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A Tale Of Deception For Cong In Rajasthan

Now that the votes have been cast in Rajasthan, Congress election managers are finally letting off their steam against one over-priced star campaigner, Imran Pratapgarhi, who not only called off half a dozen programmes at the last minute but had left the party hugely embarrassed because of his erratic ways. It is being said he played truant in Telangana too. Hugely popular for his shayari, Pratapgarhi has been quite elusive and is known to even charge the party for his efforts. It is precisely for his campaign work that he got elected to Rajya Sabha from Maharashtra in 2022 overlooking local claims, and was appointed to head the Minority Department of the AICC. Party sources said Pratapgarhi was taking everyone for granted because he had patronage of Priyanka Gandhi as he hailed from UP.  Well if the Congress cadres were putting up with the whims of a Pratapgarhi, they discovered getting Sachin Pilot into a campaign mode had become a logistic hazard. It was all because CM Ashok Gehlot decided not to make any arrangements for his rival. It was finally left to the AICC to make a last-minute arrangement for a chopper to ferry Sachin across constituencies. Even this wasn’t done not because Sachin was close to the Gandhis.  It is being said even the Gandhis  felt a bit tricked when they found  there were different names in Sachin’s candidates’ list  that was  given to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi for the CEC meeting. Maybe Sachin was trying to get as many names of his candidates cleared.
Mamata ultimatum

Mamata Sabre-Rattles To Assert Her Position Within TMC

When Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee launched an all-out attack on the BJP this week warning that central agencies would target it after the 2024 general elections, it seemed more a bid to assert herself within the TMC rather than taking an aim at the national party. Yes, her warning that if central agencies arrest four of her party leaders, the West Bengal police would arrest eight state BJP leaders seemed plain bluff and bluster. TMC watchers pointed out that Mamata was compelled to do some sabre-rattling at a party event as she wanted to put her nephew and national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee in his place. It was on Didi’s orders that Abhishek’s posters had gone missing. It is being said Mamata had taken a tough view on Abhishek only to reassure old-time TMC backers. For some time now Abhishek has been asking Mamata to dump those TMC leaders who have fallen foul of the law. At least five high-profile TMC leaders, including four legislators of whom two were state ministers, are now in judicial custody after they were arrested by the ED and the CBI in multiple corruption cases. The jailed leaders are all die-hard Mamata loyalists. With Abhishek having handpicked all next generation TMC MLAs in 2021 polls, Mamata is feeling increasingly isolated in the party.

For A Telangana Win, Cong Pins Hopes On Muslims Like It Did In Karnataka

For the November 30 Telangana assembly elections, the Congress  seems to be focussed on garnering minority votes, virtually hoping it would be a repeat of its Karnataka win. No, it is not just relying on its Minority Declaration that has promised huge allowances of Rs 10,000-12,000 for Imams, Muezzins and Khadims, it is doing much more. Like relying heavily on an aggressive push by Karnataka Minority Affairs Minister BZ Zameer Ahmed Khan who has been sort of camping and canvassing in the poll-bound state. Following instructions of CM Siddaramaiah a few Karnataka Muslim Congress leaders too have been campaigning in Telangana. It may be recalled that minister Ahmed had stirred controversy by stating how Karnataka’s BJP MLAs were now forced to show respect to a Muslim Speaker UT Khader in the Karnataka Assembly. The Congress feels encouraged to tap Muslim votes as Asaduddin Owaisi’s party AIMIM would be contesting only nine seats. The AIMIM was contesting seven seats on which it had sitting MLAs and was fielding two extra seats. The Congress has fielded five Muslim candidates against AIMIM’s eight. Besides Minister Khan who has been working on the ground, nine more Karnataka ministers were deployed on election work. Deputy CM and KPCC chief DK Shivkumar also got 48 other senior leaders — mostly MLAs and MLCs — appointed as AICC cluster in-charges. A party manager conceded that post Diwali there were coordinators deployed across all the 119 constituencies.
ashok gehlot_sonia gandhi

Sonia Rushed To Jaipur To Pep Up Gehlot, After A Rub In With Rahul

When Congress leader Sonia Gandhi shifted to Jaipur as Delhi’s air pollution level spiked last week post Diwali there were a lot of concerns about her health. More than that, many in the party wondered about the real purpose of her visit. Did she really choose Jaipur to recover from horrible Delhi weather or there is more than that meets the eye? Sonia was apparently there to iron out differences between CM Ashok Gehlot and son Rahul. Party sources said it seemed only logical. That’s because whenever she is advised by her doctors to shift to a place where the air is not so polluted as in Delhi, she usually visits Goa; .Jaipur can’t be considered a health resort. Sonia rushed to Jaipur after Rahul had a head-on clash with CM Gehlot over ticket distribution. Party sources said Gehlot was heard asserting how he has been a two-term CM and has the experience to pick and endorse candidates on his list. Sonia decided to have a pep talk with Gehlot and make it easy for Rahul. Clearly, the CM was visibly upset with the way Congress leadership denied tickets to his close aide Mahesh Joshi from his Hawa Mahal constituency in Jaipur.  Last year, Joshi along with three other ministers — Shanti Dhariwal, Pratap Khachariyawas and Dharmendra Rathore were served show-cause notices for going against the party whip in 2022. While the high command decided to spare Dhariwal and Khachariyawas, axe fell on Joshi and Rathore.

Did Kharge Target Shashi Tharoor For Contesting CWC Election Against Him?

Exactly three months after inducting him into the CWC, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge targeted Shashi Tharoor by removing him from the All India Professional Congress (AIPC) — an organisation that Tharoor had founded six years ago to draw professionals to the Grand Old Party. For some reason, Kharge thought it fit to replace Tharoor with Praveen Chakravarty, a former venture capitalist and investment banker, who had worked with the UPA programme on financial inclusion of the unbanked poor. Praveen is credited with designing NYAY or minimum income programme for 2019 polls. Nonetheless, party circles were surprised that Kharge should go in for the replacement in the midst of assembly elections. Tharoor was listed as a key campaigner in poll-bound Telangana. After the reshuffle, Tharoor opted out of the campaign. This brings up an interesting question. At a time, when Kharge has not been able to put in place his own AICC team, why was he singling out Tharoor? It was felt Tharoor was eased out of AIPC because he had dared to contest against Kharge for the post of Congress President. At the same time, it is being said Kharge is not being given a free hand to reshuffle AICC because of tussle between Rahul Gandhi and sister Priyanka over appointments. Significantly, Tharoor had exit thank you only for Rahul Gandhi.
nirmala 5

FM Nirmala Bails Out Tamil Nadu Fishermen From Lankan Navy Dragnet

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman who was visiting Rameswaram over the weekend, had a surprise heartwarming interaction with local fishermen. Always open and accessible, a group of local fishermen frantically came over to meet her late evening to inform her about how a few fishermen had been arrested by the Lankan Navy just then. Keen to find an immediate solution, the Minister immediately called up the Indian Embassy in Colombo; after all she had only recently visited Sri Lanka. The phone call worked. In a matter of minutes, the Indian fishermen were let off at mid-sea itself. In the morning, as Sitharaman was on the way to a government programme, the fishermen came over to thank her for the prompt action. On her part, she merely told them how the Modi Government’s policies in the last 10 years have “secured the lives of fisherfolks in this region”.
Kamal Nath

MP Cong Leaders Nervous As Kamal Nath Resorts To Bluff & Bluster

Congress leaders are still wondering whether former PCC chief and ex-CM Kamal Nath is overplaying his confidence of winning Madhya Pradesh assembly elections. Or does he have something up his sleeve? His latest warning to state police and district administration officials, it was felt, betrayed more a sense of bluff and bluster, than real confidence. Imagine a person who was briefly CM saying “No one will be spared, six more days are left, do whatever you want to, but you also have to spend the next five years under a Congress regime.” Party sources conceded that such hollow threats by Nath were bound to be counterproductive in a close contest with the BJP. Attacking the Congress as “Dhamki ki Dukan”, the BJP feels the upcoming assembly election in 2023 for 230 seats is expected to witness largely a closely contested battle between the BJP and the Congress. In addition to these two major parties, the Samajwadi Party and AAP have also nominated their candidates for the polls. The BJP has pledged to offer free ration to the underprivileged for the upcoming five years and provide LPG cylinders to women at a cost of Rs 450. Additionally, the BJP is committed to establishing the Madhya Pradesh Institute of Technology and the Madhya Pradesh Institute of Medical Sciences if it secures victory in the state. Another key promise from the BJP is the provision of 100 units of electricity for Rs 100.
Mahua moitra

