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purohit zutshi

Lt Col Prasad Purohit and Chitkala Zutshi

Malegaon Blast Case: Lt Col Purohit Must Pay Ex-Maharashtra Home Secretary Rs 10,000 To Cross Examine Her Again

The special court trying the 2008 Malegaon bomb blast case (323 witnesses deposed, 34 turned hostile) recently asked accused Lt Colonel Prasad Purohit to pay Rs 10,000 to Maharashtra’s former Additional Chief Secretary (Home), Chitkala Zutshi. The directive came after Purohit’s (known for connections with pre-independence Chaphekar Brothers gang in Pune) counsel sought to re-examine Zutshi. The good judge cited her concluded cross examination and said, “Why call a senior citizen repeatedly? She has been here, given evidence. If you want to recall her then pay her Rs 10,000.” Zutshi was cross examined over two-and-a-half days over granting sanction to prosecute the accused in September and queried whether she blindly signed the sanction to prosecute? Fully read the case file? Zutshi also cancelled her return flight ticket on occasion when her cross examination lasted one-and-a-half days. When inquired Zutshi, who was literally hostage during the Pakistani terror attack at The Taj hotel in 2008, confirmed that she was yet to receive the Rs 10,000. Back on the night of November 26/27, 2008, Pakistani handlers got wind of her presence and directed the Fidayeen at the Taj terror site to “Take the home secretary hostage. We will be able to free (arrested terrorist) Ajmal Kasab”.Multi-tasker Zutshi informed Mumbai Police Commissioner Hassan Gafoor of need for specialized forces, shared contact of erstwhile western command army head Arjun Menon and shepherded 46 international/Indian guests stuck in Sea Lounge restaurant with her, till evacuation early next morning.
Nitish Kumar

Caught Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea, Nitish Kumar May Lose Bihar For Courting Lalu Prasad Yadav!

Bihar is undergoing political sickness, with the BJP and JDU drifting apart. The alliance came apart due to Nitish Kumar’s newfound love for Lalu Prasad Yadav. CBI raids followed and recovered hard evidence against the Yadav family, in the land-for-railway-jobs scam. The CBI, sources point out, may arrest multiple family members among Laloo’s big family. Tejaswi Yadav was in London with RaGa when the raids occurred. Union Home Minister Amit Shah has felled many birds with one stone, cutting Nitish Kumar down to size for breaking ranks and for sleeping with the enemy is nothing new for him. The CBI actions have cut off political options Kumar planned with the RJD due to the railway scam where job aspirants parted with 5 to 10 bighas of land for government jobs. Clearly, Nitish Kumar finds himself between the devil and the deep blue sea. No Congress option to go to, since Bihar’s Congress party will likely switch over to the BJP with his own party facing an imminent collapse. Shah has underlined his remote control over the Bihar government from New Delhi and emphasized plans by BJP to take over Bihar’s political administration, sooner than later. And the Congress is silent for the moment.

Prashant Kishor’s Electoral Analytics For Congress, Prescribes Hard Life For Rahul, To Halt Modi’s Progress!

Poll strategist Prashant Kishor’s fresh overture to Congress, a 78 slide PPT is under review. A Congress G23 member says, “PK reached out four months ago. His formal enrolment or associate role was left open ended. We did not ask him to enrol although he had set some preconditions. We wanted to know his role play? His single-minded agenda to defeat Narendra Modi connects with us.” PK next met Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in New Delhi. Former Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan told, “I also had a long (45 minute) meeting with Ms. Gandhi on April 14, submitted suggestions to enthuse demoralised party cadre after results of state assemblies. Decision on PK’s PPT is awaited and pertains to internal party issues, I may not discuss. The Party Chief asked where difficulties exist and sought suggestions.” Another Congress leader says PK is clear that only a broad arrangement of like-minded (anti-Modi) political formations can overcome BJP. Says he, “Importantly, PK charts a clear course for Rahul Gandhi, who must decide to be Prime Minister and if so, eschew party presidentship. Rahul must assume leadership of opposition in Lok Sabha, a disciplined lifestyle. It is hard work, getting up early, reading the day’s agenda, and 9:30 am attendance in Parliament. Moot question is whether RaGa will warm up to PK’s advice after returning from his foreign tour? Will he, won’t he?

