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Kejriwal's Aide Rained Blows And Kicked A Menstruating Swati Maliwal

Amidst allegations of assault by AAP Rajya Sabha MP Swati Maliwal against Bibhav Kumar, personal aide of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal on May 13 and registration of FIR against him, AAP has unleashed a full-scale war in social media to damage Swati. The party released video footage of what happened at Kejriwal’s residence on May 13 to battle allegations of Swati assault. The video recordings are not CCTV footage as CM’s drawing room is not fitted with cameras. It is a video by somebody inside. In unleashing personal attacks on Swati, AAP seems to have completely lost its logic. For a party that initially admitted Bibhav Kumar had assaulted her. Kejriwal deployed his minister Atishi Singh to dub Swati as a BJP stooge. It may be recalled that Kejriwal’s assault of Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash in 2018 had no video evidence because of lack of CCTV images in the drawing room. BJP sources said in her call PCR from CM’s residence, Swati had clearly mentioned that she had been attacked by Bibhav Kumar at the behest of CM (she referred to him in  third person). Oddly, she did not mention him in the FIR. As images of her walking with difficulty to AIIMS for medical check-up and trip to the magistrate to register her statement, it established beyond doubt that she had been assaulted by Kejriwal’s PA. That’s why senior ministers in the government like FM Nirmala Sitharaman and Assam CM Himanta Sarma came out rallying in her support. Delhi BJP leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa pointed out that it was Sunita Kejriwal who had prompted Bibhav to attack Swati. That’s why Kejriwal has gone all out to protect Bibhav. In the FIR, Swati reportedly appealed to Bibhav not to hit her as she was menstruating and in pain. “I repeatedly told him that I am having my period and he should please let go of me as I am in unbearable pain.” It was only thereafter that she called the police.
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Shunned By I.N.D.I.A Bloc In North, DMK Mulling Alliance Options

DMK top brass led by Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin has been in a huddle at party headquarters mulling party’s options in the country’s polity with the kind of Lok Sabha results that 2024 would throw up on June 4. Two things are really worrying the DMK — one is the indication that Congress may not be in a position to form government at the Centre. Which means the party will have to explore post poll realignment. Probably explore the idea of having a good working relationship with the NDA. Besides, the regional party it is being said has also been very miffed with the way it did not get to play any national role in the I.N.D.I.A Bloc in North India. The DMK because of TN minister Udayanidhi Stalin’s utterances against sanatana dharma which is generally considered synonymous with Hinduism in rest of India became a sticking point even for secular parties like RJD and SP in the Hindi belt. So much stigma was attached to the DMK that the party was not even invited to big I.N.D.I.A events in Mumbai and Patna. Responding to Stalin’s worry about lack of role in the North, a senior AICC functionary described it as a “bahana, an excuse.” What Stalinji is trying to do is looking for an excuse like Mamata to get out of the I.N.D.I.A front. Just as TMC is talking about outside support now, so that it can join hands with Modi-led NDA if PM needs support, the DMK is also looking for an excuse.” Meanwhile TNCC chief K Selvaperunthagai who is an MLA has begun talking about strengthening the Congress independent of the support of Dravidian parties — taking a leaf out of state BJP leader K Annamalai. The buzz is Stalin wants to advance state polls and install his son as CM. Also sister Kanimozhi is keen to head the Parliamentary team.
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Finally Swati Maliwal Gives Statement To Cops, Trouble Mounts For Kejriwal

In a significant development, Delhi Police recorded AAP Rajya Sabha MP Swati Maliwal’s statement in connection with alleged assault on her on May 13 at Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence. Her statement to the police comes four days after the incident when she had made two calls to PCR from CM’s residence. On the day of the incident, Swati had gone to the police station to file a complaint but had refrained from doing so and had remained incommunicado. In her initial complaint she had blamed Kejriwal’s aide Bibhav Kumar and another person for assaulting her. It is not clear if her police complaint followed efforts made by Delhi Police to reach her. Delhi’s Additional Commissioner of Police Special Cell and Additional DCP North   visited Swati’s residence. Swati’s complaint to cops is bound to spell trouble for Kejriwal perhaps cancellation of his bail. It is not clear what would be Swati’s fate after this fate — it is quite likely she would not be able to stay in the AAP. There is already talk of Punjab Rajya Sabha MP Raghav Chadha having moved close to BJP.  Taking suo moto cognizance of media reports of Swati being assaulted by Bibhav, the NCW has summoned him to appear before it on May 17. It must be recalled that, two days after the assault, Kejriwal had sent Sanjay Singh to negotiate with Swati. Singh had accepted that Bibhav had attacked Swati. However, instead of keeping promise made to Swati, AAP supremo Kejriwal tried to brazen out the assault incident. He reached Lucknow for a media interaction with assaulter Bibhav Kumar. Sanjay Singh gave vague excuses like Manipur incidents and Prajwal Rewanna to justify non-action on Bibhav. The only silver lining was Congress leader Priyanka Vadra came out in support of Swati notwithstanding her party’s alliance with AAP.  
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PM Modi's First Proposer For Nomination Is A Tamil

Astrology scholar Ganeshwar Shastri Dravid, a figure revered not only for his knowledge in astrology but also for his role in determining the auspicious moment for the foundation laying of the Ram Janambhumi and the consecration of Ram Lalla  were among the four people who proposed PM Narendra Modi’s nomination for  the Varanasi Lok Sabha  for the third time. Hailing originally from Tamil Nadu, Ganeshwar has made the Meerghat area of Kashi his home, residing at the Sangveda Vidyalaya in the ancient city. He is the second son of Rajeshwar Shastri, who was also a scholar of Vedas and Shastras. He lives along with his brother, Pandit Vishweshwar Shastri, who is also an equally esteemed scholar. When in Kashi, Ganeshwar teaches and primarily implements decisions provided by the Girvanavagvardhini Sabha at the Sangveda Vidyalaya. Additionally, he generously offers guidance on astrology, Ayurveda, and rituals to address people’s concerns. Ganeshwar operates his own Shastrarthshala, established by his great grandfather who had migrated from Tamil Nadu. Legend has it that when his grandfather arrived in Kashi, local Pandits rigorously examined him before granting him residence. According to reports, Ganeshwar’s ancestry can be traced to Thiruvisanallur, a small village near Kumbakonam in Thanjavur District of Tamil Nadu. Ganeshwar Shastri’s remarkable contributions include determining the auspicious timings for the consecration of Ramjanmabhoomi Temple in Ayodhya. Particularly, he was the one who identified the special muhurtham of 84 seconds for the consecration of Ram Lalla in Ayodhya. For the Bhumi Pooja of Ram Mandir, he had allocated a precise 35 seconds as the auspicious time based on astronomical calculations. Other significant events like the consecration of the Kashi Vishwanath Dham and also its Bhumi Pujan were also marked by him. While 13th December had been deemed auspicious for the inauguration in Kashi, many scholars had opposed it, citing...
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All Eyes On Swati Maliwal, Was She Bullied By AAP To Quit Her Rajya Sabha Seat?

 A day after former DCW chief Swati Maliwal approached the Delhi police alleging assault inside Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s house, the Aam Aadmi Party admitted that the AAP chief’s aide had “misbehaved” with her. Maliwal, a senior AAP leader and a Rajya Sabha MP, went to the Civil Lines police station on May 13 morning and claimed she was assaulted by Arvind Kejriwal’s personal assistant, Bibhav Kumar. However, she didn’t lodge an official complaint. Curiously a day after the episode, AAP MP Sanjay Singh came forward to acknowledge that Kejriwal’s aide indeed had misbehaved with Maliwal when the latter was waiting to meet Kejriwal at his house. It is not clear why Kejriwal is in a damage control mode now. “A condemnable incident took place. Swati Maliwal had gone to Arvind Kejriwal’s residence to meet him. While she was waiting for him in the drawing room, Bibhav Kumar allegedly misbehaved with her. The CM has taken cognizance of the matter, and he will take appropriate action,” Sanjay Singh said. As per Delhi Police records Maliwal had called the PCR number at 9.34 am on May 13. AAP sources say Swati was most likely being pressured by Kejriwal to vacate her Rajya Sabha seat– a position that is being coveted by his lawyer who lost his RS seat in a draw of lots recently from a hill state. That is why no sooner than AAP leader Sanjay Singh came up with a false narrative of action against Bibhav Kumar, Swati’s ex-husband Naveen Jaihind asked him to stop acting. He also felt there could be a threat to Swati’s life. Meanwhile, Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankar has informally sought to know if Swati as RS member would be needing security cover.
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Was Kejriwal’s PA Instigated To Assault AAP’s Rajya Sabha MP Swati Maliwal?

