Between PMK And AIADMK

Dharmapuri in Tamil Nadu seems to be a fiery battleground this election. Both AIADMK and PMK are locked in a no-holds battle. AIADMK chief Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) is quite livid that PMK’s Dr Anbumani Ramadoss who almost signed a seat sharing deal with AIADMK, ditched them at the last moment, tied-up with BJP. As a strategy Dr Anbumani has fielded his wife Sowmiya who has the heft to woo women voters like a film star. In a show of strength the entire PMK family founders and other heavyweights are camping out to ensure Sowmiya wins. Sowmiya takes direction from both father-in-law, Party founder Dr S Ramadoss and husband Dr Anbumani, a former Union health minister. Her three daughters move around and appeal to elderly women. The feeling that a family which campaigns together makes a collective impact, predominates. But EPS is roaring like a wounded tiger…this Lok Sabha constituency has six assembly segments. He too is ensuring that AIADMK wins the Dharmapuri seat. The demographics here tell a different story…a significant number are Vellala Gounders (EPS’s community). A huge 47% are from the schedule lists…these voters are AIADMK loyalists. It may take much convincing for them to switch loyalties, especially to forgive PMK’s expediency. Looks like sentiments and traditions are battling it out in Dharmapuri.

BJP Rise In TN Scares State Polity, Dravidian Parties Unite To Defeat Annamalai

 The BJP, which is heading a non-DMK, non-AIADMK bloc in Tamil Nadu and is contesting directly from 19 seats, including Coimbatore from where its state BJP chief K Annamalai is contesting, hopes to make good electoral inroads in the Dravidian heartland. With opinion polls indicating that the BJP could spring a surprise in the southern state, the buzz is that there is an unofficial tie-up between the DMK and the AIADMK to defeat the outlier BJP. In fact, the two Dravidian parties are so alarmed by the rise of Annamalai they are even uniting to defeat him in his Coimbatore Lok Sabha constituency. Coimbatore is also the home ground of AIADMK leader Edappadi K Palaniswami. Which is why it does seem odd to see the AIADMK join hands with the DMK to fix Annamalai. It is being said a sinister project to defeat Annamalai in Coimbatore is being executed by Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin’s son-in-law and businessman  V Sabareesan and minister’s son Udhayanidhi. Sabareesan has reportedly been making multiple trips to Coimbatore. Of course, the eagerness of DMK’s first family to pin down Annamalai in Coimbatore has not helped much. Annamalai has been busy traveling to other constituencies and all over the state. Opinion polls are indicating that the BJP-NDA could win four to six seats in Tamil Nadu. Non-BJP leaders concede that PM Modi has been giving a lot of attention to the state; he has visited Tamil Nadu over eight times since the beginning of 2024. Modi’s visits are naturally bound to yield results.
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BSE SME Head Ajay Thakur Puts In His Papers

The man who single-handedly built the BSE SME Platform over the last one decade has put in his papers. A diehard workaholic Ajay Thakur, is responsible for starting and making SME Exchange and Startup Platform successful in India. Today his name has become synonymous with SMEs. Even though BSE is a century old Brand but when it came to promoting the SME platform, the task Thakur was entrusted in 2010, it was not exactly a cakewalk. MSME promoters were not keen to list on this platform. He nearly personally met 35,000 SMEs from all over the country in the last 12 years trying to convince them, created an ecosystem of merchant bankers and other intermediaries before his passion, conviction and dream began to bear fruit.  Today, BSE is the largest and most successful SME Platform in India with 491 companies listed and another 125 companies in the pipeline. These 491 companies have raised an amount of Rs 6,397 crore and have market capitalization of approximately Rs 140,000 crore. Seeing the success of BSE SME even NSE has got into the play. Under Thakur’s leadership, BSE has conducted 2500 physical seminars and 500 webinars across the country to create awareness among SMEs and Start-ups about the benefits of equity funding and listing on the SME and Startup Platforms of BSE.

BJP Vs TMC: The Battle for North Bengal Intensifies as Election Day Approaches

The battle for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections is seeing intense and bitter battle between BJP and TMC in north Bengal’s six constituencies which go to poll on April 19 and April 26. The six constituencies are: Raiganj, Balurghat, Darjeeling, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar. In 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP won seven out of eight seats routing Trinamool Congress. However, TMC regained a significant portion of its lost political ground in the 2021 Assembly election and 2023 panchayat elections. BJP is fiercely contesting to retain its seats against TMC’s aggressive push via its social welfare schemes launched in the last two years. Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee started campaigning for north Bengal on the same day on April 4.  In terms of ethnic support it seems mixed. Bharatiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha is endorsing the TMC candidate, but the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha led by Bimal Gurung is siding with the BJP. Despite the support of Gurung, BJP faces problems from within; Kurseong’s BJP MLA, Bishnu Prasad Sharma is contesting as an independent after being denied a Lok Sabha ticket. Situation also remains critical in Alipurduar, after BJP dropped its outgoing MP John Barla, citing poor performance, who remained conspicuous by his absence during Modi’s recent rallies. Once a bastion of Left Front ally Forward Bloc, Cooch Behar equations remain different — with Lok Sabha seat going to BJP. Similarly, the Greater Cooch Behar People’s Association representing the Rajbanshi Community is supporting TMC.
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Bumrah Imposing In IPL, Siraj Quite Ordinary!

With a little over seven weeks left for the ICC Men’s World Twenty20 to start in New York for the men in the blue team, the BCCI’s senior selection committee ought to be anxious about the form demonstrated by its leading lights — barring the notable exception of Jasprit Bumrah — in the fast bowling department. Bumrah has been exceptional, imposing himself upon the batters with a high degree of consistency; turning out for the beleaguered Mumbai Indians, he even bagged his second five-for in the home match against Royal Challengers Bengaluru. In six Tata-IPL season 17 matches, Bumrah has bowled 24 overs for returns of 10 wickets at 14.60 apiece. But his partner, Mohammed Siraj, has sent down 22 overs in six matches for RCB and taken four wickets at a high cost of 57.25, numbers similar to the 2022 season when he took nine wickets at 57.11 in 15 matches. But in the IPL-16, he took 19 wickets at 19.74 in 15 matches, numbers reflecting the blow-hot, blow-cold nature of the shortest format. Khaleel Ahmed (Delhi Capitals), Mohit Sharma (Gujarat Titans), Arshdeep Singh (Punjab Kings), Harshal Patel (Punjab Kings), Umesh Yadav (Gujarat Titans), Yash Thakur (Lucknow SuperGiants) and a few more are in the list of wicket-takers (5-6 band). Lucknow Super Giant’s Mayank Yadav was sensational in two matches before a side strain rendered him out of action. Luckily, the selectors have a fortnight to name the initial squad for the big show in the USA and Caribbean. Of much interest will be the news of Yadav’s fitness.
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Ajit Pawar To File Nomination For Lok Sabha From Baramati As A Precautionary Step

Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar’s surprise move to decide to file a nomination from family fiefdom Baramati is seen more as a precaution than strategy. His wife Sunetra is the nominee of his faction of the NCP. His uncle Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Suleis seeking re-election from the constituency, facing the formidable challenge mounted by her sister in law Sunetra. Ajit has obtained nomination forms and is expected to file the same. As and when Sunetra’s papers are found in order, he will withdraw. The precaution has been prompted after the Congress fiasco in Ramtek seat in Vidarbha. There, official candidate Rashmi Barve’s nomination was rejected on caste certificate grounds. Fortunately for the Congress, her husband Shyamkumar had also filed papers as a dummy candidate. He is now in the fray. Emulating the lesson, Ajit has prepared to fight in case of any complications in the scrutiny. His action is perceived as a firm resolve to end his uncle’s hegemony in Baramati in particular and Pune district, too
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Photo : @akshaykumar

Is Akshay Kumar Losing Bankable Star Image?