Mahua Gets Mamata's Nephew On Her Side To Earn TMC Reprieve

On the back of the Lok Sabha Ethics Panel adopting on November 9 the report recommending Mahua Moitra’s expulsion from the Lok Sabha in the ‘cash for query’ case, the TMC pulled a surprise on November 13 by  appointing Moitra as the district president of Krishnanagar, the constituency she represents in the Lok Sabha. How did this high profile MP who has always been on uneasy terms with her constituency secure party assignment? In fact TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee had in the past warned Moitra to stay clear of constituency politics as she was hardly known to visit her Lok Sabha area and was forever traveling abroad.  Reportedly, Moitra caught hold of TMC leader and Mamata’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee, who was responding to ED related summons. Not only did she butter him up by organising his papers, improving English of the text of the submission and provided some legal aid, she also appealed to him to ensure that the TMC doesn’t abandon her at this stage.  Looks like her efforts to get into the good books of Mamata’s nephew worked. The TMC has now thrown a life-line to her and got a party shield. But there is no way she can be saved from expulsion from the Parliament. That is because the precedent for summary expulsion of 11 MPs for corrupt practice was set by none other than former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee following a sting operation in 2005. The Supreme Court had upheld the expulsion.  The transgressions of those MPs in the sting pales in comparison to Moitra caught in a shopping spree.

BJP Learns The Hard Way, PIcks Yediyurappa's Son Vijayendra To Head Karnataka Unit

In a bid to revive its fortunes ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP has once again decided to fall back on  the charisma of its tall Linagyat stalwart BS Yediyurappa in Karnataka by appointing his son BY Vijayendra as the president of state’s BJP unit. Vijayendra, an MLA from the Shikaripur constituency replaces Nalin Kateel. The appointment comes six months after the Congress ousted the BJP government in the Karnataka Assembly polls with a landslide win. Vijayendra will be the 10th Karnataka’s BJP state chief. In the recent assembly elections, Vijayendra won as an MLA from Shikaripura constituency, once represented by his father. The BJP’s top leadership is yet to announce the Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the southern state where it lost the mandate in the assembly elections. After quitting electoral politics, BS Yediyurappa had widely campaigned for the BJP across the state during the assembly election to help the saffron party to retain power. Interestingly, there were a lot of central BJP leaders vying to lead the state unit including Shobha Karanadlaje and CT Ravi. However, this time it was decided that the party should not risk ignoring Yediyurappa as it did during assembly polls. That too at a time when the ruling Congress is breaking up into various factions. There is already a talk that Congress minister Satish Jharkhioli has support of 65 MLAs rooting for him as CM.
priyanka kamalnath

Kamal Nath Gives Cold Reception To Rahul In MP

When Rahul Gandhi pushed off to Kedarnath on a three-day visit in the midst of elections in Hindi heartland states, it was widely believed that the temple visit was more to improve his Hindu credentials than for any spiritual significance. Party sources admitted that Rahul found he was not being welcomed to campaign in Madhya Pradesh as much as his sister Priyanka was in a state that goes to polls on November 17. PCC chief and CM aspirant Kamal Nath was seen trying to maintain a distance from Rahul; it was as if Nath was cold shouldering Rahul. While Kamal Nath was not seen accompanying or sharing the spotlight with the Gandhi scion, he was not even endorsing or referring to Rahul’s programmes in the state — in his X handle. He was only making references to public rallies addressed by Priyanka Vadra. In contrast, former CM Digvijay Singh made it a point to be part of Rahul’s rally in Ashok Nagar, Guna. Sources said it is possible Nath was uncomfortable with Rahul’s utterances about caste census and OBC politics. He probably did not want any controversy with Rahul around. It may be recalled Nath got I.N.D.I.A front to call off its Bhopal rally soon after Sanatan Dharam controversy. Several Congress leaders have also not been comfortable with Rahul’s neo OBC politics and wondered if it would yield desired results. Meanwhile, Rahul is yet to chart out his campaign plans for Rajasthan that goes to polls on November 25.
Nirmala sitharaman_003

Photo : X

Nirmala Visits Jaffna, Her Special Puja At Local Temple Win Over People  

Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai attended the “Naam 200 Commemoration” in Colombo, Sri Lanka, honouring the 200-year journey of Indian-origin Tamils who endured historical injustices, including loss of citizenship and harsh working conditions on tea plantations. During the “Naam 200 Commemoration” event, the FM reaffirmed India’s unwavering support for the Indian-origin Tamil community in Sri Lanka. However, what won hearts of the Tamils in the island was her visit to Nallur Kandaswamy temple in Jaffna. There when priests asked Nirmala to whom should the special puja at the temple be dedicated. She said it should be dedicated to the inseparable bond between the Indians and the Lankans. During her visit, Nirmala also highlighted the Tamil community’s remarkable resilience and commitment. As a part of this commitment, the FM, along with Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe, unveiled the Thondaman Vocational Training Centre, which was upgraded with Indian assistance and provided school supplies for 10,000 children in plantation areas. In addition to the event, India and Sri Lanka entered into a MoU on solar electrification of religious places in Sri Lanka. India will allocate Rs 82.40 crore as part of the Indian grant assistance of RS 107.47 crore earmarked for the promotion of Buddhist ties between the two nations. India will continue collaborating with Sri Lanka on debt treatment while the island nation attempts to emerge from last year’s grave economic crisis, the FM assured Sri Lankan leadership. 
maneka gandhi

Maneka Gandhi Falls Backs On Wildlife Issues To Prop Up Herself, Call For Action On Youtuber Yadav Only A ‘Bahana’

For a person whose own political future is bleak, BJP MP Maneka Gandhi seems to have once again thrown herself head long into her old passion – wildlife protection issues. She got her NGO to file a complaint against YouTuber Elvish Yadav for using snake venom at rave parties in Noida, UP. Attacking Yadav for being on the run, Maneka wanted to know why the famous influencer was on the run. “This is a grade 1 crime, seven years in jail, a wildlife crime. King cobras die when their venom is taken out. Their venom is for digesting food. Without the venom, they can’t eat anything and thus they die. There are very few cobras and pythons in the country. It is a crime to own them, catch them or use them,” Maneka was heard telling TV channels. Demanding Yadav’s immediate arrest, Maneka Gandhi said her NGO was keeping a watch on Yadav for a long time as he used snakes in his YouTube videos. Then they found out that they sell snake venom. In a statement, a shocked Elvis Yadav dismissed Maneka’s charges as baseless and fake. According to the complaint filed by People For Animals, the NGO, contacted Elvish and asked him to organise a rave party and get Cobra venom. “Elvish gave us the name of one Rahul whom we contacted. He said he could organise the venom wherever we want. He then came to Sector 51 Banquet hall with the venom. The Noida police then came to the venue along with the DFO and arrested the organisers,” the complaint said.
Kejriwal letter

Kejriwal Picks A Few Tricks From Soren On Tackling ED

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal seems to have taken a lesson from Jharkhand CM Shibhu Soren who skipped five summons of ED in the land scam case and instead moved the Supreme Court challenging it. Soren didn’t get much relief from SC as it asked him to approach the high court. Making an identical legal point, Kejriwal in his letter to the ED made the big point about how the summons came in the way of political work — mainly election work. He skipped the ED summons, landed with Punjab CM Bhagwant Singh Mann in Madhya Pradesh for an election campaign.  It was surprising that Kejriwal remained oblivious to the fact that the SC had already passed the ED on its back for establishing a money trail of Rs 338 crore while denying bail to Delhi’s deputy CM Manish Sisodia in the liquor scam early this week. Maybe it is this money trail that must have alerted the wily CM. That is why in a closely guarded move, Kejriwal seems to have changed his mind of appearing before the ED at the   last minute. The ED issued the summons notice to Kejriwal on October 30 asking him to be present at its headquarters at 11 am on November 2. Shooting off a scathing letter to the agency, Kejriwal said “The summon notice is illegal and politically motivated. The notice was sent at the behest of the BJP. Notice was sent to ensure that I am unable to go for election campaigning in four states. ED should withdraw the notice immediately.”

