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Rajeev_ Anil antony_ESreedharan

Loud Thinking: BJP Can Make Inroads Into Kerala If Sreedharan, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Anil Anthony Lead It

The talk among intelligentsia in Kerala is that BJP can come to power only if the party tweaks its leadership strategy. This new thinking comes close on the heels of Anil Anthony’s — son of veteran Congress leader AK Anthony — elevation as the national secretary and spokesperson of the BJP.  An analyst says Anthony should be assigned the role of introducing Artificial Intelligence (which he has studied and specialised from  a US university) in public services like weather departments, airlines’ air traffic control etc.  Additionally, Anthony along with Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar and metro man E Sreedharan should be the core team to make this happen.  This formidable troika, a strong brand by themselves, can give a real run for CPM and Congress considering that Hindus roughly constitute 55%, Muslims 27% and Christians 18% of the total population. But, there is a catch; despite Hindus being a majority the eligible voters’ percentage are not sufficient to form a majority government. Hence BJP will need the support of Christian voters. So the induction of Anil Anthony is timely. He is the son of an honest and straightforward politician. His entry will surely swing significant vote share of Kerala Christians to BJP. The trinity Anthony, Rajeev and Sreedharan can create a significant impact for BJP in the next Assembly election.
Indian politician

How Politicians Keep Their Brand Alive

There are certain timeless topics (read issues) that make it easy for political parties/politicians to be in the news. There are at least five to six issues which are raked up at regular intervals — once in two-three years – which keep the politicians going. Take the case of Cauvery water dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka which has not been solved for decades. The issue has been deliberately kept on slow boil; once solved the politicians and their existence will be forgotten. Ditto the border issue between Maharashtra and Karnataka, or Naxalite menace. Here, the communal issue is a tool of the last resort. But, generally all politicians go in for low hanging fruits like corruption, bad roads or environment issues. Not surprisingly, the media will oblige with non-stop coverage.  Of course, the favourite whipping boy is the film industry. Sushant Singh Rajput’s death became almost a national issue. Likewise flags of revolt were raised over movies like Padmaavat or The Kashmir Files for misrepresenting history or showing religion in bad light. Then hijab issues keep surfacing from different corners of the country bringing the entire Muslim brotherhood together. The timing of the issues have also become predictable – it is either run-up to the elections or some serious issues rocking the government either at the Centre or State, and suddenly as part of the deflecting strategy these issues are raked up. Interestingly, all these issues die a quick death too.
Nawab Malik bail


Will Nawab Malik Be Let Off The Hook?

Generally, there is a tendency to keep at arm’s length from people who have served jail terms. More so, if the person has had alleged dealings with enemy of India Dawood Ibrahim. Maharashtra’s former minister and NCP leader Nawab Malik was arrested on February 23, 2022 by the Enforcement Directorate under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in a case allegedly linked to fugitive underworld don Dawood and his associates. After cooling his heels for nearly 18 months he got two months bail from the Supreme Court on August 14, 2023. But what’s surprising is that all NCP leaders were out in full force to meet him at his residence. They were:  Supriya Sule, Ajit Pawar, Dilip-Walse Patil, Hasan Mushrif, Praful Patel, Chhagan Bhujbul, AnilDeshmukh and Sunil Tatkare. And reportedly, Sharad Pawar telephonically spoke to Malik. Does this show of solidarity indicate that Malik may be let off the hook? After all, the NCP (Ajit faction) has aligned with the BJP and various agencies have dialled down where his cases are concerned. So too have agencies put on back burner cases on Shiv Sena leaders who quit Uddhav and joined Eknath Shinde camp. It does not require a genius to predict what will happen next going by the past record of politicians who crossed over to the BJP camp. But the general sentiment is that people are not happy; their lament is why are they compromising principles to win elections? Quite.

SC Gives Big Relief To Rahul Gandhi, But Are Alliance Partners Happy?

The Supreme Court, in major relief for Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, has stayed his conviction in Modi surname defamation case saying that the trial court has not given reason for imposing a maximum sentence of two years that led to his disqualification from the Parliament. It is the second good news for the Congress party in recent times. It may be recalled that NCP supremo Sharad Pawar one of the architect of I.N.D.I.A suffered a big jolt after a split in his party. So too did Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. He faced rumblings within his own party the JD(U) over alliance with the RJD. With both Pawar and Kumar focusing on their backyard, the responsibility to lead the Opposition meet in Bengaluru fell on Congress party vis a vis Sonia Gandhi. In recent times Rahul was also a bit subdued over a political development; perhaps he was waiting for the Supreme Court order which has given him a new lease of life. Surely, he is bound to throw the hat in the ring and it could cause disgruntlement with alliance partners. Didi, going by her past remarks, will definitely not agree for Rahul to be PM’s face. Ditto: Nitish Kumar and Sharad Pawar. So the whole game changes and so in light of this will I.N.D.I.A. survive?
Sharad supriya

Pawar’s Masterstroke: Reading Between The Lines

Eighty-two year old Sharad Pawar has always been considered heavyweight in the Indian political firmament. His influence cuts across party lines — Congress, BJP, CPM, TMC, AAP etc. Nobody dares to cross swords with him.  In fact, be it Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Narendra Modi or regional party leaders, they have held Pawar in high esteem and given a lot of weightage to his suggestions and ideas. So, when the supremo of Nationalist Congress Party stepped down from the party’s president’s post a few days ago and then on the party’s Foundation Day named two working presidents — Praful Patel and daughter Supriya Sule – it did put cat among the pigeons. The big question everybody is asking what happens to the ambitious nephew Ajit Pawar? Historically, Ajit was not interested in national politics; his eyes were on the CM’s gaddi. But, now with cousin Supriya made in charge of Maharashtra does it signal that his wings are being clipped? Nobody is sticking their neck out. But by making the suave, articulate Praful Patel also a working president, Pawar Sr has again displayed why he is unpredictable. Patel, a smart businessman and seasoned politician, is currently under the glare of the Enforcement Directorate in the Iqbal Mirchi case. The ED has attached his property – four floors in Ceejay House in Worli, Mumbai. According to a political analyst, if ED is hot on Patel’s case and should he resign from NCP’s working president post then the entire mantle of leadership falls on Sule. Post that the road is clear for her. It is mere conjecture though anything can happen in politics, says the political analyst.
Sonia Gandhi


Convalescing Cong Chief Sonia Gandhi To Miss June 23 Date, ED Will Just Have To Wait

So now it is quite obvious that when Congress President Sonia Gandhi avoided the first ED summons in the National Herald case on June 8 citing COVID, it is clear she wasn’t suffering from it. A party statement  now has claimed she was  admitted to the Sir Gangaram Hospital on June 12 citing “profuse bleeding from the nose” where she  is currently being treated for a fungal infection detected in her lower respiratory tract, along with other post-COVID symptoms. That it is not COVID became clear by the manner in which Rahul and Priyanka were regularly visiting Sonia in the hospital. She underwent a related follow-up procedure on June 16 morning. “She continues to be under close observation and treatment.” It seemed very odd that a medical bulletin on Sonia’s health should be issued by the party, instead of the hospital. Of course, the statement was carefully worded, loaded with medical terminology to help Sonia avoid her June 23 date with ED. Towards this end new AICC media head Jairam Ramesh has done a thorough job. Yet, it is surprising why the hospital did not issue a health bulletin on Sonia? This is generally the practice most hospitals follow whenever well-known political leaders are admitted under their care.

