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Collage Maker-12-Aug-2022-06

10 Janpath Back In The Reckoning As Tejashwi Yadav Decides To Pay Sonia A "Courtesy" Call

Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav’s meeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi in Delhi (Aug 12), three days after he took oath along with Nitish Kumar has come as a booster dose to the secular alliance. The Mahagatbandhan government will face a floor test on August 24. Bihar Congress leaders described Tejashwi’s visit as a courtesy call and said specifics of portfolios of Congress ministers would not be discussed. Congressmen are delighted with the Yadav scion’s visit, as 10 Janpath is back in the reckoning. After all it was Sonia who had played a crucial role in forming the Nitish-Tejashwi government. Reportedly, Nitish had reached out to Sonia when she was battling Covid in early June. While discussing her health, Nitish had shared with her how the BJP was trying to break his party. Sonia had asked him to contact Rahul Gandhi as well. Nitish had asked Tejashwi to get in touch with Rahul. Years ago, Rahul had taken out Tejashwi for lunch. But, Rahul will not be part of Sonia-Tejashwi meet. Even as all 19 Congress MLAs want to be ministers, a section of Bihar leaders are keen that the party does not join Nitish-Tejashwi and like the Left parties they should provide outside support. “Whenever we have shared power with RJD, Congress has lost. Whether in 2005 or in 2015, our tally has always gone down,” says AICC member Kishore Jha.
Arvind

Why Kejriwal Fears Review Of Freebies By The Supreme Court Ahead Of Gujarat, Himachal Polls

Ahead of Gujarat and Himachal polls, the Centre pleaded in the Supreme Court (SC) to set guidelines on freebies with dos and don’ts till the time legislature steps in as the country was heading towards a financial disaster. In its affidavit, the Centre offered to set up a committee of experts such as Union and state finance secretaries, finance commission chairman, a member from every national political parties, officials from the RBI, and ECI, and NITI Aayog, representatives from FICCI, CII and Discoms. The panel would examine all freebies. The AAP vociferously argued against the SC getting into the area of freebies and warned that the Apex Court should not heed Centre’s plea as it would lead to a political thicket. The SC remained unfazed and has endorsed the Centre’s move for an expert panel. Looks like AAP’s free power promise has the Centre worried with “many electricity generating companies and distribution companies most of which are government-owned being severely stressed. But having won Punjab on freebies, Kejriwal is just not bothered and is out there wooing Gujarati voters with 300 units of free power and Rs 3,000 dole to unemployed youth. Ironically, when Modi took over the state as CM two decades ago people had proudly told him — we don’t want free power, we want assured supply. Does Kejriwal hope to entice Gujjus with his Revdis (sops)?
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Nitish Forced To Rebut Claims He Wanted To Be V-P; BJP Worries About Its Bihar Initiatives

A day after BJP leader Sushil Modi claimed that the BJP and the JD (U) parted ways because Nitish Kumar was not made Vice-President, the Bihar CM rushed to deny it. Nitish’s rebuttal came on a day Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankar took oath of office. The denial possibly came as the ambitious CM who wishes to be PM in 2024 doesn’t want to be seen as challenging a Jat V-P. “I have no such desire. Did they forget how much our party supported their President and Vice-President candidates?” he said, pointing to how he had announced his exit from the NDA only after polls were over. In Bihar BJP, no one is grieving over Nitish’s exit from the NDA. It is good riddance; their only worry is about the fate of their initiatives such as the mega textile park undertaken by industries minister Shahnawaz Hussain. State BJP chief Sanjay Jaiswal says, “Nitish didn’t like our work on the textile park; we had brought land prices down. Whenever we raised issues of law and order, he did not like it. He didn’t like the NIA investigation into the PFI links case. I bet by Holi next year, Tejashwi who has support of 115 MLAs, will force Nitish out of CM’s office.”  BJP feels it was the arrest of Bhola Yadav, a key accused in the land-for-railway-job scam by the CBI last month that triggered Tejashwi to forgive Nitish for 2017 betrayal.
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Twitter

Did Tejashwi Yadav Prod Nitish Kumar To Walk Out Of NDA?

As Nitish Kumar and Tejashwi Yadav staked claim to form a new government of the mahagatbandhan in Bihar on August 9, it came as no surprise to the BJP. Bihar political circles point out that the RJD and the JD (U) came together after a bitter parting of ways in 2017 only to protect each other’s interest. In the last few months, Nitish was prodded to walk out of the NDA to protect Tejashwi’s interest; Tejashwi has temporarily put his CM ambition on hold to protect Nitish’s honour. Tejashwi who heads the single largest party RJD with 79 MLAs has decided to rally behind Nitish because he was too scared that the BJP with 77 MLAs would appoint Union Minister Nityanand Rai, a Yadav like him — as CM.  The BJP cadres were restive with Nitish as CM and Tejashwi felt if a BJP Yadav became CM that would be the end of his politics. As the Yadavs would have all flocked to the BJP. For Nitish, remaining CM seemed paramount more than his credibility; he no longer cared for his pet slogans like “Susashan” or good governance. Or else imagine the Yadav scion who is being probed by the CBI for land-for-railway job scam gets to endorse Nitish as the only capable PM pick for the Opposition for 2024!
Jairam

Twitter

Jairam Ramesh Concedes Nitin Gadkari's Point On EVs By Buying One

For once the former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh, who fancies himself as a fierce critic of the Modi Government went on record concurring with the views of Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on phasing out petrol and diesel vehicles by encouraging use of electrical vehicles. He even confirmed that he had bought a Tata Nexon EV after his exchange with Gadkari during the Budget Session. In a tweet on August 6, Jairam shared a link of his exchange with Gadkari during Question Hour on March 22 and disclosed how “I got myself a Tata Nexon EV. I firmly believe India should put an end to manufacturing of all types of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2035 at the very least, and massively bring down the cost of EVs.”  In this exchange Gadkari had refused to give a time-bound plan to phase out petrol/ diesel vehicles as he felt comfort of EVs would guide buyers and manufacturers. As for the Monsoon Session hurriedly ending on August 8, Ramesh pointed out that the government did not have much of a legislative agenda. “Obviously they were not in any urgency to pass any Bill. The Bills passed by Lok Sabha, such as the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill and the Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, could easily have been passed by Rajya Sabha this August 10,” he pointed out.
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Deja Vu 2015: Nitish Dials Sonia, Seeks Cong Help To Tie-Up RJD Support

Kicking off speculations about his future moves, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar reportedly phoned Congress president Sonia Gandhi on August 7 seeking an appointment with her. It is believed he wants support of 19 Bihar Congress MLAs and much more. Possibly, revival of Mahagatbandhan or secular alliance of 2015. The tell-tale signs are there for all to see. Nitish skipped NITI Aayog meeting of CMs citing COVID; he took action against his one-time close aide RCP Singh, a Kurmi like him, for moving close to the BJP. In dialing up Sonia, Congress sources say, Nitish was merely following from his copybook of launching the 2015 alliance. Then, Nitish first got in touch with Sonia and took her help to persuade RJD supremo Lalu Prasad to accept him as leader of the alliance. This time round Nitish hopes Sonia will persuade RJD to back him as CM. “With just 45 MLAs, Nitish can’t expect the RJD to back him. The RJD is the single largest party with 80 MLAs. Tejashwi Yadav will want to become CM,” points out a Bihar Congress leader. That means Nitish’s luck could be running out. Maybe it did ever since he was humbled during the 2020 assembly polls. On its part, the BJP is on wait and watch mode, though its 77 MLAs are restless propping up Nitish as CM.
Alva

Dinner hosted by Kharge for Alva

A Day Ahead VP Polls, Venkaiah Naidu Tells Opposition That MPs Have No Privilege In A Criminal Case

With the Congress kicking up a row over summoning of Rajya Sabha LOP Mallikarjun Kharge by the ED in National Herald case on August 4 and also fussing over his questioning him for 7 hours at the Herald House even as he had hosted a dinner for Opposition leaders in honour of Margret Alva, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu went that extra mile to bust myths of privilege of MPs who have “a wrong notion that they have a privilege from action by agencies while the Parliament Session is on.” He said “Under Article 105 of the Constitution, MPs enjoy certain privileges so that they can perform their parliamentary duties without hindrance. One of the privileges is that a MP cannot be arrested in a civil case, 40 days before the commencement of the Session or Committee meeting and 40 days thereafter. However, in criminal matters, MPs are not on a different footing than a common citizen. It means they do not have any immunity, and can be arrested in a criminal case during session. Citing a 1966 ruling of Dr Zakir Hussain, Naidu emphasized that “no Member should avoid appearing before any investigating agency when she or he is called upon to do so by citing reason of House duty. As law makers, it is our bounden duty to respect the law and legal procedures”.
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@siddaramaiah

Will Davangere Bonhomie Help Cong Clinch Karnataka In 2023?