In a bizarre incident, Aam Aadmi Party Rajya Sabha MP Swati Maliwal was reportedly assaulted at Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence by his PA Bibhav Kumar. As per calls made to police PCR from CM’s residence, the police received two calls. At first, the woman didn’t reveal her name. But in the second call made around 9.54 am, the caller said her name was Swati Maliwal and she accused Bibhav Kumar of manhandling her. Oddly Swati, who had headed Delhi Commission of Women for 9 years (July 2015-Jan 2024) did not follow up the assault charge with a written complaint. It is being speculated that she initially took two names — police are not sure if she had directly named Kejriwal. Swati had gone to meet with Kejriwal; she was not in India when he was arrested. Bibhav was denying Swati access to meet Kejriwal. BJP leaders dubbed CM’s office as a “boxing ring”, recalling how Kejriwal had assaulted chief secretary Anshu Prakash (Feb 2018) by calling a meeting of his MLAs at midnight. Bansuri Swaraj, the BJP candidate from New Delhi, claimed it was most likely that it was Kejriwal who must have instigated the alleged assault on Swati. AAP sources said party circles including wife Sunita Kejriwal have resented phenomenal growth of Swati — particularly her nomination to Rajya Sabha in January 2024. She was not seen as a grassroot AAP worker. Within AAP, Swati was seen as someone who was always aloof as she had worked with Kejriwal’s NGO. It is possible with Sunita’s growing clout and say in AAP affairs, one could see more such skirmishes at Sheeshmahal!
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Rahul Gandhi Sets A Goal For Kejriwal, Ensure Kanhaiya Kumar Wins

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has reportedly made it clear to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal that he must ensure Kanhaiya Kumar, former JNU student leader and Congress candidate for Delhi’s North-East Lok Sabha seat wins. This is the only seat where the BJP has repeated its candidate, Manoj Tiwari, who is considered to be a popular candidate. With Rahul making the extra push and Kejriwal promising to deliver, BJP sources say the contest will get keen in this seat as well as in South Delhi where the party had changed candidates. In 2019, Rahul’s efforts to get Kanhaiya elected from Bihar did not get adequate support from the RJD (he lost to Union Minister Giriraj Singh). After being in jail for 50 days, Kejriwal, the AAP star campaigner, began his poll campaign .Twenty parliamentary seats in Delhi and Punjab – two states where the Kejriwal-led AAP is in power – will go to polls in the fifth and sixth phase on May 25 and June 1. In his first public interaction, he began with making a wild charge that there was no point in voting for PM Modi as he wouldn’t be around to fulfil his guarantee. He charged that since Modi would be turning 75 next year he would perhaps retire and hand over reins to HM Amit Shah. Responding to Modi’s “retirement”, Countering Kejriwal, both Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh clarified that PM Modi will not only complete his 3rd term till 2029 but will also lead the party for “next round of polls”.
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MP Cong Leader Embarrasses Gandhis, Pitches Dole For Women As ‘Polygamy Allowance’

Both Priyanka Vadra and Rahul Gandhi are very proud of the Congress guarantees and how it has helped the party capture power in at least two southern states — Karnataka and Telangana and in Himachal. However if they were to hear the way senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Kantilal Bhuria is pitching the Mahalakshmi guarantee for women — promised in the party manifesto — that guarantees woman Rs 1 lakh in her bank account — as an assured scheme for polygamy, the Gandhis would be surely shocked. Bhuria who is contesting the Ratlam Lok Sabha seat from Madhya Pradesh, stirred controversy when he said that women from each household would receive “Rs 1 lakh, and those with two wives would get Rs 2 lakh If Congress comes to power, as our manifesto states,” Bhuria said while addressing a poll rally in Ratlam. The Congress on April 5 released the manifesto ‘Nyay Patra’ for the Lok Sabha elections 2024 and has promised to introduce the ‘Mahalakshmi Scheme’ in the poll manifesto which will provide Rs 1 lakh annually or Rs 8, 500 per month to the poor to alleviate poverty. While the manifesto has made no mention of two wives, it is Bhuria at his imaginative best. Tearing into Bhuria, BJP national spokesperson Shehzad Poonawala said Kantilal Bhuria has disclosed the “perverted variant of ‘jitni aabadi utna haq’ scheme/guarantee of Congress. It’s not about women samman but treating women like an object……disgusting.”
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Photo : @AamAadmiParty

Arvind Kejriwal Gets Bail, I.N.D.I.A Bloc Gets A Boost

In a boost to the I.N.D.I.A front, the Supreme Court granted interim bail to Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal on May 10 — three days after the Enforcement Directorate argued that politicians could not be treated differently from non-politicians in the PMLA case. Kejriwal has been granted bail till June 1 in connection with a money laundering case connected to the Delhi excise policy scam even as his counsel pleaded that his bail be extended till June 4 — that is the day of Lok Sabha results. The court has asked the AAP supremo to surrender on June 2. The interim bail has been granted in order to enable Kejriwal to campaign for the Lok Sabha elections 2024. Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi appearing for Kejriwal, stated that interim bail was essential to ensure that Kejriwal had a level playing field in the upcoming elections as Delhi votes on May 25. The ED had arrested Kejriwal on March 21. There is a sense of jubilation over release of the AAP chief in the I.N.D.I.A front with SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee welcoming it. Congress sources, however are not sure if Kejriwal would have polled more votes for the alliance from behind the bars in Tihar or now actively out campaigning across states. Opposing his bail solicitor general Tushar Mehta admitted that “only thing at stake was Kejriwal’s right to campaign for elections, which was not an absolute right to begin with”. Dismissing the objections, the bench headed by Justice Sanjiv Khanna felt “There are extraordinary circumstances for interim bail. We are only examining if those circumstances were met here, in view of the upcoming elections.”
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As PM Modi Questions Rahul's Deal With Ambani & Adani, Gandhi Scion Hits Back

In an unexpected twist, PM Modi picked on Rahul Gandhi’s accusation of crony capitalism by asking “why Shehzada had suddenly stopped talking of Ambani and Adani in this elections all of sudden? He wanted to know if he had been “compromised” into silence by the big business houses. Addressing an election rally in Telagnana’s Warangal, Modi shared how for years after he lost the Rafale battle in the courts, “Congress ke shehzade din raat ek mala japte the…’5 industrialists’, ‘Ambani’, ‘Adani’.., but since the elections are declared, they have stopped abusing Ambani, Adani…” He said, “I wish to ask the Shehzade of the Congress, how much black money have they received from Adani, Ambani? How much the Congress has ‘received’ from those industrialists for the elections?” PM Modi’s questions are interesting considering at least two former CMs — Ashok Gehlot for Amethi and Bhupesh Bhagel for Rae Bareli — have been deployed to manage the elections for the UP seats. The former CMs with resources have been deployed to “salvage” the prestige seat for Gandhis. Initially it was Priyanka Vadra who rushed to her brother’s defence while campaigning in Rae Bareli and attacked Modi for being nervous about his nexus with Adani and Ambani. Later, Rahul shared a video on X where he seemed very happy that PM Modi had for the first time named Adani and Ambani publicly. Taking a swipe at PM for suggesting that he may have cut deals with the top business honchos, Rahul wanted to know if Modi was speaking from his personal experience about transporting cash in tempos. He even suggested sending ED, CBI to the business groups..
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Cong Move To Undo Gains Of Ram Mandir?