Is Siddaramaiah In A Hurry To Exit As Karnataka CM?

There is strong buzz in Karnataka’s Congress circles that chief minister Siddaramaiah would like to hand over the reins to one of his trusted cabinet colleagues and Dalit leader Dr G Parameshwar rather than fall into machinations of the JD(S) like HD Kumaraswamy which is trying to bring down his government along with the BJP. He is reportedly reluctant to hand over charge to PCC chief and deputy chief minister DK Shivakumar (DKS), who belongs to the dominant Vokkaligga community. The stories of multiple recoveries made by the I-T department have simply shocked those in the government. What kick-started the buzz about leadership change was the dinner hosted by Parameshwar for Siddaramaiah and his loyalists in the Cabinet like Dr HC Mahadevappa and Satish Jharkioli last week. The dinner assumed significance as DKS is apparently pushing for giving South Bengaluru status to Ramanagar district. JD(S) leader Kumaraswamy who made Ramanagar a separate district during his stint as CM feels DKS is perhaps playing into the hands of the builder lobby. The Congress leadership is hugely relying on DKS to manage the assembly elections across states. DKS has become the face of the Karnataka model of freebie governance in Telangana; he even said Telangana freebies are better than Karnataka. That means it is quite clear this deputy CM is no push over.
Ram mandir

The Long Wait For Ram In Ayodhya Officially Ends

Nothing has disturbed the Congress more than Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust inviting PM Narendra Modi for the consecration ceremony of the grand Ram temple in Ayodhya on January 22. Why has the invitation been extended only to PM Modi? Opposition leaders wonder if it had become a party event just ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Congress leader Salman Khurshid, who had legally opposed the temple, wanted to know if the invitation was being sent to only one party. For the first time, the Congress feared Ram Mandir could become a factor in poll-bound elections in state assemblies in the Hindi heartland. Perhaps, what must have unsettled the Congress was the way PM Modi responded to the invite on X. “Jai Siya Ram. Today is a day full of emotions. I feel very blessed. It is my good fortune that in my lifetime I will witness this historic occasion.” In his Vijaya Dashami address, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat appealed to people to hold functions in nearby temples on January 22. Bhagwat said, “Our Lord Ram, whose picture also adorns the original copy of our Constitution, will enter his temple in Ayodhya on January 22. We won’t be able to attend the ceremony because of security reasons…” Meanwhile, the Deepotsav tradition in Ayodhya which began with the Yogi Adityanath government in 2017 has set a target of lighting 24 lakh ‘diyas’ (earthen lamps) this year. The VHP has planned to launch a nation-wide campaign of asking each household to light five earthen lamps during Diwali and dedicating it to the 500 year wait for the Ram temple.

Security Breaches See Didi Get Two Labradors For Her Safety

It is not just the Gandhis who have a fondness for the furry friend. Yes, we have seen Rahul Gandhi traveling all the way to Goa to pick up a pair of Jack Russell pups for his mother Sonia and himself. But we know little about West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s bond with the furried. She recently got two Labradors to join her household – Strong and Smile. They arrived purely for security reasons. Yes, they arrived following several security breaches in her Kalighat residence. According to sources, both of them are well-trained to spot bombs or explosives in the vicinity. ‘Strong’ and ‘Smile’ have spent nearly a year training with Special Forces — the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). Post security breach, Mamata, a Z-category protectee got the canines’ for her round-the-clock safety. Since she likes to spend time with the dogs during her spare time, it was she who reportedly gave their names. Security agencies were quite worried about the kind of breaches that were taking place at her residence. There were apparently two serious breaches in her security. Couple of days ago an unknown man breached the security fence and entered her house. In the second instance, a car laden with weapons entered the lane of CM’s residence.
Karnataka contracter association

Karnataka Contractors’ Woes Didn't End With Polls

Income-tax raids in Bengaluru which had led to recovery of Rs 80 crore cash from contractors and two major infrastructure companies last week, created a lot of heartburn in Congress circles as the funds were headed for poll-bound Telangana. Karnataka deputy chief minister DK Shivakumar is in charge of the poll-bound state. Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot held a presser in Delhi to charge that the BJP-led Centre was misusing probe agencies to target Opposition leaders even after enforcement of Model Code of Conduct, and urged both PM Modi and the EC to intervene. BJP sources said I-T authorities were most likely tipped off by the contractors who were harassed by the Congress government for bribes to clear their dues. In fact, the contractor whose house was raided was the most prominent face of the allegations of 40% commission against the previous BJP government. While the BJP charged that the builders were being blackmailed to pay bribes, BJP leader and former minister C T Ravi was quoted as saying that there were instances where a prominent infrastructure company, which was also constructing houses, was denied water connection because it refused to pay bribes to the incumbent government. Interestingly, soon after the I-T cash haul the Congress rushed its senior leaders RS Surjewala and KC Venugopal to Bengaluru to gather “resources” for redeployment to election-going Madhya Pradesh. The Karnataka BJP targeted the Congress on corruption and released an ‘ATM Sarkara Collection Tree’ poster.
Rahav parineeti

Raghav Chadha's Post Wedding "Blues"

AAP leader Raghav Chadha and actor Parineeti Chopra may have caught much attention for their destination wedding in Udaipur and enjoyed it too but upon his return home, Chadha finds he is making news for all the wrong reasons. First, a Delhi Court allowed the Rajya Sabha Secretariat to remove him from his coveted Type VII bungalow on Pandara Road. The court made it clear Chadha can’t claim any vested right to the government accommodation as he was not entitled to it being a first time MP. In an earlier interim order passed on April 18, the court had restrained the Rajya Sabha Secretariat from dispossessing Chadha from his residence. Now it said Chadha cannot assert that he possesses an absolute entitlement to occupy the accommodation .The Rajya Sabha Secretariat argued that Chadha, being a first time MP, is entitled to a Type VI bungalow — the type he was initially allotted on Pandara Park. On August 29, 2022, he made a representation to the Chairman, Rajya Sabha requesting for the allotment of Type-VII accommodation. Chadha’s representation was considered and on September 8, he was allotted Type VII bungalow. The allotment of the bungalow was cancelled on March 3, 2023. Chadha sought damages to the tune of Rs 5.5 lakh from the Rajya Sabha for “causing mental agony and harassment”. Meanwhile, he  has approached the Supreme Court challenging his suspension from the Rajya Sabha for “breach of privilege” after four MPs alleged that he had violated rules by naming them in a House panel without their consent.

Cong Stand On Hamas, More Result Of Internal Dynamics

Kerala Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala seemed quite happy that he had managed to get the Congress Working Committee to reaffirm its commitment to the Palestine cause and people, in the midst of a terror attack on Israel by militant outfit Hamas. As a result, the CWC steered clear of mentioning the Hamas terror attack as it was felt Jairam Ramesh in a tweet had already condemned it. Chennithala made an equivalence between PLO and Hamas — an equivalence that many Palestinians would abhor — by reminding Congress leaders how Yasser Arafat enjoyed close ties with Indira Gandhi. This was enough to get the Gandhis on board. He admitted that the CWC “emphasis” on Palestine cause was because Muslims in Kerala were disturbed by the Hamas attack. But weren’t more people from Kerala stuck in Israel — many of them with one-way tickets — in the services sector? But it seems Chennithala’s big point about Palestine cause had more to do with scoring points with Shashi Tharoor, who had acquired heft as a regular CWC member. In August, Chennithala was upset when he was named only as a permanent invitee to the CWC, a post he had held 19 years ago. To his shock he found Tharoor, who joined the Congress only over a decade ago, had been made a regular CWC member. It was a royal snub to him considering he had been Kerala State president and also Leader of the Opposition.
BJP caste census

State Assembly Elections: BJP Gets Off With Candidates List, Cong Pushes For Caste Census

Battling fatigue in Madhya Pradesh where it has been in power for two decades, the BJP moved to a headstart as it released a fourth list containing a list of 57 candidates for the upcoming assembly polls. It did not wait for the auspicious start of the Navaratris or the end of pitru paksh to release the candidates list for MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. It released the lists as soon as the EC announced a month-long poll schedule for five state assemblies. Beginning with voting in Mizoram and Chhattisgarh on November 7, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh (2nd phase) on November 17, Rajasthan on November 23, and Telangana on December 30, votes are to be counted on December 3. Ending speculations, MP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is contesting from Budhni. Like the MP list which featured Union ministers like Narendra Tomar and Prahlad Patel, the Rajasthan list has as many as seven Lok Sabha MPs. As for the Congress Working Committee which met to decide on assembly polls, sought to make “caste census” a poll strategy. The party pushed for a ‘Caste Census’ in the country.  Only last week, the outgoing Ashok Gehlot government issued orders for caste census in Rajasthan. Rahul Gandhi said “I think it is a very progressive step, a very powerful step for the emancipation of the poor people in our country.  We will force the BJP to carry out the caste census or make them get out of the way.”
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Has BJP Got A Better Start In The Poster War?