In what seemed like a show of unity, Karnataka Congress stalwart Siddaramaiah and PCC chief D K Shivkumar hugged each other as prodded by Rahul Gandhi at a humongous event held at Davangere to mark Siddaramaiah’s 75th birthday celebrations. The multi-crore bash was primarily aimed to display bonhomie between the popular and ambitious birthday boy who is Rahul Gandhi’s favourite to be CM and a patient Shivkumar who has been endlessly biding his time. Rahul Gandhi used the occasion to bury reports of intense competition between the two leaders as to who would be the CM if Congress wins the 2023 Assembly elections. It was feared the clash between the two leaders would spoil the Congress’s chances of getting the magic tally of 111 seats out of 224 seats. “Today, I am happy to see Siddaramaiah and D K Shivakumar hugging each other on the stage”, remarked a relieved Rahul Gandhi. “I and Shivakumar are together. There is no difference of opinion between us,” said a triumphant Siddaramaiah.”  Of course, the state Congress leaders are not sure about the truce. They still feel a Channi-Siddhu style street fight could still be in the offing. Meanwhile, one person most missed at Davangere was AICC General Secretary in-charge Randeep Surjewala. He has gone abroad for a medical treatment. But, since elected as MP from Rajasthan, he has barely attended Rajya Sabha.
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Rahul, Cong Play Victim Card On ED Action In National Herald Case, Link It To Price Rise Stir On Aug 5

With the Enforcement Directorate sealing the Young Indian Ltd (YIL) office on August 3 in National Herald case, Rahul Gandhi labelled ED’s probe as an ‘intimidation tactic’.  He vowed to be undeterred in his fight to ‘save the democracy and nation’. “If you are talking about the National Herald…they think they can put a little pressure on us and we will shut up. We will not be intimidated, we are not scared of Narendra Modi, they can do whatever they want, and it does not matter. My work is to protect the nation, save democracy, and maintain harmony. No one can stop me.” Rahul has been quizzed for over 54 hours spread over 5 days about transactions related to the YIL and his mother Sonia for over 6 hours. The Congress is determined to milk ED action more than ever and play the victim card. Giving political colour to its “fraud”, the party tried to link sealing of YIL office at the Herald House and raids at 11 other locations as a pre-meditated step to hamper price rise stir called on August 5. In Rajya Sabha, LOP Mallikarjun Kharge protested ED summons to him to join the probe by 12.30 pm on August 4 at YIL office to “preserve evidence” when Parliament was in session. The YIL office was temporarily sealed a day earlier only because Kharge was not available.
Collage Maker-03-Aug-2022-04

Opposition Boycott ‘Tiranga Bike Rally’; Rahul, Mehbooba Display Indian Flag On Their Social Media Profile

In what could be his last public engagement Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu along with Union ministers Pralhad Joshi and Piyush Goyal flagged off Tiranga Bike Rally for MPs from Red Fort to Vijay Chowk on August 3 morning to mark the Har Ghar Tiranga as part of 75 years of India’s Independence on August 15. However, the entire Opposition skipped the event. Union Minister Smriti Irani was seen on her scooty, while I&B minister Anurag Thakur was spotted giving a pillion ride to Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy. With PM Narendra Modi calling upon all citizens to turn the Har Ghar Tiranga campaign into a mass movement by hoisting or displaying the national flag at their homes and using the Tiranga DP on their social media accounts between August 2 and 15.  His call for Tiranga DP in social media profile got a response from the Opposition leaders like Rahul Gandhi and Mehbooba Mufti in their own way. Rahul opted to display a picture of Nehru holding the Tiranga while Mebhooba’s DP showed Tiranga and the state flag which has no relevance today after J&K being reduced to a Union Territory and scrapping of Article 370. She tweeted that the state flag “was irreversibly linked to the Indian flag”. The flags in her DP are shown with her late father Mufti Md Sayeed and Modi.
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Prez Murmu Gives Odisha Touch To Menu & Men In Rashtrapati Bhavan

Rashtrapati Bhavan is getting its dose of Odisha touch. With President Droupadi Murmu at the helm, it is not just flavour of traditional Odia food like pakhala along with Sajana Saga (drumstick leaves) and Aloo Bharta (mashed potatoes) that is making its way into the President’s House. President Murmu who wore a Santhali traditional saree for her swearing-in ceremony brought by her sister-in- law Sukri Tudu, is also choosing those who have worked with her in the past to work again with her; like her former private secretary Bijaya Nayak. She has got Nayak in her team to handle press and publicity. Nayak has been appointed as the Additional Secretary (Press). Currently posted as Officer on Special Duty in Odia University, Nayak was the Culture Director for the Government of Odisha before his retirement. He was the Private Secretary to Murmu when she was the Minister for Commerce & Transport and Fisheries & Animal Resources Development from 2000 to 2002.  As President Murmu is a vegetarian and relishes only Satvik food (without onion and garlic), a new menu has apparently been prepared keeping her choices in mind. In 2006, Murmu had turned vegetarian after she lost her two sons and husband. The Raj Bhavan in Ranchi too served only vegetarian food with a dash of Odisha cuisine when she was the Governor of Jharkhand.
Collage Maker-02-Aug-2022-04

It’s Business As Usual, Fireworks Returns To Parliament

Now that Parliament has resumed work, one gets to see a lot of political fireworks and sharp exchanges between the Opposition and the Treasury even during the routine Question Hour. Like what was witnessed on August 2 when a question by DMK North Chennai MP Dr V Kalanidhi to increase the credit limit of Kisan Credit Card to Rs 20 lakh from Rs 1.6 lakh for fishermen kicked up a political storm of sorts in the Lok Sabha. That is because Minister of State L Murugan who handles fisheries, took pot-shots at the DMK and its inability to fulfil poll promises like giving Rs 1,000 a month to women. Charging the DMK of now shifting the onus of fulfilling its poll pledge to fishermen to the Centre, Murugan pointed out that fishermen could always take a mudra loan — a loan without a collateral if they wanted a bigger amount. At this, the Congress and NCP MPs rallied behind the DMK and said how they had helped fishermen during UPA years. This got senior minister Parshottam Rupala’s goat who said, “You have done nothing. Kisan Credit Card has been extended for the first time to fishermen by PM Modi.” Even then Supriya Sule persisted with her query as to whether the KCC loans could be written off. It got Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to tell her “such loans are never written off”.
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Modi-Stalin Banter At Chess Olympiad Leads To Talk Of BJP-DMK Tie-Up

Post the launch of Chess Olympiad in Chennai by PM Narendra Modi, a new kind of dynamics seems to be working out between the ruling DMK and the BJP, sparking a buzz that the two parties could come together. For the first time, state BJP president K Annamalai who had emerged as the main challenger to the DMK, came out lauding Tamil Chief Minister MK Stalin for a “great opening ceremony”. It is not clear if Annamalai’s praise had anything to do with the friendly banter Modi and Stalin were seen having on the dais. Briefing reporters after meeting Modi, Annamalai said he had lauded the state government for “showing the rich, glorious and spiritual Tamil land of 5000 years that long existed pre 1967 (thousands of years prior to that).” Speculation is rife that the TN BJP could have softened towards the DMK as Stalin had been cordial; it was in stark contrast to the speech he had made on May 26 when PM Modi had visited TN to  launch infrastructure projects. Steering clear of any political reference, Stalin talked about holding the Global Tiger Summit in cooperation with the Centre. It seemed Stalin was happy with Delhi as it had cleared his foreign trip for medical treatment. Looks like Stalin’s immediate worries are to find nominees to run the party and the government; his son Udhayanidhi and wife Durga are in the reckoning.
Collage Maker-28-Jul-2022-05

