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cinema tix

Why Cinema Tickets Should Be Sold Only Online

  The name of the game is marketing. The cinema business is all about hard-selling. The Indian II, a Kamal Haasan-starrer, is reportedly raking good collections at the Box Office despite a mixed review. That’s good news, no doubt, for the tinsel world. Is there a way to discover the exact collection? That could give a clue or two to the real appetite for a good movie. Well, the way forward is to go digital completely. Why not ticket sales be done only through online? For one, that could avoid the serpentine queue in front of the theatres to buy tickets. For another, it could provide visibility to stakeholders across the canvass on the revenue flow. That will go a long way in helping to devise a proper policy prescription to the cinema industry. An influential part of the cinema business is still not fully on-boarded into the formal system. Oftentimes, one is not sure if there is meaningful correlation between attendance at theatres and box office collections. Are we seeing the old style of accounting in the tinsel world? If the Railways could successfully run an online catering service to train travellers, why can’t a similar system be encouraged for sale of snacks and beverages at cinema theatres? The cinema industry has traversed quite long from a totally unorganised existence in the past.  If the tinsel world is integrated into the formal system in every way, it will do a world of good to the industry, in general, and the national economy, in particular, if. That is easier said than done,however.
akhilesh yadav_002

UP Success Emboldens Akhilesh Yadav, Plans To Storm Maharashtra

The huge success scored in the Lok Sabha election in Uttar Pradesh has boosted the Samajwadi Party’s confidence so much that its leader Akhilesh Yadav has activated plans to storm Maharashtra as well. The arrival of over two dozen SP MPs in Mumbai over the weekend and their felicitation planned by state SP chief Abu Azmi, MLA, indicate Yadav’s resolve to demand a substantial number of seats for the coming assembly election in Maharashtra. Yadav was in Mumbai last week to attend the Ambani wedding. He interacted with various Maha Vikas Aghadi leaders and his own party workers to assess the situation in Maharashtra. In the first phase of his plan, the SP MPs will mobilise the large north Indian population in the state to create a vote bank. Thus, the MVA will henceforth be a four-party combine, consisting the Shiv Sena (UBT), the Congress, the NCP (Sharad Pawar) and the SP. It will take on the four-party alliance consisting the BJP, the Sena (Shinde), the NCP(Ajit) and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena led by Raj Thackeray. Once upon a time, the SP in the state had several prominent leaders in its fold. However, except for Azmi, most of them parted ways with it. Now, in the changed circumstance, new entrants are eager to join it and play a meaningful role in Maharashtra polity.
sky catch

BCCI

Catches Win Captaincy, Too, For Suryakumar Yadav

  There is a time-honoured adage in cricket that says, “Catches win matches.” In Suryakumar Yadav’s case, the golden rule of the game can be modified to read, “Catches win captaincy,” too! No one, least of all the national selection committee, can erase from their memory the stunt-show-like catch that Yadav converted to bring to nought the big straight blow of South African left-hander David Miller in the tense moments of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup final at Bridgetown, Barbados on June 29. Less than a month after he demonstrated his athleticism, commitment and situational awareness to win the title for India’s men in blue, the decision-makers of Indian cricket have awarded him with the national team’s Twenty20 captaincy; it was not just the game-changing catch that impressed the selectors. Whoever brainstormed with them – his ability to maintain equanimity and not leave his foot on the pedal as captain of the Indian team on seven previous occasions must have also weighed in. As captain, he has made 300 runs off 182 balls with a century (an exact 100 off 56 balls with 7 x 4s and 8 x 6s) against South Africa at the Wanderers in December 2023. He has played in 68 Twenty20 internationals, scored 2340 runs, and featured in 51 wins, five as captain. In over three years, Yadav’s unique style of eruptive batting has made him India’s top-notch Twenty20 brand, even amid stalwarts like Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. He has taken 45 catches, fourth behind Sharma, Kohli, and Hardik Pandya. The soon-to-be 34-year-old Yadav has not made the ODI team cut, though. It’s unlikely he will get the nod for Test cricket. Yadav has the top job ahead of Pandya, and his tenure will now be in his hands.
Mamata abhishek