In an usual move, Prof Ram Gopal Yadav, cousin of  Samajwadi Party founder, the late Mulayam Singh Yadav, courted controversy when he remarked that the Ayodhya Ram Mandir was ‘bekar’ (useless) and not built according to ‘Vastu’.  It may seem odd that the Yadav patriarch should make these comments on the day of polling for third phase — when at least three members of Yadav family including his son Akshay, Akhilesh Yadav’s wife Dimple and Shivpal Yadav’s son Aditya were trying their luck from Firozabad, Mainpuri and Badaun Lok Sabha seats. It was felt SP leaders have always been anti Ram temple as they have been anxious about pandering to their Muslim vote bank. UP CM Yogi Adityanath said “These are the same people who opened fire on Kar Sevaks and even denied the existence of Lord Ram.”  However, what added a new dimension to the Ram Mandir debate was a disclosure by former Congress leader Acharya Pramod Krishnam that Congress MP Rahul Gandhi was in favour of revisiting the Ayodhya judgement of the Supreme Court– that is if the Congress were to come to power at the Centre. Rahul wished to overturn the mandir verdict of the apex court just as his father Rajiv Gandhi had nullified Shah Bano order in the 80s. The temple which has proven to be a boon for UP and rejuvenated the state is now being threatened with political action. PM Modi used Krishnam’s disclosures in his campaign to warn people about the SP and the Congress’ evil designs on Ram Mandir. So far the Congress has not contradicted the claim.
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BJP’s Sambit Patra Has An Edge In Puri As BJD Changes Candidate In Temple Town

The contest is keen as it is set to take place between BJP’s Dr Sambit Patra and Biju Janata Dal’s (BJD) Arup Patnaik with the regional party replacing its candidate and sitting MP Pinaki Misra. The wager this time round is that Dr Patra could have an edge as he narrowly lost the 2019 polls to Pinaki Misra by 11,714 votes. Legal eagle Misra who has contested and won from Puri a record six times since 1996 did not wish to contest again. The BJD replaced Misra with Arup Patnaik, a former Mumbai top cop. The buzz about Patnaik is that he is too aloof as a candidate; he apparently doesn’t even get off his vehicle to interact with voters. He merely asks people if they know who he is. Sources sympathetic to Patnaik say he has some health issues and is not strong on communication. Yet,  BJD sources insist that the key to winning Puri would depend on the kind of  candidates selected and deployed in the assembly seats as state polls are being held with Lok Sabha polls . That is why Arup Patnaik still could be home and dry, if the right candidates have been picked as MLAs. “It all depends on what Bobby Das, our BJD General Secretary, who is contesting Sambalpur Lok Sabha seat against Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, has planned for Puri,”says a BJD veteran. All indications are BJP’s Dr Patra is having it easy at the assembly level too. Meanwhile, the Congress refused to let its candidate Sucharita Mohanty drop out due to lack of support. Senior leader KC Venugopal said that the party was replacing Sucharita with another candidate. Polling in Puri will take place in the sixth phase on May 25, along with assembly polls. In 2019, the BJP won a total of 8 Lok Sabha seats in Odisha, BJD grabbed 12 and one seat went to Congress.
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Rahul Agrees To Contest From Raebareli Too, Congress Cadres Upset As Priyanka Keeps Out Of The Fray

Nothing has disappointed Congressmen across the country more so in Uttar Pradesh than the fact that Priyanka Vadra did not figure as a candidate either from Raebareli or Amethi. Instead, her brother Rahul filed his papers from Raebareli, a seat their mother Sonia vacated, moving to a Rajya Sabha seat from Rajasthan. The Amethi seat which Rahul unsuccessfully contested in 2019 and lost to Smriti Irani was given to an old party hand, KL Sharma. Party sources said for some reason Rahul was not keen that his sister, who has shaped up as a key campaigner, should enter the fray. Maybe he will let her contest the Lok Sabha seat, say Wayanad, in the event he wins. With UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s goal of securing all the 80 Lok Sabha seats and Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan also setting similar goals, Rahul may perhaps not get the privilege of making such a choice . That’s why Congress leaders insist keeping Priyanka out of the electoral fray at this stage isn’t a great idea and has impacted at least 25 seats. “Priyanka’s entry would have galvanised the Congress cadre. In fact, the Samajwadi Party was insisting that at least one of the Gandhis should enter the fray from UP. Rahul was not keen on fighting for a second seat. He had to be persuaded,” says an AICC functionary.  It is rather odd that Rahul didn’t want to share family turf with his sister. This at a time when party cadre feels more inspired by her.  With Women’s Quota becoming an Act, a reality that would be rolled out from 2029, Rahul should know he can have little choice.
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JD (S) Aghast As Congress Makes Use Of Prajwal's Videos

BJP leaders are quite perplexed by Congress efforts to drag PM Narendra Modi into outright sexual misconduct of JD(S) MP Prajwal Revanna, just because he campaigned for the Hassan candidate.  Clearly upset with the BJP-JD(S) alliance that is having an edge in the LS polls, it is being said deputy chief minister DK Shiv Kumar(DKS) had reportedly zeroed in on Prajwal’s shortcomings just to undermine the alliance and had unleashed a digital campaign to dent the JD(S) image days before the April 26 voting. DKS, worried about the fate of his own brother DK Suresh losing to former PM HD Devegowda’s son-in-law Dr Manjunath that he resurrected an old video and circulated it in the constituency. BJP sources are surprised that the Congress which was too scared to speak up for women of Sandeshkhali, was now speaking for “exploited” women of Hassan. Home Minister Amit Shah shut-up the Congress by saying it was now up to Karnataka to probe the matter. As for Prajwal, he has been suspended from the JD(S).The video clips, allegedly involving Prajwal surfaced on social media a day after his constituency went to polls. On reports of Prajwal leaving the country pending a probe, Karnataka Home Minister G Parameshwara has asserted that Prajwal will be asked to return to India by the SIT. BJP Leader Devaraje Gowda said he had written to then BJP state president BY Vijayendra in December 2023, flagging “grave allegations” against the HD Deve Gowda family, including Prajwal Revanna. He claimed that he had received a pen drive containing 2,976 explicit videos of women which were then being used to blackmail them into continuing to engage in sexual activities. Meanwhile, the buzz is JD(S) Chief HD Kumaraswamy feels when his son Nikhil lost Ramanagara Assembly it had a lot to do with elder brother HD Revanna sabotaging it.
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Why Cong Was Quick To Distance Itself From EVM Petition?

It is really interesting that on a day the Supreme Court dismissed petitions that called for comprehensive cross-verification of votes cast using EVMs with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT), the Congress  asserted  that  its “political campaign on the greater use of VVPATs to increase the public trust in the electoral process” would continue. This even after Congress leader Jairam Ramesh wrote on X that “Congress was not a party, directly or indirectly, to the petition on VVPATs rejected by the Supreme Court”. So what is the Congress compulsion to continue its campaign against EVMs, something that it introduced while it was in power? Well, the answer lies in its 2024 manifesto where under the heading “Defending the Constitution” the party speaks about a promise to restore the voters’ trust in the election process. “We will amend the election laws to combine the efficiency of the EVM and the transparency of the ballot paper. Voting will be through the EVM but the voter will be able to hold and deposit the machine-generated voting slip into the voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) unit. The electronic vote tally will be matched against the VVPAT slip tally.”  Of course such a promise goes against the latest SC verdict. That’s why even if one accepts the Congress position that it had nothing to do with the petition before the SC, PM Modi  may not be surely off the mark when he dubbed the apex court  verdict as a jolt “to those who wanted to loot ballot boxes “. The court had clearly said the era of ballot papers shall not return.
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Wives' Of Jailed CMs Look For A Large Role In Party Affairs

Ever since Sunita Kejriwal and Kalpana Soren –wives of jailed chief ministers Arvind Kejriwal and Hemant Soren — took part in the Opposition I.N.D.I.A rally on April 21 in Ranchi, their role in party politics seem to be getting firmer. AAP leadership now wants Sunita Kejriwal to campaign for its three Lok Sabha candidates in Delhi from April 27.  Sunita’s campaign will be to protest her husband’s arrest, explained Delhi minister Atishi Singh. Sunita Kejriwal will apparently hold a roadshow in East Delhi Lok Sabha on April 27, follow it up with another roadshow in the West Delhi Lok Sabha constituency the following day. She is also expected to visit Punjab, Haryana, and Gujarat.  AAP sources hope people of “Delhi, Punjab, and the entire country will vote in favour of Arvind Kejriwal”. The party has also launched a Lok Sabha campaign focussing on Kejriwal’s arrest by the ED. Titled Jail Ka Jawab Vote Se is a song written and sung by AAP MLA Dilip Pandey.  Meanwhile, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) has declared Kalpana Soren, wife of jailed former chief minister Hemant Soren, as candidate for by-election to Gandey assembly seat. Bypoll in Gandey, which fell vacant following the resignation of JMM MLA Sarfaraz Ahmad, is scheduled on May 20 along with Lok Sabha polls in the state. Kalpana, a homemaker with MTech and MBA qualifications, is contesting from a general seat as she is a non-tribal and hails from Odisha. She was previously considered a frontrunner for the position of CM after Hemant Soren’s resignation but faced opposition from Sita Soren, the elder daughter-in-law of Shibu Soren.
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Post Poll Feedback: AIADMK Chief Livid After He Discovers Cadres Did Not Reach Out To Voters