BJP High Command Cracks Whip To Prevent Fissures In Maharashtra Unit

Cracks have surfaced in the Maharashtra BJP unit as the insiders claim that the Modi-Shah duo is displeased with the functioning of LoP Devendra Fadnavis and state unit chief Chandrakant Patil. Both were in Delhi last week and had separately met home minister Amit Shah. The senior leadership is not happy over state BJP’s failure to effectively project the Centre’s slew of programmes, including 100 crore vaccinations. They were also not happy over leaders issuing new deadlines for the collapse of the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government without giving any concrete plans. The message was loud and clear focus on further strengthening the party while communicating about the Centre’s achievements and MVA’s failures to the voters. Mere talk of the fall of the MVA government will not be acceptable. The leadership is also displeased over the neglect of old-timers and party loyalists while giving importance to a select few, especially those who have migrated from Congress and NCP. The appointment of Vinod Tawde, who was denied a ticket in the 2019 assembly election as the General Secretary, and nomination of former minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule for state council election, are important decisions taken by Delhi to checkmate Fadnavis, in particular, with a signal that he will have to change his style of functioning by taking everybody together.

All Eyes On Mamata-Pawar Meet For United Front To Take On BJP

Even though Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has decided not to visit regularly or call up 10 Janpath, she is keen to only meet NCP chief Sharad Pawar and seek his advice for the formation of a possible non-BJP front. She will meet Pawar on Wednesday (Dec 1) at the latter’s Silver Oak residence in Mumbai. Insiders from both parties said Pawar and Banerjee – with friends in various parties – can build up a front to take on BJP in the 2024 elections. However, Pawar has always been insisting that such a front won’t work without Congress. Pawar has already sent feelers to a few Congress leaders who have sent a positive signal but everything depends on the trio in the party – Sonia, Rahul, and Priyanka. Mamata is perturbed over Rahul not wishing her immediately after her record victory though Rahul later tweeted. They in turn are upset that TMC kept out of the opposition parties’ meet. It is learned that Pawar may organize a meeting between Mamata and Rahul at his 6 Janpath residence in New Delhi which is the new power centre for opposition unity. A senior Congress leader opines if Pawar is personally involved then Sonia may climb down. Interestingly, Maharashtra Chief Minister and Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray has declined to meet Didi. Now people are reading between the lines.

Photo : Fotocorp

Two Years Of MVA Govt: Thackeray-Led Coalition Takes Fresh Guard

The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) has completed two years in office, yet the three alliance partners Shiv Sena, NCP, and Congress have to keep reiterating that their government is strong and stable, and BJP won’t be able to carry out Operation Lotus to come back to power. It may be recalled that BJP made several attempts to dethrone the current MVA government but failed miserably. The latest update on this one is Union Minister Narayan Rane’s statement that the MVA government “will fall” by March 2022. Meanwhile, sources say that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, currently recovering from spine operations, has not been able to yoke his MVA cabinet colleagues and leaders who are busy talking to the media to push their agenda. Some bureaucrats and leaders are complaining that Thackeray’s style of functioning is leading to delay in decision making. What is missing is a direct connection that is allowing BJP to attack the government for lack of coordination and delays in the implementation of decisions that have already been cleared by the cabinet. They are also complaining about his overreliance on a few bureaucrats. But, when it comes to his own party Shiv Sena, Thackeray has a firm grip and those talking in the media or leaking stories have been sidelined. But, in the end, everybody is asking how will Sena fare under Thackeray at the BMC polls and state elections? Only time will tell.

Photo : Twitter

CM Thackeray’s Agenda Next: Revive Covid-Hit Economy & Sharpen BMC Poll Plan To Fight BJP

The NCP Chief Spokesman and Minority Affairs Minister Nawab Malik continues his tirade against Narcotics Control Bureau vis a vis Sameer Wankhede, widely hailed as an upright officer. Interestingly, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, who has been an architect of the MVA government, has openly hailed Malik for his revelations and announced that NCP and MVA government, in general, are prepared to take on BJP and the central probe agencies despite their attempts to corner the MVA leaders. But the real problem facing the MVA government is on the economic front. The coronavirus pandemic has severely impacted the government’s functioning and finances. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will have to swing into action by taking his ministers on board for the revival of the economy and placing a slew of development and welfare projects on a fast track. Ahead of elections to civic and local bodies especially BMC, Thackeray will have to sort out the politically crucial issue of alliance or go solo to take on BJP. The victory in BMC will consolidate Thackeray’s position in MVA and also send a signal to BJP that he is a fighter and there are no chances of a reunion with them.

L TO R: ,Jose Philip Dsouza, Sanjay Raut, Sushmita Dev, Digambar Kamat

Goa Polls 2022: Cong, NCP, Shiv Sena & TMC Open Back Channels To Turf Out BJP

In very much with the saying, “Politics is the art of possible,” the non BJP parties like the Congress, NCP, Trinamool Congress and Shiv Sena have opened a backchannel to explore the possibility of an alliance to defeat BJP in the upcoming elections to the 40-member Goa assembly to be held in February 2022. Although all these four parties have announced to go solo in a bid to cash in on anti-incumbency against the BJP- led government, leaders from these parties themselves admit that a united opposition can pose a serious challenge to BJP, which is struggling to bring together various factions, to retain power. Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, senior Congress leader and former Goa CM Digambar Kamat, Goa state NCP chief Jose Philip D’Souza and Trinamool Congress MP Sushmita Dev are likely to be fronting their party’s initiative to explore alliance possibilities. They have a common goal to keep BJP at bay. Reliable sources in the know point out that second rung leaders are keen to forge an alliance as then their chances of winning is very high. But, seniors and veterans from these parties are hesitant as they fear they may lose their prospects to become the CM. Clearly, you can’t have the cake and eat it too!

Photo : Twitter

Nadda Seen Making Renewed Attempt To Reclaim Maharashtra, Keep BJP Rank And File United

After several failed attempts to oust the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra, now it is the turn of the BJP national president JP Nadda to have another go at it. Apparently, Nadda called for a meeting of senior BJP leaders in the state to revisit strategy on how to overthrow the MVA government. Insiders say this meeting was just an eyewash. Basically, it was an attempt to keep the flock together who are running out of patience. State party leaders including Devendra Fadnavis, Chandrakant Patil and Narayan Rane have stopped issuing new deadlines due to internal contradictions. Insiders say state BJP leaders have failed to provide a concrete plan to conduct Operation Lotus to the national leadership which has ultimately told them to stop talk of collapse of the MVA government which is completing two years in office on November 27. Nadda, who has not made any statement on BJP’s failure to regain power after estranged ally Shiv Sena parted ways to form MVA government, has asserted that the state cannot achieve a new high in growth unless the MVA government is overthrown. However, he has not spelt out any strategy thereby making state leaders to work out their own arithmetic to engineer a split in one of the ruling parties. They, in private talk, admit it is an impossible task but claim Modi Hai to Sub Mumkin Hai.

