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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.
WhatsApp Image 2022-07-20 at 4.02

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.
WhatsApp Image 2022-07-18 at 3.33

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.
WhatsApp Image 2022-07-11 at 5.23

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. 
vidhan-sabha-mumbai

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.
FTiUuataMAE2m11

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.
ns

From Punjab CM Aspirant To Prison Clerk, Inmate Sidhu Will Be Served Rosemary Tea, High Fibre As Per Diet Chart

Former Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, who has been sentenced to one-year rigorous imprisonment for a case of road rage that ended in death of a person, will now be working as a clerk at the Central Jail of Patiala. And believe it or not the test cricketer has to even undergo a training of three months for this job. He will be paid a daily wage of Rs 30-90 which will be credited to his bank account. He will essentially be taught how to brief lengthy court judgments to prison inmates and compile jail records. It might indeed seem quite an effort for a man who wanted to be Chief Minister of Punjab. Yet at the same time Sidhu has been spared the travails of having to eat jail food. That is because of his special medical condition. According to media reports, since Sidhu has been diagnosed with obesity and metabolic disorder such as pulmonary embolism and left-leg deep vein thrombosis, he has been advised to follow a diet chart. He has been advised a high fibre, low carbohydrate and low fat diet primarily comprising fruits and vegetables. Early in the morning, he will be given Rosemary tea, white gourd juice or coconut water, while for breakfast he will be served a cup of lactose-free milk with one tablespoon of flax, sunflower, melon and chia seeds mixture.
Kapil Sibbal

Twitter

Congress Legal Eagle Sibal To Nest Separately In Rajya Sabha, Finds Independent Support From Samajwadi Party

In a major setback to the Congress, senior leader Kapil Sibal quit the party and filed his nomination for the Rajya Sabha as an independent candidate backed by the Samajwadi Party. SP Chief Akhilesh Yadav was present when he filed his papers. Sibal said he now wishes to be an independent voice in Parliament and added that he resigned from the Congress on May 16, a day after the Udaipur Navsankalp Shivir concluded. Sibal is the third Congress leader to quit after Sunil Jakhar and Hardik Patel. Interestingly, Sibal’s move to quit came a day after Congress President Sonia Gandhi accommodated most of the G-23 leaders in two panels she set-up as a follow-up on the Udaipur declaration. Sibal, who was the main brain trust behind the G-23 leaders’ move to demand accountability and transparency of Congress leadership two years ago, had skipped the Udaipur meet. It is being said Sibal was actually spoiled for choice as far as Rajya Sabha seat goes — RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav and JMM chief Hemant Soren were both keen to field him. Sonia Gandhi was not keen to sponsor Sibal as party candidate in the wake of his recent public averment on the leadership of the party. Gandhis are presumably upset with Sibal because of the reverses they have suffered in the National Herald case.
Vijayendra

BJP Adheres To One Ticket Per Family Norm, Denies MLC Ticket To Yediyurappa's Son Vijayendra

In a bold move, the BJP national leadership has decided not to accommodate BY Vijayendra, second son of former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, to the Karnataka Legislative Council for the upcoming June 3 Legislative Council elections. The BJP can win four of the seven seats of the Legislative Council for which MLAs will elect the members. The party has picked up former Deputy CM Laxman Savadi, secretary of the BJP state unit Hemalatha Nayak, president of BJP SC Morcha Chalavadi Narayanaswamy and S Keshavaprasad. Interestingly, Vijayendra’s name was recommended by the state BJP core committee. But central leaders decided against it. With one son BY Raghvendra, already a Lok Sabha MP, Yediyurappa himself a MLA, the BJP was not keen to give ticket to one more family member. It was felt Yediyurappa’s every wish had been accommodated – including his close aide Shobha Karandlaje being made a Union Minister. Of course the reason for denying MLC ticket to Vijayendra is because he had been exploring the possibility of setting up a breakaway political group – revisiting Karnataka Janata Paksha set up by his father during 2013 assembly polls. Reports of his meetings with Congress leader Siddaramiah have also emerged. With this action, the BJP has sought to grow out of Yediyurappa narrative. The party is betting on Bommai’s governance and Modi’s leadership.
K C Chandrashekhar rao