Polling in Tamil Nadu, held in the first phase, has apparently left AIADMK leader Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) very disturbed, particularly after he discovered that the party cadre did not even bother to reach out to voters. Soon after the voting was over, a livid Palanisami held a review meeting and gave the cadre a dressing down. Apparently, the AIADMK cadre was not happy about going alone, snapping ties with the BJP. With a potential ally like the PMK preferring to tie up with the BJP rather than the AIADMK, Palaniswami feels his party could draw a blank in the Lok Sabha polls. His rival O Panneerselvam has stood as an independent in Ramanathapuram backed by the BJP. Some AIADMK leaders wonder if snapping ties with the BJP was dictated by Palaniswami’s animosity towards TN BJP chief K Annamalai. EPS was so determined to defeat Annamalai that he had even deployed two or three of his close aides in Coimbatore.  As for breaking ties with the BJP, EPS had expressed concern over getting minority votes from southern districts. Post polling, doubts remain if any minority votes came AIADMK way.
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(left) Left Radhakrishna Doddamani and Dr CN Manjunath

Karnataka Witnesses Prestige Battle Of Two Famous Damads

At least two Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka –Gulbarga and Bangalore (Rural) — will witness two prestige battles of sorts of the sons-in- law. Gulbarga Lok Sabha will witness Radhakrishna Doddamani, son-law of Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge taking on incumbent BJP MP Dr Umesh Jadhav, while Dr CN Manjunath, son-in-law of former PM HD Devegowda will be locked in a battle as BJP-JD(U) candidate  to oust DK Suresh, sitting  Congress MP and brother of Karnataka Deputy CM  DK Shivkumar. The most interesting part of the poll campaign is that 81-year-old Kharge tried to strike an emotional chord with the people of his home district of Kalaburagi.  He appealed to voters to at least attend his funeral if they thought he worked for them if they did not wish to vote for the Congress candidate. Kharge had lost in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Congress sources said Kharge is not confident of reclaiming Gulbarga seat via his relative. In contrast, Dr Manjunath, engaged in the prestige battle in the Vokkaliga stronghold of Bangalore Rural seat, is quite aware that he is up against the might of Congress’s DK brothers. Yet, what is giving him confidence is the BJP-JD(S) alliance and a certain “gratitude factor” as he is a cardiologist to work in his favour. Manjunathwho has done much clinical work says there are at least 10-15 cardiac patients that have been treated by his healthcare institute not only in Bangalore Rural but in every village. He adds that the gratitude factor among these patients has added momentum to his electoral campaign.  Of course, he is not relying on gratitude alone. “Narendra Modi’s charisma is there,” he has been quoted as saying.
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Smriti Irani Mocks Cong For Not Revealing Amethi Card

Rahul Gandhi’s plans of announcing his intention to contest Amethi after Wayanad elections on April 26 took a hit with Union Minister Smriti Irani going to town about why and how the Congress has not yet declared a candidate for the seat. Neither jija Robert Vadra, who has been openly declaring his interest in Amethi, has been declared nor has Rahul Gandhi, who lost to Irani in 2019. Irani claimed she had ensured more work in the constituency in the last five years than Rahul did representing the Lok Sabha seat for three terms. Amethi goes to polls on May 20. “Jijaji ki nazar hai, saale sahab kya karenge. (brother-in-law is eyeing the seat, what will he (Rahul do?) There was a time when people travelling in buses would leave their handkerchief to mark their seat so that no one sits on it. Rahul Gandhi will also come to mark his seat with a handkerchief because his brother-in-law is eyeing this seat,” she told a gathering in Amethi.”Just 27 days left for election, but Congress has not announced its candidate,” Irani said. Rahul had evaded committing to contesting from Amethi by suggesting he “will do whatever the party orders me.” As for Vadra flaunting his interest in Amethi, Congress sources say he is a non-serious player. “He has been declaring his open interest in Amethi only because he doesn’t want his wife Priyanka to enter the fray at this juncture,” said a source. The Gandhi siblings do not value his opinion. After the clean chit he has got for his Haryana dealings, Vadra wants to be seen on the right side of the government.
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Cong "Builds" Up A 150 Tally For BJP To Counter "400" Paar Narrative

The bluff and bluster of UP ke ladke or UP boys was on display. It was an unusual show  of confidence on display when Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and SP leader Akilesh Yadav came together on Ram Navami to address a presser in Ghaziabad hotel in UP.  For parties that shunned Ram Temple inauguration, it was interesting that they followed up on Ram’s symbolism and had gathered in UP after Jayant Chaudhary and the RLD had left to partner with the NDA.  After all, even the TMC couldn’t resist releasing its manifesto on Ram Navami? It was interesting to see Rahul Gandhi bandy about some numbers, setting  a lower tally for  the NDA to browbeat the BJP; he asserted that the BJP would not cross 150, while his sister Priyanka gave the ruling alliance some  180 seats. The SP leader even predicted that the alliance between the Congress and the SP would spell the end of BJP from Ghaziabad to Ghazipur. When quizzed about the basis of the Gandhis’ claim to such  figures, Congress sources said it was their way of countering PM Modi’s “400 par” narrative. “There are about 230 Lok Sabha seats in the Ram Mandir belt (UP, Bihar, Himachal, Uttarakhand, MP, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Delhi and Chhattisgarh). While we expect the BJP to do well only in the Mandir belt, we don’t expect them to do well in coastal areas,” said a Congress leader. If the BJP is expected to do well in the Ram Mandir belt, how do Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi plan to contest from Amethi and Rae Bareli without even interacting with voters? This time SP will extend full cooperation. The Gandhis have been assured full support,” says a source
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Manish Kumar (Left) and PK Bansal

Cong Infighting Over Chandigarh Seat Intensifies, Peeved Bansal Supporters Resign En Masse

When Congress leader Manish Tewari was announced as candidate for Chandigarh Lok Sabha, party circles were quite surprised. Tewari was not close to the Gandhis. In fact, he was among G-23 signatories who had pushed for reforms in the party functioning, so how did he manage to get out of Punjab? He contested from Ludhiana (2014) and Anandpursahib(2019). Sources said Tewari was given Chandigarh only to deny ticket to Pawan Kumar Bansal, former AICC treasurer (2020- 2023). Bansal had consecutively won Chandigarh three times –1999, 2004 and 2009 — before losing 2014 and 2019 to BJP’s Kirron Kher. The Congress leadership is reportedly upset with Bansal for the way he handled party accounts. He is being viewed as responsible for the party’s on-going I-T troubles. But then it seems the Bansal camp is not inclined to give up the fight easily. Sources say, Bansal was expecting a ticket and had even begun campaigning and that is why his loyalists have begun to target Chandigarh Congress president Harmohinder Singh Lucky. He is having a hard time convincing local workers to support Tewari. As many as 15 designated members of the Chandigarh Congress have submitted their resignations to Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge, demanding the removal of Harmohinder Lucky from his post over his alleged disrespect to four-time MP Pawan Bansal on Instagram. Congress leaders are stunned that the BJP replaced incumbent MP Kirron Kher with Chandigarh BJP president Sanjay Tandon without a murmur. Meanwhile, eyebrows are being raised over the nomination of former JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar from Delhi North-East against sitting BJP MP Manoj Tewari. A  Rahul Gandhi favourite, Kumar could not be accommodated in Bihar due to lack of support from RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav.
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Why Has Congress Pitted A Young Minister Against Actor Kangana Ranaut?