Photo : Twitter

Shiv Sena’s First Big Win Outside Mahahrashtra, Turfs BJP Out Of Dadra & Nagar Haveli

It is a big victory for Uddhav Thackeray that too outside Maharashtra. Shiv Sena’s candidate Kalaben Mohanbhai Delkar, wife of former MP Mohan Delkar who had committed suicide in a Mumbai hotel, won the Dadra and Nagar Haveli Lok Sabha seat with a margin of 51,269 votes defeating BJP candidate Mahesh Gavit. In most by-elections, BJP candidates have lost. This convincing victory margin could make Sena think of spreading its tentacles and also aligning with like-minded parties to take on BJP in 2024 Lok Sabha polls. It may be recalled that Uddhav during the meeting of CMs of states ruled by Congress and allies – convened by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi – had called to be ready for a fight against BJP. It was TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee who was the first to respond to Uddhav’s call. Uddhav, according to sources close to him, prefers his work to do the talking. He feels BJP can be defeated by reaching out to voters with a promise for a change. In this win, Uddhav has played his cards well. Though he wants to play spoilsport in Uttar Pradesh, he knows what happened in Bihar and West Bengal. As for BJP in Maharashtra, they need to do serious introspection: the proverbial wolf cry has come to nought. For now, the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi seems well entrenched.
priyanka gandhi

Can Priyanka Gandhi’s Charisma Win Voters In Uttar Pradesh?

The Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has moved centre-stage in campaigning in the BJP ruled Uttar Pradesh by releasing a mini-manifesto, but the party is yet to decide whether to go solo or have alliance partners. Samajwadi Party has made it clear that it will not have any truck with the Congress due to past experience. Congress insiders said the party has no choice but to go solo. Among Brahmins, Yadavs, Muslims and various sub castes of Dalit the Congress party has little presence and they are not sure whether Priyanka’s charisma will work to defeat the mighty BJP. Meanwhile, there is unanimity among smaller parties to contest elections by joining hands with the Samajwadi Party under the leadership of Akhilesh Yadav. NCP chief Sharad Pawar has announced that Akhilesh Yadav will lead the alliance of like-minded and secular parties to take on the BJP. They will soon meet to formally work out a seat sharing arrangement. Clearly, smaller parties feel that fighting the upcoming polls under Congress party’s leadership will be suicidal. Ironically these parties except BSP, AAP and AIMIM are okay with the idea of coming together and forging an alliance to take on BJP at the national level but are averse to joining hands with Congress in the state. Is Congress doing self-introspection as demanded by G23 for its rejuvenation?

Photo : Twitter

NCB’s Sameer Wankhede In The Dock Over Caste Certificate?

Narcotics Control Bureau’s zonal director Sameer Wankhede, who is handling drugs cases involving high profile celebrities, may soon face inquiry into his caste certificate. There are allegations that Wankhede has not got a certificate from the caste scrutiny committee and therefore the certificate that he had produced at the time of his IRS exam – and after that – may be scrutinized. If the caste scrutiny committee takes objection, then the onus will be on Wankhede to prove his caste by producing necessary papers to substantiate his claim or face a punitive action. Few independent lawyers have already compiled details about Wankhede’s caste certificate. The scrutiny by a caste scrutiny committee is mandatory for a candidate contesting various elections and also for examinations and jobs. NCP minister Nawab Malik is firing salvos, day in and day out, against Wankhede, who must now not only counter the allegations, and combat drug cartels but also prove that his caste certificate papers are in order. Clearly, there are too many forces giving Wankhede a tough time.
devendra fadnavis_twitter

Photo : Twitter

Is Devendra Fadnavis Being Groomed For Delhi?

Like corporate India, BJP too invests in future leaders. The latest news wafting from party HQ is that the Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra state assembly, Devendra Fadnavis, is being groomed to move to the Centre. He is expected to fight the 2024 Lok Sabha polls from Pune which is currently represented by veteran BJP leader Girish Bapat. Fadnavis, who is currently a legislator from Nagpur south west constituency, recently bought a house in Pune. Pune is a safe bet as it is a Brahmin dominated constituency with a sizeable presence of RSS Parivar. Fadnavis has been recently told by the Central leadership to focus on Pune by increasing his visibility there. BJP has launched Samarth Booth Abhiyan with a resolve to retain power in the upcoming elections to the Pune Municipal Corporation. It is the party’s conscious decision to send Fadnavis to Pune to avoid any rumblings as Nagpur, which houses the RSS headquarters, is represented by veteran party leader Nitin Gadkari who will be the party’s nominee for the third successive term. Recently, BJP through a reputed organization conducted a survey for PMC elections in which it was revealed that the party’s popularity index was 54% in outer Pune which is growing exponentially.

Photo : Fotocorp

Ajit Pawar Dares BJP To Prove Corruption Charges

Veteran NCP leader Ajit Pawar is known for his no nonsense style of functioning. He follows his uncle and the party supremo Sharad Pawar in day-to-day functioning, including attending the Mantralaya, and government and public functions. But of late there has been any number of attempts to tarnish his image with the Maharashtra BJP levelling corruption charges. Pawar preferred to keep a low profile despite being repeatedly targeted by BJP and especially by the former MP Kirit Somaiya over the sale of Jarandeshwar Sugar Mill situated in Satara district. Finally, Pawar decided to take the opposition head on by asking them to prove the allegations. Pawar, it is learnt, gave the list of 65 sugar and textile mills sold or given on lease to operate for 25 years following the High Court order. Now the ball is in BJP’s court. They have to respond not just to get the headlines in the newspapers and TV channels but also to take the case to its logical conclusion. It may be recalled that BJP had threatened to submit truckloads of proof in the alleged irrigation scam linking it to Ajit Pawar but till date has failed to prove it, says NCP insiders. Power tussle in Maharashtra is getting curiouser and curiouser.
sharad fadnavis

Now It Is A Face Off Between BJP And NCP In Maharashtra

The Sharad Pawar led Nationalist Congress Party’s aggressive posture has put the otherwise combative Bharatiya Janata Party on the defensive. NCP kept quiet despite repeated attacks by BJP leader Kirit Somaiya targeting party supremo Sharad Pawar, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and former home minister Anil Deshmukh over alleged corruption and various scams. NCP minister Nawab Malik has alleged collusion between BJP and Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in the seizure of drugs on cruise liner, and the subsequent arrests. BJP party leaders like Pravin Darekar, Atul Bhatkhalkar, and Ashish Shelar Ram Kadam have dismissed Malik’s charges, but the allegations over the involvement of party office bearer Manish Bhanushali’s role in the ongoing saga continue. According to observers, “BJP cut a sorry figure after Bhanushali’s photos with PM, HM, former CM, party president were released on social media.” This is NCP’s attempt to make it amply clear that it has no plans to cosy up with BJP. Pawar has also made it clear that he will go all out to mobilize non BJP parties to counter BJP in 2024 polls. Clearly, BJP faces a tough challenge to revive its anti-corruption crusader image. Party insiders in Maharashtra admit that it is time BJP rejigs its strategy as merely criticising the Maha Vikas Aghadi will not garner votes. Is Devendra Fadnavis listening?
aditya thackeray