It all began as an innocuous battle of ideas between the Congress and BJP on the X. First, it veered around talking points from PM Modi’s speech that the BJP collated to warn of the perils of ideas of majoritarian politics that is being pushed via caste census. The fight intensified as a poster war with the Congress first sharing in its official X handle a picture of PM Modi and Amit Shah — that looked like a movie poster — with the text “PM Narendra Modi as Jumla Boy” written on it. The party captioned the poster with: “Going to hit the election rally soon.”  It followed posters calling Modi the “biggest liar”. Looks like the Congress did not expect a strong counter from the BJP. With festivals of Navaratri and Dussehra round the corner, the BJP came up with a poster that was in line with its battle for Sanatan Dharam; it thought it fit to dub Rahul Gandhi as “new age Ravan”. “He is Evil. Anti-Dharma. Anti-Ram. His aim is to destroy Bharat. Rahul was also dubbed as a George Soros puppet. Realising the potential damage that likeness to Ravan could unleash in heartland states like MP and Rajasthan, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh felt portraying Rahul as Ravan could provoke “violence”. “It is clearly intended to incite and provoke violence against a Congress MP and a former President of the party, whose father and grandmother were assassinated by forces that want to divide India”, he said.

Is Modi Trying To Prop Up BRS To Ensure Triangular Contest In Telangana?

PM Narendra Modi created quite a flutter when he recently claimed how Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) had wanted to join the NDA soon after the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation elections that were held in December 2020. Modi said he had rejected Rao’s overtures due to his “deeds”.  He also said KCR had stopped receiving him at the airport as per protocol. While it may seem natural for the BJP and BRS to target each other in the time of elections, Modi mentioning KCR’s efforts to snuggle up to the BJP after its brilliant showing in Hyderabad naturally set off political fireworks. Telangana Congress leaders however described Modi’s words as an effort to prop up a rapidly declining BRS against the Congress and make the Telangana assembly polls a triangular contest. “The BJP had performed phenomenally well in the civic elections — rising from 3 to 48 councillors; it is this growth that perhaps made KCR take note of the BJP. But thereafter the BJP has only been making mistakes,” pointed out a Congress leader. First, the BJP made the mistake of removing OBC leader Bandi Sanjay Kumar as its Telangana chief and then like the Congress went for a Reddy leader to head it. Now both the leaders are simply unable to reconcile to their new status concedes a BJP manager. The moot point is in these circumstances will Modi’s efforts to boost the BRS’s prospects pay any dividend?

Perils Of Majoritarianism: Modi Underscores Risks Of Cong Slogan


Frankly, everyone in the BJP was surprised over Bihar CM Nitish Kumar’s decision to release the caste census report as he was seen as someone still trying to retrace his steps back into the NDA fold. Yes, he was spotted attending Pt Deendayal Upadhyay’s birth anniversary organised by the BJP in Patna on September 25. However, the Opposition bluff about the growing demand for caste census was called by PM Narendra Modi. In a perfect counter, Modi cornered the Congress for its new slogan “jitni aabadi utna haq“. Underlining how the latest Bihar census had pointed out that 81% were Hindus and 17 % Muslims, Modi loudly “wondered what Dr Manmohan Singh would be thinking now. He used to say that the minorities have the first right to the country’s resources. So now does the Congress want to decrease the rights of the minorities? So, should the Hindus, who have the largest population, come forward and take all their rights? The Congress is no longer being run by Congress people. Now the Congress has been outsourced.” Interestingly, eminent jurist Abhishek Singhvi tweeted against the perils of majoritarianism and underscored that “equality of opportunity is never the same as equality of outcomes”. Hours later after uproar in Congress he deleted the tweet. Bihar Congress leader Kishore Jha pointed out that the caste census was a flawed one as it had not counted absentee Biharis living far away. “Lalu Prasad has been trying to undermine the strength of Brahmins since 1990 and he has now succeeded.”
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Cong In Kerala Amused By CPI's Demand For Rahul Gandhi's Wayanad Exit

Congress leaders from Kerala are quite amused by the publicity and attention that the decision of Kerala unit of the CPI asking Rahul Gandhi not to contest from Wayanad Lok Sabha in 2024. It has triggered speculation whether Rahul would move out of Wayanad and pick a seat in Congress-ruled Karnataka or opt for a safe haven in DMK ruled Tamil Nadu. The CPI’s suggestion has amused the Congress leaders in Kerala who assert that Wayanad has traditionally voted for Congress-led UDF. “What is this peculiar case that the CPI is making? The CPI had contested in Wayanad in 2019 also when Rahul Gandhi had contested and won by a staggering margin of over 4.3 lakh votes. The CPI is free to contest in 2024 also. We want Rahulji to contest again from Wayanad, “said Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala. Party sources said it is important that Rahul contest from here again as he was unseated and it had been restored by the Supreme Court.  In all the three previous elections, the Congress candidate has won from the constituency. In 2019, Rahul’s entry into the Lok Sabha from Wayanad had helped the Congress sweep the polls in the state picking 19 of the 20 Lok Sabha seats from the state as it was widely believed that Rahul Gandhi would become the PM. This time round Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan wants to improve the tally of the Left Front in 2024. There is pressure on it to win 4 seats allotted to it. Rahul Gandhi is unlikely to exit Wayanad.
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MPs Not Happy With New Parliament Complex: Dub It A Convention Centre

While Congress leader Rahul Gandhi may have extolled the virtues of the new Parliament building in the course of his speech on the Women’s Reservation Bill about how “it is quite a nice building, nice peacocks, nice peacock feathers on the ground, nice peacock feathers in the chair… it’s a nice tasteful building” and NCP MP Praful Patel tweeting a picture of himself with Sharad Pawar hailed it as a “marvel”, not many MPs are happy about the new Parliament complex. “It is more like a convention centre than a Parliament and the corridors are too narrow. Even those leading up to the ministers’ chambers are narrow. There is just one entry/ exit point to this building and it gets pretty crowded,” cribbed a healthy MP from Punjab. With long winding corridors leading to the chambers, it is proving to be a long trek for members. MPs are having a problem finding a way out to reach for their transport.  Some male MPs found even the swank toilets too small for use. As for the swish cafeteria that has been built to hold 80/ 90 people, it simply failed to supply even tea when the discussion on Women’s Reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha was going on up to 11 pm. “The cafeteria is not like the Central Hall canteen that could cater to all 543 Lok Sabha MPs…This can at best be called Modi ka maqbara,” says a Congress leader. This means PM Modi’s favourite architect Bimal Patel could be receiving some flak.
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Law Minister Fact Checks Rahul On OBC Officers, Gandhis Skip The Passage Of Historic Women's Bill

The 128th Constitution Amendment Bill providing for women’s reservations was passed by the Lok Sabha with bipartisan support of 454 MPs. Yet oddly the Gandhis – both Sonia and Rahul — were missing from the House when the historic bill was passed with a thumping majority. Rahul in his speech made one of the weirdest points about OBC reservation and was duly fact checked by the law minister Arjun Ram Meghwal. He raked up the issue of near non-existence of OBCs among secretaries to the Government of India; he said there were only 3 OBCs among the 90 secretaries to GOI today. Rahul charged that “The moment the Opposition raises the issue of caste census, the BJP tries to create a new distraction, a new sudden event so that the OBC community and the people of India look the other way.”  Law Minister, a former Dalit IAS Officer, replied that OBC quota came in UPSC only post Mandal in 1992. Congress sources admitted that Rahul was clearly misguided by his advisors as it takes an officer nearly three decades to make the grade of GOI Secretary. As for the Bill, Meghwal made it clear that the bill had factored in implementation only post-delimitation in 2026 as the Government did not want the law to be “challenged” in courts. Sonia Gandhi in her speech said there should be OBC quota in the bill. Countering her, BJP MP Nishikant Dubey asked why the 1993 law providing for women quota in local bodies had not provided for OBC quota.
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Modi's Counter To Caste Census & Freebie Politics -- Gender Quota By 2029