Centre’s New Service Rules To Break IAS Nexus With State Governments, On Pain of Two-Year Jail Term

A year after the Union government amended the All India Services (AIS) Rules for the Jammu and Kashmir union territories, under which four IAS officials were recently sacked, and powers of the local administration to grant two three month extensions to superannuated IAS, IPS and IFoS cadre officials was withdrawn, a new notification makes the same rules applicable pan India. A well-placed source told, “The move comes in the wake of West Bengal’s confrontationist attitude, whose then Chief Secretary continues in the state despite repatriation to New Delhi. When PM Narendra Modi visited WB on May 28, 2021 for a ground report on the cyclone that hit the state, CS Alapan Bandyopadhyay did not brief him, even left the meeting. Similarly, Chief Minister Mamta Bannerjee demanded WB’s leader of opposition Suvendu Adhikari be excluded.” In June 2021 Bandhyopadhyay retired and was appointed as Chief Advisor to Banerjee. The new notification, with retrospective effect, disallows such extensions without prior clearance from the Central Vigilance Commission and intelligence committee. The new rules provide for a two-year jail term for officials found in violation and also includes anti-government comments on social media as grounds for action. The new AIS rules will impact other states like Maharashtra where former CS Sitaram Kunte and before him, Ajoy Mehta were also appointed as advisors to CM Uddhav Thackeray post retirement.
Raj Thackeray_FC

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MNS Conundrum Continues As Raj Thackeray Finds New Political Guru In Nitin Gadkari, Post Pawar Phase

It’s Ghar Wapsi for Maharashtra Navnirman Sena Chief Raj Thackeray, who has thrown his weight behind the BJP hereon. This completes the full circle that began when Nitin Gadkari assumed office as the national BJP president years ago, and Raj paid him a visit in Mumbai. Thackeray had Gadkari over for dinner at his Shivaji Park home a day after his militant Hindutva rally at Shivaji Park in Dadar on April 2 where he was introduced as ‘Tiger Raj Thackeray’. The turnout was impressive, as was his fiery one-hour long speech attacking Sharad Pawar and Uddhav Thackeray. Raj Thackeray’s proximity to Gadkari goes back a long way. Circa 2005, Raj announced his own party plans and formed MNS the next year with an avowed anti-north-Indian stance, ironically with financial backers from Uttar Pradesh’s minority segment. Thackeray is now trying to occupy the perceived political space of Hindutva-Marathi voters that Shiv Sena always counts on. This also marks Raj’s volte-face, taking on the BJP after spending 10 days in Gujarat under then CM Narendra Modi’s hospitality, followed up with an-anti-BJP stance before the 2019 general elections, apparently at Pawar’s behest. BJP leader Ashish Shelar played a key role in Raj’s current political disposition, alongside Devendra Fadnavis, who has the final say on Maharashtra. BJP seeks to project Gadkari as the tallest Maharashtra leader to replace Pawar.
amit shah_mamata B

BJP Launches Mission 2024 In West Bengal, To Retain Elected MPs, Expose TMC Misdemeanours

Mission 2024 has commenced for BJP in West Bengal with Union Home Minister Amit Shah setting his sights on Mamata Didi’s political turf, once again. With a more realistic objective this time around, the BJP wants to retain the number of MPs elected in 2019. Shah’s multi-pronged attack upon the TMC government got a shot in the arm by the court directed hand over of investigations into the Birbhum murder, arson killings to the CBI. The BJP also cited public statements by TMC MLA Naren Chakraborty from Asansol asking TMC cadres to warn BJP voters against casting their ballots on pain of death, for the scheduled bye-poll. “If you vote we will presume you voted for BJP and after the election you will be living at your own risk,” Chakraborty said. The EC imposed a seven-day campaign ban on the MLA after the video of his speech emerged. The BJP is pursuing a criminal case against the MLA for threatening people against exercising their vote without fear. A BJP leader told, “Didi is using strong-arm tactics like the erstwhile CPM government of WB employed to keep its grip on power, by hook or by crook. The Congress shoots itself in the foot by keeping mum only to keep the BJP out, like a man willing to die to ensure another woman is widowed also.”