Photo : Twitter

Aaditya Thackeray To Be Face Of Sena’s Campaign For BMC Polls

Thackeray scion Aaditya Thackeray is on move. Aaditya, who is the Tourism and Environment Minister and also the Mumbai Suburban District Guardian Minister, has increased his visibility by attending social, religious, party and government functions. But the focus is on launching a number of infrastructure projects including Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s Mumbai Coastal Road Project, Mumbai Trans Harbour Link, sewage disposal projects and Mumbai Metro projects ahead of the ensuing BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections. Shiv Sena, which is leading the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, has expressed its resolve to retain power in India’s richest civic body, BMC, despite its estranged ally BJP’s Mission 2022. Although Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who is also Shiv Sena President, will play a lead role in poll management and campaigning, Aaditya will be party’s face to sell party’s pro-development agenda in addition to Marathi Manoos plank. Aaditya has already hired a public relations agency to take position across print, electronic and social media. A well-educated, progressive and friends of almost every community, it is Shiv Sena’s attempt to lure non-Marathi and Muslim votes by projecting Aaditya as its face. It is a paradigm shift for a party which in the past was accused of running campaign against various communities. Will the voter fall for Sena’s bait? Only time will tell.

Photo : Wikipedia

Is Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar Under Modi’s Radar?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is known for delivering shock therapy. It was visible sometimes back when BJP replaced the veteran Lingayat leader BS Yeddyurappa as the chief minister of Karnataka by appointing Basavraj Bomai. Likewise, Modi took the call to replace Uttarkhand’s then chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat with Lok Sabha member Tirath Singh Rawat. In July, four months after being made chief minister, Tirath Singh Rawat was replaced by two-time MLA Pushkar Singh Dhami. In Gujarat, ahead of assembly elections slated for 2022, Modi surprised the party legislators by appointing a first time MLA Bhupendra Patel, who hails from the politically influential Patidar community, thereby replacing Home Minister Amit Shah’s confidant Vijay Rupani who comes from the Jain community. Rupani was the fourth CM to be replaced by BJP in the last six months. Now, within the BJP circle, there is a strong buzz about replacing Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar who does not belong to the Jat community, by appointing a Jat community leader especially in the wake of ongoing farmers’ agitation. Khattar, who was handpicked by Modi, has been under the latter’s radar for his style of functioning during his second term. Also, Khattar’s controversial statement of “jaise ko taisa,” asking BJP’s farmers’ arm to form groups against Opposition-led farmers’ blockades seems to have angered the top leaders of BJP.
parambir singh_003

Absconding Former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh Spotted In Manali?

Former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh, who is avoiding his arrest in multiple cases including extortion, has not left the country and moved to Russia or Dubai but is believed to be in Manali, according to highly placed sources. Singh, who through his letter had levelled serious allegations against Maharashtra’s former home minister Anil Deshmukh (alleged that he was demanding Rs 100 crore to be extorted from bars), has not only dumped his mobile number but used the number of his close relatives and continues to be untraceable. Singh, who had taken the move to target Deshmukh allegedly at the behest of few political heavyweights, has realized that they have already disowned him and therefore he is now exploring new legal avenues to avoid arrest. On the other hand, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government is pressing for his suspension by making the case foolproof to avoid further legal battles. Already the Thane Police in August issued a Lookout circular against Singh; and is examining the service conditions concerning suspension. Sources say that the government is determined to teach Singh a lesson for defaming it and also challenging its authority. It is to be seen whether Singh may face the axe after Dussera or Diwali. Clearly, time is certainly running out for Singh.

BJP-RSS Leaving No Stones Unturned To Win UP Elections

Despite the opposition charges of polarization, Maha panchayat activism and call by agitating farmers to oust the party from Uttar Pradesh, the BJP with full support from the RSS Parivar has geared up for the upcoming assembly elections. It has held marathon meetings with RSS bigwigs, including Mohan Bhagwat, BL Santosh and Krishna Prakash, to further strengthen coordination between the party organization and RSS Parivar. Besides the agenda of Hindutva and grand Ram temple in Ayodhya, BJP is also strongly taking up the development agenda with the voters in UP while exposing “non-trustworthy opposition.” Apart from the media blitzkrieg with joint photos of PM Narendra Modi and CM Yogi Adityanath, the party will project its strong leadership during the campaigning. Bhagwat’s recent statement that Hindus and Muslims share same ancestry came quite handy for the BJP to reach out to Muslim voters with an assurance that they will be given due share in development and efforts will be made for proximity between the two communities. “The Muslim population in UP is 17-19%, but their share in the benefits of welfare schemes is 30-35%,” Yogi pointed out earlier in the state assembly. For now the ball is in Yogi’s court to do everything possible to retain power. Of course, the role of RSS Parivar will be crucial in BJP’S victory which is badly needed for the party to hit a hat trick in 2024 general elections.

Photo : Twitter

Gadkari’s Parleys With Sena Govt For Road Projects Stuns Partymen Readying For A Fight

Even though state BJP leaders are busy stepping up attacks against the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government, Union minister Nitin Gadkari is singing a development tune, clearly avoiding any war of words. Gadkari, who always maintains that politics should not be mixed with development, especially once the elections are over, on Friday (September 24) stunned his state unit leaders by announcing that he will soon meet Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Public Work Minister Ashok Chavan to discuss a slew of road and highway projects that will decongest Mumbai and also transform the transportation sector across the state. Gadkari has suggested change in design of a flyover and highway project in Pune but said Delhi Mumbai Expressway can be extended up to Nariman Point so the distance between two cities can be covered in 12 hours. He, however, is seeking the state government’s pro-active role – and not funds – as he assured that it will be the Central government’s responsibility. Gadkari is still remembered for the passion and resolve with which he completed 55 flyovers in Mumbai and the long pending Mumbai-Pune Expressway. Clearly, he stands out to be the only BJP leader who wants to go the extra mile to help the estranged ally Shiv Sena-led government in Maharashtra. Is there more to it than meets the eye?

Photo : Fotocorp

BJP Takes Aim At MVA’s Political Image Ahead Of BMC Polls, After Failing To Topple The Govt

After its failure in pulling down the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, the BJP has decided to rejig its strategy by stepping up attacks against the government and portray it as corrupt and inactive. The decision to adopt this strategy was taken after the state unit was given go ahead by the central leadership. Apart from exposing the alleged scams and corruption involving ministers, it is learnt, the BJP – led by leaders like Kirit Somaiya – will target Shiv Sena and the party controlled BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) ahead of upcoming elections slated for 2022. The agenda is quite clear: to tarnish MVA’s image and create a perception that the incumbent government is not interested in the State’s progress but only keen on minting money – and in the process, neglecting people. Political observers hold that Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress seem to be lacking a comprehensive strategy and proper coordination to counter BJP’s charges. Despite almost two years in power, the MVA partners were unable to expose alleged scams and corruption involving the BJP ministers during 2014-19. Ahead of the BMC elections, it will be a free for all as both the sides are expected to ramp up their efforts to attack each other to meet their political goals. In this tug-of-war, it is the poor citizens who will continue to be neglected.

It’s The MVA Govt In Power But BJP Seen Calling The Shots?