Akshay Kumar may be one of the few actors in Bollywood who completes his films in record time. Ironically, his record of flops seems to be beating that. The ‘Khiladi’ Kumar’s latest film Bade Miyan Chote Miyan has opened to lukewarm response at the box office despite the fact it was released on Eid. The Day 1 collection was Rs 16.07 crore.  Movie critic Taran Adarsh commented on X: “With a dream cast + lavish making + holiday factor + aggressive promotions + terrific track record of its director, #BMCM should’ve opened anywhere between Rs 25 cr and Rs 30 cr [even higher] on Day 1.” Trade pundits feel that Akshay Kumar’s poor numbers at the Box Office both pre- and post-Covid has in a way dented his bankable star image. It is likely that filmmaker makers will definitely think twice before signing him. The films that have not worked for Akshay Kumar are Selfie, Mission Raniganj,  Samrat Prithviraj, Ram Setu, Cutputli and  Bachchan Pandey. Trade Analyst Girish Wankhede says, “This sixth flop in a row is a sorry state for Akshay kumar, who has been the favourite of producers. His over exposure or the choice of films, or his experimentation with various genre could be some of the reasons for his films not finding takers. He was always a bankable star, but with several flops, his filmography seems to be losing its sheen.”  The trade will be closely watching how his films like Skyforce, Housefull 5, Welcome To The Jungle and JollyLLB 3 fare.
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BJP’s Dr Sambit Patra Vs BJD’s Arup Patnaik: Whom Will The Lord Jagannath Bless?

In Odisha with BJD and BJP deciding to fight the 2024 Lok Sabha elections separately, the big question everybody is asking: “Who will wrest the prestigious Parliamentary seat of Puri? Will it be BJP’s Dr Sambit Patra or BJD’s ex-Mumbai top cop Arup Patnaik?  Analysts feel BJP’s articulate spokesperson Dr Patra has an edge; he has a head start advantage over Patnaik as he contested 2019 Lok Sabha against BJD’s Pinaki Misra from Puri but lost it by 11,000 votes. So he knows the constituency well.  Besides, even after losing the last election, Dr Patra has been nursing the constituency for the last five years and building relationships with locals. Also, Dr Patra’s name was announced quite early in the day by the BJP. On the other hand, many feel Arup Patnaik has been para dropped quite late in the day even though his home town is Delang, Puri. Yes, he is also not new to the game. It may be recalled Patnaik fought the 2019 poll against BJP’s Aparajita Sarangi from Bhubaneshwar but lost it by slender margin. Seasoned observers say “Though Ayodhya is a big positive for BJP, one can’t rule out that Puri’s Lord Jagannath Temple too has been transformed at a cost of nearly Rs 1,000 crore by chief minister Naveen Patnaik. And this is bound to have a positive effect on BJD vis a vis Arup Patnaik. One has to wait and watch till June 4 to find out who will Lord Jagannath bless — Dr Sambit Patra or Arup Patnaik?
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Sharad Pawar On Defensive, Denies ‘Outsider’ Remark About Ajit’s Wife

Veteran leader Sharad Pawar has backtracked on his controversial remark about nephew Ajit Pawar’s wife Sunetra, whom he had described as an ‘outsider’ in Baramati. Pawar had passed this remark while campaigning for his daughter Supriya Sule, and appealed to the electors indirectly to vote for a ‘local’ candidate. This remark to further Supriya’s prospects became viral and has been condemned by several women activists. Alerted by the likely backlash during voting, Pawar clarified before the media in Satara that he had never made such a statement. ‘I was only reacting to Ajit’s call to elect his wife by saying that after the people of Baramati had elected myself, Ajit and Supriya, they should elect another Pawar.”  Ajit and Sunetra were married in 1985, almost four decades ago. Although she has refused to react to the thorny issue, it is becoming election ammunition. Sunetra is the younger sister of Dr Padamsingh Patil, an ardent former confidant of Pawar and Dharashiv (Osmanabad) strongman, dreaded for his daredevil style of politics. In a bid to blunt likely opposition attacks, Pawar mentioned that he was the first chief minister in India to implement a special policy for women whereby they were granted reservations for local body elections. He recalled that it was during his term as defence minister that women were inducted in defence services.
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Sharad Pawar’s 50% Candidates ‘Imported’, Similar Story With All Major Parties

The NCP faction under founder Sharad Pawar is banking upon ‘imported’ candidates for the coming Lok Sabha election. The NCP (Pawar) is contesting 10 seats in Maharashtra and five of its nominees have come from outside. But the party is not alone. All major parties have adopted this route to ensure wins on their roster. After nephew Ajit Pawar engineered a vertical split in the NCP, most of the elected members, in the state and in parliament, chose to part ways with Sharad Pawar. Hence he explored the hopefuls elsewhere and offered them candidature, denied by their party. Those crossing over include BJP’s Shriram Patil from Jalgaon. Wardha’s NCP (Ajit faction) candidate Amar Kale has been elected on a Congress ticket to the assembly thrice. At least two Ajit followers have staged a homecoming. They are Nilesh Lanke from Ahmednagar district and Bajrang Sonawane from Beed district. Both have been fielded by Sharad Pawar soon after their return. Lanke is a powerful orator, who will take on the influential Vikhe-Patil family’s scion Dr Sujay, sitting MP. The latest to join him is Dhairyasheel from the powerful Mohite-Patil family from Solapur district. He will be contesting from Madha. He was BJP’s organising secretary for several years. Pawar himself is campaigning for them despite his advancing years. The Shiv Sena (Shinde), the BJP and the Congress, too, have welcomed such turncoats.
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‘Fixing’ For 20 Maharashtra Lok Sabha Seats, Alleges Ambedkar

Maverick leader Prakash Ambedkar’s allegation that the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) has reached an understanding with the BJP in 20 Lok Sabha constituencies in Maharashtra is bound to add to the Opposition’s headache. At present, a series of allegations is heard against NCP chief Sharad Pawar that he had almost joined BJP and NDA but turned away at the last moment. Those repeating the charge include Praful Patel and Chhagan Bhujbal, both his former staunch supporters. As a result, an element of distrust appears creeping in MVA as Pawar has always remained unpredictable. Though Ambedkar’s many past statements have been found to be audacious, his latest claim could fuel the internecine conflict in MVA further. Ambedkar has alleged that the 20 constituencies where ‘fixing’ is made include Buldhana, Beed and Kalyan. Interestingly, the name of chief minister Eknath Shinde’s son Dr Shrikant Shinde, current Kalyan MP, is yet to be announced as a candidate for the seat formally. However, his name has been mentioned by deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis as the nominee. Even as Mahayuti is still grappling with seat sharing among its three partners, MVA is riddled with protests and a pall of suspicion owing to the dispute over some prestigious constituencies can be felt. Added to the intrigue is constant whispers about some important MVA leaders crossing over to the saffron camp. Ambedkar is expected to reveal the so-called list in a day or two.
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Clockwise L To R: Dilip Ghosh, Suvendu Adhikari, Debasree Chowdhari and SS Ahluwalia

After Karnataka, BJP Cadres In West Bengal Protests Over Turncoats Being Given Lok Sabha Tickets

For a disciplined party this one certainly comes as a shock. A section of BJP cadres in West Bengal have launched “Save Bengal BJP” campaign by organising a rally to protest against turncoats being given Lok Sabha tickets. The criteria for getting a party ticket should be local representation and party loyalty. They feel outsiders are being accommodated while genuine party leaders are getting elbowed out. Interestingly the “BJP Bachao Manch” is canvassing to press the ‘NOTA’ button, expressing no confidence with BJP candidates. These vociferous cadres are also questioning the legitimacy and authority of its own leader — Suvendu Adhikari whose proposals have been considered by the Delhi High Command. Convenor of this committee Deepak Sarkar says, if chief ministers like Hemant Soren, Arvind Kejriwal are jailed then why Adhikari is being given a breather despite being named in several CBI and ED cases. They have also questioned why the high command has shifted Dilip Ghosh from Medinipur to Burdwan-Durgapur constituency, Debasree Chowdhari from Raiganj to South Kolkata. Besides, they have also objected to the candidatures of SS Ahluwalia from Asansol against Shatrughan Sinha and that of Suvendu Adhikari’s brother Soumendu nominated from Kanthi. The rebel cadres have made it categorically clear that they will not leave the party, instead, if necessary, they will field independent candidates in seats where original BJP leaders have been ignored. Hope Delhi high command is listening.