PM Narendra Modi chose auspicious Ganesh Chaturthi to usher in the Women’s Reservation Bill providing for 33% reservation in Lok Sabha and state assemblies. The bill, called the ‘Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam’ was introduced in the Lok Sabha during the Special Session of Parliament that was held in the newly built Parliament complex. The law, when passed, will come into effect only after the next delimitation exercise, which will be conducted after the first census to be taken after 2026. This means that women’s quota will not come into effect by 2024 Lok Sabha elections or even by Delhi assembly polls which is due in Feb 2025. The bill will be effective only by 2029. Yet the bill is being viewed as a perfect counter to caste-based parties in the I.N.D.I.A front that have been pushing for caste census. It is also a perfect antidote to politics of wooing women voters with freebies. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh felt Modi’s move was yet another election jumla.”We have not yet conducted the 2021 decadal census…Will the Census and delimitation be done before the 2024 elections? This is nothing but EVM — Event Management.” He pointed how the Rao Government in 1993 had brought in one-third reservation for women in panchayats and nagarpalikas in April 1993 and because of that there are already 15 lakh elected women representatives in panchayats and nagarpalikas.
Abhishek Kant

Delhi Declaration: Sherpa Amitabh Overshadows MEA, EAM Jaishankar Makes Amends

India’s sherpa for G-20 Amitabh Kant seems to have got into trouble for trying to project the G-20 Delhi Declaration as a personal achievement, nearly overshadowing the role of the MEA and the external affairs minister S Jaishankar. Of course, he did attribute the role of four key MEA officials who worked with him on the draft declaration and had helped him negotiate with other countries, but eventually he ended up claiming MEA’s effort as all his own. At least from the way he was seen making his point in the media — how he was awake till 4 am to finalise the draft, it may seem he was the only man on the job. It first started off with a tweet that Kant put out on September 9, the day the G-20 Delhi Declaration was accepted crediting the IFS officers who worked with him. Kant was all over the media and in the social media space, much to the surprise of the MEA too. The Congress, which was disappointed by the success of G-20 Delhi Declaration, decided to focus on sherpa Kant rather than the political leadership of both PM Modi and Jaishankar. Singling out Kant for praise, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor noted “Looks like the IFS lost an ace diplomat when you opted for the IAS!” but generously acknowledged that it was “A proud moment for India at G20!” With things getting uneasy with the MEA, Kant clarified a day later to Tharoor how it was “not about IAS or IFS. It is about working as a Team for the country.” Now to bring MEA’s perspective about its role in G-20, Jaishankar is back again making his points.

G20 Summit: Culture Corridor At Bharat Mandapam

Coming just a day ahead of the G-20 summit, PM Narendra Modi tweeted about India’s leap in financial inclusion, powered by Digital Public Infrastructure! “A G20 document prepared by the World Bank shared a very interesting point on India’s growth. India has achieved financial inclusion targets in just 6 years which would otherwise have taken at least 47 long years. Compliments to our robust digital payment infrastructure and the spirit of our people. It is equally a testament to rapid progress and innovation.” Interestingly various exhibitions at Bharat Mandapam, the venue of the G-20 summit to showcase India’s technological prowess and innovation will offer a multitude of unique experiences to showcase a unique international project — ‘Culture Corridor – G20 Digital Museum’. The Culture Corridor will celebrate the shared heritage of G20 members and 9 invitee countries. The Digital India Experience Zone will offer visitors a unique opportunity to experience the power of technology being implemented by India first-hand. The Zone will provide key insights into the crucial initiatives of Digital India such as Aadhaar, DigiLocker and UPI. The RBI will display cutting-edge financial technologies at the G20 Summit, showcasing their potential to revolutionise the financial landscape. UPI One World is UPI designed for inbound foreign travellers who do not have bank accounts in India. Foreign nationals can open a Prepaid Payment Instrument linked to UPI to experience hassle-free and secure payments during their stay in India. Delegates will be boarded on UPI One World. Their wallets will be pre-funded with Rs 2000 which they can utilise as they desire. 
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Rahul Gandhi Dials Kanimozhi To Get Udhayanidhi To Tone Down, Father Lobbies For Son

Alarmed by the unrelenting stance of DMK leader Udhayanidhi Stalin on his utterances about sanatana dharma, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi reportedly called up his aunt and Thoothukkudi Lok Sabha MP K Kanimozhi to get her nephew to tone down. Rahul communicated with Kani before he left on his Europe tour this week. Initial efforts to get Udhayanidhi to pipe down were made via senior DMK leader TR Baalu by several Congress leaders. It was explained to him how junior Stalin’s utterances could wreck prospects of the Congress in the upcoming elections in Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh. Senior Congress leader Kamal Nath made it clear to Rahul how Udhayanidhi’s open threat to vanquish believing Hindus like malaria/dengue had already upset a winning electoral game for the Congress in MP. It was only then that Rahul decided to dial Kanimozhi, so that she may persuade her brother and Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin. Unfortunately, Udhayanidhi seemed too reluctant to backtrack. I.N D.I.A .front allies like the TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee and Shiv Sena UBT were upset with his utterances against Hindus. In a desperate attempt to win back support  of I.N.D.I.A for his son, Stalin pits him against PM Modi and hopelessly drags in Modi’s directions to his ministers that Udhayanidhi’s remarks against sanatana dharma should be  strongly countered. He said it was unfair for PM Modi to make “comments” without knowing what his son spoke. Fed up with DMK’s obstinacy, Congress has distanced itself from the Stalins.
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Cong A Divided House On Dharma & Udhayanidhi

As the BJP continued its onslaught on DMK minister Udhayanidhi Stalin for his “sanatana dharma must be eradicated” remark and dubbed it as an attack on all Hindus of the country, the Congress seemed hopelessly incoherent on how to respond to it. Not only did it shy away from denouncing statements of its powerful Tamil Nadu ally, but it also preferred to toe a middle line stating that “every political party has the freedom to (express) their views”. It was as if the Congress had no stake in the battle for Hindi heartland where sanatana dharma is synonymous with Hinduism; it was as if the Congress wasn’t bothered about winning the upcoming three state assembly polls. The tragedy for the Congress was that its top brass – AICC chief Mallikarjun Kharge and general secretary KC Venugopal — belonged to the South and decided to play safe. The party did depend on DMK for securing Lok Sabha seats. That is why someone like Karti Chidambaram openly backed the DMK idea. And it was left to Kamal Nath to ringfence the party in Madhya Pradesh from disastrous consequences of Udhayanidhi‘s utterances. Karnataka minister Priyank Kharge, son of AICC chief, too backed Udhayanidhi. Incidentally, the Kharges are neo Buddhists. The moot point is why did Udhayanidhi choose to sabre-rattle against sanatana dharma now? Was he trying to settle a score with Guv Ravi who has been talking about it everywhere in TN?
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What Irked Mamata Banerjee At I.N.D.I.A’s Mumbai Meet?