Despite Elections Win Mamata Banerjee Mulls Across The Board Reshuffle

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) is contemplating significant changes within the party and the administration following the conclusion of annual ‘Martyrs’ Day’ Rally on July 21. This move is seen as a strategic necessity in preparation for the 2026 assembly elections. The party’s national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee who kept away from all meetings for “medical reasons” is also expected to join the rally. Party insiders say that changes to be announced in August will affect Panchayats, Municipalities, and State Cabinet as the focus will be on appointing “proactive and effective individuals” to key positions. Despite a notable success in the recent state elections, the party’s leadership has pinpointed several organizational shortcomings. The vote share in urban areas has seen a decline, and while rural areas fared better, there is still a pressing need for organizational improvements. The TMC leadership is not fully confident in the level of spontaneous public support across various regions, prompting discussions about introducing new faces into the party’s organizational structure. According to a senior leader of the party, in close circuit, Didi has been clear in stating that although the government scheme benefited people vis a vis win for TMC yet there is a need for organizational overhaul. A particular focus of the reshuffle will be North Bengal. While TMC secured victories in the Cooch Behar Lok Sabha seat and the Raigunge Assembly seat in recent bypolls, overall progress in the region has been limited. Consequently, the party is meticulously reviewing its organizational setup in these areas to ensure more robust performance in future elections.
game changer

Will Ram Charan Starrer Be A ‘Game Changer’ For Director Shankar?

Even in an almost cameo role of Kamal Haasan in Kalki 2898 AD, it raked in the money and the laurels. But his full length sequel epic  Indian 2 has turned into an embarrassment for all concerned –  director S Shankar, Lyca Productions, Red Giant and cast. Hit in the solar plexus by a super long film that begs to be ignored. Especially brilliant director Shankar who has had many hits in his quiver and a reputation for big scale entertainment. In the high jinx, big money world of cinema many hits are quickly memory erased with one super flop. That’s exactly what has happened to wizard Shankar. But the long gestation period of Indian 2 brought an opportunity for him to sign up Ram Charan (fresh from the laurels of RRR and its near Oscar status) for directing Game Changer. Even as Telugu distributors, financiers and producers are shell shocked by the Indian 2 debacle, they have to scan the sky, hopefully for that rainbow. And appropriately enough it could be Game Changer with the suave Ram Charan. The political thriller written by Kartik Subburaj, features Kiara Advani, SJ Surya, Anjali and others. Ram Charan shared a collage of a helicopter that said, “The Game is about to Change … .Game Changer is all wrapped up. See you at the cinemas.” Cinema is mega money …it needs back to back game changers to survive.
naveen patnaik_013

Will Patnaik’s Strategy Of Westminster Form Of 'Shadow Cabinet' Work In Odisha?

With Odisha Legislative Assembly’s budget session set to begin on July 22, the big news is Biju Janata Dal (BJD) supremo Naveen Patnaik is now bracing up to an “aggressive face off” to contain BJP. BJD now aims to play the role of a constructive and effective opposition leader. To achieve this the former chief minister has opted for “shadow boxing” strategy, similar to British Parliament’s Westminster style to contain BJP. Naveen babu has asked 50 of its MLA’s to solely focus on BJP’s strategy, policy and functioning henceforth. Effectively, it’s a two-pronged strategy. One, to empower BJD MLA’s in advance , so that they can intervene effectively during the forthcoming Assembly session on issues being neglected by BJP’s  government headed by Mohan Charan Majhi. Two, it intends to take advantage of BJP inexperienced BJP ministers by raising a number of issues and forcing them to react. One can expect a stormy session in the Odisha Assembly henceforth. Political watchers are giving thumbs up to Patnaik’s strategy to push BJP on the back foot. But, BJP’s senior leader Samir Mohanty criticized Patnaik’s strategy as ‘absurd and superficial exercise’.
EPS_007