Has Tamil Film Superstar Vijay Spread Himself Thin To Jump Into Politics?

The past couple of years have been a free run for Tamil film superstar Vijay…Tarzan like he jumps from big budget film to bigger budget film, marketing them , keeping ahead in the “most profitable star” race and of course, making that all too familiar transition to politics. Reportedly, he had a spat with Dad Chandrasekhar, his wife Sangeetha had taken off to her UK home and he only vibed with mother Shobha. So his fans were restive about his jump to politics. Meanwhile, his much talked about 68th film, GOAT, a Venkat Prabhu directed sci fi extravaganza with Prabhu Deva and a host of Kollywood names have been marketed and hyped sky high. His swan song, the 69th film has already raised speculation; it was to be made by the RRR makers DVV Films but it pulled out, leaving behind three contenders –Sun Pictures, AGS Entertainment and Seven Screen films. As anticipated this last film spins around politics. But he has made it clear that his party Tamilaga Vettri Kazhagam would be in the fray for the 2026 assembly elections. Meanwhile he fulfilled his mother’s wishes by building a Sai Baba temple in Korattur. Devotees are thronging the temple especially on Thursdays. Is the big draw for Sai Baba or Vijay is hard to gauge. But, there is no denying he is a compulsive newsmaker.
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Over Confidence Or Over Dependence? Why Rahul Gandhi Did Not Campaign In Tamil Nadu Like PM Modi?

After the announcement of the elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has visited Tamil Nadu over eight times…more to follow. His stormtroopers Amit Shah, JP Nadda, Amit Shah and L Murugan have literally camped in TN. But why is Rahul Gandhi not sparing his time and attention to this important state, with a history of a heritage relationship with DMK over the years? After much surprise expressed by Congress cadres, Rahul is scheduled to visit TN on April 12, that too an afternoon sortie in Tirunelveli where he campaign for the I.N.D.I.A front candidate, and a cameo role with Stalin at Coimbatore, the current epicenter of the electoral battle in TN. Even his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra too has not bothered to visit TN where so many women candidates are in the fray. Modi’s roadshows and lavish attention garnering campaign meetings in TN has intrigued all political watchers. Of course, it’s a valiant effort by a PM to thunder with a third alternative to the Dravidian Monopoly, and this concentrated focus is already showing optics of a significant rise in the BJP presence. So it is logical that Rahul and Congress go all out to counter the BJP rise. Newly minted TN Congress chief Selva Perundagai claimed that if he had pressurized, both Rahul and Kharge would have camped in TN. “But why waste our efforts, when Stalin has guaranteed that his campaign is more than enough”. Is Rahul over-depending on DMK?

World Athletics Set A New Trend, To Give Away $50,000 Cash Prize To Gold Medal Winners

A prize of $ 50000 each to the 48 gold medal winners of the Track and Field events at the Paris Summer Olympics in July –August 2024 may not be seen as a jackpot by the particular fraternity. Still, the sum is not pocket money either! It’s the sentiment that counts, and the World Athletics (WA) decision to disburse $ 2.4 million to the gold medallists in Paris — a portion of the revenue WA receives from the quadrennial Olympics — is a move that could trigger similar initiatives from other international sports federations. WA needs to be applauded, particularly its president, Sebastian Coe, a distinguished middle-distance runner who won gold medals at the Moscow (1980) and Los Angeles (1984) Olympics. India’s own Adille Sumariwalla, a sprinter-achiever, an Olympian and administrator (president of the Athletics Federation of India), was part of the WA decision as its Council member. The medal winners at the Olympics do not receive cash prize money, and hence, the WA decision would compensate the gold medal winners in a big way. The silver and bronze medal winners will likely get a cash prize from the WA but from the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. An Indian track and field athlete will receive Rs 41 lakh plus should they win a gold medal in Paris, and as of now, it looks as though only javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra can win the gold; he won at the Tokyo Olympics 2020.

Kejriwal's Arrest Sees Exodus From AAP, Is The Party Not Bothered?

The arrest of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal in the liquor gate scam has deeply shaken the decade-old Aam Aadmi Party with a number of its MLAs and MPs looking for safe exit. In fact the resignation of one of Delhi’s six ministers, Dalit leader Raaj Kumar Anand, a day after the Supreme Court refused to provide urgent relief to Kejriwal has  added to unravelling of the AAP at least in Delhi. First, Kejriwal suffered a setback after Delhi High Court dismissed a challenge by him against his March 21 arrest by the ED. The court stated that the central agency was left with “little option” as Kejriwal had ignored several summons in the case. The ED also alleged that Kejriwal was actively involved in using and concealing the alleged proceeds of crime. Thereafter the Supreme Court also did not seem to be in a hurry to provide succour to him.  Meanwhile, desertions in the party began with the lone Lok Sabha member, Sushil Kumar Rinku, a dalit leader from Jalandhar joining the BJP along with Punjab MLA Sheetal Angural. It also set off a buzz that next in line to jump ship would be Rajya Sabha MP Raghav Chadha. In midst of these desertions senior AAP leader Dr Sandeep Pathak took an ostrich-like approach to those wishing to exit AAP. He tweeted “Jho bhajpa (BJP) mein jana chahte hain, unhe tata bye bye“. Punjab BJP chief Sunil Jhakhar found it odd that the AAP should be dismissive of those leaving the party. “Instead of reflecting on the reasons, Dr Pathak has reacted exactly in the same manner as Amrinder Warring of the Congress did when its leaders left Congress to join BJP. This arrogance will prove to be the one of the reasons for the undoing of both their parties”.
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Another Blow To Congress, Maharashtra LoP Likely To Join BJP

The embattled Maharashtra Congress is receiving one shock after another. Now, leader of the opposition in the Maharashtra legislative assembly, Vijay Wadettiwar, has been forced to refute claims that he is on the cusp of joining the BJP. Senior Congress leaders in various constituencies are coming out openly against the state unit’s decision on seat sharing with the Shiv Sena (Uddhav) and the NCP (Sharad Pawar). Some have even left the party. Though hardly any damage control effort by the party is seen, the so-called revelation about Wadittewar has been made by minister of food and drug administration Dharmarao Baba Atram. He told the media that talks about Wadettiwar joining the BJP had taken place in his presence. Wadettiwar is a close confidant of former chief minister Ashok Chavan, who recently joined the BJP. Enraged by the claim, Wadettiwar demanded that a narco test should be carried out on Atram. He alleged that Atram was making false statements since the BJP was certain to lose the Gadchiroli seat held by it for the past decade. In Nasik and Mumbai, too, Congress workers have expressed anguish over the seat sharing and candidate selection. In Nasik, several Congress leaders have threatened to resign since senior worker Shobha Bachchav has been fielded from Dhule. Mumbai Congress president Varsha Gaikwad, too, has conveyed her hurt sentiments to the high command.
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Modi's Muslim League Attack Upsets Congress Plans To Target Women Voters

Has the Congress not been able to market its election manifesto because of PM Modi likening it to Muslim League charter? Probably, yes. A section of the Congress leaders feel the manifesto did have interesting features but the message got lost mid-way as the BJP attacked it for pandering to Muslims. In fact, PM Modi led the way likening the Congress’s assurances to the minority community as bearing resemblance to “Muslim League while a part of it is dominated by the Leftists”. He had charged the Congress of being cut off from the aspirations and expectations of today’s India. The Congress manifesto laid emphasis on Paanch Nyay or 5 pillars of justice as well as 25 guarantees as part of its election promises for Lok Sabha polls. For minorities, the Congress promised to “have the freedom of choice of dress, food, language and personal laws.” Party sources admit that instead of responding to Modi’s Muslim League charge, the Congress should have focused on its resolve to launch the Mahalakshmi scheme to provide Rs 1 lakh per year to every poor Indian family as an unconditional cash transfer. “Instead of responding to Modi, if we had focussed on our message, we could have done better”. It could have been a game changer. That is if the Congress could get its message across to women voters. “I doubt, if we have applied our mind to this,” says a party leader. However, given the poor track-record of roll-out of Congress guarantees in Karnataka and Telangana, it is possible that women voters could be wary of such tall promises.
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First Casualty Of Raj Thackeray’s Support To Modi is MNS General Secretary