@TelanganaCMO

KCR Doles Out Lakhs To Punjab-Haryana Farmer Families, Eyes National Politics During Visit To Delhi

At first it just seemed ambitious Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, popularly known as KCR, was taking a leaf out of the play book of his Tamil Nadu counterpart MK Stalin. Just as Stalin had visited Delhi in April, met with AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal and visited a Delhi Government school to learn about “innovation in education” KCR followed a similar schedule. Except that the Telangana leader added an extra dimension to the Delhi visit — reaching out to farmers. He made pay-outs to families of farmers who died during the course of the agitation against the now-repealed central farm laws. He travelled with Kejriwal to Chandigarh to hand over cheques worth Rs 3 lakh to 24 farmer families from Punjab and five from Haryana. The two CMs were joined by Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann. Would these pay-outs help Telangana farmers? Of course, not. Rao lauded Punjab farmers for fighting the farm laws that were rolled back “If farmers want, they can change government. It is not a big thing. From where the power comes, it comes from us,” he said. Ironically, farmers in Punjab are now up in arms against the AAP Government for a whole range of issues including a bonus on wheat, MSP for maize and waiving of loans.
Priyanka Gandhi

Karnataka Congress Chief DK’s Proposal Catches Priyanka’s Fancy, To Emulate Grandma Indira Gandhi And Rajya Sabha Entry?

Congress leaders from Karnataka are vying with each other to field Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as a Rajya Sabha candidate from the state. While it is unclear whether Priyanka has decided yet, her attendance at the birthday bash of Karnataka PCC president DK Shivakumar at Udaipur, on the last day of Nav Sankalp Shivir on May 15, was an indication. She even cut the cake and handed Shivakumar a slice. Karnataka Congressmen who witnessed the event are certain Priyanka will accept their Rajya Sabha proposal. They want Priyanka’s entry into their state’s politics to boost electoral prospects in the 2023 state assembly polls. “We have enough MLAs to elect an MP,” a senior Karnataka Congress leader said. The BJP declared candidates for all four seats from Karnataka. Priyanka’s baby steps into parliamentary politics in Rajya Sabha would see her emulate grand-mother Indira Gandhi, who became a Rajya Sabha MP, in the initial years of her politics. It is quite another matter that Indira Gandhi represented Uttar Pradesh (between Aug 1964 and Feb 1967) in the Rajya Sabha, served as I & B minister before ascending to the PM’s post.  With Congress winning two assembly seats and registering a mere 2.3% vote share in the UP 2022 polls, Priyanka may feel inclined to venture into electoral polls as an MP in 2024.
Rahul Gandhi.

Miffed RaGa Flays SC Ruling, May Snap Ties With DMK For Felicitating Father's Convict Perarivalan

Rahul Gandhi is apparently upset over the DMK Government’s handling of the AG Perarivalan case. One of the convicts in former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, Perarivalan, served 31 years of his jail term before being released by the Supreme Court on May 18. The verdict may pave the way for the release of six other convicts in the case. An upset Rahul asked close aide Randeep Surjewala to issue a statement against the judgement even as he was traveling to the UK to speak at the “Ideas for India” conference and “India @75” at the Cambridge University. Tamil Nadu Congressmen are questioning Surjwewala’s attack on the Modi Government over the case, not DMK.  “At least Delhi delayed it out of respect for Rajiv Gandhi. It is the DMK which has not cared for assassination of Rajiv Gandhi,” said an anguished Congress leader. Congressmen were particularly upset with the manner in which Chief Minister MK Stalin immediately felicitated Perarivalan and his mother in his office. “What was the rush? Does the life of a PM have no value in this country?  If we had any self-respect, we should have snapped ties with the DMK. Why should we cling to them for the sake of a Rajya Sabha seat?” asked a partyman.
Siddhu and Jakhar

For Punjab Congress It’s A Double Whammy, Sidhu Goes To Jail While Jakhar Joins The BJP

