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Growing Trust Deficit And Widening Rift In Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi

Cracks in the Shiv Sena led Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) became clear with the latest, unilateral announcement by the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee President Nana Patole that the party will go solo in the next assembly elections. (Congress has one MP, 44 legislators and insignificant presence in local and civic bodies). He also added that if approved by the High Command he would like to be the party’s face for the post of Chief Minister. Clearly, Patole is posing challenge to his colleagues like Balasaheb Thorat, Ashok Chavan, Nitin Raut and Vijay Wadettiwar. Meanwhile, Deputy CM Ajit Pawar snubbed Patole for his ‘CM statement’. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray seem to be playing his card well too. His closed-door meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi has created heebie-jeebies among his rivals. Informed sources say that Thackeray has killed two birds with one arrow. He has snubbed BJP by showing that he has kept his communication channel open with Modi. Brave Sanjay Raut said, “It’s a rumour that Shiv Sena CM will be replaced after 2.5 years … CM will be Uddhav Thackeray for 5 years.” For the NCP and Congress, the message is not to take Thackeray for a ride despite lacking administrative experience. Meanwhile, within the BJP too the rift is widening between former CM Devendra Fadnavis and the state BJP unit chief Chandrakant Patil.
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How Underworld Entered Bollywood – Part 3

The D Gang’s clout was all pervading.  All top stars – heroes, heroines and producers – were forced to fly to Dubai and perform for bhai’s events. There is video footage of stars hobnobbing with the Don at a Sharjah cricket match. A ‘No’ was not an option. And the job of terrorizing the film industry was entrusted to the handsome gangster Abu Salem, now languishing in Taloja jail, on the outskirts of Mumbai. Abu Salem almost threatened every top actor and producer. One of the early victims was Rajiv Rai, son of Gulshan Rai of Trimurti Films fame. He fled to the UK with his wife Sonam and son after a failed attempt on his life by Abu Salem’s henchmen. Gulshan Kumar of T Series fame was chased and gunned down. Bollywood biggies – producer-director Subhash Ghai, Manmohan Shetty, and Rakesh Roshan received threatening calls from Abu Salem. Rakesh Roshan survived a brutal murderous attack, and luckily recovered from gunshots wounds. Not unlike Haji Mastan, Abu Salem too needed his share of Bollywood beauties – and he got Monica Bedi. His threat forced producers to cast her opposite big stars in movies like Jodi No 1, and Pyaar Ishq Aur Mohabbat. In September 2002, Monica Bedi and Abu Salem were arrested in Portugal. After serving prison sentences there, they were deported to India. To cut to the chase, the gangsters had paid informers in the film industry who tipped them about stars’ financials – movie signing amount, movie release date etc. Armed with this information, the underworld would make extortion calls. The Bollywood-Underworld nexus became apparent when Mumbai serial blasts of 1993 was investigated.  READ PART 4
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How Underworld Entered Bollywood – Part 4

High on money and muscle power, the underworld started dominating Bollywood. The money was routed through financiers and big stars who often visited Dubai to meet the Don. In the late 90s, early 2000s photographs of top actors, musicians and singers performing at Dawood’s Darbar were published by the media. These photographs exposed the nexus between Bollywood-Underworld. And proof of that was tapped telephonic conversation between Dawood’s right hand man Chhota Shakeel and various film personalities. This nexus pressurised Mumbai police to arrest diamond merchant cum film financier Bharat Shah under MCOCA. Reportedly, Shah was arrested for aiding Chhota Shakeel. Somebody like Rakesh Roshan had a narrow escape on the eve of the release of Kaho Naa…Pyaar Hai, his son Hrithik’s first movie. The sharp shooters fired two rounds at him for not paying Rs 5 crore. This incident shook the film world. The Mumbai police came forward to provide them protection. But, things started ebbing with Dawood not keeping well; Abu Salem incarcerated, and Chhota Rajan too cooling his heels in Tihar jail. Insiders say the extortion cases have come down. Though there were sporadic incidents like gangster Ravi Pujari trying to take advantage of the situation. Now, he too has been arrested. Now the underworld has almost stopped extortion but continues with its piracy business. Ironically, the fraternity which complains about the underworld are the same people who glamorize the underworld, making them larger than life.  CONCLUDED

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Serbian Novak Djokovic Serves A New French Toast For Parisians

The  fashionable world of Parisians, also accustomed to a ‘Bon Appetit’ of the Rafael Nadal variety of tennis on the red shale at the Roland Garros, recently got to taste caviar on toast of one for the books kind, so imposingly dished out by a Serbian champion. Down and out virtually, Novak Djokovic summoned his physical and mental reserves, picked up the pieces to play havoc on the mind of the far from pretender for the crown, Stefanos Tsitsipas and eventually downed the terrific 22-year-old Greek with a blonde mane and Adidas bandana. The final bout lasted four hours and 11 minutes as the versatile tennis artist, who has won 1,102 singles matches on the ATP tour, proceeded to win his 19th Grand Slam singles title and come within whistling distance of Nadal and Roger Federer’s 20 each. The Serbian, 34, had stopped the successful run of the  southpaw Nadal in the semi-finals, who had proved to be a one-man Spanish Armada, winning the title in Paris, a baker’s dozen times between 2005 and 2020 and lifted the 14kg Musketeers Cup Trophy. Nadal did not win in Paris in 2009, 2015 and 2016, when the Serbian clinched his first clay Grand Slam. Trailing by two sets (6-7, 2-6), Djokovic smothered the Greek 6-3, 6-4, 6-2, firing a mere five aces to his opponent’s 14. The 187cm tall Djokovic who began his professional career in 2003, has won 305 matches on clay, 520 on hard courts, 104 on grass, 140 in indoor courts and 33 Davis Cup singles matches. Leading to the French Open, Djokovic had lost three Clay court matches at Monte Carlo, Belgrade and Rome this year but was unstoppable in Paris. He is in line for a sweep of the calendar year Grand Slam wins and be hailed as the Greatest of All Time (GOAT).