MNS president Raj Thackeray’s ‘unconditional’ support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP has scored its first casualty. MNS general secretary Keertikumar Shinde  left the organisation soon after Raj declared his stand at a huge rally in Shivaji Park in Mumbai on April 9. Shinde’s resignation has gone viral on social media. Raj’s critics, too, have come out to point fingers at him. The first such salvo was fired by Republican leader Prakash Ambedkar, who has claimed that the BJP supporters from north and south India have begun feeling insecure because of the stand taken by Raj. MNS had in the past assaulted their brethren, Ambedkar recalled and said the undivided Shiv Sena and later MNS had launched violent agitations against ‘outsiders’ in Maharashtra. The other criticism of Raj was a statement by Sena (Uddhav) MP Sanjay Raut. He was asked why his party had not sought Raj’s support if it had tried to enlist Ambedkar to its side. Raut sarcastically said that the moot issue was the seriousness of the person (Raj) to be approached and not if his help was sought. “Politics is not a game to pass time,” Raut quipped. Also, the silence of Raj about supporting the Sena led by Eknath Shinde and the NCP led by Ajit Pawar is considered significant. His clarification on this delicate aspect is expected to be issued soon.

Clockwise L To R: Soumendu Adhikari , Arjun Singh, Tapas Roy, & Mukut Mani Adhikari

Loyalty Passe: Political Parties Bet On Turncoats To Win Lok Sabha Polls

Loyalty is passe. A new trend is emerging that is seeing political parties betting on defectors and turncoats to win the elections. In West Bengal, both the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Opposition BJP have given tickets to turncoats instead of party loyalists. For instance, out of its 42 candidates, TMC has fielded four turncoats who have either joined the party recently or are elected MPs/MLAs from rival parties. Besides, tickets have been given to three more who are either TMC MPs or MLAs with a history of switching sides.  Similarly, BJP out of the 40 seats announced, has given tickets to five turncoats from TMC.  Out of which three are MLAs and they are: Biswajit Das, Mukut Mani Adhikari and Krishna Kalyani. Others like actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha, Sujata Mondal, Biplab Mitra and Abu Taher Khan quit BJP or Congress to join TMC. Similarly, incumbent MP of Barrackpore Arjun Singh who was with TMC earlier had defected to BJP and won 2019 election. But soon went back to TMC as he was sidelined by the saffron camp. Interestingly, he has again gone to BJP as TMC denied him the ticket. Ditto: MLA Tapas Roy. He quit TMC after having a fallout with Didi’s close aide Sudip Banerjee. Roy now challenges Banerjee from Kolkata North LS seat. The decisions taken by the political parties to accommodate turncoats have not gone down well with party cadres and loyalists; it has incited unrest and animosity. Many loyalists say they will not campaign for such turncoats with the same fervour they did once upon a time. The parties in turn have justified their decisions by stating they gave weightage to a candidate’s “winnability”. Seems like a short sighted strategy.

Congress Cuts A Sorry Figure In Maharashtra Seat Distribution

The Congress seems to have become a sacrificial lamb at the altar of coalition politics in the Maharashtra seat-sharing adjustments. Though the Congress got 17 seats in the state, most of the tickets were from seats where the Opposition is on a stronger footing. Take Mumbai, here, Congress has got two seats — Mumbai North and Mumbai North Central — both of which are BJP strongholds. It failed to get a seat for its own Mumbai Congress chief Varsha Gaikwad, a prominent Dalit face, who was keen to represent the Dharavi belt from the Mumbai South Central seat, which her father had represented. Not surprisingly, Varsha Gaikwad has gone incommunicado with the media. The Congress also had to let go of its claim for Sangli and Bhiwandi seats, where Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar’s cadres simply went ahead and claimed it without even bothering to ask. The ex-state youth Congress chief Vishwajeet Kadam’s repeated Delhi trips failed to cut any ice. Though the I.N.D.I.A front and its Maharashtra leg, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) managed to put up a united front while declaring its candidates, the rumblings didn’t take long to come out. “We don’t know how we are going to face our cadres and get them to work in this election. They were so upbeat about taking on Modi on our turf and suddenly we seem to be out of constituencies where we were strong and stuck up with seats where we stand no chance. There is large-scale frustration and anger among our cadres,” admitted a Congress office-bearer.

Has Popular Tamil Film Hero Suriya Hit A Rough Patch?

This happens, frequently in Bolly, Kolly or any wood, when top stars suddenly face a drought. Salman Khan has lived through it for nearly three years. Popular Tamil film hero Suriya Sivakumar seems to be going through a similar predicament. He has had no new outings after the super success of Soorarai Pottru (Sudha Kongara directed biopic on Captain GR of Air Deccan fame). Then was followed by Jai Bhim in 2022, also critically acclaimed but politically a sensitive theme that brought unease to Suriya. His highly publicised Kanguva is under post production. Meanwhile Suriya had another setback. The much expected second Sudha Kongara creation, Puranaanuru has been shelved. So when Suriya and Karthik Subburaj jointly announced a new venture under Suriya’s home production 2D, it raised the excitement levels of his fans. Suriya and Subburaj have agreed to work for free and will share profit once the film does well at the box office. Subburaj is said to have written the story for Vijay originally, but many say it was scripted keeping Suriya as the hero in that suave and strong role that he excels in …will it be another Kaakha Kaakha or the Shaolin, Ezhaam Arivu? Suriya and his wife Jyotika have endured much gossip lately, when they shifted out of Chennai to Mumbai. In-laws issue? No, insists Jyotika, it’s just for kids’ schooling and her professional needs. Jyotika has resurrected her career in a big way. Can Suriya do likewise?
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Can Hockey Legend Dilip Tirkey Win Against BJP Veteran Jual Oram?

With talks with BJP failing, the Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik is going all out to ensure his party Biju Janata Dal (BJD) wins maximum number of Lok Sabha seats in Odisha. And this has put immense pressure on candidates like hockey legend Dilip Kumar Tirkey who is contesting against veteran BJP politician Jual Oram, a five time MP from Sundargarh. Padma Shri and Arjuna Awardee Tirkey is currently President of Hockey India. He was BJD’s Rajya Sabha MP between 2012 and 2018. In 2014, Oram had defeated Tirkey by 18,829 votes. So can Tirkey defeat Oram this time? Not really if one considers reasons given by political analysts. First, BJP’s Jual Oram is a veteran and given his political acumen it will be difficult to turf him out. Second, Tirkey is a Christian and that may help woo Christian votes and improve his performance but not good enough to win as Ayodhya wave is all over Odisha. And finally, this is Oram’s last election so he is bound to win at all costs. Commenting on his rival, Jual Oram said “Dilip is like a younger brother… he was a star hockey player…he is a good human being… but he lacks experience”. On June 4 we will know the voter’s preference.
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Praniti Shinde Gains CPM Support, Modi’s Admirer Singing Different Tune In Solapur

Top Congress leader Sushilkumar Shinde’s daughter Praniti Shinde has heaved a sigh of relief after her traditional opponent, CPM’s Narasayya Adam has declared his support to her for the Solapur Lok Sabha constituency. Though Praniti had trounced Adam thrice since 2009 in the assembly election, the formation of the I.N.D.I.A front has ended this rivalry, even though it could be a transient arrangement. But more surprising is the fact that Adam has now claimed that the massive housing project that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated by specially visiting Solapur in January this year was not due to the BJP. In fact, it was Adam who had urged Modi in 2019 to accelerate the project and had publicly thanked him when it took off as well as after its completion. In the changing scenario, Congress president Sonia Gandhi reportedly spoke with CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechuri about the Solapur seat to seek CPM’s support. Sushilkumar’s proximity with the Gandhi clan is well known. He also called up Yechuri. Later, a meeting took place between Praniti and Adam, who had started singing a different tune. Considering these factors, the BJP has fielded Ram Satpute to take on Praniti. Still, some nervousness is palpable in the Congress camp as the strategy of the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi and the AIMIM is still uncovered. Nonetheless, Praniti’s prospects have brightened due to Adam’s support.