Modi Govt Unleashes Girl Power To Battle Infringement Of Prez Murmu's Honour & Dignity

The Modi Government unleashed its girl power — deploying Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, and Women & Child Development Minister Smriti Irani — to take on the Congress in the Parliament for inappropriate reference to President Droupadi Murmu as “Rashtrapatni”. Till the very end Congress Lok Sabha leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary  tried to pass it  off as “slip off the tongue”; he had uttered it while speaking to TV reporters. However, pressed for an apology, he charged that a “section of the media was making a mountain out of a molehill.” Compounding Adhir’s offence, Congress President Sonia Gandhi jumped in to defend him saying he had already “apologised”. An irate Sitharaman charged the Congress chief of “misleading the country” and demanded she apologise to the nation. “First Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury claims there is no need to apologise, then Smt Sonia Gandhi says he has already apologised. The Congress has been attempting to undermine a tribal self-made, successful leader. We, from the BJP demand, the Congress apologise to the nation,” she said. Smriti Irani recalled how ever since Murmu was announced as presidential candidate, she had been targeted maliciously by the Congress. “Congressmen had called her a puppet; they had called a symbol of evil. Their attacks do not seem to stop against Murmuji even after she has been elected to the highest constitutional office of the country”.
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File Photo

Smriti-Sonia Face-Off: Has ED Grilling Made Sonia Lose Her Cool Inside Lok Sabha?

It was a day of high drama in the Lok Sabha following Congress Lok Sabha leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury referring to President Droupadi Murmu as “Rashtrapatni” in a TV interview. Union Minister Smriti Irani raised the issue in the House and sought an apology from Chowdhury for referring to President Murmu as ‘Rashtrapatni’, which he said was done by mistake during an interview with Aaj Tak channel on July 27. The House witnessed uproarious scenes, with BJP MPs accusing the Congress of being anti-adivasi and anti-women. The House was adjourned within a few minutes after it met at 11 am. The moment the House adjourned Sonia got up to leave even as BJP women MPs were shouting “Sonia Gandhi maafi mango”. Hearing this, Sonia went up to talk to Rama Devi, a senior BJP MP and one of the presiding officers for the Lok Sabha. Apparently, Sonia asked Rama Devi why her name was being dragged into the controversy. Seeing Sonia walking to the treasury bench, Smriti Irani intervened. BJP women MPs who were standing around Irani started shouting slogans “maafi mango”. Sonia reportedly told off Irani saying it had nothing to do with her. A miffed Irani was then heard asking, “How can you talk to me like this. Clearly she (Sonia Gandhi) is intimidating us.”
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MTNL Surprises Margaret Alva With Prompt Response To Her Phone Woes Tweet

Two days after speaking to some friends in the BJP, Opposition candidate for the Vice Presidential election Margaret Alva announced that all calls to her mobile were being diverted and that she was unable to make or receive calls. Tagging BSNL and MTNL, she vowed, “If you restore the phone. I promise not to call any MP from the BJP, TMC or BJD any longer. When Alva made public a letter purportedly written by MTNL customer care person seeking her KYC and warning that her SIM would be suspended, the veteran expressed surprise that her KYC details were being sought afresh. Much to her surprise, the MTNL promptly responded to her phone woes on Twitter.  And made it clear that the PSU service provider never “Asks for the e-KYC on WhatsApp/SMS/Call.”  And requested her to avoid such type of e-KYC SMS/WhatsApp/Calls as it may lead to some kind of fraud.” Hence you are requested to ignore such e-KYC messages”. Interestingly, Alva had fumed about “Big Brother always watching and listening to all conversations between politicians across party lines in ‘new’ India.” She felt that was the reason MPs carried multiple phones, frequently changed numbers and talked in hushed whispers when they met. “Fear kills democracy”, she lamented. As part of her campaign Alva had reached out to leaders from across political parties including CMs of Karnataka and Assam.
Collage Maker-26-Jul-2022-11

As A Recruitment Scam Tarnishes Brand TMC, Mamata Regrets Not Dropping Old Guard

When West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee declared she does not support corruption or any wrongdoings on the back of the arrest of her Industries Minister Partha Chatterjee by the ED following orders of Calcutta High Court, she knew she had no choice but to distance herself from him. Partha, who is also TMC general secretary, had made three calls to her at the time of his arrest. Mamata did not take his calls. Didi had no choice but to distance herself from Partha as unseemly visuals of the cash haul of Rs 21 crore recovered from Partha’s aide Arpita Mukherjee’s flat had exposed the underbelly of TMC style governance. It also exposed threadbare West Bengal School Service Commission recruitment irregularities that occurred when Partha was the state Education Minister. Mamata had moved him out of the ministry. However, now the scam has tarnished Brand TMC. “I don’t support corruption or any wrongdoing. If anyone is found guilty, he or she must be punished,” said Mamata.  Are her words enough to breathe credibility into TMC? Meanwhile, amidst push by nephew Abhishek Banerjee to rid the party of old guards, it is being said Mamata already regrets not having  dropped old guard like Partha and Firhad Hakim (Kolkata Mayor) from her team when she returned to power third time in 2021.
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Is Mamata Mending Fences With Delhi By Abstaining From VP Poll?

The decision of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) which has 36 MPs — 23 Lok Sabha and 13 Rajya Sabha — to abstain from voting in the vice-presidential election on August 6 on the ground that the party was “not consulted” before Margaret Alva of the Congress was selected as the Opposition nominee seems like a very lame excuse for the Bengal party to move away from Opposition camp. Didi’s decision to boycott polls has upset 80-year old Alva who took the trouble to fight a losing election. The TMC cannot complain about lack of consultation though Sharad Pawar did mention efforts to reach Mamata had failed. But Congress President Sonia Gandhi did speak to Mamata canvassing for Alva. Yet it is not clear if Mamata has merely upped her ante over Alva because CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury had a big role in it. Or has she taken a cue from regional parties like BJD and YSRCP? Is she also cosying up to the Centre like Naveen Patnaik and Jagan Mohan Reddy — both CMs of Odisha and Andhra — who back the BJP in Parliament and seem to be getting a lot of things done for their States. For a start, it is no coincidence that the Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai announced recently that the Centre has received West Bengal’s proposal to rename the state Bangla.
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thehandsindia.com

At The ED Office, Investigating Officers Show A Wary Sonia Their Vax Certificates

After Sonia Gandhi left the Enforcement Directorate (ED) office on July 20 at the end of three hours of questioning, the Congress went to town claiming that the investigating agency had nothing to ask her. The party claimed she had even offered to stay longer if needed but was sent away. It is another matter that Sonia has to make another trip to the ED office on July 25. Clearly, the Congress which unleashed violence and protests across the country to protest Sonia’s questioning in the National Herald case had become defensive by end of the day.That is because what the Congress did not disclose was that the ED officials had gone out of the way to be extremely courteous to Sonia; the agency also fulfilled some of her conditions.  Since she was recovering from Covid infection, she wanted an infection-free environment. Apparently officials questioning her displayed their vaccine certificates. Ironically, no one knows if any of the Gandhis have taken the vaccine shots — at least none of them have been seen publicly endorsing India made vaccines. Sonia also wanted her daughter Priyanka to be reachable in case she needed medicines; ED agreed to this request. Also, ED officials questioning her ensured Sonia was comfortable. Sources say her basic questioning pertaining to the National Herald case is over.
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Tamil Nadu Minister’s Penchant For SUVs Sees Him Import High-Priced Toyota Land Cruiser Even Before Its Launch