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

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

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

Has the Congress not been able to market its election manifesto because of PM Modi likening it to Muslim League charter? Probably, yes. A section of the Congress leaders feel the manifesto did have interesting features but the message got lost mid-way as the BJP attacked it for pandering to Muslims. In fact, PM Modi led the way likening the Congress’s assurances to the minority community as bearing resemblance to “Muslim League while a part of it is dominated by the Leftists”. He had charged the Congress of being cut off from the aspirations and expectations of today’s India. The Congress manifesto laid emphasis on Paanch Nyay or 5 pillars of justice as well as 25 guarantees as part of its election promises for Lok Sabha polls. For minorities, the Congress promised to “have the freedom of choice of dress, food, language and personal laws.” Party sources admit that instead of responding to Modi’s Muslim League charge, the Congress should have focused on its resolve to launch the Mahalakshmi scheme to provide Rs 1 lakh per year to every poor Indian family as an unconditional cash transfer. “Instead of responding to Modi, if we had focussed on our message, we could have done better”. It could have been a game changer. That is if the Congress could get its message across to women voters. “I doubt, if we have applied our mind to this,” says a party leader. However, given the poor track-record of roll-out of Congress guarantees in Karnataka and Telangana, it is possible that women voters could be wary of such tall promises.
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Rahul Gandhi Braces Up For Wayanad Contest Without Any Safety Net

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

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

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal must have surprised his party cadre when he named two junior ministers — Aatishi and Saurabh Bharadwaj — as people who were more aware of the now scrapped liquor policy than him. Why did he drag them into the multi-crore liquorgate? Atishi, Oxford educated and first term MLA is famed for assisting now jailed Manish Sisodia in reforming Delhi government schools. She has been with AAP since 2013. Did Kejriwal feel she was a threat to his wife Sunita? Saurabh Bharadwaj, a qualified engineer, may be facing brickbats from Delhites as Water Minister– the water meters are a scam that Kejriwal may have foisted on him. But did Bharadwaj and Atishi deserve to join Kejriwal league of Delhi’s dirty list — Manish Sisodia (in jail and has been dropped) Satyendra Jain (out on bail, no longer a minister) and Kailash Gahlot, Transport Minister was summoned by the ED. Kejriwal who was sent to judicial custody for a fortnight, does not hold any portfolio. Interestingly, Kerjiwal’s jail term came a day after the Opposition rallied behind him on March 31 and condemned ED action against him. A high point of the rally was the clash between the Congress and the AAP over display of Kejriwal cut-outs at Ramlila maidan. The Congress wanted to know why cut-outs of jailed ex-Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren were missing. Post Congress protest, Kejriwal’s cut-outs were removed. Sunita Kejriwal and Kalpana Soren displayed bonhomie by publicly hugging each other. Meanwhile it was the ED which informed the AAP leaders about Kejriwal’s claims. About how “Vijay Nair didn’t report to him but to Atishi and Bharadwaj and his interaction with Vijay Nair was limited.
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Did Priyanka Vadra Encourage Cousin Varun Gandhi To Rebel In BJP?

When the BJP released its 5th list of candidates and Varun Gandhi did not find his name, he may have not been surprised. What may have surprised him was that his mother Maneka was still fielded from Sultanpur. That is because even before the list was out Varun was preparing to be axed and had wanted to file nomination papers as an independent candidate. He knew he had crossed quite a few red lines to be renominated as an MP candidate. In Pilibhit, the BJP had replaced him with former Congress leader and former Uttar Pradesh minister Jitin Prasada, a constituency represented by Varun twice. While Varun literally invited the wrath of the BJP leadership by attacking the Yogi Adityanath government in UP — license of Amethi’s Sanjay Gandhi Hospital was suspended following death of a patient, the Pilibhit MP also attacked policies of the Modi government in signed opinion pieces in newspapers. Congress sources said Varun had turned a rebel in the BJP only because his cousin Priyanka Vadra had encouraged him to do so. She had wanted Varun to create trouble, leave the BJP and eventually join the Congress. She had even arranged a conciliatory meeting between Varun and Rahul Gandhi. Somehow, Rahul was not open to Varun joining the Congress as of now. With his mother getting a BJP ticket, Varun may not be inclined to contest 2024 polls. Elections are always a season of crazy new endings and beginnings but the one that happened in Kurukshetra, Haryana takes the cake. BJP workers can’t still figure out why party leadership has fielded coal-scam tainted Naveen Jindal. BJP had defeated him in 2014 and 2019. In 2024,”We will not work for him”, says the demoralised cadre.
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Kangana Ranaut Withstands Cong Roiling, Wins Praise

It was a coordinated action by a group of Congress sympathisers who erupted in mocking actor Kangana Ranaut after she was given a ticket to contest from Mandi in Himachal by the BJP. There was prominent editor Mrinal Pande who first mocked “Mandi”.Then Supriya Shrinate wanted to know the “rate card”. Then HS Ahir came up with references to prostitutes. It is for these reasons that the controversy triggered by Congress spokesperson Shrinate’s social media posts about Kangana just didn’t ebb. The BJP too decided to take the issue of attack on its candidate with the EC. The Congress tried to build a counter narrative — digging up an old clip of Kangana where she is heard taking a “soft porn star” jibe at former Congress leader Urmila Matondkar. So did Shrinate’s bit that her posts against Kangana were not hers but had been posted by someone else. Her explanation did not convince the party. Himachal Congress leaders were surprised by the manner in which Kanagana handled personal attacks. She questioned the Congress for “sexualising a small town’s name” and said that “every woman deserves her dignity. Mandi is being used in a sexual context everywhere, just because it has a young woman candidate.  I am hurt by the ‘Mandi’ thing, which is known as Chota Kashi and has been the land of several rishis.” Her remarks made even Himachal CM Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu take pride in Kangana and describe as her daughter of the state. Congress sources feel Kangana may find the going tough if incumbent MP Pratibha Singh chooses to contest. “Let’s not forget was   announced by the BJP only after Pratibha announced she would not be contesting.”
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Sunita Kejriwal Tests Delhi's Political Waters Via ‘X Post’

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s wife Sunita Kejriwal made a soft, public outreach to Delhi citizens via a social post.  Dubbing her husband’s arrest in a money laundering case by the ED “as a betrayal of people of Delhi” Sunita in a post in X in Hindi went on to describe how her husband always stood with the people of the national capital. Picking up from Kejriwal’s sound bite outside the PMLA court about his life being dedicated to his country “whether inside (jail) or outside”, Sunita asserted that “the public knows everything”. She went on to charge PM Modi of suppressing the voice of a three-time elected CM out of “arrogance of power”. “Modiji is trying to crush everyone. This is a betrayal of the people of Delhi. The public knows that he is Janardan. Jai Hind”, she tweeted. Sunita’s post is interesting in the sense she is widely speculated to emerge as Kejriwal’s favourite choice to replace him as CM if he ever were forced to vacate office. It is however not clear if the AAP rank and file will readily accept her. There are veterans like Gopal Rai who may have a grip on the party, but it is unlikely he may get Kejriwal’s nod. It is likely that party strategists such as Sandeep Pathak may have asked Sunita to test the political waters. Sunita had taken VRS from the IRS in July 2016, nearly three years after her husband became CM. A 1993-batch IRS officer with Master’s in Zoology, Sunita had met Kejriwal, a 1995-batch IRS officer, during a training programme at Bhopal. Though not known to show interest in party matters, Sunita had taken a keen interest in redesigning CM’s official residence that goes by the moniker “Sheesh Mahal”. Interestingly, on her X timeline are posts about BJP’s electoral bonds and voices from Delhi in support of her husband.
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What Does Arvind Kejriwal's Arrest Mean For National Politics?