EPS In A Dilemma, To Forgive Or Forget Sasikala

AIADMK chief and former Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) is a troubled man after the rout of his party in the Lok Sabha election. His stubborn resolve to “no alliance” with BJP is being blamed by many of his apparatchiks, and with the imminent run up to the 2026 Assembly elections, EPS is now tailgated and pressurised to take back the prodigals O Panneerselvam and VK Sasikala (Chinnamma). A chintan baithak held for brainstorming brought this demand to the fore. According to OS Manian, former party minister, the most crucial strategy is to knit a strong alliance under the AIADMK leadership like the DMK alliance. Leaks of unhappiness from VCK and Marxist Communist in the DMK combine are evident …why not break this bond? The Muukkulathor community in the southern districts form a big block of voters and they think Sasikala with 33 years of association with J Jayalalithaa will revive the charisma. OPS surprisingly won 3 lakh votes in his alliance perch with the BJP. So voices are now vehement about uniting the party to its old glory. EPS has a strong “No” to OPS but is silent on Chinammaa’s entry. With such overpowering arguments for and against restoring the status quo ante, no wonder EPS is confused and confounded. Sasikala who had announced in 2021 she was taking a political Sanyas has suddenly abandoned her sanyasi garb, put on her political makeup and announced a tour of TN in the holy month of Aadi.
Sasikala tenkasi

Sasikala Embodies Never-Say-Die Spirit

India’s politicians are of the doughty, never-say-die type. Take Sasikala, a quasi-politician at best when she was J Jayalalithaa’s confidante but carries that spirit beyond her conviction for graft and a 4-year incarceration in a Bengaluru jail. Ejected from the AIADMK party at the instance of her pick for the chief minister’s job after Jaya’s death, Edappadi Palaniswami, she has decided to fight back after the AIADMK was trounced at the Assembly and Lok Sabha polls to the extent the party withdrew from the latest bypoll citing DMK monopoly over the election process. Sasikala tried to gather some forces in a recent visit south where she drew a crowd of personal loyalists. She also continues using the party flag bearing the profile of Annadurai on a black background, much to the chagrin of EPS who has been anointed Secretary of AIADMK, from the Supreme Court downwards. The idea of uniting the party and bringing back all the ‘black sheep’ – read Sasikala and O Panneerselvam – before the 2026 Assembly poll was aired at a party conference to take in the impact of Lok Sabha polls. But EPS shot it down vehemently even as he aired the view that the likes of Sasikala should stay away from active politics. He is intent on steering the party into the next state polls in what could be a do-or-die effort.
suvendu sukanta

Sukanta Majumdar and Suvendu Adhikari

Internal Dissensions Within Bengal BJP Further Intensifies After Bypoll Results

A significant rift within the Bengal BJP has surfaced, highlighted by recent statements from top party functionaries during the ongoing assessment of the Lok Sabha and Assembly bypoll election results in West Bengal. Union Minister and Bengal BJP President, Sukanta Majumdar, advised party workers against relying on actions by the CBI and ED to secure election victories. Instead, he urged them to focus on strengthening the party organization. This remark is widely interpreted as an indirect jibe at Suvendu Adhikari, BJP’s Leader of the Opposition for referencing dates of central agency raids against TMC leaders. This exchange has further fuelled tensions within the party, with Adhikari controversially suggesting that the BJP should abandon Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s inclusive slogan, “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas, Sabka Prayas,” and do away with its minority wing. He proposed a new slogan: “Jo humare saath, hum unke saath.” Majumdar quickly distanced the party from Adhikari’s statement, labelling it as a personal view. Under pressure from the BJP high command in Delhi, Adhikari later issued a social media statement claiming his comments were taken out of context. The BJP’s failure to meet its target of 25 seats in the recent Lok Sabha polls, securing only 12 compared to 18 in 2019, and losing three of its four seats in the Assembly bypolls, reducing its tally from 77 to 71, has intensified internal blame-game. Political observers see these exchanges as indicative of deepening internal conflicts within the state BJP leadership.
prasad_ajinkya_sanjay