BJP’s Tamilisai Soundararajan Asks DMK Uncomfortable Questions

When the former Governor of Telangana and Puducherry Tamilisai Soundararajan decided to contest South Chennai seat on a BJP ticket against the DMK incumbent Tamizhachi Thangapandian it made for hot news and speculation. The general question DMK and other political parties were asking was: Why did she come out of the Raj Bhavan? Unable to hold back, Tamilisai Soundararajan finally lashed out at her opponents asking “Why are you people so focussed on my getting out of Raj Bhavan? Why does it bother you? Ok…let me tell you. If Kanimozhi can get out of Tihar jail and contest elections, I can too. At least I did not come from Tihar.” And this canard that BJP lacks candidates has been countered by her asking, why should Kanimozhi stand from Tuticorin or Dayanidhi Maran from south Chennai? Does the DMK lack suitable candidates? “I have come out to the streets to campaign for my leader, for myself, for the kind people of south Chennai and make a mark. And mark my words, I am going to talk about every act of omission and commission of the DMK, expose their greed and chicanery. Try and stop me,” thundered Soundararajan in her election rally. Oh! Boy, this lady has courage and chutzpah.
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Once Again Akshay Kumar And Ajay Devgn Clash At The Box Office

Once again Bollywood’s two big stars Ajay Devgn and Akshay Kumar are going to clash at the box office. And the film trade is not at all surprised as it is not the first time their films are releasing on the same day – it is the fourth time.  When it comes to business they are strong rivals even though both have worked together in three films together. They worked in Suhaag, Insaan and Khakee. Insiders say it was after Khakee Ajay blamed Akshay Kumar for chopping his role. Post Ajay’s comment, Akshay Kumar in one of the award functions took a jibe at Ajay indirectly by saying that he is being called the “editor” of the film.  Ajay almost got his film Golmaal 4 to be released the same day as Robot and Aamir Khan’s Secret Superstar; but Robot got postponed at the last minute due to VFX. Once again, both Ajay and Akshay were making a film on the same subject — Battle of Saragarhi. Ajay announced the film first but Akshay got Karan Johar to break the news about the movie. Salman Khan was co-producing the film with Karan but Ajay, it is learnt, convinced him to opt out of the project. If Akshay Kumar got Vipul Shah to screen Action Replay to coincide with Golmaal 3 release then Ajay got his Toonpur Ka Superman to coincide with Akshay Kumar’s Tees Maar Khan. Not many know that Ajay Devgn wanted the movie rights of Jaswant Gill on whose life the film Raniganj was made with Akshay Kumar as the lead. Now one needs to see what happens with Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan and Maidaan both releasing on Eid.
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Raj Thackeray’s Gudi Padwa Speech Awaited With Baited Breath By All Factions

Will Maharashtra Navnirman Sena founder Raj Thackeray embrace the BJP via the NDA? His Gudi Padwa Melawa speech which will take place at Shivaji Park, Dadar, central Mumbai is, hence, awaited with baited breath by all sides since some electoral calculations will depend upon his stand. A firm supporter of Narendra Modi in 2014, Raj was among the first to demand that Modi be made Prime Minister. Within a couple of years, he turned a bitter critic of the PM and continued to lambast BJP. After the dramatic change of power in Maharashtra in 2019, Raj trained his guns against cousin Uddhav Thackeray, who was installed as chief minister by Sharad Pawar and the Congress party. Thereafter, Raj gradually started changing his stance and recently, came out openly in support of the BJP. His meeting with Union home minister Amit Shah and his silence from the next moment till now has heightened the suspense about his next move. If Raj joins the NDA alliance, the Shiv Sena under Uddhav will be the most vulnerable as it will be difficult for it to repulse his acidic attacks, evoking Balasaheb Thackeray’s utterances against ‘anti-national’ forces. His staunch advocacy of Hindutva was praised by deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday (Apr 8), giving indications that Raj is ready to make an important announcement on Tuesday (Apr 9).
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Eknath Khadse To Return To BJP Next Week, No Disqualification As MLC

A BJP heavyweight once upon a time, Eknath Khadse’s homecoming in the saffron camp was indicated time and again. Now that he has himself confirmed it, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) under Sharad Pawar has been dealt another severe blow on the eve of the Lok Sabha elections. Khadse had only a short while ago joined the NCP and was made a member of the state legislative council. Since the Pawar faction of the NCP has just three members in the upper house, including Khadse, his desertion of the party which elected him to the house will not legally amount to a defection. Hence, Khadse can continue to be a MLC. His daughter in law Raksha has been renominated by the BJP for the Lok Sabha. To counter the move, Pawar had decided to field Khadse. However, the former BJP boss declined, citing health reasons. Soon thereafter, his Delhi visits and his ‘courtesy call’ on Union home minister Amit Shah led to the talk of his returning to the BJP but he continued to discount the possibility. Finally, Khadse himself accepted that his donning the saffron garb again would be taking place soon. Having proved to be a headache for the formidable Devendra Fadnavis in his ministry, the Jalgaon giant will have to watch his step twice before opening his mouth about the BJP affairs.
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Ashok Chavan Called Trojan Horse, Hits Back At His Old Party Leaders

Former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan, now a BJP MP, has hit out at the state Congress leadership by calling it choice names. Chavan was provoked to come out strongly against the party which had made him and his father the chief minister when its leaders tried to portray him as a Trojan Horse while he was in the Congress. It is being whispered that as a member of the election committee of the Congress, Chavan deliberately undermined the party’s prospects by misguiding the leadership. Chavan’s claim that he was working for the Congress till the last evening before joining the BJP has become a tool for his adversaries to beat him. Finally losing his cool, Chavan has said that those critics were targeting him to hide their own failings and ineffectiveness. They lack a decision-making instinct, he has remarked. The possibility of Chavan joining the BJP was being discussed for the past one year. But the Congress party never took the hint seriously, always debunking it. Now that Chavan has been elected to the Rajya Sabha by the BJP, his erstwhile cronies in the Congress are holding him responsible for the Congress party’s lamentable show in Sangli and Mumbai over the seat-sharing discussions. Chavan has alleged that the so-called leaders all lack mass base and enjoy life by lunching in 5-star hotels, doing little for the party.
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Rahul Gandhi Braces Up For Wayanad Contest Without Any Safety Net

After Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, accompanied by sister Priyanka, filed his nomination papers for the Wayanad Lok Sabha in Kerala seat on April 5 and asserted that “this election is a fight for the soul of India; it is a fight to preserve our democracy from the forces of hatred, corruption, and injustice that seek to suppress the voice of Bharat Mata,” and vowed to “bring together every citizen from Kanyakumari to Kashmir and from Manipur to Mumbai to strengthen our Union of States.” Congress leaders were convinced that he would not contest from a safe “second” seat. That is at least in the South. Party sources said it was because there was no such safe seat other than Wayanad which had 98% minority voters. Rahul was determined to secure a second term from Wayanad. “We know CM Pinarayi Vijayan is making his efforts to secure all seats from Kerala but we are confident that Rahulji will pull it through,” said a Congress leader. Sources said Rahul could not explore a safe seat in Congress-ruled states like Telangana or Karnataka as the party had already finalised a total 208 candidates. In Telangana, Hyderabad and Khammam were the only seats that remained to be allocated. Does it mean Rahul will not fight a second seat at all? The Gandhi siblings have still not spoken their mind about family turf — Amethi and Rae Bareli. Notwithstanding Robert Vadra’s public claims, it is possible that Amethi could still be fought by someone from the family. So would Rae Bareli. Much of course would depend on which way Wayanad votes on April 26.
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BJP Working Overtime To Down ‘Mr Bombastic’ Tharoor