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal after carrying out searches at his official residence and questioning the AAP leader for nearly two hours in connection with the money laundering probe linked to the now scrapped liquor excise policy. The arrest comes hours after the Delhi HC refused to grant him interim protection from coercive action in the money laundering probe. In fact, the HC judges sought to know why Kejriwal was only being summoned by the ED — nine summons had been issued — and he had not been arrested so far. Kejriwal’s arrest had become inevitable ever since the ED had taken BRS leader K Kavitha into custody last week. AAP leaders Manish Sisodia and Sanjay Singh are in jail for the last several months. Time was really running out for the so-called “anti-corruption” hero. According to the ED, Kavitha was allegedly linked to a ‘South Group’ lobby of liquor traders who were trying to play a bigger role in the now scrapped Delhi excise policy. Vijay Nair, one of the accused, allegedly received kickbacks worth at least Rs 100 crore on behalf of AAP leaders from the ‘South Group’, said to be controlled by Sarath Reddy, Kavitha and Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy. Politically, Kejriwal’s arrest is bound to impact the performance of AAP in Delhi as well in Punjab. In fact, Congress sources wondered if the so-called tie-up between the parties would even last in Delhi. All this only means with the arrest of two CMs by the ED — Kerjriwal and Hemant Soren– the I.N.D.I.A front looks much hobbled.
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Congress Seeks To Blame BJP For Its I-T Lapses

The Congress leadership made a mega event of its lapses. Yes, its failure to file I-T returns for assessment Year 2018-19.  Confronted with a penalty of Rs 135 cr, party’s top leaders decided that they must make full use of the I-T action against its finances and dub it as a vindictive action in the time of elections. Is it going to help? Unlikely. Making a rare appearance along with son Rahul and party chief Mallikarjun Kharge, Sonia Gandhi dubbed the I-T action as an attempt to cripple the party financially. She declared freezing Congress bank accounts impacted “our democracy itself most fundamentally”.  On his part Rahul Gandhi, highlighted how his party was unable to conduct a normal campaign.  He wondered if the “idea of India as a democracy” is a lie. The government’s actions are “being orchestrated to cripple us before the elections.” The Congress narrative was countered by senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad. He pointed out that the Congress lost its appeal at every stage — I-T tribunal and in the Delhi HC. “Rs 135 crore tax plus interest was levied.  Delhi High Court rejected their appeal on March 13. The court remarked, “It was a badly handled matter. Somebody from the Congress office went to sleep right from 2021. Now they have gone to SC. The matter is listed on April 1. Rahul Gandhi did not disclose these facts but chose to attack all democratic institutions.”  Prasad clarified that political parties do not have to pay income tax but have to file their returns every year. “If you do not file every year, you lose your exemption. What has the BJP got to do with it”.
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BJP Releases List Of 9 Names For Tamil Nadu, Annamalai Leads All Seniors In Fray

Tamil Nadu’s BJP first list of 9 Lok Sabha candidates was more or less on expected lines. The party leadership decided that all its senior leaders — from  state BJP unit chief and charismatic K Annamalai to Union Minister L Murugan to former governor Tamilisai Soundararajan and  former Union minister Pon RadhaKrishnan — must enter the fray and  explore the popularity of  the BJP and ensure that  PM Modi’s message reaches people. This was apparently the desire of PM Modi who has paid special attention to the state and has been regularly visiting Chennai and other TN cities in the past few months. As for constituencies, Annamalai would probably be comfortable in his skin as his maiden contest would be from Coimbatore, which is his home turf. The BJP also enjoys a good support base here. Another contest that would be equally interesting is one in Thoothukudi where the party has fielded Nainar Nagendran against incumbent DMK MP Kanimozhi, sister of TN CM MK Stalin. A combative BJP MLA, Nainar could prove to be a challenge for Kani after rains wreaked havoc in her area recently. The third interesting contest would be Kanyakumari from where Pon Radhakrishnan, who was a minister in Vajpayee government, is looking at a smooth re-election. This is a seat that any Nadar leader would covet. The Perambalur seat has been given to TR Paarvinder, founder of Indiya Jananayaka Katchi. He owns SRM University & Tamil channel Puthia Thalaimurai. It is certainly not going to be a smooth sail for a fellow Nadar leader Tamilisai Soundararajan from Chennai South. Similarly it will  be  a tough battle for Union Minister L Murugan to take on a “resourceful” 2-G enabled A Raja in Nilgiris, a reserved constituency  The  BJP has  fielded a resourceful C Narasimhan from Krishnagiri.
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Battle For Women Votes Sharpens With "Shakti": Rahul Provokes, Modi Declares War

It was a political storm that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi provoked little realising that it could risk hurting Hindu sentiments. His flippant use of “Shakti”– an evolved stream of worship in sanatana dharma — at a political platform where DMK leaders, who are not sympathetic to the Hindu cause, were present came as a political surprise. It was precisely for this reason that SP leader Akhilesh Yadav, who comes from the Ram Mandir belt, kept away from this “anti-sanatana dharma” forum in Mumbai– he didn’t want to be seen sharing space with “anti- Hindu” Tamil leaders like MK Stalin or VCK leader. Looks like Rahul imagined he could attack Hinduism, and get away with his word play on “shakti”. What he did not realise was that an alert BJP team would pick every word he had uttered against Hindus. The interaction with a Christian pastor in Kanyakumari during his Bharat Jodo Yatra and deprecatory references to Hinduism made two years ago was one such gem .The pastor is heard telling Rahul,”Jesus is the real god, not Shakti” in the clip. It came in handy as PM Modi lambasted Rahul as a person who had scant respect for sanatan dharma. From Jagtial in Telangana to Shimoga in Karnataka, Modi tore into Rahul’s remarks at his rallies and personalised his fight against Shakti. “For me, every daughter, mother, and sister is a personification of Shakti. To those who are raising their voices against Shakti, I accept your challenge. I am willing to sacrifice my life for Shakti,” he added.  Modi, who clearly reached out to 49 % women voters through a series of governance steps, has now sharpened the battle for their attention with “shakti”.
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PM Modi To Visit Bhutan In Midst Of Polls

Even as the Election Commission of India will be announcing the schedule for 2024 Lok Sabha elections and elections to four state assemblies on March 16, with it the Model Code of Conduct will kick in, there is apparently going to be no change in PM Narendra Modi’s travel plans abroad. Yes, he will be going to Bhutan after the announcement of poll dates. He is going to the Himalayan Kingdom on March 21 and 22. The visit is significant from the point of China creating problems there. Modi feels he must send a message to Beijing that India is standing with Bhutan. A few days ago, I & B minister Anurag Thakur made it clear that the government is not going into caretaker mode and the Union Cabinet will continue to meet as and when necessary. With opinion polls already predicting the return of the NDA Government post poll with overwhelming numbers, it is not surprising that PM Modi vows to continue working.
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Mamata Banerjee Pushed In Her Home, Cause For Worry For Proximate Security

There is apparently a sense of unease and worry among the West Bengal security establishment that chief minister Mamata Banerjee should get grievously hurt at home. She was reportedly “pushed from behind” while working on the treadmill. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo fell and hit her forehead against a showcase. She was rushed to the SSKM Hospital by her nephew and heir apparent Abhishek in his car.  She was discharged after stitches on her forehead. Though there is no clear answer as to who pushed her, sources say, attempts are being made to water down Didi’s initial statement to the doctor. The push has also raised questions about proximate security to the CM. This incident reminds of the attack on late Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa. Security agencies feel Mamata should move to the official CM residence in Alipore. Apparently, no Bengal CM prefers to live here. Mamata has been staying at her personal residence along with her brothers and their extended families in Kalighat. Of late there has been a lot of jostling among the brothers and their wives for a piece of action in TMC politics. They have been questioning why Abhishek, who is Diamond Harbour MP, was getting so much importance within the TMC. Party cadres worry that Mamata has been prone to disastrous attacks almost before every election. During 2021 assembly elections, it was a wheelchair-bound Mamata with her leg in a cast, who managed to swing the polls after suffering an injury in Nandigram. Post-Sandeshkhali, however a bandaged Didi may not be able to whip much sympathy. Stark revelations in PDS and recruitment scams have become a bitter pill for the masses.
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Gadkari, Piyush Goyal Make It In BJP’s Second List; Mysore MP Pratap Simha Axed For Parliament Blast