Even though the BJP is out of power, it has its say in the functioning of the government, say Mantralaya insiders. A case in point is that the contracts given in the information technology sector during Devendra Fadnavis’ rule continued to be carried forward. This, despite repeated pleas by a section of Maha Vikas Aghadi partners to change the contractors and developers in IT. It seems project implementation officers appointed by the IT companies up to the village level continue to work and get their perks without any problem. Fadnavis and company are therefore happy as they continue to get access to important documents without much hassle, say insiders. This perhaps explains why BJP has been able to take MVA head on in several issues. IT is just the tip of the iceberg; there are other departments including home, finance, irrigation, revenue and public works where BJP’s ‘say’ is still given enough weightage. Recently, former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis was targeted by NCP for holding meetings with the IAS and IPS officers. This is yet another example of Fadnavis clout in the state administration, which has grown sharply after the Antilla bomb scare exposed the role of rogue cops and lawmakers.
Parambir Singh_003

After Look Out Notice, Top Cop Param Bir Singh May Be Put In Absconders’ List

The Maharashtra Government has sought legal opinion on the suspension of former Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh and how to declare him an absconder. This is in the wake of Singh not appearing before the Chandiwal Commission, as also a lookout notice served to him in relation to various cases. The trigger was Singh not reporting to his duty in his capacity as the Director General Home Guards. Top government officials have had a series of meetings involving home department, senior police officers, law and judiciary department, and battery of lawyers as the government wants to tread cautiously so that its actions will pass the test of law. A division bench of Bombay HC on September 16 rejected Singh’s plea challenging two probes launched against him by the Maharashtra government. The HC asked him to approach the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) as the inquiries were of administrative nature pertaining to his conduct as the Police Commissioner. Sources said he will have limited options including either to challenge the HC order in the Supreme Court or approach the CAT or appear before the Chandiwal Commission to plead his case. Some senior officers point out that Singh’s arrest is imminent in cases related to extortion and bribery. Time and options are running out for an officer who despite serving over three decades in Maharashtra Police has to come clean of all charges.

L To R: Pradnya Satav, Mukul Wasnik, Prithviraj Chavan , Ghulam Nabi Azad & Avinash Pande

Congress Weighing Five Contenders For Maharashtra Bypoll For The Rajya Sabha Seat

There are one too many aspirants in Maharashtra to file their nominations for the Rajya Sabha election necessitated in the wake of the death of Rajiv Satav, a close confidant of Congress MP Rahul Gandhi. Some of the names that are doing rounds are: Former leader of opposition Gulam Nabi Azad, Former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, whose name figured in G23 of disgruntled party members, former Union Minister Mukul Wasnik, former in charge of Rajasthan Avinash Pande and Satav’s wife Pradnya. Pradnya, who has been recently appointed as the vice president of the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee, may be considered being Rajiv’s wife and her inclination to play a decisive role in active politics. Wasnik has lost local touch although he is in the inner circle of Gandhi family. Whether Congress will nominate one of these contenders or spring a surprise by giving a ticket to a new face will soon be known.
om prakash chautala

Photo : Wikipedia

Now, At 86, Om Prakash Chautala Rallies Third Front To Take On Modi

Om Prakash Chautala, a former Chief Minister of Haryana from the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and son of Deputy Prime Minister Chaudhary Devi Lal, has opened communication channels with various political parties to form a Third Front ahead of the next Lok Sabha elections. Chautala, who had walked free from Delhi’s Tihar Jail after serving a 10-year jail term in a teacher’s recruitment scam, wants to play a new innings at the age of 86: To provide an alternative to the BJP and the Congress. However, Chautala will have to strive to win the confidence of small, regional and like-minded parties to form a third front as BJP has already launched an exercise to lure such parties. Chautala’s party INLD has lost its presence in Haryana while regional satraps may not like to accept his leadership considering his past. Third front has been a disaster in Indian politics. A veteran BJP leader, however, holds that there may be an opposition front, third, fourth or fifth front, BJP’s victory for the third successive term is sure. He did not forget to add “Modi Hai to Sab Mumkin Hai.”

Sharad Pawar’s ‘Zamindar Without Haveli’ Jab Strikes A Chord With Reformist Congress Leaders

Nationalist Congress Party Chief Sharad Pawar’s “zamindar” dig at the Congress party has been hailed by many G-23 group leaders who are making a strong case for the reforms and rejuvenation of the organization lest it loses political relevance. Interestingly, save for Gautam Patole, Nitin Raut and Balasaheb Thorat from Maharashtra, none of the Congress leaders across the country slammed Pawar for his observation that Congress’s situation was now like impoverished zamindars (landlords) who have no land and cannot maintain their havelis (mansions). Pawar chose to target Congress at a time when there has been unanimity among opposition parties excluding BSP, AAP and MIM to join hands to take on BJP in the run up to the next general elections. Pawar has, however, clarified that such a front won’t be possible without the Congress party playing a crucial role. Former union minister Verapppa Moily, who was among the 23 leaders who wrote to Sonia Gandhi last year seeking organisational overhaul, opposed the institutionalisation of the G-23 saying the group has “no role and has become irrelevant.” However, leaders during private conversations admit it is “now or never” situation for the Congress leadership to act fast for its revival or witness more desertions. And what intrigues everybody is the deafening silence of the Gandhis.

Photo : Twitter

With Uncertainty Over Leadership, Top Congress Leaders Seen Favouring Pawar To Lead The Non-BJP Front

Days after dinner hosted by veteran Congress leader and member of the G-23 group Kapil Sibal and lack of party’s initiative for the election of a new chief, a section of the disgruntled leaders want the former Union Minister and Nationalist Congress Party Chief Sharad Pawar to lead them. A former Union Minister and a prominent member of the G-23 indicated that Pawar is a leader who believes in consensus and has stature in national politics. Some of them point out that if the Congress splits due to disagreement over the leadership issue, these leaders can accept Pawar’s leadership without officially joining NCP but as a leader of a non-BJP front. However, there is a major hurdle as Pawar insists that Congress should play a central role and it cannot be sidelined to have a united front of like-minded and secular parties. Further, G-23 leaders are also unhappy over the brother-sister duo Rahul-Priyanka for creating further divide in the party. They do admit interim president Sonia Gandhi’s initiative to convene a meeting of Congress and like-minded parties, but they claim it is not enough unless the mother and siblings are prepared to decide the leadership issue without any further delay. They fear that it will cost party heavily as Congress will witness further divisions and desertions across the country which will be a good news for BJP.

Photo : Twitter

Chidambaram Mounts Mission Goa To Unite Party, Alliances, To Combat BJP

With the appointment of former Union Finance Minister and veteran leader P Chidambaram in charge of Goa, the Congress party seems to be learning from past mistakes and cash in on anti-incumbency against the BJP led government to regain power in the upcoming assembly elections. Immediately after his appointment, Chidambaram dissolved state and district level party committees to start anew. He has increased his visits to Goa and in every meeting, he insists that factionalism and intra party feud will not be tolerated while making a strong case to put up a united fight against BJP which is struggling to combat the pandemic and groupism within the party. Recently, BJP’s core group met and asked the embattled chief minister Pramod Sawant to further tighten the grip on the government and strengthen coordination between the party organization and the government. Chidambaram has asked the senior leaders to reach out to the voters to expose BJP’s misgovernance and divisive politics. Interestingly, this time round the party is engaged with smaller and like-minded parties to stitch a pre-poll alliance to avoid the mistake it committed after the last assembly elections. So, Chidambaram is heading Congress party’s Mission Goa and the party hopes to win back the state.