Looks like I.N.D.I.A front of Opposition leaders is being betrayed from those within. At a time when it seemed a good beginning had been made with the setting up of coordination committees and working groups, no one expected it would be filled with lightweights — barring Sharad Pawar. There was a suggestion from TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee to involve CMs — at least in the election strategy group. For some reason it was scuttled by RJD leader Lalu Prasad who didn’t want Nitish Kumar on the panel. Didi who wanted to host the next I.N.D.I.A event in Kolkata found no takers as it was shot down by CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury as he explained that Left could not be seen in a function hosted by the TMC. Rejection of Kolkata as venue was enough to irk Mamata. She found it odd that Communist leaders had no problem in rubbing shoulders with the TMC or the Congress in Delhi or Bengaluru but not in the home turf of Bengal or Kerala. Mamata also did not approve of the unilateral manner in which Rahul Gandhi raked up the Adani issue at the Opposition event without consulting other parties. The TMC chief had initially pointed to the Congress about the Left and Congress virulently campaigning against TMC for the September 5 Dhupguri assembly by-poll. In fact, Mamata had specially sent her nephew Abhishek to Delhi to complain to Rahul about the tone and tenor of the Left-Congress campaign.
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Govt For Special Session In New Parliament Complex On Auspicious Ganesh Festivities

Parliament Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi’s tweet announcing a Special Session of Parliament (13th Session of 17th Lok Sabha and 261st Session of Rajya Sabha) from September 18 to 22 predictably triggered a howl of protest from the Opposition. The announcement best served to take the limelight away from Opposition-I.N.D.I.A meet. With speculation rife that PM Modi could even push for a one nation-one election bill at this session, it must have sufficiently altered the agenda of the Opposition conclave in Mumbai. The Shiv Sena UBT protested loudest as the 5-day session coincided with Ganesh Chaturthi festivities beginning on September19 and dubbed it as anti-Hindu move. For the Modi government it was an auspicious day to launch numerous things, including holding the first session of the Parliament in the new building. While the Sena UBT may cry foul, what it does not know is that Ganesh Chaturthi is auspicious and celebrated not just in Maharashtra but in other states including Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, and Gujarat.  As for government business in the brief session, the session will adopt resolutions on successful launch of Chandrayan-3, conduct of G 20 summit and laud achievements of athlete Neeraj Chopra and chess wizard R Praggnanandhaa. As for the bills there is talk about a new reservation policy in the pipeline.
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Ahead Of Opposition Meet In Mumbai, Modi Govt Cuts LPG Prices By Rs 200

In a surprise move that is being seen as a raksha bandhan gift from PM Narendra Modi to all Indian households, the price of a 14.2 kg LPG cylinder was reduced by Rs 200 in all markets across the country. In Delhi for instance, the decision will bring down the cost of a 14.2 kg cylinder from Rs 1103 to Rs 903.”This is a gift to crores of my sisters of the country on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan”, said PM Modi. Opposition parties are already crying foul and see it as a move aimed at targeting voters in poll-bound states in Hindi heartland at the end of this year. The sop was announced just days ahead of a meeting of Opposition leaders of I.N.D.I.A in Mumbai on Aug 31-Sep 1. The effective price for PMUY (Pradhan Mantri Ujwala Yojana) households in Delhi after this reduction will be Rs 703 per cylinder. There are more than 31 crore domestic LPG consumers in the country including 9.6 crore PMUY beneficiary families and this reduction will help all LPG consumers in the country.  Reacting to the government move, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh claimed that Karnataka rout of the BJP — the high price of LPG was one of the main issues of the election. He also bragged about how the Congress government in Rajasthan was giving LPG cylinders at Rs 500. “Expect more such ‘gifts’ in the coming months as the PM becomes even more desperate to cling on to his chair.”  
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Onam Gift: Anil Anthony Appointed BJP Functionary

In a significant move, the BJP leadership appointed Anil Anthony as its national secretary as well as national spokesperson. It is significant that it chose to make the announcement on the traditional Kerala festival of Onam. Anil Anthony, son of senior Congress leader AK Anthony, had joined the BJP in April this year after quitting the Congress and criticising its stand on the controversial documentary film of the BBC on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He had termed BBC as “a state sponsored channel with a long history of prejudices” against India, after which, he said, he had received threats as well. “Despite large differences with BJP, I think those in India placing views of BBC, a UK state-sponsored channel with a long history of prejudices, and of Jack Straw, the brain behind the Iraq war, over Indian institutions is setting a dangerous precedent, will undermine our sovereignty,” Anthony had tweeted. Welcoming Antony to the BJP, Piyush Goyal described him as a “very grounded political worker”, who was convinced that the BJP cares for the country and shared the vision of sustainable growth.
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Kharge Buries Ghost Of G-23 In CWC, Inducts Tharoor, Pilot & Tiwari

In a major reshuffle in the Congress Working Committee (CWC), party president Mallikarjun Kharge appointed Shashi Tharoor, Anand Sharma, Manish Tiwari and Sachin Pilot to the policy making body. Except for Pilot, whose inclusion is being seen as a sop ahead of Rajasthan assembly elections, inclusion of the other three leaders is significant as it finally buries the ghost of Group-23. These three leaders were among the many who in a letter to Sonia Gandhi last year had questioned non-transparent functioning in the Congress.  Only exception among the G-23 leaders who got left out is former Maharashtra CM Prithiviraj Chavan. It is surprising that Chavan was kept out of the CWC unless the Congress brass is planning some other assignment for him. Also important is the inclusion of Ajay Maken and Alka Lamba, leaders who have been vocal against Arvind Kejriwal. Party sources were equally surprised that Kharge’s team decided to keep out a close Rahul Gandhi aide Milind Deora out of the CWC. Party circles from Telangana blamed bias of Kharge’s team for packing the CWC with men from Andhra — 4 leaders and only 2 from Telangana that too at a time when assembly elections are going to be held in Telangana by end of this year. “It just seems we have lost the plot to win elections,” said a close Rahul aide from Telangana who got axed in the CWC rejig.

Kharge Finally Asserts Himself, Effects Changes In Congress

It is going to be almost a year since he was elected Congress President, yet Mallikarjun Kharge has not constituted Congress Working Committee or the AICC. However in the last few days it seems he has begun effecting changes which speaks of his efforts to reshuffle responsibilities in the organisation. He deputed Randeep Singh Surjewala, AICC General Secretary who handled Karnataka, to election-going Madhya Pradesh, recalling old hand JP Agarwal. Congress leaders were surprised that Kharge should send Surjewala to MP just three-four months ahead of the assembly elections. While it is not clear if Surjewala was chosen because he delivered Karnataka but he also shot into limelight for his recent utterance while addressing a public meeting in Kaithal, Haryana. Chiding those who vote BJP, he said “…Those who vote for BJP and are BJP supporters are of ‘rakshas’ (demons) tendency. I curse from this land of Mahabharat…” Sending Surjewala to MP to oust the BJP where it has been in power for over two decades or more may not be much of a challenge to the veteran party manager. But then Surjewala hasn’t won any direct election in his home state for a decade now; he was elected to Rajya Sabha as an MP from Rajasthan angering his rival Bhupinder Hooda. Unlike Karnataka, MP is a Hindu-majority state. No wonder even Congress leaders like Kamal Nath are wooing Hindu voters with pravachans of Baageshwardham.
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With His Suspension Adhir Ranjan Has Earned A Life Line In Bengal Congress, Thanks To PM

West Bengal PCC chief and Congress Lok Sabha leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury enjoys the best of equations with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. That was evident. As soon as Chowdhury began speaking on a no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha, the PM walked into the House to listen to him according him full status of Leader of the Opposition. However all that changed the minute Adhir slipped into name calling the PM. This saw the treasury side pushing for his suspension for his bizarre utterances – equating the PM to fugitive fraudster Nirav Modi. Sources close to Chowdhury say he is now filled with remorse and regret as he looks at all the perks he now has to forego. He has been telling all his close party aides that he had no intention to disrespect or humiliate the PM. But was facing pressure from Congress leadership to prove his loyalty to the party. Incidentally, the Congress top brass has been thinking of easing him out of one of the two posts that he now holds – LoP in the Lok Sabha and Bengal PCC Chief. TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee has been gunning for Adhir’s exit from Bengal as he has been her severe critic. Against this backdrop, Modi-Shah action of suspending Adhir from Lok Sabha could prove to be a blessing in disguise. With Congress forced to battle for him in the Parliament, Gandhis may not be able to axe him from Bengal.
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PM Modi’s Smart Line Up Of Speakers Smashes Opposition, Rahul Walks Out As Scindia Begins To Speak

Details are now emerging as to how it was PM Narendra Modi who had decided on the  line up of speakers from the BJP side to participate in the three day No-Confidence Motion against his government. From picking Godda MP Nishikant Dubey as opening speaker who regaled the House with a one-liner about how Sonia Gandhi’s perpetual interest lay in “settling her son and gifting her son-in-law” to strategically fielding Jyotiraditya Scindia on the final day. Scindia, who had switched over to the BJP from the Congress in March 2020, belongs to poll-bound Madhya Pradesh. Apparently, when Scindia started to speak Rahul Gandhi chose to walk out. It is being said Rahul simply could not bear to hear Scindia speak from across the aisle. Another politically important speaker was Telangana leader Bandi Sanjay Kumar who exposed the alcoholism of the BRS top brass in Telugu. Modi also got Rajyavardhan Rathore, a Vasundhara Raje favourite from Rajasthan to speak. So even as the PM wasn’t inside the House, he was tracking every speech. He had also decided on the content of the attack on the Opposition. He had also spent a lot of time interacting with the media. Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi in a media interaction protested about the expunging of his remarks by Lok Sabha Speaker. He repeated all that he said inside the House. While he demanded Army action in Manipur, he simply ducked when asked about IAF strafing Mizoram in 1966 — a point raised by PM Modi.
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Amit Shah’s Well Researched Speech In Lok Sabha Ensures Smooth Sail For PM Modi On Thursday