Vasundhara Raje Gets PM Modi's Nod To Battle For Rajasthan

Vasundhara Raje has fortified her continued reign over Rajasthan, as the BJP’s CM face, thanks in no small measure to her face-to-face with Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the last fortnight. Raje was on the radar of the BJP high command for quite some time when the party leadership was actively looking at alternatives to replace her, with Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat first and then Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla being seriously considered for the job. Things have settled down now for the Rani, who celebrated her birthday bash in Boondi, Rajasthan on March 8, 2022, through a show of strength, even as 42 BJP MLAs and a few MPs were in attendance. According to a BJP leader, however, “The Rani made strong statements against the Congress party announcing her serious political intentions. More importantly, Vasundhara Raje has visibly shed her arrogance and even reached out to PM Modi who met her recently in New Delhi where she promised better coordination with the high command going ahead.” With elections to the Rajasthan state assemblies scheduled in December 2023, the BJP high command for its part, after failingly prospecting for an alternative to the Rani, has finally buried the hatchet in the larger interest of the party. With Modi’s sanction Vasundhara is here to stay in Rajasthan.

UP CM Yogi The Ascetic, Had No Favourites In His Cabinet, Added Sugar, Edible Oil To Free Rations Hamper In 2.0

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, did not decide upon his cabinet, leaving it to the high command. Even as Union Home Minister Amit Shah camped in UP for three days before Yogi’s swearing in ceremony, the CM designate said he had no favourites to recommend as cabinet colleagues. A BJP leader told, “Yogi had no role on BJP candidates in 2017 assemblies, while he handled the show by himself in 2022. He was reluctant about Maurya being made his deputy since the latter did not work during the elections.” However, the RSS insisted upon Keshav Prasad Maurya as Dy CM against Yogi’s advice, though he lost elections from the Sirathu assembly constituency. “Dinesh Sharma, who was also Dy CM in Yogi 1.0, declined any interest in not only contesting elections in 2022 but also, any political post, returning to work full time for the RSS. Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh then proposed Brajesh Pathak’s, a Brahmin who came from BSP in 2016, candidature as the second DCM face in UP as 90% Brahmin voters had backed the BJP. Bulldozer Baba, for his part, has launched into 2.0 immediately not only announcing free rations for three months for poor citizens but also, adding three more commodities to the monthly food-grains hamper, that now includes edible oil and sugar.
Param bir singh

The CBI Case On Param Bir Singh: Accused Officer Is No Gentleman Complainant Either.

Supreme Court directions to CBI to take over investigations into criminal complaints lodged in Maharashtra against suspended state Home Guards Chief, Param Bir Singh, has unfolded into a classic study on criminal investigative science. The CBI will need exemplary skills to unravel one side of its brief, probe complaints registered against Maharashtra minister Anil Deshmukh, Anil Parab and others (by complainant Singh), while also establishing criminality in over seven FIRs registered against Singh himself who is accused of corruption in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. One notion that the central investigative agency was going soft on Parambir Singh, will likely dissipate following Singh’s impending arrest by CBI. Importantly, he is a complainant in ongoing CBI investigations on corruption in Maharashtra but now, Singh’s statements as accused in fresh FIRs to be probed, will likely open a can of worms in the coming days. “The CBI will need to demonstrably show extreme efficiency, professionalism to clinically cover investigations into apparently opposite ended criminal complaints in these FIRs, where a former complainant is now an accused,” an intelligence source tells Now BMC Chief Iqbal Chahal has received summons to appear before the I-T department in a probe against BMC Standing Committee Chairman Yaswanth Kamalakar Jadhav. Meanwhile, former Mumbai police commissioner Hemant Nagrale, mysteriously relegated as Director, Maharashtra State Security Guards Board from his high-profile role as Mumbai police commissioner, is yet to take charge nearly a month since his transfer.

Photo : Fotocorp

Pawar-Thackeray Sit Pretty Sure, With Congress On Board To Defeat BJP, Whenever BMC Polls Are Held

Sharad Pawar is sitting pretty with the Shiv Sena and Congress parties. With BMC elections in Mumbai deferred for six months, an imminent face-off between erstwhile alliance partners in Maharashtra — BJP and Shiv Sena — stands temporarily averted. Maharashtra’s MVA government will fight the BMC polls, Thane civic elections and other pending local body elections in alliance, single-mindedly to defeat BJP, with Congress also fully on board now. A BJP leader says, “While the MVA alliance may prove a daunting challenge for us, the Sena will lose out on absolute power it enjoys in BMC to the Congress and NCP. They would have won and yet lost.” The NCP with a single digit representation in BMC will improve its tally on the back of the minority vote bank (that holds significant influence in 52 seats) it stirred up over L’affaire Nawab Malik while Congress will seek to ensure its current tally of 37 corporators rises to over 50. The BJP elected 83 party corporators in 2017 BMC polls when in direct contest against the Sena (85), even as Congress and NCP fought each other, and is still hoping to get over 70 corporators elected this time around. Meanwhile, the political slugfest has intensified with cases registered against MVA stakeholders and kin, just as had predicted, even as counter cases against BJP stakeholders have also been preferred.