Photo: INC.IN

Non-Stop Party Feuds Casting Ominous Shadow Over Congress’ Call For Opposition Unity

Just a few days back, the Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi gave a call for unity among opposition parties to take on the BJP. Ironically, it’s her party’s warring factions in Punjab and Rajasthan who need this unity the most. Sonia was briefed by both Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot factions. Gehlot, it seems, is in no mood to entertain Pilot and his demand for cabinet expansion. In Punjab, a different drama is being played out and looks like the party is on the verge of a vertical split. The new state chief Navjot Siddhu seems to be a man in a hurry while Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh is in mood to surrender. He is prepared to fight internal rivals and BJP. Harish Rawat who is in charge of the Punjab unit, at the behest of the High Command, has asked Siddhu to get rid of his advisors to avoid further rift and controversies. But Siddhu seems equally adamant and belligerent. He is seeking a report card of Captain’s five-year rule. Rahul and Priyanka who were responsible for convincing Pilot not to quit the party are unable to come out with viable solutions either in Rajasthan or Punjab. Says party insiders, Congress is not just directionless but has lost vigour to save the government. Meanwhile both BJP and AAP are enjoying the fight.
narayan Rane_Amit Shah

Photo - Twitter

Shiv Sena’s Action On BJP Heavyweight Rane Raises Tempers Ahead Of BMC Polls

Firebrand and street smart leader Narayan Rane is now BJP’s missile against estranged ally Shiv Sena in the run up to the BMC elections. His arrest and bail have increased his stock value in Delhi. Modi and Shah have not only neglected demand for Rane’s resignation as predicted in the media after recent clashes, but they are also thinking of giving him more responsibility to revive BJP in the Konkan region which is a Sena bastion — and also delivering a befitting reply by winning BMC election. Even though a few BJP and RSS leaders are unhappy with Rane’s glorification, a thinking among majority of the leaders, given the current circumstances, is to back Rane. He is the best bet to take on the Sena in its backyard. However, a negative point is that Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena is heading the MVA government. Thackeray may use the power of his office to checkmate Rane’s feisty politics vis a vis expose BJP’s politics of opportunism in neglecting the loyalists. A senior BJP leader says that if the party fails to dislodge Sena from the BMC then Rane will have to take the blame, but if it wins then all credit will go to Rane. This brings the million-dollar question: Will he pose a challenge to Devendra Fadnavis and others in the future? Wait for BMC polls!

In Deference To High Command’s Wish UP Chief Minister Yogi Changes His Style Of Functioning

After parleys with the Central leadership and RSS veterans, the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has tweaked his style of functioning both at the government and the party level. Party insiders point out that Yogi has decided to reach out to his deputy chief minister, ministers and disgruntled ministers, legislators and MPs in a bid to avoid factionalism ahead of upcoming assembly elections. Yogi has visited Delhi and met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and a couple of other leaders and ministers to discuss organisational and policy issues. The agenda is getting nods for the party nominees for members of legislative council and for the much-awaited cabinet expansion. Four people are in the fray for MLC. These include: Jitin Prasada who recently joined BJP from Congress; former UP BJP chief Laxmikant Bajpai; and Sanjay Nishad of the Nishad Party. This is Yogi’s second visit to the national capital in a month. Interestingly, Yogi’s move is to get maximum Centrally-funded projects to be completed ahead of the polls and also kick start new projects already in the pipeline. A recent Mood of the Nation survey conducted by India Today ranks Yogi next only to Modi in popularity as the next choice as India’s Prime Minister. Hopefully, the new style will help him expand his appeal further (Yogi polled 11% votes up from 3% in August 2020)

AICC Old Guard To Propose New President, Stands By The Gandhis

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi’s close confidants KC Venugopal, Gaurav Gogai and others are furious over the dinner hosted by a G-23 member and former union minister Kapil Sibal on his birthday and inviting opposition party leaders. Sibal has said it was not an attempt to launch a non-BJP front without Congress playing a lead role. But Rahul supporters are not ready to accept; they strongly feel it is further attempt to embarrass Rahul who is already taking initiatives to mobilise opposition parties in and outside the Parliament against the Modi government. A former minister, who was present at Sibal’s dinner, said Sonia-Rahul Gandhi duo is an integral part for any non- BJP front but G-23 will step up its efforts to mobilise like-minded parties ahead of the next Lok Sabha elections. “A fresh demand will be made for convening the plenary session of the All India Congress Committee to elect a new president and thereafter launch a nationwide drive to build up front against BJP. Already some leaders have sent signal to Sonia, if she agrees party will get a new president.” Another leader, who was minister in both UPA I and II government, used cricket lingua to convey his message. Agreed, the wicket is sticky, but there are enough veterans and experienced players within the Congress party who can give a new spin and win the match.

Maharashtra BJP Revs Up For Mission BMC, Take On Shiv Sena

BJP has put Mission Topple Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra on hold and instead is focusing on securing the country’s richest civic body — the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and win the mayoral poll. With strong backing from the RSS parivar it has launched Samarth Booth Abhiyan which lays emphasis on reaching the voters up to the booth level and thereby strengthening the party to take on Shiv Sena’s vibhag or ward level network. There are 227 wards and 12,000 booths. BJP proposes to contact every voter at the booth level in a serious bid to counter Shiv Sena in the upcoming BMC elections. It has already started booth-wise revision of voters’ list and one-on-one meetings with voters. The BJP insiders claim the party has taken care to appoint committed workers as booth and shakti sthal pramukh to avoid groupism and factionalism. The party leadership’s diktat is not to entertain division. Interestingly, the Modi-Shah duo are closely monitoring the developments. Party President JP Nadda has already reviewed the ground level preparations with former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, city unit chief Mangal Prabhat Lodha, and state unit chief Chandrakant Patil. Meanwhile there are strong rumours that Ashish Shelar, former minister and party legislator is tipped to take over as the state unit chief following his several rounds of meetings with Home Minister Amit Shah.

Sanjay Raut’s Session With Rahul Gandhi Conjures Up New Possibilities

The growing proximity between Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut and Congress MP Rahul Gandhi has surprised not only the traditional Congress leaders but also Shiv Sena’s erstwhile ally BJP. Both Sena and Congress are keen to further consolidate their ties not just for the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections but also for the forthcoming Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections. Despite BJP’s Mission 2022 and resentment from Mumbaikars on a couple of issues, Shiv Sena is hopeful of retaining power in BMC and for that it needs Congress and NCP by its sides to lure non-Marathi speaking voters. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi have been regularly interacting over phone but Raut has directly opened channels with Rahul and thereby has sent signal to the Maharashtra Congress leaders to fall in line and stop ”going solo” talk.  Raut who was part of the core team that saw the formation of Maha Vikas Aghadi gave Rahul a complete run down as to how Sena functions. An impressed Rahul is likely to visit Maharashtra soon and meet up with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. Essentially, Sena is sending a message to BJP that even as it hobnobs with Congress it is not moving away from its Hindutva and Marathi Manoos agenda. Political analysts see this high profile meeting as optics and say nothing concrete will emerge until NCP supremo Sharad Pawar takes a lead.