Tamil Nadu Public Works Minister KN Nehru apparently has a passion to collect SUVs. Do not know if it has anything to do with his previous stint as Transport Minister in the state government. It is in this light, an automobile publication described him as the Indian politician who had not only managed to import the all-new Toyota Land Cruiser before it was launched in the country but had customised it and even started using it too. All of Nehru’s previous cars have been the Land Cruisers. This was the same Toyota Land Cruiser spotted earlier this year in Coimbatore. Toyota Kirloskar will announce the official prices of the all-new Land Cruiser later this year around the festive season. However, Nehru seems to have jumped the queue by privately importing the SUV before the official launch. The price tag of Toyota Land Cruiser LC300 is likely to be around Rs 2 crore. The minister must have paid extra to privately import the SUV to India. Toyota Kirloskar will import a limited number of Land Cruiser LC300 in its ‘Sahara’ version to India. Toyota confirmed that there is a waiting period of four years for it because of the high demand and shortage of semiconductors. It is also because Toyota has ditched the massive V8 engine for the new fuel-efficient V6 engine with the new model.
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Sangrur MP Simranjit Singh Mann, Now Swears By Constitution, Cong Mocks Him For Doing It Secretly

Sangrur MP and pro-Khalistan leader Simranjit Singh Mann reposed faith in the Constitution as he took oath of office as member of the Lok Sabha for the third time .For some strange reason, Mann did not take oath in the House along with other three-newly elected MPs on July 18; he preferred privacy of the Speaker’s chamber to take his oath. He met Speaker Om Birla in his chamber and took oath in his office. Congress MPs from Punjab wanted to know why Mann did not take oath in the House. “Mann saab came to the House; he was moving around in Central Hall too. He was perhaps too embarrassed to swear by the Constitution in full public view,” pointed out Congress MP Jasbir Singh Gill. Taking oath in Punjabi, Mann had said, “I affirm faith in the Indian constitution.” If Mann returned to reaffirm his faith in the Constitution, it should not surprise anyone — after all he was an IPS officer who had quit service following Operation Bluestar in 1984. Mann also promised to work for the betterment of Sangrur.  A three-time MP, Mann represented Sangrur in 1999 too. A vocal supporter of Khalistan, Mann had won from Tarn Taran by a margin of over 4.6 lakh votes. He had then refused to enter Parliament without the kirpan. Time has really mellowed the man now.
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Vice Presidential Elections: Opposition Makes It A North-South Battle

Whose idea was it to field the former Rajasthan Governor Margaret Alva, a senior Congress leader who fell out of favour way back in 2008, when she talked about tickets being sold in Karnataka assembly elections? Well the credit for pitting Alva against formidable NDA candidate Jagdeep Dhankar, West Bengal Governor and a Jat leader from Rajasthan goes to CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury. It was Yechury who proposed Alva as a candidate at the July 17 Opposition meet at Sharad Pawar’s residence. Yechury who is close to Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul seems to have done all the preparatory work with Alva. Congress leaders breathed easy as they knew the Gandhis would not object to Alva’s name once they became aware of Yechury’s role. It was Yechury’s idea to turn the Veep’s battle into a North versus South, a minority Christian against Hindu nationalist candidate.  But did Alva’s candidacy help in swinging Southern parties like the pro- Christian YSRCP to the UPA side? Apparently not. Even the TMC may not back Alva. Mamata did not enjoy good terms with Alva while she was in the Congress. As for Dhankar his elevation is bound to have salutary effect on the Jat votes in Rajasthan, Haryana and UP. MPs cutting across party lines are bound to vote in his favour on August 6.
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West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma & West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee

Himanta's Trip To Darjeeling To Meet Mamata On Guv's Invite Creates Buzz

In an interesting move Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma travelled to Darjeeling on the invitation of West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar on July 13. There at the Raj Bhavan, the Governor Dhankar also asked Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to come over as she had arrived in the hills to attend the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration swearing-in ceremony. The meeting of the CMs was something Mamata found hard to refuse; it triggered intense speculations. That is because Sarma is considered to be very close to Home Minister Amit Shah and it was felt he may have come to talk to Trinamool Congress Supremo about supporting Droupadi Murmu in the presidential election on behalf of the BJP. However, post her interactions with Himanta, Mamata made it clear that there was no talk of politics. The whole thing was a courtesy call. Asked whether she and Sarma had any discussion on the presidential election, Banerjee said, “How can that be possible? We belong to different parties.” At the same time she said, “It felt good to meet Himanta. When I went to Kamakhya temple, he helped me a lot. I think our relationship must continue as there are several Assamese in West Bengal and many Bengalis in Assam. We share a border in Alipurduar district. The two state governments must keep communicating with each other.” And therein lies the catch.
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"Murmu No Symbol Of Tribals", Cong Stoops To A New Low Of Name-Calling In Prez Polls

With more political parties like Samajwadi Party allies in Uttar Pradesh, the Akali Dal in Punjab and even the Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena deserting the Opposition ranks for NDA presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu, a nervous Congress has stooped to the extent of describing her as “representing an evil philosophy of India.” Aware that Murmu is poised to win the Presidential election hands down, Congress leader Ajoy Kumar, who was once Lok Sabha MP from Jamshedpur in Jharkhand, insisted that she should not be considered as a symbol of Adivasis even though she is a Santhal. “Yashwant Sinha is a good candidate. Droupadi Murmu is a decent person, but we shouldn’t make her a symbol of tribals. She represents the evil philosophy of India. The Modi Government is fooling the people.” In the same breath, he didn’t even spare incumbent President Ram Nath Kovind, saying atrocities happened against Dalits under his watch. Taking on the Congress, two BJP leaders — Union Minister Arjun Munda and senior leader Babulal Marandi — demanded that Ajoy Kumar apologise for his remarks. “Congress is frustrated. Tribal people got nothing during Congress rule. Congress is having trouble because for the first time PM Modi and NDA leaders have nominated a tribal woman for President’s post.” they said.
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Is Minority Affairs Minister Smriti Irani A Worry For The TMC?

After Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s exit from the Modi Government on July 7 there were speculations whether the Minority Affairs ministry would be wound up. Questions were asked about who would take Naqvi’s place as there was no second Muslim MP in the ruling BJP to fill his shoes. PM Narendra Modi handed over the charge to Women & Child Development Minister Smriti Irani. Curiously her appointment was slammed by Trinamool Congress (TMC) Rajya Sabha MP Jawahar Sircar who wanted to know how could a “Hardcore Hindu, married to a Parsi be given charge of Muslims, Christians. Is this BJP’s brand of secularism?” Sircar was countered by Law Minister Kiren Rijiju who wanted to know why minorities meant only “Muslims and Christians”.  A Buddhist from Arunachal, he hoped, “one can free mind from the shackles of pseudo secularism and appeasement politics. Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jain and Parsis have been notified as minority communities under Section 2 (c) of National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992”. The TMC possibly could be upset with Smriti’s added responsibility and acquiring a profile in Bengal when she went to launch the Sealdah Metro; Mamata’s party may have good reason to get worked up. Meanwhile it is learnt Naqvi moved out of his official residence 7 Safdarjung Road, just a day after his Rajya Sabha tenure ended. That is some record.
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PM Modi Unveils National Emblem At New Parliament Complex, Winter Session To Be Held In The New House

PM Narendra Modi unveiled the national emblem cast on the roof of the new Parliament building on July 11. The emblem made of bronze, weighing 9,500 kg and 6.5 metre in height was cast at the top of the central foyer of the new parliament building. It took over nine months to cast. A supporting steel structure weighing around 6,500 kg has been constructed to support the emblem. To take the emblem to the roof, it was divided into over 150 segments and assembled on the roof; it took nearly two months to complete. Modi performed puja at the launch of the emblem. Opposition parties were presumably not invited for the event as they had boycotted the launch of Central Vista bhoomi pujan in December 2020. Nonetheless, AIMIM leader Asauddin Owaisi questioned the propriety of PM Modi unveiling the emblem, insisting it should have been done by Lok Sabha Speaker, perhaps forgetting PM Modi was after all leader of the Lok Sabha. “One can’t take Owaisiji’s objections seriously; he always takes an adversarial position,” said BJP spokesperson Dr Sudhanshu Trivedi. The proposed four-storey building was expected to be completed by August 15 to coincide with Azadi ka Amrit Mahatosav plans. However with the unveiling of the emblem now one can expect at least the winter session of the Parliament to be held in the new complex.
Collage Maker-08-Jul-2022-05

Presidential Elections: Left Parties Frown On Mamata's Bid To Keep Yashwant Sinha Out Of West Bengal, Offer To Host Him

Opposition Presidential candidate Yashwant Sinha had decided to skip Jharkhand and West Bengal due to the stand taken by JMM chief Hemant Soren and statements made by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee in favour of NDA candidate Droupadi Murmu. Mamata was open to letting her MLAs do what they want on the Presidential vote; she was also not keen about a Sinha visit to the state. However, it seems Opposition leaders have not taken kindly to Didi dropping Sinha like a hot potato for her electoral calculations in Bengal. In fact CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar and Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge do not want Sinha to skip Bengal or Jharkhand in his campaign as they feel it would send a wrong message. Yechury has even assured Sinha that the Left Parties would host him in Bengal. Meanwhile, Droupadi Murmu is reaching Kolkata on July 9 for a meeting with 69 BJP MLAs. She has also sought a separate meeting with Mamata. Now, it is clear Murmu’s presidential candidature has caught Mamata in a cleft stick– she can no longer wax eloquent about uniting the Opposition, but keep her focus on her home turf in Bengal.
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Will Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi Be Our Next Vice President?