The BJP’s second list of 72 candidates reflects a considered strategy of fielding senior leaders who have never faced a direct election like the Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal from Mumbai North. It also got former Haryana CM Manohar L Khattar to contest from Karnal. Speculations about Road Minister Nitin Gadkari’s not being fielded from Nagpur simply proved to be unfounded and sheer Opposition mind game. However, some sitting MPs from Mumbai — Poonam Mahajan from Mumbai North Central and Manoj Kotak from Mumbai North East — failed to make the cut. Mumbai North MP Gopal Shetty who made way for Piyush Goyal could be suitably rewarded. Caste-wise for the first time Pune Lok Sabha seat has gone out of the Brahmin fold to Maratha leader Murlidhar Mohol, a former city mayor. Party sources say Mohol is a pick of Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis. The Brahmin lobby was mollified with a RS ticket given to Medha Kulkarni. Much blood bath has actually happened in Karnataka where the BJP failed to form the government in the 2023 assembly polls. Ticket of Mysore MP Pratap Simha was nixed; he was the MP who got passes for those who ambushed the new Parliament Complex in December 2023. The BJP leadership is so upset with Simha, once considered to be a blue-eyed boy of PM Modi that his seat has been given to Yaduveer Wadiyar, the royal scion. Focussing on playing the Lingayat card, it got former CM Basavarj Bommai to contest from Haveri and shifted Shoba Karandlaje from Udupi to Bangalore North. It has fielded Dr CN Manjunath, son-in-law of JD(S) leader from Bangalore Rural.
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Haryana’s new CM Nayab Singh Saini’s swearing-in ceremony, Manohar L Khattar (sitting)

A Day After Modi's Praise, Khattar Finds It Is Back To Basics In Haryana

A day ago PM Narendra Modi for the first time had gone public acknowledging his close personal relationship with the outgoing Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar. He had fondly recalled how Khattar and he would share a dari (mat) and Khattar would take him around Haryana on a bike. Recalling their days together as RSS pracharaks, Modi had called Khattar his “partner” and had even promised to have him in his future plans too. Within 24 hours after Modi had heaped praise on Khattar’s work as Haryana CM, the state saw a political churn, Khattar had put in his papers. A younger, OBC leader Nayab Singh Saini (54) took over. “The BJP leadership got what it wanted. It wanted a restless coalition partner JJP demanding two Lok Sabha seats — Hisar and Bhiwani-Mahendragarh — out of the government .Corruption cases against Chauthalas were proving to be a burden. Sulking BJP leader Anil Vij who was in race to be CM, also got dropped as minister. “Saini is going to be a game changer” pointed out a BJP leader. Elections to Haryana state assembly will be held soon after the Lok Sabha polls. That’s why the BJP leadership decided it must go for a new CM face. Changes in the BJP government clearly took the main Opposition Congress by surprise. Former Haryana CM and senior Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda charged that the change of CM was a moral defeat of the BJP-JJP government. “This (BJP-JJP alliance) was a ‘thugbandhan‘ election should be conducted under the President’s Rule,” he said.
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Centre Keeps Its Promise To Matua Voters In Bengal, Notifies CAA Rules A Week Ahead Of Poll Dates

Weeks after Union Home Minister Amit Shah declared that no one can stop the CAA law  and that  it would be implemented before the Lok Sabha elections, the MHA notified the CAA  rules  paving the way for its implementation across the country. The law makes it easier for Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Christian and Parsi refugees from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, to get Indian citizenship. “The applications will be submitted in a completely online mode for which a web portal has been provided,” a MHA official posted  on the ministry  X handle. The law aims to give citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from these countries, who came to India before December 31, 2014. CAA was an integral part of  BJP’s 2019 manifesto and it is interesting that to see that  it is being notified just a week before next elections schedule is set to be announced. Interestingly after the  CAA was passed in 2019 protests had broken out in several parts of the country. Minorities in some areas like Shaheen Bagh in  Delhi were encouraged to  do sit-in protest . ” The CAA cannot snatch away anyone’s citizenship because there is no provision in the Act. The CAA is an act to provide citizenship to refugees who were persecuted in Bangladesh and Pakistan,” Amit Shah recently clarified adding  how the law was once  a Congress promise .Incidentally, the law is very crucial to the Matua community –Dalit  Namasudra community, which migrated from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in 1947 and during the 1971 India-Pakistan war. They had backed the BJP. TMC  cannot afford to oppose CAA. As for Assam students protesting against  the  CAA the , rules have set a 2014  cut-off and retained  exceptions as made in the 6th schedule to the Constitution and the areas covered under “The Inner Line’ notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 “.
MOdi Naveen

Why Does BJD Feel The Need To Walk Back Into The NDA? The Mystery Of BJP-BJD Pact

It may seem odd but it must be put on record that the initial reports of the BJP-BJD pact had first emanated from the BJD side and had completely caught BJP leaders from Odisha off guard. It was felt the BJD had read too much meaning into personal rapport that was on display between PM Narendra Modi and CM Naveen Patnaik during PM’s brief visit to Odisha on March 5. Of course, what preceded the PM’s visit was the Union Rail Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw’s election to the Rajya Sabha with the support of BJD.  Post Modi’s visit, CM’s political aide VK Pandian had rushed to Delhi to hold talks with BJP central leaders. Odisha BJP leaders too were in Delhi to discuss the possibility of contesting the 2024 elections alongside with the BJD. Suddenly the talks were brought to an end by Odisha BJP chief Manmohan Samal by saying his party would go alone. “Neither Samal nor Pandian can decide on the fate of BJP-BJD ties. It will be clinched only by Naveen Babu and Amit Shah or JP Nadda”, says a BJD Lok Sabha MP. The BJD which parted ways with the BJP in 2009, citing communalism, is keen to come back to the NDA fold for a good reason. It is all because of the growing popularity of PM Modi and the Ram Mandir issue.  BJD worries a three-way contest could hurt its prospects, particularly in urban areas as Ram Mandir has a resonance. In power since 2000, Patnaik-led BJD had won 112 seats in the assembly elections in 2019 and 12 Lok Sabha seats while BJP had won 8 Lok Sabha and  23  assembly seats. Looks like in 2024, Odisha will vote differently — it will look for who is with Modi and Shri Ram.
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Rahul Gandhi Sets A New Norm, Gets Veterans To Contest Lok Sabha Polls

It was a much awaited list. Yes, the Congress list of 39 names as candidates for 2024 Lok Sabha elections may have been short but it did have a big message and good news for the party cadre. What really came as a shot in the arm for Congress leaders and workers was the news that KC Venugopal — the all-powerful AICC general secretary had been asked to contest from Alappuzha in Kerala. Considered close to Rahul Gandhi, Venugopal wielded enormous clout in the party. Party seniors and even those close to Rahul felt suffocated because of the clout this one man flaunted. Now that he has been forced to contest, party leaders heaved a sigh of relief. “It is good to see Rahul Gandhi wake up and clip Venugopal’s wings,” remarked a Congress functionary.  The Kerala leader, who is a Rajya Sabha MP from Rajasthan, had such clout that he was known to pick and choose from a peon to who should be sent to RS. Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge wanted to change him but seemed helpless. Party sources said it was only after the loss of face in Himachal in the RS elections when the Congress’s official candidate lost that Rahul himself began to see reason and decided to move out Venugopal. Rahul has now set a new benchmark; he will now ensure all veterans are involved in the elections — be it Venugopal or former Chattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel. As for Priyanka Vadra contesting from Rae Bareli, a seat now vacated by her mother Sonia Gandhi, party sources said nothing could be ruled out.
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On Women's Day, Author Sudha Murty Makes It To Rajya Sabha

It is only in fitness of things that author Sudha Murty was nominated to the Rajya Sajya on March 8, International Women’s Day by President Droupadi Murmu. With a  reputation of having breached many glass ceilings including becoming the first female engineer to be  hired at India’s largest auto manufacturer Tata Engineering & Locomotive Company (TELCO), Pune (now Tata Motors) in the early 70s, Sudha’s nomination to Rajya Sabha could not  have come on a better day. PM Narendra Modi in a post on X said that “Sudha Ji’s contributions to diverse fields including social work, philanthropy and education have been immense and inspiring. Her presence in the Rajya Sabha is a powerful testament to our ‘Nari Shakti'”. Her elevation was not entirely unexpected considering only last year she was honoured with a Padma Bhushan. Interestingly, Karnataka Deputy CM DK Shivkumar came out greeting Sudha’s nomination to RS. Married to Infosys founder NR Naryana Murthy, Sudha is credited with playing her bit role in sustaining the software giant by lending a small sum of money to her husband in the initial years. How she got a job at TELCO makes for interesting reading. The 1950 born Sudha had written a postcard to the company’s Chairman JRD Tata complaining of the “men only” gender bias at TELCO. As a result, she was granted a special interview and hired immediately. In 1996, she started Infosys Foundation and to date has been the Trustee of Infosys Foundation. She has written and published many books which include novels, non-fiction, travelogues, technical books, and memoirs. Her daughter Akshata is married to UK PM Rishi Sunak, while her US-based son Rohan runs Soroco, a technology company.
shahJahan sheikh