If there was one thing Union Home Minister Amit Shah ensured with his stellar intervention in the no-confidence motion debate in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday it was to see that PM Modi has a smooth run on Thursday when he replies at the end of the 3-day debate. Shah spoke on Manipur towards the end of his 2 hour long intervention; he spent much of his time attacking the Opposition for trying to tie-up discussion on Manipur with a statement from PM Modi. Recalling how in the 90s when then north-eastern states had seen more entrenched and protracted violence between the Nagas and Kukis, Shah said neither then PM PV Narasimha Rao nor his Home Minister SB Chavan had made any statement. “It was left entirely to the then Minister of State Rajesh Pilot to speak on the issue.” Shah felt an entire narrative of neglect of the N-E was now being built against Modi as he had visited the “region over 50 times”. Even the no-trust move had been brought only to mislead the people. What hurt the Centre was the record of the last six years had been shattered. “We didn’t have to impose a curfew in Manipur until May 3. Insurgent violence was almost over. Then, neighbouring Myanmar saw a military leadership that had a Kuki Democratic Front party coming into power. Due to no fencing at the Myanmar border, the Kuki brothers started coming in. What we have with Myanmar is like the open border that we have with Nepal.”
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Rahul’s ‘Flying Kiss’ Gesture In Parliament Irks Women MPs

After much flip-flop over initiating debate on the no-confidence motion against the Modi government which his party had initiated, Rahul Gandhi did speak in the Lok Sabha on the second day of the discussion. However, his speech did not match expectations. The Congress leader did not seem to be firing on all cylinders. After all, he was the one who had made the spot visit to Manipur; he should have surely had “enough material” to put the Centre on the mat. What he lacked in substance, he made up with some outright abusive slogans against PM Modi. He even declared PM Modi was a “traitor” and not a “nationalist” as he “murdered India” in Manipur. If Rahul’s aggressive sloganeering was aimed at catching headlines, it did not receive much attention. Whatever the reason it wasn’t his speech that made headlines but his one mindless gesture of a flying kiss. The controversy over the flying kiss had got all 21 women MPs and several BJP ministers worked up. But for their protest over   Rahul’s unbecoming conduct in a letter to the Lok Sabha Speaker, the Wayanad MP’s first speech after his membership was restored would not have been noticed. Yes, Rahul’s speech would have been lost in the din. As Union Minister Smriti Irani, who spoke after Rahul, observed “Only a misogynist man can blow a flying kiss to parliament that seats women MPs”.

With Rahul's Return, Will The Parliament Logjam End?

Even after the Supreme Court reprieve in the defamation case against Rahul Gandhi, the Congress is still all worked up and worried whether his membership of Waynad Lok Sabha would be automatically restored. If so, it would happen before the House takes up No-Confidence motion against the Modi Government next week — on August 8. Congress Lok Sabha Leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury made it clear that the party wanted Rahul to initiate discussion on the trust vote. He said he had rushed to meet with Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla as soon as the SC gave its order on Rahul’s conviction. The Speaker apparently asked him to provide a copy of the SC order. Rahul’s senior legal counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi pointed out that he’s not surprised not by the way the Speaker had responded. Recalling how he had to approach the SC on behalf of Lakshadweep MP Mohammed Faizal, whose conviction was vacated by the Kerala HC way back in January this year. “We had waited for two months. Only when we moved the SC, the government approached us and Faisal’s membership of the LokSabha was restored,” says Singhvi. Congress sources admit that the party has been disrupting parliamentary proceedings during the Monsoon Session only to protest what happened to Rahul. Both Manipur and the no-trust vote were a bahana. With Rahul’s return will the Parliament logjam end? Not quite.

Rahul Disappoints Karnataka MLAs; Siddaramaiah Happy After Meeting Modi

Karnataka Congress MLAs, who were as unhappy with the way ministers in Siddaramaiah government were functioning, were reportedly disappointed with the way their August 2 interaction with Rahul Gandhi went. He was more focused about his own goals of winning more Lok Sabha seats — it was as if he was going to be PM in 2024. The interaction which was primarily arranged to focus on grievances of some 11 MLAs who had written a letter about the functioning of some ministers in the two-month-old Congress government in Karnataka became an opportunity to discuss preparation for 2024 Lok Sabha. Rahul was more keen to tell ministers and the MLAs that the focus of the Congress must be about winning more Lok Sabha seats — he had set a target of achieving BJP’s record of 26 seats from Karnataka. Later Deputy CM DK Shivkumar said the Congress would aim to win 20 seats. In some sort of gag order, Rahul advised MLAs not to write letters but to take up their issues with the CM, AICC in charge Randeep Surjewala, KC Venugopal or Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge. Rahul also warned state ministers not to get embroiled in any controversy as the party had got a mandate against corruption of the BJP. Meanwhile, party sources said only CM Siddaramaiah seemed a happy man after his Delhi visit. That too after his first official interaction with PM Modi!
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Modi Govt Gets Backing Of BJD On Crucial Bill & How!

After days of disruption over Manipur, the Opposition finally allowed some government business. The introduction of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023, a bill to replace the ordinance that the Centre had issued for appointment and control of executives of the Delhi government was introduced. The I.N.D.I.A. parties were seen opposing the bill at the introduction stage. It was against this bill that Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had mobilised support of Opposition parties. The Congress, DMK and TMC did come out in support of Kejriwal. However the most crucial and effective support for the Modi government came from the Biju Janata Dal. BJD MP and senior advocate Pinaki Mishra wondered how MPs could question “the legislative competence” of the government to bring such a law. In a boost to the Modi government, he pointed out that the Supreme Court in its order on a plea filed by the State of Delhi against Union of India had said “if Parliament enacts a law granting executive power on any subject which is within the domain of NCTD, the executive power of the LG shall be modified to the extent as provided in that law”. “The Government has brought out a law now pursuant to the Supreme Court empowering it. So, how can you challenge legislative competence? I can understand you voting against it,” Mishra was heard saying, reading relevant paras of the SC order. Apparently, support of BJD and the YSRCP are enough to ensure that the bill will sail through Rajya Sabha. 
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PM’s One-On-One Meet Boosts Morale Of NDA Leaders

The Opposition parties haven’t simply got over the fact that the BJP managed to convene a meeting of NDA parties in New Delhi on the same day, (July 18) when they had met in Bengaluru for a second time to pick a name for their alliance and even managed to dominate the media. It was just that the NDA seemed more organised. Even as there was not much agreement over I.N.D.I.A — the repackaged UPA 3, PM Modi went all gun-blazing at the Opposition. He had made it a point to connect with every one of the leaders of the 38 parties who attended the NDA meeting on a one-to-one basis even if it was for a few minutes. Party sources said at the dinner meeting where most leaders were seated across 12 tables, PM Modi made it a point to move from table to table to engage with the guests. Almost all leaders sort of got personal attention from Modi and managed to have a private word with him. Maharashtra contingent of leaders – CM Eknath Shinde, Dy CM Ajit Pawar and Praful Patel — had a special equation with Modi as the PM spoke to them in Marathi. Edappadi K Palaniswami  also got to  hear very encouraging words from PM Modi as he told the former TN CM that he was “leader of the NDA” in the state.
Opposition meet bengaluru

Opposition Unity Gets A Name, I.N.D.I.A

On the second day of the Opposition meeting in Bengaluru, the challengers revealed the new name for their alliance — Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), to take on the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge said that an 11-member coordination panel will be formed which will meet in Mumbai and decide the next date of meeting too. The alliance will have a secretariat that will function from Delhi. Clearly, the two-day meeting in Bengaluru was far more productive than the Patna meet. As Rahul Gandhi who addressed the media put it, “The discussions we had today were very productive and took place smoothly.” A number of leaders were significantly found missing from media interaction. Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad and Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin. Veteran NCP leader Sharad Pawar was present but did not speak. Incidentally, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and  CPI top leader D Raja were present but also did not interact. “People are coming forward against dictatorship…Hum hai na“, said Uddhav Thackeray. “The character of our republic is being severely assaulted in a systematic manner by the BJP. We are at a most crucial juncture in our nation’s history,” the Opposition alliance said in a collective pledge. Mamata Banerjee dared the NDA asking “Can you challenge I. N. D.I.A?”. Incidentally, she addressed the Left leaders by their first names for the first time. Curious why is the TMC going soft on the Left?