On August 6 the country will have a new Vice President and there is a lot of speculation about who it will be. Though the BJP has not revealed its card, there is a strong rumour that it is most likely to be Union Minorities Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.  A day ahead of his term ending in the Rajya Sabha, Naqvi quit as minister. He and JDU’s RCP Singh, who is Minister of Steel, also attended the Union Cabinet meeting where PM Narendra Modi praised both of them. Soon after the Cabinet, Naqvi visited BJP headquarters to meet with party chief JP Nadda. Initially, when Naqvi didn’t make it to the list of Rajya Sabha nominations it was felt that he would probably contest the Lok Sabha by-election from Rampur in Uttar Pradesh, his native State. However, after BJP fielded Ghanshyam Lodhi in SP stalwart Azam Khan’s stronghold, it was felt that Modi was likely to field the only Muslim minister in his cabinet in the vice-presidential elections. Another name doing the rounds is that of Karnataka Governor Thawarchand Gehlot. Seventy-four year Gehlot was leader of the Rajya Sabha before he moved as Karnataka Governor. Yet, what could still work in Naqvi’s favour is that he is much younger at 64 and has been very familiar with Rajya Sabha working.
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Twitter

Rousing Reception To Droupadi Murmu In Ranchi Gives Cong Heebie-Jeebies, Fears A Maharashtra Redux In Jharkhand

NDA presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu’s visit to Ranchi to seek electoral support from MPs and MLAs of Jharkhand was a resounding success. She not only managed to strike an emotional  chord with her electors as she disclosed that she was connected to Jharkhand by blood as her grandmother belonged to the state but seems to have also got assurance of support from the ruling  Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM). Murmu, who was the Governor of Jharkhand (2015- 2021) shared with the NDA legislators that when she was declared as candidate, she had shared her apprehension with PM Narendra Modi about her ability to do justice to the responsibilities of the high office. To this Modi had told her that “The Constitution will guide and show you the right path.” He had also recalled how she had groomed “Jharkhand while being Governor”. During her stint, Murmu handled ticklish legislation issues amending tenancy laws. Significantly, Murmu called on JMM supremo Shibu Soren and his son Chief Minister Hemant Soren seeking their support. She was welcomed by the Soren duo at the Chief Minister’s residence. Though JMM-Congress is only a post poll alliance, and 18 Congress MLAs backing isn’t a big deal, state Congress Rajesh Thakur is already uncomfortable at the thought of JMM keeping away from UPA candidate. Is it because it could be a redux of Maharashtra once again?
Collage Maker-04-Jul-2022-05

Presidential Elections: Worried About Losing Tribal Votes In Bengal, Mamata In Two Minds About Murmu

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s recent remarks that NDA candidate Droupadi Murmu’s chances are better in the presidential elections stirred a lot of political interest making every one wonder whether she was already having second thoughts about the Opposition choice, Yashwant Sinha. A fortnight before the polls, Mamata even began to distance herself saying she had no role in Sinha emerging as the choice even though Sinha was TMC V-P. “Now we know Droupadi Murmu’s chances are better because of developments in Maharashtra.  BJP didn’t discuss with us before announcing their candidate for Presidential elections. They should have taken our suggestions then we could have considered,” she said. A section in the BJP even began to feel that perhaps Mamata’s rethink could make her endorse Murmu. However, such musings were short-lived as Didi loudly wondered in a TV interview on July 4 why the suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma was “not arrested” even after Supreme Court’s much contested observations. Of course, digging a little deeper, it seems Mamata was feeling increasingly nervous about Murmu’s candidature. Maybe she realizes that by opposing Murmu in the Presidential poll, she could lose her party’s tribal vote bank in south Bengal which she had regained from the BJP in the 2021 state Assembly elections. Her arch BJP rival Suvendu Adhikari has already participated in several events across the state’s Junglemahal region, which has a significant tribal population.
SIDDARAMAIAH

Former Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah

With Minorities Looking At Other Options In Karnataka, Congress Banks On Siddaramaiah To Win State Elections Next Year

After attending a closed door meeting with Rahul Gandhi on election strategy for Karnataka elections early next year, an ecstatic Siddaramaiah could not avoid interacting with select journalists from Delhi media at a 5-star hotel. That’s because the Congress leadership more than ever seemed dependent on him. A party survey showed that 20 to 30% Muslims votes had shifted to formations like the SDPI and AIMIM.  In a four hour discussion with state stalwarts like Siddaramaiah and DK Shivkumar, Rahul had expressed anxiety about Muslims moving away from the Congress and urged the need to win them over.  He wanted both Siddaramaiah and DK Shivkumar to work together.  What made Siddaramaiah happy was that the party was now ready to endorse his AHINDA formula under which party candidates were selected from minorities, backward castes and Dalits. However, even as he was interacting with journalists, he received a call from Randeep Surjewala, AICC General Secretary in charge of Karnataka warning him not to utter a word to Delhi media as they tend to misinterpret his statement on Karnataka politics. Nonetheless, Siddaramaiah could not help conveying that he was the top leader in Karnataka not DK Shivakumar.
rahul-gandhi

Newstrack.com

RaGa's Phone Call To AIADMK’s Edappadi To Back Presidential Candidate Yashwant Sinha Stirs Up Hornet’s Nest In TN

Notwithstanding the fact that AIADMK has backed the NDA candidate Droupadi Murmu for presidential elections, that did not stop Congress leader Rahul Gandhi from calling up AIADMK leader Edappadi K Palaniswami to seek his support for Opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha. The call apparently surprised AIADMK’s top brass as O Panneerselvam was present in Delhi when Murmu filed her papers. So why and how did Rahul reach out to the AIADMK when it is already an ally of the DMK? It is being said Rahul’s call to the AIADMK leader was put through by election strategist Sunil Kanugolu. Having worked with AIADMK, Kanugolu had access to top AIADMK leaders. It seems the idea to approach the AIADMK was the brainwave of Viduthali Chiruthali Kathchi (VCK) leader T Thirmamaavalavan. The Chidamabaram Lok Sabha MP wants the Congress to move away from the DMK and forge an alliance with the AIADMK for 2024 Lok Sabha polls as the mood in the state is going against the DMK. On his part, Edappadi politely told Rahul about his party’s commitment to support Murmu.
Collage Maker-28-Jun-2022-06

Fotocorp

Will Congress Replace Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot With Sachin Pilot To Quell Dissension?