It was a double whammy for the Punjab Congress.  First, former Punjab PCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu got sentenced to a one year jail term by the Supreme Court in a 34- year old road rage case, after leading the Congress in the state with disastrous results in the assembly polls two months ago, paving the way for AAP’s rule. In an equally interesting development former PCC chief Sunil Jakhar enrolled with the BJP. In a massive setback, Sidhu was forced to surrender before court to serve out his year-long “rigorous imprisonment”. “Will submit to the majesty of law…,” he tweeted. The apex court was responding to an appeal against its own order of 2018 which set aside Punjab & Haryana High Court order saying there was no evidence the man could have died of a single blow. But it held the cricketer-politician guilty of causing hurt to a senior citizen. In 2006, the Punjab and Haryana High court had convicted Sidhu of culpable homicide and sentenced him to three years in jail. In 2018, Sidhu approached the Supreme Court, which set aside the order. Meanwhile, with Jakhar joining BJP, Punjab Congress leaders say others are set to leave the party as well. PCC chief Amrinder Singh Warring is being blamed for the exits.
Congress

Ghulam Nabi Azad, P Chidambaram Eye Rajasthan For Rajya Sabha Entry As Kapil Sibal Takes Jharkhand route?

Filing nominations for 57 Rajya Sabha vacancies spread across 15 states will begin next week and continue till May 31.  Yet, in the Congress informally, there is a sense that opportunities will be far and few and spread in a way no one feels they have got a raw deal. The buzz so far is that prominent G-23 leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is keen on a Rajya Sabha seat, will be accommodated from Rajasthan. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot is willing to accommodate Azad from the first two regular vacancies. For the third seat, the party has advised beleaguered leader P Chidambaram to go for it. This third seat will require support from independent MLAs, who are already backing the Government. It is being said that Kapil Sibal could be moving from UP to Jharkhand. Vivek Tankha could move from Madhya Pradesh to the lone vacancy in Chattisgarh. Even then there is no clarity on who would come from Maharashtra, Haryana and Tamil Nadu. While it is still possible, Mukul Wasnik could clinch the Maharashtra seat, even as Rahul Gandhi may try to push for his close aide Praveen Chakravarty from Tamil Nadu. In Haryana, Bhupinder Hooda has refused to accept Randeep Surjewala as a RS candidate. There could be a dark horse like the old party hand Janardhan Dwivedi.
Congress Chintan Shibir

NavSankalp Chintan Shivir: Kerala Cong Leader’s 5 Minutes Fame, Resigns From Fishermen’s Body And Plays Political Game

When news of Thrissur MP TN Prathapan’s resignation as National Chairman of the All India Fishermen Congress came in, everyone felt an idea of NavSankalp Chintan Shivir — about fixed tenure of 5 years — had kicked in. But then senior Congress leaders were quite surprised. Was Prathapan jumping the gun? After all, Congress President Sonia Gandhi had announced a compact Task Force that would be set up to drive the process of internal reforms that “are essential and that has been discussed in different groups at Udaipur.”  The task force was to cover all aspects of reforms with focus on the 2024 Lok Sabha polls including appointments to party posts. The composition of the Task Force was to be notified in the next ttwo-three days. Prathapan’s colleagues felt he was probably trying to grab some five minutes of fame. “Don’t take Prathapan seriously — this is just his antics. The task force will take a call on all aspects of what Soniaji has said,” said a senior Kerala leader. Incidentally it was AICC general secretary Mukul Wasnik who had proposed a 5-year tenure freeze for party posts. Wasnik feels everyone must get a chance at the top.  “I have put in 24 years — held various positions; I have been a general secretary for 20 years. I held it even as a Union Minister in the UPA Government.”
Nitish Kumar

Nitish Kumar Shocks & Surprises, Nominates George Fernandes Aide Anil Hegde To Rajya Sabha Seat