Photo : Fotocorp

Is Pawar Running With The Hare And Hunting With The Hounds?

NCP MP Supriya Sule once said: ”My father is unpredictable.” That was experienced this week not just by his partymen but even opponents. Sule’s father and NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, on the one hand, has taken up the role of bringing Opposition parties together to put up a joint front against BJP while on the other hand he met PM Narendra Modi a fortnight ago on the issue of amendments to the Banking Regulation Act. Two days ago he led a delegation to meet the newly appointed Cooperation Minister Amit Shah to draw his attention to problems plaguing the cooperative sugar industry in Maharashtra. To avoid speculation Pawar released a letter in which he had sought Shah’s appointment. Further, he has offered to help West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s ‘Khela Hobe’ call in all the states. Parallelly, he met RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav. All these actions seem to have puzzled his close confidant, BJP leaders and other political leaders. Everyone is trying to decode Pawar’s actions. Anti-corruption activist Anjali Damania, senior bureaucrats believe that Pawar will join hands with BJP soon and ditch Shiv Sena and Congress. Pawar’s purported meeting with Shah a couple of months ago at the residence of a leading industrialist at Ahmedabad had triggered the talk of two parties coming together. Like cricket, nobody can say until the last ball is bowled.
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Breakfast With Rahul Gives A New High To Opposition Unity Talks

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi’s breakfast meeting with the Opposition parties barring Akali Dal, MIM, AAP and BSP to decide strategy to take on BJP-led government on Pegasus spyware snooping, farmers’ agitation and rising auto fuel prices is being looked by the participants with a lot of reservations. Some of the participants recall that similar efforts were made ahead of 2019 elections, but Opposition unity remained merely a slogan largely due to ego and prestige issues of regional parties and Congress party’s rigid stand that they are first among equals. Some of the participants argued that the Opposition unity in a bid to put up a solid front against mighty BJP and especially against Modi-Shah duo will not happen as some parties fear retributive action by central investigating agencies. However, participants were unanimous to accept one thing that Rahul is now approachable and ready to listen to them. But for how many days, how many months, is still a million dollar question. Some of the leaders who attended the meeting hoped that such meetings do not become a non-starter like in the past. They feel there should be a concrete action plan instead of breakfast meetings which are mere photo ops. Clearly, my enemy’s enemy is my friend does not fly today. You need unity and strategy.

Why Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyuruppa Stepped Down?

It was BJP’s calculated decision to ask party’s poster boy and Lingayat face BS Yediyuruppa to resign as Chief Minister of Karnataka. His continuation may have led to factionalism with the opposition hurling allegations of corruption. The decision was taken after a series of meetings between the RSS and the BJP leaders, especially Home Minister Amit Shah and JP Nadda while keeping PM Narendra Modi in the loop. Even though Yediyuruppa is credited with BJP’s growth in Karnataka and its opening in south India, RSS and a section of BJP realized that this asset may become a liability ahead of the next assembly elections. Party insiders have not forgotten how the mining barons, Reddy Brothers, called the shots a few years ago and caused a major harm to the party’s image. The Parivar is clear that contractors and fixers should not be allowed to create their clout and tarnish the party’s image. Had Yediyuruppa continued, RSS feared that the party’s image may have taken a beating due to alleged links between CM’s relatives, close aides and middlemen. Ultimately the party took a call to send off Yediyuruppa honourably instead of sacking him publicly! RSS activists BL Santosh, Krishna Gopal played a major role in making a strong argument for a change.   On February 1, 2021 published a story that hunt was on to replace BSY.

RSS Stands Rock Solid Behind Modi In Dealing With Pegasus Storm

It is not just BJP leadership which is united to counter Opposition parties on the controversy over the alleged snooping by Israeli cyberarms firm NSO Group by using Pegasus spyware but also the RSS functionaries and the members of Parivar who are solidly behind Prime Minister PM Narendra Modi and the government at the Centre. Pegasus is a spyware that can be covertly installed on mobile phones. The common thread: It is a conspiracy by the Opposition parties to defame and discredit not just the BJP-led government but also India at a time when the country is weathering the coronavirus pandemic. Days after the expose by news agency and the Opposition’s attempt to disrupt parliament, RSS leaders including BL Santosh, Krishna Gopal and Suresh Soni internally met and later communicated with Home Minister Amit Shah and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi extending their support to the government. They assured to talk to Modi for a possible tie-up in a serious bid to argue government’s case among the people. After the scrapping of Article 370 and the NRC and CAA, it is RSS’ turn to be with the government to foil the Opposition and Left wing organisation’s attempt to target BJP, especially Modi.

Congress heavyweights Balasaheb Thorat, Nana Patole and Ashok Chavan

Congress’ Patole Disturbs MVA Peace, Drives NCP-Sena Closer

Congress in Maharashtra is a divided house. The state unit chief Nana Patole seems to be a man in hurry – with his going solo mission for future elections. His frequent outbursts against CM Uddhav Thackeray and Deputy CM Ajit Pawar (alleged to be tracking his moves) and describing Sharad Pawar as “MVA’s remote control” has shocked many. Veterans like Balasaheb Thorat and Ashok Chavan, and young Turks like Sunil Kedar and Satej Patil want party to expand but insist that it should not be at the cost of allies Shiv Sena and NCP. They suspect that Pataole’s stratagems may work to the advantage of Sena and NCP, who have consolidated their position in the state. Both, Sena and NCP have made it amply clear that if the Congress ditches the alliance, then the two parties will contest elections together. Congress insiders point out that both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are keen for the continuation of the party’s alliance with Sena and NCP, both at the state and the national level. Meanwhile it is learnt that a section of Congress has quietly launched movement to oust Patole and bring in a new chief who will be a bridge maker. But, the question remains: is Patole acting on his own volition or at the behest of the High Command?

Photo: Fotocorp

Why Modi Dropped Ravi Shankar Prasad, Prakash Javadekar From His Cabinet?

The surprising exit of two known BJP faces Prakash Javadekar and Ravi Shankar Prasad from the Union Cabinet was not just based on performance criteria but other factors like their caste, mass base and utility within the party. “What is the political capital they bring to the table,” asks a political analyst. As I&B Minister Javadekar was pursuing RSS agenda and Modi government’s slew of initiatives. But his handling of various issues seems to have made him the object of ridicule, especially among the Delhi media. Besides, it was felt that the move will not evoke any backlash from Maharashtrian Brahmin community — to which Javadekar belongs. Whereas in Narayan Rane, the party saw a Maratha who could counter Shiv Sena and consolidate the party’s base in Konkan region ahead of the forthcoming Assembly polls. As for Ravi Shankar Prasad, whose electability transcends his being a kayastha from Patna, and who strongly put the government’s case against the dominant global Big Media, especially Twitter, the speculation continues. A large section of media and also some insiders say his arrogance, and style of working created a lot of anti-sentiments against India. In a few weeks, there is a meeting with the U.S. President Joe Biden, who is a tough negotiator and the Indian government does not want to lose its bargaining position, holds a corporate lobbyist. Besides, as a law minister Prasad failed to take initiative in filling a large number of posts of judges. According to some observers, he created a rift with the judiciary that was a negative factor against him. Insiders say both Javadekar and Prasad are expected to be rehabilitated by giving them organisational responsibilities in the run up to the assembly elections to the five assemblies.