Looks like the Congress high command may have to opt for leadership change in Rajasthan if it has to halt erosion in the party’s cadre ahead of 2023 assembly elections. Acharya Pramod Krishnam, a close aide of Priyanka Vadra, has openly called for elevating Pilot as CM and a central role for Gehlot. Party sources admit that a groundswell of sympathy is emerging in the state for Pilot, who as PCC chief led the Congress to victory in 2018, but was denied CM’s post. Sources said if Gehlot leads the party to assembly polls, then it’s likely that BJP may sweep the poll. It was felt if Pilot was made the CM, the Congress could somewhat reverse the damage. After all, even state BJP leaders call Pilot “Neelkanth” (swallower of poison). Significantly, Rahul Gandhi recently praised Pilot’s patience at Jantar Mantar. Rahul’s praise seems to have rattled Gehlot which is perhaps why he has begun attacking his former deputy chief minister for taking BJP’s help during his 2020 rebellion. On his part, Pilot continues to play cool about Gehlot’s taunt and takes it in his stride. “Earlier, also the CM had spoken about me saying nakara (useless), nikamma (jobless) and much more. Ashok Gehlot is an experienced, elderly and fatherly figure, if he speaks something I don’t take it otherwise,” he said.
Yashwanth-sinha

Telangana Today

Yashwant Sinha Seeks To Meet LK Advani, Staff Decline Appointment Stating Daughter Pratibha Down With Covid

Before filing his papers for President’s election, joint opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha reached out to BJP veteran L K Advani for a meeting with him and to seek his blessings. The staff of the BJP leader however told Sinha that since Advani’s daughter Pratibha was down with Covid, a meeting perhaps would not be possible now. Interestingly, before the papers were to be filed the Telangana Rashtriya Samiti pledged its support to Sinha. It was also announced that KCR’s son KT Rama Rao would be present. And he did. Prominent among those who joined him to submit his papers included Rahul Gandhi, Sharad Pawar, Praful Patel, Akhilesh Yadav, DMK leader A Raja and Tiruchi Shiva, and Farooq Abdullah. Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot was also present. However, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha was not represented as Jharkhand’s ruling party is yet to decide on whom to support in the presidential polls. Also present was Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress Leader Jairam Ramesh, TMC’s Abhishek Banerjee and Saugata Roy, CPI-M’s Sitaram Yechury and CPI’s D Raja, Rashtriya Lok Dal’s Jayant Chaudhary, Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Misa Bharti, Revolutionary Socialist Party’s N K Premchandran and Indian Union Muslim League’s Mohammed Bashir.
Simranjit Singh Mann

By-Election Setback For AAP, Punjab Elects A Khalistani Backer To Lok Sabha

Normally, in by-elections ruling parties tend to have an advantage. This was seen in the manner in which BJP clinched the two Samajwadi Party (SP) bastions of Azamgarh and Rampur in Lok Sabha by-polls in Uttar Pradesh (UP). However, what came as a surprise was that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) lost Punjab’s Sangrur Lok Sabha seat — a parliamentary constituency, vacated by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, in less than four months after it swept to power in the state. While the two Lok Sabha seats in UP were previously held by SP chief Akhilesh Yadav (Azamgarh) and senior SP leader Azam Khan (Rampur), the Punjab seat considered a stronghold of Mann has gone to an avowed Khalistani supporter Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) candidate Simranjit Singh Mann. AAP’s Rajya Sabha MP Raghav Chadha, however downplayed the loss by pointing out that “AAP had retained its vote share with a meagre fall from 37% to 35% and all other parties INC, SAD (Akali Dal) and BJP lost deposits.” The BJP’s tally of Lok Sabha seats in UP has risen from 62 to 64, while the SP has been reduced to three seats. Though the BJP bagged the Rampur seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, it lost the seat in 2019. Interestingly, Akhilesh Yadav had stayed out of campaign in Rampur while Azam Khan fielded a “weak” candidate.
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Didi Makes Efforts For Opposition Unity But Doesn't Get To Preside Over High Table

Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee has had a tough time in forging Opposition initiatives to finalise a candidate for Presidential elections. Even as Yashwant Sinha quit TMC to please Left parties that found it difficult to back a candidate affiliated to a political party, Didi was quite stumped by her efforts to get NCP chief Sharad Pawar to be first a candidate and later to even attend the initial round of meeting she had called on June 15. Pawar’s presence was important for her to forge Opposition unity but for some reason the NCP chief was reluctant to take any lead. Didi had to persuade Supriya Sule and Praful Patel to ensure that the veteran leader was present at the event. Mamata even called on Pawar at his residence along with her nephew Abhishek on June 14. Yet in spite of her extra efforts, not all non-BJP parties turned up. Parties like AAP and TRS gave it a miss while the Left was critical that the meeting was held at short notice. Leaders of regional parties seemed more worried about their worth in 2024. At the meet Pawar surprised Mamata by ruling himself out of the contest right at the launch. This wasn’t how Mamata had planned. So finally on June 21 when Yashwant Sinha’s name was finalised at the Opposition meet, 2nd round, Mamata chose to skip it. 
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MLC Polls: Defeat Of Dalit Leader Handore, Snub To Mallikarjun Kharge And Message To High Command, Feel Congressmen

The defeat of Congress’s first candidate in Maharashtra Legislative Council elections — Chandrakant Handore– and victory of second candidate Bhai Jagtap by eight votes reflects more poorly on vote management by senior ministers Ashok Chavan and Balasaheb Thorat, who is also PCC chief. Party sources feel defeat of Dalit leader Handore, who was to get first preference votes, was a shocker and, fear it would have implications in the Mumbai civic elections. Handore’s defeat also reflected the mood of MLAs who did not like the way party affairs were being managed. Sources said Handore’s defeat was a snub to Rajya Sabha Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge. Apparently, state leaders were irritated by the way Kharge got around to pushing for neo-Buddhist candidates in every election. Once it had even cost the party post of deputy chairman in the Legislative Council in 2018 as he insisted on the late Sharad Ranpise’s candidature. Many in the party feel the defeat of Handore is also a message of Maharashtra Congress to high command for imposing non-Maharshtrian candidates for Rajya Sabha in the past three consecutive elections — Rajiv Shukla, P Chidambaram and now Imran Pratapgarhi. Post Shiv Sena’s Eknath Shinde revolt, senior Congress leader Anant Gadgil feels Congress should have never joined the Government. “I had told Ahmed Patel in 2019, let us provide outside support to MVA,” recalls a vindicated Gadgil.
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Amidst ED Summons To Rahul Gandhi, Ashok Gehlot Emerges As Troubleshooter

Former Haryana CM Bhupinder Hooda has been sulking ever since his arch rival and fellow Jat leader Randeep Surjewala got elected from Rajasthan as Rajya Sabha MP and he couldn’t get anyone elected from Haryana. So when Congress high command initially dialled him to make protests in Delhi and at Jantar Mantar over summoning of Rahul Gandhi by the ED a success, a miffed Hooda told them to take help of Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot who had ensured election of three Congress RS MPs. Hooda’s refusal made a desperate party leadership to send out a message to summon Rajasthan MLAs and party workers to reach Delhi to block streets on June 20 — Rahul’s fourth day at ED headquarters. But then it seems after initial reluctance, Hooda relented; his supporters not only made the protests a success in Delhi, Hooda himself turned up at Jantar Mantar. Meanwhile, party sources admit Gehlot had emerged as a troubleshooter in the Congress and he has been carrying messages on behalf of party president Sonia Gandhi. She wanted Ghulam Nabi Azad to handle the AICC Organisation — something he had managed in the 80s; Gehlot reached out to Azad who declined saying it must be given to younger people. He also pacified a miffed Tariq Anwar. Both Azad and Anwar were hoping to get a RS berth.
Sharad Pawar

NCP.org

Pawar's Play At Work, Change Of Guard In Maharashtra?