In an unexpected move, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar nominated a low-profile Janata Dal (U) office-bearer Anil Hegde as the candidate for the by-election to his party quota Rajya Sabha seat. The seat became vacant after the death of MP Mahendra Prasad. Hegde will only enjoy a short term until April 2024. Nitish was keen to send party functionary Hegde to the Rajya Sabha to help him secure his future. Hegde was a close associate of the late George Fernandes, had functioned as JD(U)’s national election officer. Party sources say the CM wanted to ensure Hegde was able to draw a pension. Initially, Nitish considered sending him to the Bihar Legislative Council.  “I have been living in the JD(U) office in Patna for the past 12 years,” said Hegde, who hails from Bengaluru. Hegde has for long been the JD(U)’s national election officer, responsible for coordination between the party and the Election Commission during assembly and parliamentary polls. In securing the party nomination, Hegde has edged out many others who were in the race including the party’s national secretary general K C Tyagi.
Rahul Gandhi

Udaipur Chintan May Crown Rahul Gandhi Again, Reach Consensus On Next Two Year Plan

From the way the three-day brainstorming session of Congress in Rajasthan’s Udaipur took off on May 13 it was quite clear the focus would be more futuristic than post mortem — what happened early this year. It was decided that there would be no chintan over how it lost four state assembly elections. The shivir had already been renamed as Nav Sankalp Chintan Shivir. That is how the Congress could emerge with a formula to fight its challenges in the next two years. A number of ideas were floated .There was a proposal to ensure that party leaders don’t give tickets to their kin or relatives without any work in the party, at least 5 years of prior work in the party will be required. Indicating the return of Rahul Gandhi back as AICC president, senior Congress leader Ajay Maken said “Any person who is holding the post continuously has to step down and a cooling period of three years in case that person comes back to the same post.” Rahul had quit as Congress president in 2019 accepting responsibility for the party’s rout. Udaipur shivir is being touted as a bid to crown Rahul again as Congress chief. Those close to Rahul are not sure if the Wayanad MP could be easily persuaded.
Chintan Shibir

Congress Chintan Crushes Many A Rajya Sabha Dream, Adopts Modi's Age Bar Plan, Party Seniors Don't Make A Scene

Looks like the Congress is emulating PM Narendra Modi’s idea of setting an upper age limit for party posts. However these copycat ideas on age-limit simply caught Congress leaders by surprise as they were brought into the public domain even without a discussion. Senior Congress leaders were gripped by a sense of uncertainty. Now it is easy to see why a senior MP such as Kapil Sibal, 73, decided to give the Udaipur event a miss as he surely must not be depending on the Congress to find him a Rajya Sabha seat. Sibal is an MP from Uttar Pradesh where the Congress has just two MLAs. Party sources also said the guest lists to the chintan shivir seemed to have been drawn up very whimsically. “Most of the leaders from election-going states such as Himachal or Gujarat were missing. They have not called MLAs. It is as if the Congress does not want to have MLAs,” said the Telangana leader. “I would be shocked if I were invited. I know Congress leadership only wants to hear nice things. They want to put Rahul Gandhi back in the saddle. So they ensured discordant voices are kept away,” says a Himachal MLA. Yet in midst of all this pick and choose, Karnataka strongman D K Shivkumar managed to take a contingent of  50 people to Udaipur. Total number of delegates allowed: 430.
Tagore Medal

As Close Aides Face CBI Heat, Didi Cites Stolen Tagore Medal To Agency’s Discredit

With ongoing investigations by CBI on close associates, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has deployed a new weapon to run down the probe agency. On the 161st birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore on May 7 Mamata pointed out that the stolen Nobel Prize medallion of Tagore was yet to be recovered by the CBI. “I still feel sad that the Nobel Prize has not been recovered. The incident dates back to the Left (Front) regime,” she noted. The medallion was stolen in 2004 from the museum at Visva Bharati University founded at Santiniketan in Birbhum district. The Prime Minister, is the chancellor of Bengal’s only central university – Visva Bharati. Then, CPI (M) Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had promptly handed over the probe to CBI which permanently closed investigations in 2009, citing lack of new leads. In 2016, the CID in WB had arrested a folk singer suspecting his role in the robbery.  In 2017 Mamata urged CBI to hand over the case to the state CID, which the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) had declined. However, Tagore’s Nobel medallion, a replica of the actual gold medal, is not the only one stolen in recent years. Children rights activist Kailash Satyarthi’s Nobel medallion was similarly stolen from his Delhi residence in 2017 but, recovered by the Delhi Police within five days.
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In TN, BJP Is The New Political Destination, As Numbers Of AIADMK, DMK Leaders Jumping Ship Gains More Traction