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Modi, Shah Still In Poll Mode After Big Win, To Face Up To Gujarat, Tripura Challenges Ahead

The March 10 results of state assemblies held in five states of India has most political formations now analyzing the fallout on future polls except the BJP. Rather than sitting pretty on its laurels (read having bagged four out of the five states) Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched into election mode, reaching Gujarat while his second-in-command, Union Home Minister Amit Shah similarly, left for Tripura. While the Congress Working Committee met on Sunday (March 13, 2022) to draw poll inferences and un-wrangle intra-party differences, the same day Modi and Shah had already completed the first phase of their respective Gujarat and Tripura sojourns. Gujarat, where the BJP returned to power in the last assembly, although its tally dipped below 100 elected MLAs, due to the Patel (majority) conundrum, is high on Modi’s agenda prompting his yatra across the urban centers of the state. Similarly, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had sought to make her national presence felt and, deployed former Indira Gandhi era cabinet minister Santosh Mohan Dev’s daughter, Sushmita (TMC Rajya Sabha MP) in Manipur to no avail. While the BJP comfortably won the elections, 32 MLAs elected, Shah has launched into the Tripura political battlefield where another former Congress man Hemanta Biswas Sarma (now BJP CM of Assam) will place the key role for the BJP, yet again.

Fadnavis Is Sole Face Of Maharashtra BJP, Throws Gauntlet At MVA To Bring It Down

Devendra Fadnavis has emerged as the singular face of the party in Maharashtra bolstered by political results in Goa achieved under his leadership. A well-placed source told, “A conscious decision was taken last week on the subject. The BJP leadership is keen to project Fadnavis as the sole face of BJP and has directed a cessation of distracting and divergent statements from other party stakeholders including Kirit Somaiya. All of them have been told to hold their horses for a while.” Somaiya, it may be recalled with the blessings of senior party leaders and, his inimitable style of announcing one scam a day, has been raising heat against Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) leaders predominantly Shiv Sena.  Even other State BJP leaders have been asked to dial down even as Fadnavis has thrown the gauntlet at the MVA government with the single-minded focus on bringing it down. Even the MVA, which deferred the BMC and other local polls in Maharashtra to beyond May 2022, is facing rifts within its ranks. For one, home minister (NCP) Dilip Walse Patil was at pains explaining that Fadnavis was not summoned as accused but as witness by the BKC police and as an after-thought said that the police will visit Fadnavis’ residence to record his statement.  With demand for jailed NCP minister Nawab Malik’s resignation rising, Sharad Pawar and Uddhav Thackeray met to damage control the issue.
namak haram

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Now Trending In UP, “Tumne Namak Khaya, Namak Harami Na Karna”

After the first two phases of elections in Uttar Pradesh concluded the BJP heaved a sigh of relief. Unlike the dire predictions of a decimation for the party in western UP, both phases went off smoothly for the party with internal surveys indicating a much better than expected performance too. The two phases also featured the Mainpuri and Karal assembly seats from where SP Chief Akhilesh Yadav contested. Notwithstanding, the scheduled rallies for the remainder of the UP poll tour, Modi switched his focus on the Punjab poll challenge, a well-placed source revealed. “The first two phases were consciously scheduled to cover the difficult political terrain where BJP feared anti-incumbency. This did not happen and the remainder phases encompass BJP strongholds. We may fall shy of the 2017 mark but are winning the UP polls,” the source said. Meanwhile, a trending poll slogan reverberated in the remaining phases, “Tumne Namak Khaya Hain, Namak Harami Na Karna” (You have had the salt of this government, do not betray us now). Simply put, in the remaining phases where BJP seeks to consolidate its traditional votebanks in Eastern and Northern UP, the free rations, DBT cash transfers and other benefits are being leveraged to hold sway over voters. The BJP denies it started the new trending story though terming it a people’s calling.
devendra uddhav_bmc

BJP To Keep Mum Till BMC Polls, Then Target Maharashtra's First Family And Raut's Kin