A lot of meaning is being read into the way NCP Chief Sharad Pawar praised BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis for winning all the 3 seats his party contested. Pawar praised Fadnavis for succeeding in working the “miracle” of weaning away independent MLAs from rival camps using “different means”. He said that there was nothing shocking in the election results, in which a Shiv Sena candidate Sanjay Pawar lost to BJP’s Dhananjay Mahadik. “One has to accept the miracle in which BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis succeeded in weaning away independent MLAs and also those from smaller parties, who would have otherwise supported the MVA. He was successful in bringing people (independent MLAs) close to him by using different means,” said Pawar. Congress sources said the two AIMIM MLAs who extended support to the MVA Government didn’t vote for Sena candidate Sanjay Pawar but only Cong-NCP.  Sena MP Sanjay Raut, who scraped through the polls, however down played BJP’s accomplishment. Political buzz is that the NCP could soon stake its claim to lead the government in Maharashtra. It is being said Pawar would like to see his daughter Supriya Sule installed as the state CM. The MVA Government under Uddhav Thackeray has completed two and half years in office. Guess it must be NCP’s turn now at the top.
Imran Pratapgarhi

Imran Pratapgarhi, The Elusive Poet-Quawwal Who Acted Pricey With Maharashtra Congress Faithfully Voted To Rajya Sabha

Maharashtra Congressmen simply cannot get over the fact that they had to elect AICC minority cell head Imran Pratapgarhi to the Rajya Sabha. It was a tough call to elect an outsider for the single seat that fell vacant in the state. But then it was a whip from Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.  So all the 44 MLAs duly voted Pratapgarhi. Yet what is riling many party seniors is how Pratapgarhi, a well-known poet-qawwaali singer, had played hard to get during the 2019 assembly election campaign. State party managers recalled when asked to do some shows in Muslim-majority pockets in western Maharashtra, the snooty poet had quoted Rs 2 lakh per show. It was a price the state unit found too high to afford. Pratapgarhi had lost from Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Today, Maharashtra has quietly sent him to Rajya Sabha, hoping he may not send a huge bill for the campaign again. In this context, old timers recall how when veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad was sent to the Rajya Sabha for one term in the 90s there was a howl of protest. That too after he had already been twice elected to Lok Sabha from Washim in Maharashtra.
Naveen Jindal and Nupur Sharma

After Nupur-Jindal Loud Thinking Courts International Ire, BJP To Monitor Spokepersons, Mind Their Language

Post the embarrassment of fire-fighting utterances of the now sacked party voices Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal, the BJP has come up with new guidelines for its spokespersons appearing on TV shows. As per the new guidelines, only the official spokespersons and panelists will now be allowed to appear on TV debates. The party’s media cell has been charged with assigning spokespersons for the talk shows on TV channels.  The party will once again go back to the old system when spokespersons were briefed by senior leaders or ministers such as the late Arun Jaitley or Sushma Swaraj. Looks like the media cell will once again be guided by senior party leaders or ministers.  For a while spokespersons have been operating autonomously, relying on their own understanding of the subject. The media cell has been sorely missing critical inputs of someone like Shrikant Sharma — now a minister in the Yogi Government — who used to give briefs to spokespersons before they went on air. Sharma used to ensure that no one crossed the line or made any controversial comment.  As per the new advisory, spokespersons have been advised to research on the topic of debate before they go on air and prepare themselves keeping in mind the party line.
Sudheendra Kulkarni

Vajpayee’s Former Speech Writer Sudheendra Kulkarni’s New Political Tryst, This Time With Congress As Strategist?

Ever since election strategist Prashant Kishor walked out on the Congress, many tried filling into his shoes. Even his understudy turned rival, poll strategist Sunil Kanugolu has now become part of the Congress task force for the 2024 general elections. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi constantly seeks someone to give him an edge over PM Narendra Modi. It is in this light that a recent tweet by Sudheendra Kulkarni caught the attention of Congressmen in Karnataka. On May 22, Kulkarni tweeted that he had conducted a training camp for Congress karyakartas in Bengaluru in Sarvagnangar assembly constituency of party MLA KJ George. IIT-Bombay educated Kulkarni was a speechwriter for former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. A native of north Karnataka, he also handled senior BJP leader LK Advani’s 2009 election campaign. He is credited for Advani’s praise of Jinnah’s speech in May 2005 during the Pak visit. Congress sources say Kulkarni is yet to join the party. Kulkarni was a student of Jairam Ramesh’s father at IIT, Bombay and it is possible Jairam may have introduced him to Rahul Gandhi. In the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, after BJP failed to win, Kulkarni exited the BJP.  Then, BJP leader Muktar Abbas Naqvi had said Kulkarni was never a member of the BJP.
Rahul Gandhi

RaGa Condoles Moose Wala Family, Visits Late Singer’s Home Town, Ignored Priyanka Vadra Supporters Frown

Days after popular Punjabi singer Sidhu Moose Wala was murdered, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi visited his family in Mansa district on Tuesday, June 7, to offer his condolences. Sidhu Moose Wala had joined the Congress in December 2021 and unsuccessfully contested from the Mansa seat in the 2022 Punjab state assembly elections. Rahul’s visit to the singer’s family in their native village of Moosa was interesting in the backdrop of Moose Wala’s parents meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah on June 4 at Chandigarh airport. At the meeting, Moose Wala’s father Balkaur Singh had demanded a probe by central intelligence agencies into the brutal murder of his son in Mansa on May 29. Rahul Gandhi was abroad at the time and returned over the weekend. His sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had also planned to visit the Moose Wala family. But it was finally decided that it would be Rahul. With a number of Congress leaders joining the BJP in Punjab, Rahul’s visit to the state assumes importance, party sources said. Rahul was accompanied by several Congress leaders including Punjab Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring and LOP in the Punjab Assembly Partap Singh Bajwa. Yet some MLAs, apparently those close to Priyanka Vadra, like Suhkpal Singh Khaira felt miffed as they were not included in Rahul’s itinerary.
Akhilesh Yadav

Samajwadi Party Proposes Then Disposes Better Halves Of Akhilesh Yadav And Azam Khan For LS & RS Polls Respectively

Array

It seems wives in the Samajwadi Party have lost out on party tickets, whether for the Rajya Sabha or, even for Lok Sabha by-elections. SP men simply aren’t willing to risk their better halves in UP under Yogi. First it was Dimple Yadav, wife of SP chief Akhilesh Yadav who couldn’t win a nomination to Rajya Sabha as the RS ticket went to RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary. No wonder when Akhilesh Yadav met senior leader Azam Khan in the hospital, after the latter’s release from jail, a clash ensued between the two over the question of fielding candidates for two upcoming Lok Sabha by-elections. Akhilesh wanted to field wife Dimple from Azamgarh, the Lok Sabha seat he vacated to retain his assembly seat of Karhal, even as Azam Khan was against it during their couple of hours long meeting. Finally, Akhilesh picked his first cousin Dharmendra Yadav to contest from Azamgarh. Similarly, Azam Khan initially proposed his wife Dr Tanzeem Fatima but, later opted for SP city president Asim Raza for the Rampur Lok Sabha by-polls. “Earlier it was Dr Tanzeen Fatima but Raza will be contesting now. He is one of the loyal workers we have,” Khan said in Rampur. The BJP has fieIded Dinesh Lal Yadav, who is asking for a vote for “your development”.
Ministry of External Affairs

BJP Suspends Nupur-Naveen After Gulf Heat, MEA Stands Up To OIC

A day after receiving flak for all out appeasement of Gulf countries and suspensions of BJP spokespersons Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal, over controversial statements regarding a religious entity, India is standing its ground while dealing with the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC). The Ministry of External Affairs on June 6 cited an OIC statement asking it to stop pursuing a “communal approach and show due respect to all faiths and religions”. “The Government of India (GoI) categorically rejects the OIC Secretariat’s unwarranted and narrow-minded comments. The GoI accords the highest respect to all religions,” the MEA statement stated adding that “offensive tweets and comments denigrating a religious personality were made by certain individuals. And that they do not, in any manner, reflect views of the GoI.”  The MEA had earlier referred to Sharma and Jindal as fringe elements on June 5. BJP sources say Nupur, an Arun Jaitley protégé and Naveen Jindal were too ambitious and not in sync with the official party line; while perpetually competing to impress party bosses. During TV debates Nupur flaunted her skills in shaming fellow panellists. Only this time, her one upmanship blemished efforts by the PM to improve India’s ties with Gulf nations. The ‘y’ category security accorded to Sharma, however, remains unchanged particularly in view of threats issued to her.
Arvind Kejariwal

AAP Says Security Withdrawal Just Temporary, Punjab HC Feels Move Unnecessary

Following singer Sidhu Moosewala’s broad daylight murder, the Punjab government has been directed by the High Court to restore the security cover of 424 people, which it had earlier withdrawn. During a hearing in the Punjab & Haryana High Court, the AAP government had claimed it had withdrawn the security of 424 people only for a few days. Responding to a PIL moved by a Congress leader OP Soni against his security down-grade, the government told the court that the security covers of the 424 VIPs would be restored after Ghallughara Diwas on June 6, which is observed as a day of protest against Operation Blue Star. Incidentally, a day before Moosewala’s murder, the AAP government had highlighted it as ‘crackdown on VIP culture’ on social media. But then the government got cornered only because of Moosewala’s death.  In a plea against his security downgrade, Congress leader Soni wanted to know how a report of security withdrawal with a list of VIPs came into the public domain. It is being said that Punjab police is being stretched beyond state borders to provide security cover to Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal; also special cover for his key aide for Punjab area — Raghav Chadha.  Chadha, a Rajya Sabha MP almost functions like a de facto Punjab CM.
V

After Stalin’s Intemperate Speech, VP Naidu Does A BJP Breach, Eyeing Presidency From Opposition Perch?