Prasad Lad, Ajinka Naik and Sanjay Naik

Big Fight In Mumbai Cricket Association For The President’s Post

  Why the high profile Prasad Lad did not file a nomination for the election to the post of president of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) remains a mystery. The 53-year-old MLC of the BJP, who could pull strings with the state deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, announced that he would “100 %” file nomination, but according to the grapevine, was stopped from “entering the fray” upon instructions from the party bosses in New Delhi. What gives credence to this development is that another BJP big shot, Ashish Shelar — the Bandra boy is the president of Mumbai BJP — had already named the MCA vice-president Sanjay Naik as a potential successor to Amol Kale, who passed away in New York on June 10. Shelar pointed out at Kale’s condolence meeting that Sanjay had sportingly withdrawn in favour of Kale in the MCA election of October 2022. With Kale — who owed his position in the MCA to Fadnavis — at the helm, Lad could not have considered seriously engaging with the association. Lad’s backtracking will likely see the incumbent secretary, Ajinkya Naik, lock horns with the incumbent vice-president, Sanjay. Looks like they are daggers drawn and ready for the big fight!  Should there be no withdrawal on July 16, the election will occur on July 23. The loser will retain his position, though (as secretary or vice-president), so both could get a toe-hold some 15 months before next year’s election to the full Apex Council. Lad may throw his hat in the ring next year if the BJP-Shiv Sena of Eknath Shinde and NCP of Ajit Pawar win the assembly elections in October-November.
ambani wedding

At Ambani Wedding, Bollywood Was “Over Courteous” With Paparazzi

  It was the wedding of the century. And as usual the entire Bollywood made sure they marked their attendance at the Ambani wedding. All were there with their families and they really let their hair down. There are a few observations that one saw at the wedding. For starters, the paparazzi, who are often not treated well by the top stars, were pleasantly surprised by the respect accorded to them by Bollywood folks. It looked as though the Ambanis had told them to cooperate with the paparazzi. Shah Rukh Khan who was again seen with his green umbrella covering his face to avoid being papped the next day after the wedding had posed not once but twice at the wedding with the proper salaam to the members of the media. Amitabh Bachchan was spotted waiting for his turn to pose in front of the media while cricketer MS Dhoni posed. Someone like Madhuri Dixit danced to Choli Ke Peeche Kya Hai number. In fact, Salman who is very fond of Anant Ambani made sure even Shah Rukh Khan danced instead of standing and watching others dance. A photograph of Salman Khan and Arjun Kapoor together has gone viral as generally Sallu bhai prefers to stay away from Arjun. All said and done, almost all the top actors and actresses from the film industry participated in Ambani’s wedding whole-heartedly. In fact, all of them had blocked dates for the three Ambani events that took place in the last few months.
K suresh

Cong Gives A Short Shrift To K Suresh, Someone It Was Pushing As Speaker

Only early this month PM Narendra Modi had highlighted in the Parliament how the Congress had a tendency to sacrifice from “Dalit and backward classes” in losing causes to protect “the family”. He had attacked the Congress for trying to push the candidature of Kodikunnil Suresh, first as pro-tem Speaker and then later got him to file papers for the Lok Sabha Speaker’s elections. Now it seems Modi may not have been off the mark. After pushing the Mavelikara MP as senior most member as he was an 8 term MP — never mind in between breaks, the Congress chose to appoint Suresh as chief whip for the party in Lok Sabha on July 14. It preferred to pick a much younger Jorhat MP Gaurav Gogoi, as Lok Sabha deputy leader.  It is odd that the Congress should bypass the senior Dalit leader from Kerala. May be Suresh too is in the same league as former LS   Speaker Meira Kumar who was fielded against former President Ram Nath Kovind in 2017.  Or like former Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde who was fielded against Bhairon Singh Shekhawat in the Vice President elections of 2002. All senior Dalit leaders who have been used by the Congress to fight a lost cause. Meanwhile, one hears Rahul Gandhi, who had travelled out of the country on a private jet of a friend to London, is going to be back home over the weekend (July 14).  His audacious social media managers who had faked his phone call to US V-P Kamala Harris while he was away didn’t expect to get caught. For once Modi seems to have been on the mark, invoking Sholay‘s mausi ji imagery!  
aruldas