It is poll season and time for wild conspiracy theories. Among many of them, a fanciful one is that the BJP is so keen on unseating Congress MP Shashi Tharoor in Thiruvananthapuram that they set the ED to file a PMLA case against Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan’s daughter. It is suggested that the senior politician has been told to get his LDF voters to cast in favour of Rajeev Chandrasekhar. This is being done because the noted 3-time MP, a stern critic of BJP, cannot be put down as a ‘dynast’ or a favoured ‘nepo’ baby unlike other politicians that the BJP regularly mocks. Whether the theory is true or not, a close contest is on the cards in a constituency whose demographic dynamic is different from that of other seats as it is a Hindu-majority place, unlike many others in Kerala where the minorities pout together could outnumber the Hindus. The Union Minister may have been brought in a tad late to take on ‘Mr Bombastic’ Tharoor, but the BJP would like to do everything to help him down a thorn in the flesh. Among the two seats that the BJP most fancies in Kerala is also the one in which the actor Suresh Gopi is contesting. Thrissur, the cultural capital of Kerala, has not been a happy electoral hunting ground for Gopi, but he will be in it for a third time to try and fulfil the party’s desire in snatching the seat.
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Mayank Yadav, A Genuine Quick Arrives

The last week in the Tata-IPL-17 has been all about the thrills and frills provided by a speed merchant who has made the cricket world sit up and take notice of him, and the fans have shown the appetite to see his explosive deeds, more and more. Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) fast bowler Mayank Yadav has awakened people and more significantly has not given peace of mind to the batters in the Twenty20 league; the speed he has generated consistently at 150 km plus, the lift of the pitch he has extracted and directed the white ball within the stumps, meaning accuracy, has been compelling action to watch. The 21-year-old from Delhi has been trigger-happy like, keen to cause the batters’ downfall in a jiffy. In two matches against Preity Zinta’s Punjab Kings and the United Spirits-owned Royal Challengers Bengaluru,  Mayank returned 3/27 and 3/14 and his fans were saying: Aur Bahut Kuch Baaki Hai. The IPL is a long way from the finishing line and the LSG skipper KL Rahul will deploy him in such a way to ensure his team’s entry into the playoffs. The million dollar question though is whether the BCCI’s selection committee with Ajit Agarkar in the chair will, without batting an eyelid, put him in action against Ireland and thereafter Pakistan and USA during the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in the USA and West Indies in June. There is already a clamour for it!
suvendu sukanta abhishek

TMC Mocks BJP For Not Naming Candidates Against Abhishek Banerjee & Shatrughan Sinha

In West Bengal, Trinamool Congress (TMC) is mocking BJP for its failure to announce candidates for two prestigious constituencies Diamond Harbour and Asansol even after 26 days of announcement of candidates by the ruling TMC.  Two time MP Abhishek Banerjee, second in command of TMC and nephew of party supremo Mamata Banerjee, has been challenging the BJP to field its Opposition party leader Suvendu Adhikari against him. Some of the names doing rounds were that of advocate Kaustav Bagchi, Priyanka Tibrewal and Abhijit Das. It seems BJP was waiting for Opposition parties to announce its candidature. Now, it is public that Congress and CPI-M ally ISF leader Nausad Siddique’s will contest from Diamond Harbour. BJP state leadership is also waiting for the first phase of election to get over as state BJP president Sukanta Mujumder is contesting from his Balurghat seat which is being challenged by TMC’s sitting MLA and minister Biplab Mitra. Also, BJP is not in a hurry to name its candidate for Diamond Harbour as it goes to poll in the last phase. Similarly, despite announcing names of 40 candidates in three separate lists, the BJP high command is yet to give name for Asansol seat, where TMC once again fielded veteran actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha, who had won the bypoll election in 2022. According to BJP sources, names that are doing rounds are that of Surendra Singh Ahluwalia, former minister and outgoing MP from Burdwan-Durgapur constituency and Jitendra Tiwari Ex-TMC, former mayor of Asansol and Ex-MLA.

Trisha Unseats Superstar Nayanthara From The #1 Slot

Twenty-two years after her debut in 2002 in Tamil movie Maunam Pesiyade, Trisha Krishnan has proved that her staying power is awesome. A fine blend of looks, talent and guts, Trisha, Mani Rathnam’s muse in the much-talked about Ponniyin Selvan has moved into the number one slot so far held by Nayanthara. Her character Kundavai was as much talked about as Aishwarya Rai’s Ponni in the magnum opus, skyrocketing her popularity. Today, Trisha has over 12 movies in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi. She stars with Salman Khan in the The Bull. The list of her to be released movies would turn any top heroine envious. Thug Life, VidaMuyarchi, GOAT, Saduranga Vettai all with top actors like Vijay, Ajit, Kamal and now Salman. Naturally, it has pitchforked her remuneration to 12 crore per film. Nayanthara and Samantha were getting around Rs 8-10 crore. Once seen as Rana Dagubatti’s significant other, she broke up with him, and walked into two much talked about engagements; then she walked out of it at the last minute from both, raising her hellion reputation to more highs.  She has led her personal life very much the way she desired, not afraid of reputation smears. Media has chronicled her midnight beach escapades with chosen friends, in spirited states. But when it comes to work, she adheres punctiliously to form and meets her director’s expectations, a trait that the volatile world of films really values. Without doubt Trisha is riding high.
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Will BJP Field Mangal Prabhat Lodha From The Prestigious South Mumbai Constituency?

Mumbai’s southernmost Lok Sabha seat has reverted to BJP after a decade and current Maharashtra Skill Development Minister Mangal Prabhat Lodha may be fielded there. BJP sources say, “Lodha secured highest votes in Maharashtra during 2014 state assemblies, and improved his vote catching performance in 2019. Importantly, south Mumbai was traditionally BJP’s bastion electing Jaywantiben Mehta until 2014, being the Jan Sangh’s headquarters. Uddhav Thackeray wrested the seat away, committed alliance adharma, deliberately fielding lesser-known Arvind Sawant, Sena’s MTNL trade union face prodded by a corporate house that backed a Congress candidate.” Lodha worked as poll manager for late Arun Jaitley’s Amritsar constituency in 2014. He not only nurtured his assembly constituency but also strategically cultivated the larger parliamentary voters across six assemblies. He organized the massive felicitation function for Lata ‘Didi’ Mangeshkar at Mahalaxmi racecourse grounds inviting newly minted PM Narendra Modi as chief guest in 2014. “Miffed Uddhav Thackeray, seated in the audience, exited the event midway through the function. The undivided Shiv Sena chief had earlier scoffed at winning prospects of his own man Sawant during general elections, though BJP exit polls indicated a 50, 000 winning vote for the Sena candidate. Without Thackeray’s family in NDA, BJP cadres prevailed upon BJP’s top poll management demanding the constituency, even putting paid to efforts by BJP’s state assembly speaker Rahul Narvekar’s aspiration to become BJP parliamentarian. Last heard, Narvekar has piped down public rallying across south Mumbai. So will it be Lodha?
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Dissidents On Rise In Tamil Nadu See An Ex-Cop Turn Into A Superstar In The Shortest Time

 “Malai da, Annamalai”, a famous Tamil punch dialogue from Superstar Rajinikanth’s movie Annamalai still pulls punches after 30 years. The Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai could well have reinvented this punch in his meteoric rise. He has risen to be the fastest brand in TN politics, after idolising MGR and Jayalalithaa. A Tamil digital page has an insightful take on what happened in Coimbatore recently. The Sangh Parivar and all other BJP resources had attended this motivational conclave in big numbers, including Ajay Ghosh, Vibhav Pracharak who spearheaded the strategy for the candidates — a mild caution against overconfidence and taking mass support for granted. Annamalai strode to the dais and belted out what seemed as a rebuff to all dissident voices. He is said to have thundered “…my mission is not to bring the North and South poles in alignment. I am here as Modiji’s choice for Coimbatore. I already have the three and a half lakh vote numbers. I have not come here depending on any power to boost my efforts and strategy.” The Sangh Parivar is said to have been stunned by this overriding confidence, and perceived lack of sensitivity to the common aim of party unity. But sources at BJP HQ in Chennai have a totally different spin. It is just Annamalai’s undiluted faith in Brand Modi and his loyalty to the creed of his party…that mere faces are not enough to win, you need the super optics power of Modiji to withstand the Dravidian behemoth.