Tamil Nadu BJP, under former IPS officer K Annamalai, has turned vibrant. Despite a motley crew – only four MLAs – the issues Annamalai has raised has piqued interest for the saffron party. Even DMK leaders and relatives are keen to join BJP, many of them unsure of surviving the generational shift within DMK. With CM M K Stalin’s son Udhayanidhi assuming a bigger role, seniors in DMK are feeling side-lined. Many MPs are considering moving out. Former AIADMK MP Sasikala Pushpa Ramaswamy was first to join BJP. After that, some sitting DMK MPs evinced an interest to enrol before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. While Sasikala Pushpa became BJP vice-president and former DMK MLA A G Sampath got a similar post. Significantly, Suriyaa Siva, son of DMK Rajya Sabha MP Tiruchi Siva, joined the BJP saying he was ignored in the Dravidian party because of the ongoing cold war within. His exit may not affect his father as they were not on talking terms. Suriyaa’s entry into Kamalalayam BJP in T Nagar Chennai will, however, shake up the DMK. What must worry the DMK leadership is talk of more seniors shipping out.  All in all, Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s recent visit to Chennai has really paid off.
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Photo: Twitter/RaghuRaju_MP

Kharge Invoked Motilal Nehru On 6th May, Sought Entry To Parliament’s Central Hall On Off Day, Just To Say Happy Birthday

On May 6, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla’s office received an unusual request from the office of Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, about a handful of Congress leaders seeking access to the Central Hall of Parliament. The manner in which the request was made, when Parliament was not in session, seemed a little odd. Kharge wanted to garland the portrait of Motilal Nehru on his birth anniversary. Normally, when a portrait of a dignitary is to be garlanded, the Lok Sabha makes necessary arrangements for it. Leaders are then invited to come and join in paying tributes. For some reason Kharge decided to pay tribute to Motilal Nehru — a former Congress President in pre-Independent India — inside Parliament. It’s not clear whether he wanted to flaunt his loyalty to the Gandhi family or, if he was trying to assert his tenuous status as Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha — a position that the Congress may find difficult to hold on to beyond two months with many party MPs in Rajya Sabha set to retire. The Congress needs a critical tally of 10% of the strength of the House or, it will meet the same fate as it does in Lok Sabha.
Sourav Ganguly

Sourav Ganguly May Be One Of Two President’s Nominees, Sent To Rajya Sabha For BJP

There is a strong buzz that former Indian cricket captain and incumbent BCCI president Sourav Ganguly could be the President’s nominee for the Rajya Sabha. In that event, he will follow in the footsteps of master blaster Sachin Tendulkar, the first ever sports person nominated to the Rajya Sabha or to the Council of States in 2012 by the UPA Government. Ganguly’s nomination seems a distinct possibility as the second sportsperson after boxing champion Mary Kom was appointed to Rajya Sabha in April 2016 and has completed her term. Speculations around Ganguly as Rajya Sabha MP gained currency following Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to Sourav Ganguly’s residence over dinner with his family last week. A day after Shah’s visit, Ganguly also spoke of his close relations with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. He similarly showered praise on minister and Kolkata mayor Firhad Hakim. Once elevated as a Rajya Sabha nominee, Sourav Ganguly, who is worshipped as an icon in Bengal, may no longer feel pressured to manage the balancing between the BJP and TMC.  Aware of abounding conjecture, Ganguly asserted he has known Amit Shah since 2008. “While playing, I used to meet him. There’s nothing more than that”. He also pointed out that as BCCI president he worked closely with Shah’s son, Jay Shah who is BCCI secretary.

TRENDS & VIEWS

Technology Cannot Disrupt Original Content Provider: Short Post Editor

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