Circle Of Confusion Continues At The Grand Old Party

For reasons known to a few, the Grand Old Party has not been able to declare date for the election of the new president. This dithering poses twin challenges: keeping its flock together in various states and avoiding internal bickering among senior leaders. This indifference has already led to diehard Congressmen quitting: Jitendra Prasad, followed by Pranab Mukerjee’s son Abhijit Mukherjee. But so far nobody has been able to persuade Rahul Gandhi to reverse his stand and once again assume the post and responsibility of Congress party president. The insiders rue his approach, saying instead of putting his house in order Rahul is taking potshots at the BJP government from time to time, on wrong advice given by people close to him. “They have lost all elections in recent times, yet there is no introspection or post mortem. In the corporate world the CEO would have been sacked,” says a political analyst. Lack of decisions at the high command level has made the leaders, and rank and file restless. Witness this: In all Congress ruled states of Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Punjab, the rift among senior leaders is out in the open; and so too in Karnataka where the party is in the opposition. For BJP and other regional parties, a rudderless Congress is good news.
manoj sinha

How L-G Manoj Sinha Is Bridging Dilli Ki Doori, Dil Ki Doori

Manoj Sinha, in his role as the Lieutenant Governor of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), is a man on a mission, reaching out to the region’s key stakeholders, including the Abdullahs and Mufti, and ensuring peace and security needed to hold assembly elections, just like the District Development Council (DDC) elections that won him laurels from all quarters. He is arguably Prime Minister Narendra Modi Government’s most agreeable messenger who is doing everything to help remove Dilli Ki Doori (the distance from Delhi) as well as Dil Ki Doori (distance from the heart) through a raft of development work and thoughtful conversations. His confidence building exercise has indeed yielded positive results. Opposition leaders under the aegis of Gupkar alliance participated at the meeting chaired by PM Modi – the first meet after the scrapping of Article 370. Sinha’s presiding over the meeting moved many when they learnt that his son was getting married during the same time. As a people friendly gesture, Sinha discontinued the darbar tradition, letting Jammu and Srinagar secretariats operate from either Jammu or Kashmir throughout the year. This move has also given savings of Rs 200 crore. His focus on reviving the J&K economy, helping the administration embrace critical Digital expertise, and empowering local bodies, will ensure that the newly elected government will have everything on a platter.

BJP Banking On Modi Charisma, Poll Management In Five Election-Bound States

Undeterred by a big setback in West Bengal, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has started preparations for assembly elections slated next year in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa. After the recent marathon meeting attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, party president JP Nadda and senior office-bearers, the party has set sights on increasing the assembly segment-wise presence of the senior leaders. The saffron party has decided to strengthen the booth level management in all five states — notwithstanding criticism over the handling of the pandemic and the covid-hit economy. BJP will set up a five-member committee for each page of the electoral roll with the objective of providing the much-needed support to the party, and reaching out to every voter in the individual constituency. UP is critical for the party’s quest to retain power and the party is leaving nothing to chance: it’s bringing together CM Yogi Adityanath, Dy CM KP Maurya and other factions. Modi’s blue-eyed boy AK Sharma, who has been appointed as the state unit vice president, is also likely to play a key role in the makeover after the Yogi government came under attack on numerous fronts. BJP insiders say that Modi has yet again taken the control of poll management in a serious bid to avoid a West Bengal-like setback.

Photo : Fotocorp

Sanjay Raut’s Meeting Diplomacy Once Again Indicates All Is Not Well In MVA

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, who hogged the headlines ahead of the party’s official break up with alliance partner BJP and later during the formation of three party-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, is again on a major mission to save the government. Raut has been insisting that the alliance would stay in power and complete its five-year term. He met both the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and NCP Supremo Sharad Pawar twice in a bid to strengthen the coordination and thereby address the disagreements among the ruling partners. Raut has admitted that there are differences, but they can be resolved. However, his fresh initiatives come at a time the BJP is said to have renewed efforts to form the government and if rumour mills are to be believed that too with Sena. Another set of rumours doing rounds is that the Urban Development & Public Works minister Eknath Shinde may walk away with one third of the 56 MLAs to join hands with the BJP. Four times elected MLA, Shinde enjoys good rapport with his party colleagues. But diehard Sainiks dismiss all these rumours and say nobody will ditch Uddhav Thackeray. But, with so much push and pull combined with Raut’s meeting diplomacy clearly indicates that all is not well within MVA and it is a matter of time.
devendra uddhav

BJP-Sena To Bury The Hatchet and Form Govt In Maharashtra?

Is it a truce between the two estranged partners BJP and Shiv Sena? According to reliable sources, BJP has renewed its efforts to form the government with estranged ally Shiv Sena in Maharashtra – a move that gathered momentum after CM Uddhav Thackeray’s exclusive meeting with PM Narendra Modi. It is learnt that the Union Cabinet expansion has been deliberately delayed in view of the new development in Maharashtra. Sena will be accommodated in terms of cabinet berth. Devendra Fadnavis is likely to become CM for the third time while the name of Aaditya Thackeray for deputy CM is doing the rounds. Party insiders indicate that the “Maha Vikas Aghadi government may fall in the next 72 hours or in two weeks”. The deal is that the BJP-led government will not pursue various legal cases against Sena leaders. It may be recalled that Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik, in a letter to Thackeray, had urged him to patch up with BJP to avoid harassment from Central agencies. Coming together will also help in the coming civic elections. Now the ball is in Thackeray’s court, and he has to decide whether to once again play a second fiddle in the interest of the party’s future or remain in the driver’s seat with the NCP and Congress.

L To R: Sushil Kumar Shinde, Prithviraj Chavan & Nana Patole

Can Congress Regain Its Pristine Glory In Maharashtra?

Congress party’s ‘going solo’ call by the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president Nana Patole has not gone down well with the alliance partners Shiv Sena and NCP. But, he has received strong support from two former CMs Sushil Kumar Shinde and Prithviraj Chavan. Both have hailed Patole’s efforts in a short span to rejuvenate the party and recharge the cadre. Both said there is nothing wrong to declare party’s resolve to regain its past glory and become No. 1 again and assume power single-handedly. In fact, Chavan went a step ahead saying that the MVA was formed with the single point objective of keeping BJP out of power and that has nothing to do with the Congress party pursuing its expansion plan. Chavan said Congress can tolerate Shiv Sena’s ideology but not that of BJP. With dissensions within the party, and the Congress leaders speaking out of turn, can this number four party in Maharashtra regain its pristine glory? That’s a wager nobody is willing to take.

Growing Trust Deficit And Widening Rift In Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi

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

Thackerays send Chadar to Ajmer Sharif -- Photo :

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

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


Editor’s Note: Big Punch In Small Pack

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