Shahjahan Sheikh In CBI Dragnet, Mamata Worried

Nearly two months after his armed goons attacked and injured a raiding team of Enforcement Directorate officials, the much dreaded and “suspended” TMC leader Shahjahan Sheikh was handed over to the CBI on directions of the Calcutta High Court.  TMC leadership delayed the handing over to CBI by hours in spite of two court directives by claiming it had moved the Supreme Court. What surprised Delhi political circles was that more than the accused, the TMC regime was averse to handing him over to the CBI. It was as if West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee was worried about having Shahjahan in CBI custody. That’s why Union Minister Hardeep Puri lashed out against West Bengal for moving the apex court against transfer of the probe to the CBI. “One can understand if the aggrieved person –the accused– had filed a plea. Why is the state government rushing in here?” Significantly, action on Shahjahan came on a day PM Modi gave a clarion call at Basirhat rally that “storm of Sandeshkhali” will reach every part of West Bengal; he had also met with women victims Sandheshkhali soon after the rally. The island village of Sandeshkhali in the North 24 Parganas district has been in the eye of the storm since January 5, when ED officers arrived to search the home of Shahjahan. The ED team came under attack from an angry mob, leaving three officers injured. On February 7, other violent protests began erupting in Sandeshkhali and other areas, mostly by local women, alleging sexual harassment and land grabbing by Shahjahan and his men.
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BJP’s First Lok Sabha List Sees Fresh faces, New Entrants

When Rajya Sabha terms of 7 Union ministers recently ended and they were not renominated, there was an expectation that they would be asked to contest the Lok Sabha elections. Significantly, at least 5 of them figure in the BJP’s first list of 195 candidates for 2024 Lok Sabha elections along with PM Narendra Modi (Varanasi) and Home Minister Amit Shah (Ahmedabad). Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya is contesting from Porbandar, junior IT Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar has been pitted against incumbent MP Shashi Tharoor (Thiruvananthapuram), Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav will face-off in Alwar, Fisheries Minister Parshottam Rupala in Rajkot and junior EAM V Muraleedharan will contest from Attingal (Kerala). The party has also tried to fortify its foray into Kerala by fielding actor Suresh Gopi(Thrissur.) and Anil Anthony (Pathanamthitta). What clearly showed that PM Modi is not taking challenges of AAP-Congress alliance in Delhi lightly was the way the party dropped 4 of the 5 sitting MPs. In Chandni Chowk the party decided not to experiment and opted to field Praveen Khandelwal; he heads the traders’ body.  Yet, the biggest surprise of course was in fielding a very young and energetic Bansuri Swaraj, daughter of late Sushma Swaraj for the New Delhi Lok Sabha seat. The complaint against incumbent MP and Union Minister Meenakshi Lekhi was that she remained aloof and inaccessible most of the time. She was known to be rude to the demands of her voters and direct them to councillors. If PM Modi   gave a fresh face for New Delhi, how did Hema Malini pushing 76 managed to get the Mathura Lok Sabha seat? Was it an endorsement of her work in Mathura? Ought to be.
akshay modi

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

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

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

When all eyes were fixed on Rajya Sabha polling in Karnataka and UP, it was the polling for a single Rajya Sabha seat in the hill state of Himachal that was threatening the survival of the Congress Government of Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu . It is because a high profile candidate like senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi entered the fray and got trounced. Party sources said defeat of the official candidate could cost CM Sukhu his chair but Sukhu dismissed such suggestions saying he must be voted out in the state assembly. At least 9 MLAs — 6 Congress MLAs and 3 independents — backing the 43-member Sukhu Government had cross-voted for the BJP candidate Harsh Mahajan. Himachal has a 68-member state assembly.  The cross-voters were reportedly whisked away in a CRPF vehicle to Panchkula in Haryana. Now the Congress managers are more keen to save their government in the hill state than worried about Singhvi losing. They got a super boss like former Chattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel to reach Shimla.  Party sources say Congress leaders are apparently prepared to sacrifice CM Sukhu and get a new CM face and appeal to those party MLAs who cross-voted to return back to Congress-fold. Sukhu himself made it clear that he is no push over and challenged his rivals to defeat him on the floor of the assembly.  In Karnataka, a determined Deputy CM DK Shivkumar ensured a snub for his JD(S) rival HD Kumaraswamy by ensuring election of all the 3 official candidates, defeat of the JD(S) candidate and cross-voting by two BJP MLAs.  
Arvind kejriwal_002

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

When it comes to alliances, it seems, the Congress seems to be getting a raw deal – whether it is from a newbie like AAP or even from an old ally like Samajwadi Party. The Congress with diminishing bargaining power it seems did not have much say on the seats it would contest in states — be it in Gujarat or UP. It was as if everything was left to AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal or SP chief Akhilesh Yadav to finalise the seat sharing pact. That is probably why the party did not bother to resist claims of AAP for Bharuch Lok Sabha seat — a constituency once represented by Sonia Gandhi’s close aide and AICC treasurer Ahmed Patel — or Farrukhabad Lok Sabha seat once represented by former Union Minister Salman Khurshid.  That is why Khurshid, who is a CWC member, did express his disappointment that his Lok Sabha constituency was not part of the Congress-SP alliance. So did the late Patel’s children– Faisal and Mumtaz. They both gave voice to disappointment among Congress workers in Bharuch over the AAP-Congress poll pact. Faisal went a step further to assert that Bharuch which has been with the BJP since 1989 can be won only if the Congress contests from there. Meanwhile, the Congress hopes to wriggle out of this unequal electoral pact thrust on it by AAP only if ED finally catches up with Kejriwal.”If ED arrests Kejriwal, our alliance will end. We are hoping it will happen soon,” admits a Congress leader.
Rahul gandhi_015

Wayanad Lok Sabha Contest Gets High-Profile With The Entry Of CPI, Rahul Gandhi Unlikely To Budge

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

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

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

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

TRENDS & VIEWS

Editor’s Note: Big Punch In Small Pack

It is the Third Anniversary of Short Post and as a news media startup launched during the Covid-19 pandemic it certainly feels better than good to find ourselves where we are today. Here, I must cite the unstinted support of our seasoned contributors, all senior editors in the country, who brought a great degree of maturity and sagacity to the Short Post newsroom. But for them, our tagline “Authentic Gossip”, an Oxymoron, would not have matured viably. Our user numbers may be small but our stories have created the desired impact among people who matter — decision makers and influencers. We offer a big punch in a small pack and Short Post with its 225-word stories has been punching above its weight category. Having posted close to 3,000 stories in the last 36 months, Short Post, I feel, is an idea whose time has come.
And this is vindicated by our two marquee advertisers – IDFC FIRST Bank and ICICI Lombard. Both believed in our story and have supported us from Day one. A big thank you to both.
If you look at the media landscape – print, TV and digital — it is a mixed bag. There are job losses as some outfits have closed down while a lucky few were bailed out by large corporate houses. Yes, there is a lot of action in the digital space. However, the entry of corporate houses has raised the question of independence of news media outfits. Sadly, there are just a handful of independent media outfits in the country that are highly respected for their neutrality. At Short Post, our credo is not to take sides, prejudge issues or be biased but, informing readers of behind-the-scenes happenings. In essence, Short Post strives to be a neutral editorial platform — neither anti-establishment nor pro-establishment.
As I said last year, disruptions in the media world are moving at a fast and furious pace. Technology is playing a very big role in how content is generated and consumed. But, we are neither alarmed nor perturbed as it is all a part of the evolution process. What gives us comfort is that AI is unable to create original gossipy content. And that is the news arena where we have achieved a distinction.