Cong Keen To Have Mamata, Kejriwal At The Opposition Meet In Bengaluru


In the face of fierce attacks from the Opposition, particularly, the local Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, over the violence in during the West Bengal panchayat elections, chief minister Mamata Banerjee had initially planned to skip the Opposition unity meeting on July 17-18 in Bengaluru. She had cited her limb injury as a reason for not attending the meeting. However, a phone call from Congress Parliamentary Party chairperson Sonia Gandhi to Didi has changed her mind. It is being said TMC supremo will travel to Bengaluru accompanied by her medical team. Sonia reportedly urged Mamata to attend the dinner event that she would be hosting on July 17. It is quite possible that the West Bengal CM with her limited mobility may just register her presence at the dinner event and possibly skip the main meeting on July 18. Confirming Mamata’s presence at Bengaluru, Congress sources however claimed that the Bengal leader had responded to party president Mallikarjun Kharge’s letter. What about Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal? Would he be there too? “We are hoping to hear from the AAP side too,” said a close Kharge aide. The 24-party Opposition meet, aiming for a united front against BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls,will be meeting for the second time. This time it will be watched with interest for its outcome.
ananta maharaj

BJP Picks An Influential Rajbanshi Leader For Rajya Sabha From West Bengal

Out of six Rajya Sabha seats in West Bengal, the victory of TMC on five and BJP on one seat is being considered confirmed. If Anant Rai Maharaj wins, this will be the first time that a BJP leader will be elected to the Rajya Sabha from Bengal! Anant Maharaj is an influential Rajbanshi leader. In Bengal, they come from the Scheduled Castes (SC). The community comprises about 30% of voters in North Bengal, which accounts for 54 assembly seats. They hold influence in Cooch Behar, Dinajpur and Jalpaiguri districts of West Bengal. Anant Maharaj is also the President of the Greater Cooch Behar People’s Association. He was being wooed by TMC chief Mamata Banerjee and BJP. Finally, Union Home Minister Amit Shah succeeded in tapping him with RS seat. The buzz is he may be inducted as minister and replace current MoS  Nisith Pramanik, who is Cooch Behar Lok Sabha MP and belongs to the Dalit community. Anant Maharaj is treated like Raja of Cooch Behar by the Adivasis.
SoniaGandhi 005

Sonia To Attend Bengaluru Opposition Meet: Is Cong Back At The Wheel?


With NCP supremo Sharad Pawar setting his house in order after a split in his party and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar facing rumblings within the JD(U) over alliance with the RJD, looks like the task of fine-tuning Opposition unity ahead of 2024 election is going to be with the Congress. It is possible that former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi could once again be back at the helm of Opposition parties to provide a cohesive response to the BJP-led NDA. It is possible that Sonia has stepped in to steer the Opposition parties as most leaders are too preoccupied with their own issues. Sonia’s role became apparent as it was declared by Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivkumar that the former Congress President would be attending the next meeting of Opposition parties in Bengaluru on July 17-18. She was reportedly attending the meeting on Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge’s request. The first meeting of the Opposition was held in Bihar’s Patna on June 23.  It may be recalled how rebel NCP leader Praful Patel had mocked the level of Opposition leaders who had gathered to oppose PM Modi in Patna. He had said he felt like ‘laughing’ listening to the claims of leaders at the Opposition meeting. Parties with one or no MPs were claiming to bring about a change, he said. “There were 17 opposition parties, and seven of them have just one member in the Lok Sabha. There was a party with no MPs. And they claimed they would bring change,” he said.
Sharad Praful


Sharad Pawar Jolted More By Praful Patel's Exit Than Ajit Pawar's Rebellion


Nothing  jolted veteran NCP leader Sharad Pawar about the split in the party he founded in 1999 than the exit of his closest aide Praful Patel who also chose to head out and join the rebel NCP group headed by Ajit Pawar. In fact as Patel himself put it at a meeting of the Ajit Pawar faction of the NCP “I always stayed with Sharad Pawar as his shadow”. He also promised to write a book. “I am a modest person so I speak less, I will also write a book. If I will not tell how Maharashtra will understand.” Apparently Pawar interacted with Patel post his exit and sought to know what persuaded him to walk-out of the party along with his nephew; after all he has no ambition of being a CM or a central minister. NCP sources said a tearful Patel reportedly conceded to Sharad Pawar that it was his problems with the ED that had forced him to seek a solution. The ED had attached prime property at Worli belonging to him in the Iqbal Mirchi case. It is not clear how cases against him would now get diluted. When Patel stated his ED issues, Sharad Pawar took a kinder view. “Yet what we cannot fathom is how someone like Dilip Walse Patil who was made a leader by Sharad Pawar from a support staff to an MLA walked out of the NCP?” asks a national leader.
Gita press

A Living Faith: Modi Speaks Up On Why Gandhi Prize For Gita

At the  closing ceremony of the centenary celebrations of the historic Gita Press in Gorakhpur, when PM Narendra Modi released the Chitramaya Shiva Purana Granth in Hindi and Nepali he could not help going spiritual .“Gita Press is not just a printing press but a living faith”, Modi remarked. The office of Gita Press was no less than a shrine for crores of people, he said. “With Gita comes Krishna, with Krishna, there is compassion and ‘karma’”. Quoting the Gita, the PM said “Vasudeva Sarvam ie. Everything is, from and in Vasudev.” He emphasized that the spiritual light that lit up in the form of Gita Press in 1923 has become the guiding light of the entire humanity today. UP CM Yogi Adityanath, who spoke before him, recalled how there was a proposal to confer the prize in 2021 itself. Referring to Mahatma Gandhi’s emotional attachment to Gita Press, Modi informed that Gandhiji once used to write for Gita Press through Kalyan Patrika. He further added that it was Gandhiji who suggested that advertisements should not be published in the Kalyan Patrika and the suggestion is still being followed. In these 100 years, the Gita Press has published crores of books which are sold at a price less than the cost and delivered door-to-door. Modi underlined that an organization like Gita Press is not only associated with religion and work but also has a national character.


Technology Cannot Disrupt Original Content Provider: Short Post Editor

They say time flies. How true!  Today is our #SecondAnniversary. Two years back at the height of Covid-19 Pandemic when lockdown was the way of life we took a leap of faith and launched Short Post (Jan 28, 2021), the first-of-its-kind website in the country that focuses on Authentic Gossip. The Oxymoron is deliberate. Well, the response has been quite encouraging. That’s what has kept us going. Till date we have posted close to 2000 stories in the areas of Politics, Business, Entertainment and Sports. Each insightful story of around 225 words has been contributed by Senior Editors. There is a sense of satisfaction of creating a new segment in the market – authentic gossip — and in the process creating a brand (in a limited sense), creating demand (readers) and creating supply (writers). Well known advertisers — IDFC FIRST Bank, ICICI Lombard – supported us.  And that really boosted our confidence. Thank you!

So here we are raring to go.  But, when I look at the media landscape the disruption is indeed fast and furious. Technology is playing a very big role in how content will be consumed. In the past, we have seen how social media has disrupted the media world. Now, everybody is saying the same thing about ChatGPT. It has reached 1 million users in five days. Its scorching pace of growth is indeed frightening and will disrupt the media industry big time. My limited argument is can it do investigative stories, write gossip items using the digital world ecosystem. Unlikely. Clearly, the original content has to be created first — only then can ChatGPT do the magic. That’s what we promise to do – focus on original content.

Before I sign off, I am reminded of an old advertisement of the early sixties: “Avis is only No.2 in rent a cars. So we try harder”. Likewise I can say, we are two years old and we are trying even harder to be relevant to you readers.