For BJP’s Aparajita Sarangi Winning Bhubaneswar May Not Exactly Be A Cake Walk

The big question everybody is asking is whether BJP’s firebrand Bhubaneswar MP Aparajita Sarangi will win again this time? Poll experts say, unlike 2019 which had two players BJD and BJP contesting the Bhubaneswar seat, this time Congress too has entered the fray thereby making it a triangular contest and this may result in vote split. In 2019, BJP’s Sarangi won because Congress was absent, its votes got transferred to BJP. Aparajita may have a tough time to retain Bhubaneswar LS seat with aggressive BJD and now Congress making its LS seat debut this time. To counter Aparajita, BJD has given ticket to Manmath Routray, who is an ex-Air India pilot and son of veteran Congress leader — six time MLA Suresh (“Sura”) Routray from Jatni, a major suburban of Bhubaneswar. It is said that given Sura Routray’s immense clout, the scale may tilt in his son’s favour inspite of Modi’s wave. Political watchers say BJD too has become smarter taking out of BJP’s playbook has allocated 25% of its seat to party hoppers from BJP and Congress so as to checkmate Saffron  party not only in Bhubaneswar but also in Kendrapara, Nabarangpur, Balangir, Bargarh, Berhampur, Keonjhar constituencies.
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BJP’s Radhika Sarathkumar: The Accidental Candidate For Virudhunagar

For over 30 years, Radhika Saratkumar reigned as the iconic diva of both big screen and TV. Her very first film, Kizhakke Pogum Rail (East bound train) broke all records for a newcomer. Now the question being asked will this train Vadakke Poguma, (go North) to Parliament, New Delhi? Sixty-one year old Radhika herself may admit that the course she has to run is trying, tough and treacherous in the Virudhunagar constituency. She of the smash Tamil serial hit, Chithi would definitely resort to homegrown nostalgia in her stump speeches. The perception is that brand BJP plus Saratkumar( her superstar husband) plus Radhika’s enduring film popularity, her numerous product endorsements , her profitable Radan pictures , and her woman next door gharelu image could resonate with Virudhunagar voters. But, Congress’s Manik Tagore is no push over. He won the seat twice out of his three outings. As for Vijay Prabhakar, son of the late “Captain” Vijaykant, jointly fielded by AIADMK and DMDK, may reap the sympathy votes and huge popularity of his father. But the ground reality here is totally heart wrenching — lakhs are jobless with the predominant fire cracker and matchbox industry falling on hard times hit by cheap Chinese products. The second highest job provider is the weaving industry which faces the desperation and angst of 60,000 jobless. Radhika has very little time to scope her constituency and even less time to project what she can do for her electorate.
TM Krishna

Sangita Kalanidhi Award Controversy: Now, Karnataka Classical Music Confederation Trust Enters The Scene

The Carnatic music world is caught in a huge controversy. The decision of The Music Academy of Madras to confer the prestigious Sangita Kalanidhi title on vocalist TM Krishna has not gone well with veteran artistes and music patrons. And social media has gone on overdrive. The latest to jump into it is Karnataka Classical Music Confederation Trust (KCMCT), which has sent out a strong missive to The Music Academy. Krishna, the rebel Carnatic musician has always been courting controversy for his stand. KCMCT in a communication to The Music Academy said “The recent decision to confer recognition upon an individual whose actions have caused considerable anguish among our fraternity of musicians is a matter of profound consternation. We are compelled to express our dismay at the choice to honour an individual whose conduct and pronouncements have engendered substantial discord and disunity among Karnataka musicians.”  Krishna, after winning the Magsaysay award, has positioned himself as a social reformer. The Academy became his instant target. Accusing it of caste bias and discriminatory practices, Krishna boycotted its festival for several seasons. Aghast at its choice for Sangita Kalanidhi title, RaGa sisters (Ranjani-Gayatri) have chosen to pull out of the December festival of the Academy. Since then, the opposition to Krishna is escalating by the day with political parties such as DMK and BJP pitching in with their views. By honouring a rebel, the Academy has now managed to create an army of rebels. The tune set by the Academy headed by N Murali, owner of The Hindu group of publications, appears to have gone woefully awry. A lot of jarring notes are emanating from the Carnatic music world.
uddhav vaishali

Eyebrows Raised As Uddhav Thackeray Selects A Lightweight For Kalyan Constituency

Shiv Sena party chief Uddhav Thackeray’s announcement to field a not so well-known candidate from the prestigious Kalyan-Dombivli Lok Sabha constituency has surprised many though the ruling alliance appears pleased with the decision. Although chief minister Eknath Shinde’s son Dr Shrikant is tipped to contest the seat this time, too, his name was not announced formally till Wednesday evening. The BJP’s insistence for the constituency is said to have delayed a final decision of the NDA. Seizing the initiative, Uddhav has justified his selection of Vaishali Darekar Rane, not even a frontrunner for the party ticket. A former Maharashtra Navnirman Sena activist, Vaishali staged her homecoming in 2016. At present, she is heading one of the Sena shakhas. Although some more famous names were being discussed, Vaishali’s choice is intriguing for most Sena workers. On the other hand, Dr Shrikant Shinde, the CM’s son, is a formidable candidate but the tussle between the BJP and the Sena (Shinde) has continued despite several rounds of meetings. Now that Uddhav has fielded a lightweight, alliance leaders feel the seat is already in their bag. Vaishali is a Dombivli resident in the constituency. Uddhav’s wife Rashmi was born and brought up in the middle-class town, known for its unwavering support of Hindutva and the BJP. Thus, the so-called Dombivli connection is now viral on social media platforms.

S Jaishankar Doffs Political Hat, Brings Katchatheevu To Fore

It is now amply clear that career diplomat and EAM S Jaishankar is not averse to playing a political role. At least that is what he has done ever since the Katchatheevu issue has come to occupy the centre stage of politics. It got the EAM to hold a presser, and explain how India gave away an island to Sri Lanka as it did not care much for fishing communities in Tamil Nadu. It was a follow-up on a RTI reply to Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai. However much of the political idea to pitch the vexed Katchatheevu issue into the centre -stage of Lok Sabha elections in the southern state is being credited to Jaishankar; Tamil Nadu goes to polls — first round — on April 19. Jaishankar’s suggestion that the party must focus on how Congress PMs displayed indifference about Katchatheevu Island and gave away Indian fishermen’s rights despite legal views to the contrary was liked by PM Modi and the TN BJP unit. Jaishankar pointed out how Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi had dubbed Katchatheevu, given to Sri Lanka in 1974 as part of a maritime boundary agreement, as a “little island” and “little rock.” In May 1961, Nehru had written, ‘I attach no importance at all to this little island and I would have no hesitation in giving up our claim to it.” Oddly, the DMK has been raising the issue in the Parliament and Jaishankar points out how he has written to the TN CM at least 21 times.
bjp maharashtra

Indisciplined Chaos Marks Seat Sharing Process In Maharashtra

A fluid situation ensues in Maharashtra’s Lok Sabha 2024 polls with disruption and chaos marking the seat-sharing scenario even within the ruling Mahayuti alliance led by the BJP known for its disciplined, well-oiled election machinery. The BJP, which had successfully split both the Shiv Sena and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), with an eye on the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, is now scrambling to even finalise candidates, quell internal rebellion with just a month to go for the polls. The prestigious South Mumbai constituency is the most prominent case in point. Initially this richie-rich constituency was almost granted to state legislative assembly speaker Rahul Narwekar, and he had even started campaigning. Soon afterwards though, the seat got tossed around to contenders like Milind Deora, who has already been nominated to the Rajya Sabha and even to Bala Nandgaonkar from the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. Negotiations with Raj Thackeray and BJP moved from talks of getting him to merge his party with the BJP (he refused), to offering him three LS seats including Mumbai South and finally ended up with the MNS refusing to put up any candidates in this LS election. It was only after Raj Thackeray’s much-hyped Delhi trip visit to meet Amit Shah, that realization seems to have dawned on BJP that the MNS’s north-Indian agitation won’t go down with its voters in the North. There is also still no clarity on whether the BJP plans to retain or clip the wings of Poonam Mahajan, its Mumbai North Central candidate nor is there clarity on the Mumbai North West seat which is being reportedly being eyed by the likes of Govinda, Swara Bhaskar and even Raj Babbar.
kapil madness

Is Laughter Better Or Bitter Medicine?