Wipro’s Payment Delay Hits Chennai-Based SME Hard

What’s in IT? Well, IT (information technology) makes an organisation efficient.  Is it really so? Ask S Aruldass, managing director of the Chennai-based EAFS which was established in 1992. The company is a leading IT-Enabled Infrastructure & Engineering solution provider and project specialist in the design and building of Data centers & Network Solutions. Over eight summers have gone by and yet, this Chennai-based entrepreneur is at his wit’s end to recover the money for the services rendered by his company to Bengaluru-based IT major Wipro.  After selling off his multi-cuisine restaurant (Noodle Kings), he founded EAFS to provide power and control solutions to corporations. It isn’t easy to be an MSME (micro, small and medium enterprise) organisation. He is acutely aware of this. But, he hasn’t bargained for an IT giant like Wipro to delay payment for services rendered several years ago! Constant churning of people in Wipro has only worsened his predicament.  The IT age appears to have pushed the inter-personal relationship to a faceless computer interface.  This is indeed causing avoidable hurt for smaller ones like EAFS. Non-receipt of payment, however, does not entitle EAFS to hold back on GST payments.  The cumulative weight caused by non-receipt of payment from Wipro has cast a huge burden on him and his company. What is small for some may prove to be big for some others. Is Wipro listening?
modi shankaracharya

PM Modi's Truce With Dharma Gurus Who Had Opposed Jan 22 Ram Mandir Consecration

When PM Modi attended Anant-Radhika ‘Shubh Aashirwad’ ceremony what was of significance was that he paid respects to both Shankaracharya of Dwarka Peeth Swami Sadananda Saraswati and Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath Swami Avimukteshwaranand. They were among the four Shankaracharyas who had opposed the January 22 inauguration of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya because they felt it was being held in violation of the rules of Sanatan Dharma. Swami Avimukteshwaranand Saraswati, the Shankaracharya of Jyotish Peeth in Uttarakhand, was particularly vocal. The Shankaracharyas had opposed the inauguration of an incomplete Ram Mandir. However, on July 13, in an extraordinary gesture of spiritual significance Swami Avimukteshwaranand could be seen handing PM Modi a necklace of rudraksha beads that he was wearing. It almost seemed like a sign of truce between the dharma gurus and PM Modi. However, even while opposing the opening of the temple Swami Avimukteshwaranand had always reiterated that he was one of the admirers of PM Modi. It is because of PM Modi Hindus have become aware of their self-respect. “The truth is PM Modi has made Hindus self-aware which is not a small thing. We have said several times in public that we are not anti-Modi but his admirers. Name another prime minister of India who strengthened Hindus like Modi before. We have had many prime ministers and they all have been good — we are not criticising anyone.”  Champat Rai of the temple trust had defended the inauguration on the grounds that the temple belonged to Ramanand Sampradaya – a 18th century Vaishnava saint.
stalin and ministers

Dravidian Bastion Against BJP Is Intact

Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin is basking in the success of his party candidate in the bypoll in Vikravandi, which came despite the government facing the heat in the aftermath of hooch deaths near the constituency. He knew it was important to get this endorsement of Dravidian rule because the ruling DMK was up against the candidate from the PMK that was part of BJP+ and testing the waters in a virtual straight contest in the absence of AIADMK. From the voting counts of 2021 and 2024 it was clear that the AIADMK cadre chose to vote for DMK rather than PMK, which vote would have been taken as one for the BJP that has been desperately seeking a break in the state. While the PMK got 32,198 votes in the Vikravandi segment in the Lok Sabha polls this year, its candidate got 56,026 votes in the assembly bypoll. While that could be taken as an indicator of the current mood and the dynamics of a straight contest, DMK’s Anniyur Siva got 1.25 lakh votes, a big swing from when the DMK won the seat only by a margin of 9,500 in 2021. AIADMK voters have chosen to go against its former ally BJP, now a bitter rival in 3-way poll politics in Tamil Nadu. The anticipated big breakthrough for BJP in the south, specifically Tamil Nadu, may take a lot more time to come.
dalvi

PWP Leader Jayant Patil’s Defeat In Maharashtra's MLC Celebrated By Rivals With Mud Bath

Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) leader Jayant Patil’s humiliating defeat in the Maharashtra legislative council election, a couple of days ago, has been celebrated by his arch rival, Shiv Sena (Shinde) MLA Mahendra Dalvi in a novel manner. Dalvi and some of his followers literally smeared themselves with mud by flinging headlong in rainwater poodles in Alibaug, the Raigad district headquarters and the generational stronghold of Patil family. Dalvi then uploaded video clips of this mud bath, dedicating the rout of Patil to CM Eknath Shinde. The MLA had declared his resolve to take such a bath publicly a few days prior to the election. The outcome of the election has shocked the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), whose support Patil was banking upon. The Patil family has been dominating the politics in Raigad district for decades with allegations that the use of money and muscle by Jayant Patil has made it possible. A smart political operative, Patil had been managing to get into the council since 2002 from the assembly constituency despite having not more than two or three PWP MLAs at any given time. Patil lost because the Shiv Sena (Uddhav) fielded high profile Milind Narvekar, who garnered the required votes which Patil was hoping to obtain. Patil’s setback despite the blessings of veteran Sharad Pawar has gladdened his traditional rivals in the district, led by NCP (Ajit) heavyweight Sunil Tatkare. Once the main opposition party in the state, the PWP thus has faded out of the legislature.
Nayanthara_002

Lady Super Star Nayanthara To Don Divine Avatar ‘Mookkuthi Amman’, Again

Sequels seem to be the current flavour of Tamil films. Even as Indian 2 is chugging along to mixed reactions, Ishari Ganesh and his production House Vel’s, announced the sequel to their 2020  fantasy mythology/ comedy ( new genres are creatively spun ) Mookkuthi Amman. Lady Superstar Nayanthara plays the Goddess. How did a fantasy theme steeped in Divine overtones inspire a sequel? The ways of films and the preferences of audiences are as elusive as The Scarlet Pimpernel. The first film Mookkuthi Amman could not get a cinema release due to Covid-19 pandemic. But the makers were not daunted …they managed a direct OTT release on Disney Hotstar, almost convinced it was due to the divine blessings of Goddess Amman. A beautiful Nayanthara got iconic welcome as the Nose Pin Goddess. RJ Balaji, the main character is also the director of the film. Mookkuthi Amman watches over the good people with her timely interventions and is lionised as the family “go to” deity.  When story boards are as dry as a desert, film makers seek sequels — at least the essentials for the film are charted. Only a new story twist is needed. Nayanathara is an appropriate Mookkuthi Amman.
Raj bhavan_odisha

Odisha Governor In A Spot As Son Beats Senior Raj Bhavan Staffer

The Odisha Governor Raghubir Das is making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Reportedly, his son Lalit Kumar beat Raj Bhavan staffer Baikuntha Pradhan black and blue on July 7.  The trigger apparently was Pradhan, Assistant Section Officer at Raj Bhavan, sent a Maruti car to fetch the Governor’s son from Puri Railway station. This enraged Lalit Kumar as he was expecting a luxury car. Feeling slighted the Governor’s son and his friends slapped and kicked the Raj Bhavan staffer. Looks like the VVIP culture and sense of entitlement seems to be endemic across political parties. The explanation given by Pradhan for sending a small car is that there was no other vehicles available as the President of India Droupadi Murmu was officially visiting Raj Bhavan and all vehicles were pressed into her service. Pradhan has filed a formal complaint with the Governor’s Principal Secretary while his wife Sayoji has filed a complaint at Sea Beach police station at Puri seeking justice for her husband. The Opposition parties — BJD and Congress – is not letting go of this opportunity to embarrass the BJP ruled state. It’s seeking action against the Governor’s son.
david lammy

Will UK’s New Foreign Secretary David Lammy Visit India By End Of This Month?

Will UK’s newly elected Labour MP David Lammy who has assumed office as Foreign Secretary visit India by the end July? Addressing the India Global Conclave in June, Lammy had announced that he shall be in India by July end leaving the audience to read between the lines. Lammy’s indirectly winning prediction has come true. His affinity to India is well known and he does not hesitate to use slogans of Vasudev Kutumbakam in his speeches when he addresses the Indian diaspora. Lammy has fully recognized the power of India, and the strength of the Indian diaspora in the UK thus he makes a special effort to announce his Indian origin. Lammy’s great-grandmother was of Indian origin before the family moved to the Caribbean Islands. An MP since 2000, Lammy held various junior ministerial positions under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown between 2002 and 2010. He believes India is a superpower with a huge integrated market and acknowledges its strengths in various sectors. Lammy is confident that his government will bring the Free Trade Talks to the front burner and hopefully get it signed soon. Even Dr Vikram Doraiswami, High Commissioner of India feels likewise and says that the FTA between India and the UK is among the top items on the list to be completed within 100 days of the new government headed by Modi.
Indian 2_002

Hit By Multiple Hurdles For 5 Years Can Indian 2 Cross The Rs 1000-Crore Mark?