On May 26, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Chennai, where he launched Rs 31,000 crore worth of centrally-funded projects in Tamil Nadu despite which, Chief Minister MK Stalin tried to humiliate him. Two days later, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu went all out to praise late DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi while unveiling his statue in Chennai. As soon as Naidu agreed to unveil the Dravidian stalwart’s statue, BJP cadre had opposed the move on social media. Naidu accepted the DMK invite as it seems the end of the road for him as his term ends in August. The DMK was elated. The party’s mouthpiece Murasoli, in its editorial showered encomiums on Naidu over his speech. The paper also dwelt on Karunanidhi’s long and strong association with Naidu. It said he had replied to the party’s critics during his speech. It recalled his comments when Karunanidhi was arrested in 2001 by the erstwhile AIADMK-led government. It was equally happy that Naidu had taken pot-shots at the step-motherly treatment that the BJP led government was meting out to the state governments led by Opposition parties. “If the States grow, the country grows,” he said.  What does Naidu gain by pandering to DMK? He will never be Modi’s candidate for Rashtrapati.  So, is he trying to position himself as the Opposition candidate for Raisina Road?
Nitish kumar

Why Nitish Kumar’s Caste Survey Doesn't Worry BJP

After an all-party meeting when Bihar CM Nitish Kumar announced a caste-based survey in the state, he appeared a bit triumphant. He could not conceal his happiness that he had driven a wedge between the state BJP and the Centre on the issue. The Centre had expressed its inability to conduct a caste census after the experience of socio-economic survey of 2011 census. He had the satisfaction that Bihar BJP leaders were fully backing the caste survey. Bihar BJP chief Sanjay Jaiswal denied there was difference between the Centre and the state unit on the caste survey. “Let us get one thing clear: what the Bihar government is going to undertake is a caste survey, not a census. Census comes under the Seventh Schedule and that it falls within remit of the Centre. As for Caste survey, Bihar is not the only state to undertake such a survey. Telangana, Karnataka has already done it.” He pointed out that BJP’s support for the caste survey was incumbent on keeping out Rohingyas and Bangladeshi Muslims. Also keeping out certain Muslims from claiming OBC status. Politically, of course, it is seen that Nitish Kumar has pushed the caste survey idea because the Centre had introduced a quota for the economically weaker section. With the lines of social justice getting blurred among parties, the JDU has been desperately trying to push “contradictions” within the BJP and failing.
Rahul and Priyanka

Rahul- Priyanka Pick Rajya Sabha Candidates In Turns, Regional Congress Aspirants Left In The Lurch

There is much disquiet within the Congress over its list for Rajya Sabha elections next month. Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra have nixed senior Congress leaders including Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma, the torch bearers of the G-23 grouping, in their quest for a Rajya Sabha berth from Rajasthan and Haryana. Sharma, confident that friend Bhupinder Hooda would get him elected to RS finds himself stranded, as Rahul has thrust AICC in charge of Rajasthan Ajay Maken, who partly handled Punjab upon Hooda. Chattisgarh CM Bhupesh Bhagel, who publicly pitched for Priyanka as a RS candidate was told to get Rajiv Shukla elected. Party sources say Baghel’s aversion to giving another term to retiring MP Chhaya Verma had prompted him to accept the Bihari candidate Ranjeet Ranjan. Of the 10 candidates, only P Chidambaram is contesting from home ground Tamil Nadu. Priyanka has imposed Imran Pratapgarhi, an AICC Minorities Cell chief, a young rabble-rouser from UP on Maharashtra Congressmen. Priyanka also sent another favourite from UP Pramod Tewari to Rajasthan. Rahul got fanboy Randeep Surjewala a RS berth from the same state. All this rush made Sanyam Lodha, an MLA in poll-bound Rajasthan to raise the son of soil bogey. AICC functionary Jitendra Baghel wants a break-up of candidates as the UP BJP list represents an array of castes.
Nitish Kumar

JDU Union Minister’s Proximity To Modi Gives Nitish Kumar Heartburn, Bihar CM Denies RCP Singh Third Rajya Sabha Term

Bihar politics is apparently on the cusp of an implosion with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar refusing to nominate to Rajya Sabha Union Steel Minister RCP Singh, his one-time number two in Janata Dal United (JDU). By denying Singh a third term in Rajya Sabha, Nitish has ensured that he will have no one from his party in Narendra Modi’s cabinet.  With RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav further getting embroiled in the IRCTC scam and the CBI registering FIR against Lalu Prasad Yadav his wife Rabri Devi, daughters Misa and Hema, for taking land from candidates in exchange for jobs in Railways between 2008-2009, Nitish Kumar’s option of walking out on the BJP to join hands with a tainted RJD also don’t exist. At present, his party with 44 MLAs is supported by BJP which has 77 MLAs. JDU sources said RCP Singh got into trouble because of his public praise of PM Modi. “Nitish wants slaves. If only RCP Singh had praised Nitish along with Modi, he would have remained a minister,” rued a JDU leader. Modi may use him in Bihar. Probably why Singh actually expressed his “gratitude” to Nitish after being denied a Rajya Sabha seat. “I am grateful to him. Whatever he has decided is in my interest.” Of the 44 JDU MLAs, Singh holds sway over a majority.
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Another Rajasthan Minister’s Revolt, Seeks Disempowerment From CM Ashok Gehlot, Has Nothing To Do With Sachin Pilot

Is Rajasthan too going Punjab way for the Congress ahead of the 2023 assembly polls? In a grim reminder to what used to be complaints against Capt Amarinder Singh for excessively relying on bureaucrats, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is facing similar complaints from one of his ministers who publicly offered to step down. In a tweet, Sports Minister Ashok Chandna said: “Honourable Chief Minister, I have a personal request to you, that by freeing me from this cruel ministerial post, the charge of all my departments should be given to Kuldeep Rankaji, because anyway he is the minister of all the departments. Thank you.” Chandna’s protest should worry Gehlot as it comes ahead of Rajya Sabha elections next month — he is the second MLA to raise a banner of revolt. The first dissenting note was struck by tribal leader and MLA Ganesh Ghogra who had a row with the state bureaucracy over land deed distribution. Ghogra resigned on May 18 saying that despite being an MLA of the ruling party, he is being ignored. Turbulence in the Congress is of course sweet music to the BJP. Yet it will be important to see how Gehlot survives this attack within. That too when it’s not coming from a usual suspect like Sachin Pilot.

TRENDS & VIEWS

We Have Created A New Segment That Has Resonated Well With Readers: Short Post Editor

Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come, said Victor Hugo a long time ago. I felt likewise. So instead of waiting endlessly for the Covid-19 tide to ebb, I decided to take the plunge and launch www.shortpost.in on January 28, 2021. This website, the first of its kind in the country, focuses only on short ‘Authentic Gossip’. Clearly, content is king more so if it is short & crisp (225 words), as a large section of our society is steadily shifting to digital and mobile space. To achieve this, I was fortunate to muster editorial support of some of the most senior and respected journalists in the country to bring out credible content that involves, stimulates and entertains our highly discerning readers — from across continents. We have so far uploaded close to 1,000 posts covering areas like Business, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment. Yes, today we have crossed an important milestone in our journey – #ShortPostFirstAnniversary —  and we are confident many more will follow in keeping with our stated vision – to become a one stop site for authentic gossip. So, what next?  With the third wave showing signs of slowing down things can only look better. So as the year rolls by we promise to pack in more punches. Before I sign off I would like to thank our advertiser IDFC FIRST Bank, angel investors Anuradha Verma, Ashish Kakkar and you readers for making this journey possible.