  So the popular standup comedian Kapil Sharma has moved from TV to OTT. His comedy show with a new title The Great Indian Kapil Show is on Netflix. Will the gamble of moving to a new platform work for Kapil Sharma and his team? His entire gang is part of the new show save for his friends Chandan and Bharti Singh. But a big surprise was the return of Sunil Grover. Both friends had fallen apart. Sources say that Kapil Sharma has got a bigger budget but the script, going by the first episode featuring Ranbir Kapoor and his mother Neetu Kapoor, lacked the usual Kapil’s punch. Kapil, it is learnt, is wooing top stars like Aamir Khan to appear on his show. It will be the first time Aamir will be on a reality show. But trade experts say that Aamir may not have much impact as he is not known for one-liners or witty comments. It is a known fact that when his show was on Sony TV, he had a free hand but Netflix may have its own sets of rules and regulations as they are catering to a wider global audience. This may be one of the reasons that the first episode lacked the usual Kapil Sharma punch. Interestingly, the comedy space attracts high TRP and Kapil moving out, saw Sony TV launch a new show Madness Macheyenge: India Ko Hasayenge hosted by star Huma Qureshi. Now on air for over a month it seems like a dry laughter show; it lacks timing, punch and humour. The first week TRP was too low. Will this laughter show become a bitter medicine for the channel?
unmesh uddhav

Denied Ticket, Outgoing BJP MP Unmesh Patil On Way To Uddhav Sena

Outgoing BJP MP of Jalgaon, Unmesh Patil, is expected to formally join the Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray on April 3. After it became clear that Patil had been refused renomination this time by the BJP, he became unreachable all of a sudden. Former BJP MLA Smita Wagh has been fielded by the party since internecine differences caused the party’s rethink about Patil. A stronghold of the BJP, Jalgaon has been in the news since veteran leader Eknath Khadse is watched closely amidst news reports that he will be rejoining the BJP. Khadse was in Delhi two days ago and reportedly called on some top BJP leaders. His daughter-in-law Raksha has been selected to contest for the third time from the north Maharashtra constituency of Raver in Jalgaon district, a Khadse bastion. Though he joined the NCP under Sharad Pawar last year and has been made a MLC by the party, Khadse is said to be restless as he finds little acceptance for himself in the party dominated by western Maharashtra leaders. Against this backdrop, more political migrations in both directions are expected to take place in Jalgaon district. Unmesh Patil called on Sena MP Sanjay Raut and indications are available that he could embrace the Sena (U) tomorrow. ‘Wait and watch,’ is his only comment at present.
Nitin gadkari_002

Nitin Gadkari Again Endorses Modi As Next PM, Says 45 Seats In Maharashtra

BJP heavyweight Nitin Gadkari has discounted any possibility of him becoming Prime Minister and has once again endorsed the leadership of Narendra Modi. This frank revelation of perhaps the most popular minister at present has been telecast by Marathi news channel TV-9. In a frank interview, Gadkari has expressed confidence that the BJP-led alliance will win around 45 of 48 seats in Maharashtra. A Lok Sabha candidate himself, Gadkari has explained why he has friends across all parties. “I take decisions on merits. I don’t look at anyone’s party affiliation but put the public interest above everything,” he said. Gadkari was asked if he would be a PM candidate in case the BJP could win under 200 seats. He emphatically rejected any such possibility and predicted that the NDA will bag not less than 400 seats under Modi’s leadership. After the election, Modi will lead the government, he reiterated. Replying to a question, Gadkari said there was no plan to change the nation’s constitution nor was this a factor in the BJP’s agenda. On the other hand, the Congress had amended the constitution 80 times and had imposed the emergency in 1975, he recalled. Asked about admitting those into the BJP who had been facing corruption charges, Gadkari observed that politics is a game of contradictions, compulsions and limitations. People come and go, change parties. He refused to comment on several subjects, saying that the party’s spokespersons and office-bearers were taking care of such matters.
dilip_Agnimitra Pal

Dilip Ghosh (L) and Agnimitra Pal

Shuffling Of BJP Candidates In West Bengal Hints At Infighting Within Local Unit

The BJP high command announced the candidate’s list for the Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal in three phases. The list came as a shock to BJP cadres and gave opportunity to Trinamool Congress, Congress and Left parties to tom-tom that Bengal BJP is battling intense infighting. Incidentally, former State BJP President Dilip Ghosh who is the outgoing MP from Medinipur has been shifted to contest from Burdwan-Durgapur constituency replacing incumbent MP Surendra Singh Ahluwalia, who has been denied ticket till now. Instead BJP’s Asansol South MLA Agnimitra Pal will contest from Medinipur. In 2019 Agnimitra lost the Asansol LS seat to TMC’s actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha. Similarly, former Union minister and outgoing Raiganj MP, Debashree Chaudhury has been shifted to Kolkata South seat, which is a home turf of the ruling TMC. Further, Haringhata MLA Asim Sarkar has been fielded by BJP from Burdwan East constituency and Bangaon South MLA Swapan Majumder has been given ticket by the party from Barasat Lok Sabha constituency. A section of BJP cadres said that this is to contain factional conflicts that have erupted in the districts. Analysts say this shuffling is being done to negate the possibility of negative sentiment against outgoing MPs not delivering on their promises. However, BJP leaders are openly dismissing this argument. According to them, the Lok Sabha elections will be fought in the name of Brand Modi. People will evaluate the work of the Modi government and vote accordingly.

Why Are Biju Janata Dal MPs, MLAs Joining BJP

Most party hoppers are not driven by the politics of ideology or the noble thoughts to serve the people but sheer opportunism to stay in power.  Take for instance Bhatruhari Mahtab the five time Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP and co-founder of the party quit as he was being ignored and sidelined by his party (read Naveen Patnaik). He will be fighting Lok Sabha election from Cuttack on BJP ticket against BJD’s Santrupt Mishra, former Birla CEO. Ironically, Cuttack BJP president and former Salepur MLA Prakash Behera resigned from BJP as he was expecting Cuttack ticket. But by going Mahtab way he is likely to join BJD.. The circus of switching parties seems to going on full swing.. Former BJD MP and cine star Sidhant Mohapatra and eminent tribal leader Padma Awardee Damayanti Beshra switched over to BJP along with Mahtab. So too BJD leaders like Prashant Jagdev, Pradip Panigrahi, Arindam Roy, Bipin Pradhan, Arabinda Dhali have joined BJP enmasse. Why are people quitting BJD? Political observers attribute it to the rise and rise of Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s protege, ex-IAS officer VK Pandian, now 5T chairman. He is being groomed to takeover the party say some. He is present in all important meetings and photo ops. At a recent India Today Conclave, Pandian was interviewed one-on-one and this seems to signal where the power is shifting. For diehard BJD members, Pandian is an outsider, a south Indian though his wife is Oriya. Post Ayodhya, BJD members are convinced that there is a saffron wave sweeping the country hence the musical chairs.


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.