  July 12 was a red flagged day for the much-anticipated and delayed release of Ulaga Nayakan Kamal Hassan’s magnum opus, Indian 2, sequel to that 1996 super hit that rocked global viewers for sheer scale, script and cinematic spectacle. Besotted Kollywood fans had almost given up on seeing Indian 2. Tamil film’s ace director S Shankar announced the sequel on January 15, 2019. A five years delay can be financially crippling in the film industry. What went wrong? Everything. At every step the film hit roadblocks. This string of unexpected hurdles could make for a standalone script for “The Making Of Indian 2”. A series of mishaps, infighting between the production house and the director, legal hurdles and an accident on the set — crane fell on the crew killing three workers. Kamal had to take care of the legal summons as he was in no way connected with the mishap. A prompt Rs 1 crore compensation to the deceased workers’s families pacified the crew. Then came Covid-19 pandemic. Indian 2 lost three of their best talents — top comedian Vivek, Manobala and Nedumudi Venu. Through all this Kamal worked in other films and also launched his own political party MNM. His Vikram, a super hit, turned the tide and Kamal’s confidence levels rose. Shankar, a mega scale director is not known to cut the cloth according to the coat. In 1996 Indian 1 made on Rs 9 crore budget earned Rs 30 crore, his Rajini starrer 2.0 made in 2018 with Rs 600 crore earned Rs 800 crore. Indian 2 made at a cost Rs 600 crore is expected to cross the Rs1000-crore mark.
odisha cm

Odisha Chief Minister In The Hot Seat, Can He Deliver?

With BJP firmly in the driver’s seat in Odisha now all eyes are on the chief minister Mohan Charan Majhi to deliver the poll promise. Doubting Thomases are already asking whether he can transform Odisha, create over 3.5 lakh new jobs, attract investments in the industrial and agriculture sectors? The world will get a whiff of his roadmap when Majihi presents the state’s budget on July 24.  So far, Majhi has successfully opened up the four gates of Sri Jagannath Temple besides creating a corpus fund of Rs 500 crore for safety, security and beautification of the iconic temple. Majhi’s cabinet has also decided to formulate a policy for farmers within 100 days to increase MSP of paddy to Rs 3,100 per quintal. Sources say the chief minister faces huge challenges from providing drinking water, to quality school, to filling teachers’ posts lying vacant to scant irrigation facilities. Meanwhile, the new government is already facing criticism for announcing two big ticket projects without doing feasibility studies. Well known political commentator Ruben Banerjee has questioned the viability of such projects. In the case of Subhadra Jojana (earlier Mission Shakti) the state will spend Rs 50,000 crore to cover one crore women who will get a voucher of Rs 50,000 in two years. In the case of Bhubaneswar Metro Rail project, the government plans to invest Rs 6,000 crore. And this project will run into losses, says Banerjee. He is just over a month into his new role and it is unfair to compare him with the former legendary chief minister Naveen Patnaik who ran Odisha for over two decades. 
shekhar atanu goutam