Thackerays send Chadar to Ajmer Sharif -- Photo :

Hindutva Vs Secular Identity: Can Sena Do The Balancing Act?

It is almost akin to running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. Shiv Sena, which heads the Maha Vikas Aghadi government with NCP and Congress, is not only striving to maintain its Hindutva identity but also projecting its secular credentials. Recently, party MP Rahul Shewale stoked a controversy after he proposed to rename flyover on Ghatkopar-Mankhurd link road after Ajmer’s Khwaja Gareeb Nawaz Moinuddin Chishti. The BJP and VHP slammed Shewale for his demand. Shewale reacted saying that he was unaware of BJP MP Manoj Kotak’s proposal to name the flyover after Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaja or demand by locals for Krantikarak Vastad Lahuji Salve and Lokshahir Annabhau Sathe.  Earlier, Sena leader Pandurang Sakpal, Vibhag Pramukh of south Mumbai likened ‘Azaan’ (a call for Muslim prayer) with Hindu ritual of ‘aarti.’ And mooted the idea of holding an ‘Azaan’ recital competition for Muslim children. The BJP accused Sena changing its stand to remain in power. Interestingly, CM Uddhav Thackeray has told BJP not to teach him Hindutva reiterating that the party has not left it despite joining hands with the NCP and Congress with an agreement to follow secular principles.

TN Chief Minister Stalin Seems To Be A Man In A Hurry

Yes, ever since the DMK win, it has been a Stalin overkill about how he is everywhere, doing everything, covering everything. Just the other day, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin visited Mettur Dam, to inspect desilting preparations to receive the annual inflow of Cauvery waters from neighbouring Karnataka. This is very crucial to irrigate the TN kuruvai (short term) crop that has seen many a parched and lost year in the past, with both states fighting over river water sharing. With his new found confidence, Stalin announced that Mettur dam would be opened and that he expects Karnataka to open the hatch, a fait accompli decision, no longer up for negotiation. Is this a positive shift in the power equations of these two warring states? The same strong narrative in demanding vaccine stock for TN, reaching out to non BJP CMs for possible Third Front to leverage more federalism….the canvas is big. But some chinks in the armour are evident too: the opening up of liquor outlets (opposed earlier) as the state needs revenue (TASMAC revenue is Rs 30,000 crore plus) to back emergency healthcare. There are also serious concerns and talk about the Omandurar Hospital changing yet again to become the TN Assembly building, the original dream project of Kalaignar. The historic King Institute may take the place of this hospital. Taxpayers are the obvious beasts of burden.

Stalin Unveils Singara Chennai 2.0

At 69, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin knows that he has to hurry up and deal an impressive hand to the people who voted him in. May be even take on the issue of enhanced federalism. In his earlier avatar as lieutenant to Karunanidhi, and his mayoral stint, Stalin earned the sobriquet of Flyover Man with a visible preference for flyovers. Singara Chennai (Beautiful Chennai) was his other pet project to leave a lasting impact on the Chennai landscape. The Greater Chennai Corporation, under Gagandeep Singh Bedi, has launched Singara Chennai 2.0 with a slew of plans for beautifying its beaches (even far flung beaches of Thiruvottiyur and Uthandi with 21 km of coastline are to be developed as coral reefs). An integrated scheme for making a dramatic aesthetic impact on urban spaces, including water bodies, roundabout gardens, an underwater aquarium and numerous other breath-taking schemes! Ambitious? The cynical say, “Ah, new brooms sweep clean. Let’s see when all these sprout.” The practical punters are happy….so much to gain, invest and of course, earn. Who is the Catalyst powering this State Vista?  Could it be that Chanakya who orchestrated the party’s telling win? Or did a certain Wall Street wizard motivate Stalin? Whatever the genesis of Stalin’ takeover makeover, Gagan Deep Singh Bedi will lead the charge of the light brigade to make Stalin’s plans take shape.

Sasikala, Former CM E.Palaniswami

EPS, OPS Thwart Sasikala’s Attempt To Re-Enter AIADMK

For more than three hours she was not just the elephant in the room. Sasikala, confidante to J Jayalalithaa who ruled Tamil Nadu more like an empress, was the hot topic of discussion within the party founded by MGR and consolidated by his protege Jaya. Former CMs E Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam joined ranks to keep Sasikala out of the party while expelling her loyalists who had the temerity to speak to her on their mobile phones seeking her comeback. So long as the two heads of AIADMK keep their flock together, they can stave off any attempts by the discredited Jaya aide to create confusion in the party about her imminent comeback. But she seems determined to get back in and seize control by manipulating sentiment among the party rank and file. Jailed for graft, Sasikala’s strength is a seemingly infinite access to funds. Disqualified as she is from standing in elections for another six years, Sasikala aims to become a party boss like Lalu Prasad Yadav, who is under a similar cloud. Her strategy before the polls was to announce retirement from politics in the hope that once the AIADMK was trounced at the polls, there would be a clamour for her re-entry. That didn’t happen with the party winning 66 of 75 alliance seats. But Sasikala lurks, waiting for that chance to pounce.


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.