Debate Sparks Over Absence of Bengali Films In Global Festivals

Following Anusuya Sengupta’s acclaimed win as Best Actress in the ‘A Certain Regard’ category for her film ‘Shameless’ at the 77th Cannes Film Festival, questions have arisen concerning the notable absence of Indian Bengali cinema at prominent international film festivals like Cannes, Berlin, and Venice. Acclaimed Director Goutam Ghose, a recipient of numerous awards at prestigious global film festivals, highlighted a disparity in enthusiasm towards festivals among Bengali master filmmakers of yester years. While luminaries such as Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen actively engaged with these platforms, celebrated figures like Tarun Majumder and Tapan Sinha were less inclined, despite their films receiving recognition. Ghosh noted fluctuating preferences among festival organizers favouring films from different countries at different times, including periods where Iranian, Korean, and occasionally Indian cinema gained prominence. Film researcher and professor Sanjay Mukhopadhyay observed that films like Debaki Kumar Bose’s ‘Sita’ might have won accolades in Venice due to their westernised portrayal of Indian women. He acknowledged a decline in Bengali cinema’s international visibility post the era of Ray, Sen, and Ritwik Ghatak. Director Atanu Ghosh, whose works have been honoured at international festivals, acknowledged the current scarcity of Bengali films on the global stage. Interestingly, according to director Sekhar Das even Russian films are not being able to make their mark even with these famous directors like Tarkovsky or Sokurov. The same is true for Bengali movies.
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Maha Vikas Aghadi In Dock For Debacle In Legislative Council Election, Uddhav Blamed

The blame game has started in Maharashtra, with all three partners of the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) in the dock for the defeat of a candidate supported by them in the MLC election. The MLC election held on July 12 has triggered a fierce political furore since NCP leader Sharad Pawar’s blessed candidate Jayant Patil of the Peasants and Workers Party lost. He was promised the requisite support of the excess MVA votes. However, Uddhav’s decision to field his confidant Milind Narvekar vitiated the arithmetic. Had he not added the second Sena candidate, all the 11 seats would have been declared unopposed. But Uddhav’s decision proved costly for Jayant Patil. He himself has expressed chagrin since he was assured excess votes of the MVA. Former MLC Kapil Patil, too, has held Uddhav responsible for Jayant Patil’s defeat. Kapil, a former journalist, has reminded Uddhav how he ditched Kapil’s organisation at the eleventh hour in the council election from the Teachers’ constituency. Kapil has also held Uddhav responsible for the defeat of former MP Raju Shetti. On the other hand, newly elected BJP MLC Sadabhau Khot has blamed Pawar for the beating suffered by Jayant Patil. “Pawar has stabbed Patil in the back,” Khot said. As the election was from the legislative assembly constituency, the cross voting, as hinted by shortpost.in, has occurred just like it had happened two years ago. Both times, most such voting has happened from the Congress quota. Interestingly, its possibility was forewarned this time but the Congress brass failed to prevent it. The shocking outcome will definitely impact planning for the coming assembly election by all the parties.
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Bypoll Results: Cong May Gloat Over Badrinath Win But What Cost BJP Was Joshimath

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

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

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

Controversial IAS Probationer Pooja Khedkar’s Mother Too Turns Newsmaker

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

High Expectations From Team India’s New Coach Gautam Gambhir

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At 81, Big B Proves He Is Bankable

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

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

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

Mumbai and Maharashtra’s Chirag Shetty may have stirred the hornet’s nest by telling the Government of Maharashtra to look at the achievements of sportspersons of the State in Olympic sport and reward them, just as they do for cricketers. He was only refreshing the people in authority that he, too, as a son of the soil, had helped India win the ultimate prize in badminton — the seven-plus decade-old Thomas Cup in 2022. A doubles specialist — his partner being Satwiksairaj Rankireddy from Telangana — Chirag had played his part in the historic win. The young shuttlecock player made a timely appeal soon after the Government of Maharashtra feted the Mumbai players and support staff of the Indian team that won the Twenty20 World Cup in Barbados on June 29 with a cash award of Rs 11 crore.  Former India player and coach Uday Pawar has hit the nail on its head, saying that a mechanism in place for winning World Cup level competitions would straightaway reward sportspersons and that achievers like Chirag can focus on their sport. Chirag, along with his partner, are among the top doubles pairs in the World, and the badminton community in India is fondly hoping for a medal from the doubles pair in the forthcoming Summer Olympics in Paris. On the count of sweat and toil, Chirag is no less than any other champion performer. Chirag doesn’t grudge the cricketers being applauded before the lawmakers in the Vidan Sabhan, and most importantly, he is only asking the likes of Eknath Shinde, Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar to pat achievers in other sports on their back and be generous on money matters.
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Popular Star Dhanush At The Launch Of His 50th Film Cries A River Of Regret And Angst

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

Finally, A Rajya Sabha Berth For Abhishek Singhvi From Telangana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.