Maharashtra is on edge, focused on forthcoming BMC elections, the semi-final match for Lok Sabha and assembly prospects of 2024. BJP says the 416 seats it won in January’s Nagar Panchayat polls is proof the voter base of third placed Shiv Sena with 301 seats (NCP/376 and Congress/297) is eroding. Truth being, Sena fared well in Mumbai, Thane, Palghar with limited success in Konkan. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has entrusted the task to raise Sena’s tally in BMC to over 100 corporators to son and suburban Mumbai’s guardian minister, Aaditya Thackeray. Meanwhile, erstwhile BJP CM, Devendra Fadnavis seeks a CAG audit over financial irregularities in Mumbai’s jumbo Covid centres, apparently run by unregistered medical operators, with familial ties to Sena’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut. Did Raut make a distressed late-night call to Amit Shah recently? Union Minister Narayan Rane said Maharashtra’s politics will change post March 10 which was interpreted as fresh efforts to dislodge the MVA government. “Post BMC polls no elections are scheduled in Maharashtra till 2024. After March 10 fresh efforts will commence to dislodge the MVA government. Whether this means cases registered against the CM, his wife or Raut’s kin being arrested has to be seen. After March 10 they will come to us,” a BJP leader told Clearly, the battle for BMC has begun.

Mumbaikars May Dream Of Life That’s King Size, But BMC’s Rs. 46,000 Crore Budget Is Surreal Style, Not Real

As the BJP and the Shiv Sena led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) square off for the BMC elections, the latter has announced an unrealistic high Rs 46,000 crore budget for Mumbai, the city that never sleeps. Ironically, in 2017 then BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta announced a mere Rs 25,000 crore outlay for Mumbai city and its suburban region, a Rs 12,000 crore reduction from the preceding year’s budget. When asked, Mehta had stated, “It was done to make spending more realistic. Earlier budget figures were much higher than what was actually spent. The capacity to spend was disproportionate to the allocated funds, even to the extent of our revenues (actually) generated. But the realistic budget from Mehta came a year after the BMC elections were held and the administration could politically afford to become realistic but, with elections for the BMC pie only days away now, not only unrealism but also, surrealism appears to be at play now with the whopping Rs 46,000 crore plan outlay that holds the promise of the sky for Mumbaikars and yet, may only fall short in terms of actual expenditure that takes place. A senior civic administrator told, “A lot of window dressing happens in an election year including double paper entries, due to the accounting format followed by the BMC, to make it look larger than life.”

Fully Fit Maharashtra Chief Minister On Warpath With Modi Govt!

An upset Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is on attack mode and, has thrown the gauntlet at Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Emerging out of his medically proscribed limitations on offline work, Thackeray was on a signing spree for 10 days with advisor Sitaram Kunte to clear all pending files literally. Parallelly, he launched a broadside against BJP antagonists Narayan Rane and son Nitesh Rane, Amit Satam (one the Tipu Sultan naming controversy) and, Kirit Somaiya (booked for unauthorized photography in the state secretariat). More importantly, Thackeray signaled to BJP that he is the boss by clearing a file allowing the auction of the land in BKC, earmarked by the erstwhile Devendra Fadnavis government for the ambitious Bullet Train project. This was followed up by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar demanding an extension of two years for the GST regime in respect of compensation for state governments for deficit revenue collections. Pawar pleaded Covid conditions to justify his demand for extending the tenure of compensation for states by a further two years. The Union Government is unlikely to concede, according to a source in the GST department. He told, that “While the two year extension of compensation for states was accorded by GOI by consensus two years ago, the state governments were found wanting in the implementation of revenue enhancing measures as was mandated by the Central Government. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

Omicron Backlash: MVA Mulls Postponing BMC Elections To April/May

The third wave (Omicron) has turned politically providential for the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra that is actively considering deferment of scheduled local self-body elections including the big stakes Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in Mumbai. The MVA is beleaguered after the SC ordered the elections, re-designating 27% of allocated OBC seats in the general category. Faced with a political backlash from the unrepresented backward castes, MVA is actively considering postponement of polls to April/May 2022, giving it ample time to complete the ongoing fresh OBC census. A Shiv Sena minister’s aide told, “Omicron is spreading faster. We are considering postponement of elections to BMC and other local bodies scheduled in February 2022.” In the previous elections to BMC in 2017, the richest civic body in India, saw the Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena fighting tooth and nail against each other, and winning 83 and 85 seats respectively. Post elections, BJP withdrew from its natural claim to be leader of opposition post in the civic body, which then went to the Congress party. This time though, there is no state alliance between the two parties and no love lost either. While NCP and Sena announced joint plans to contest BMC elections, the Congress is yet to make up its mind.  

Uddhav Thackeray Fit And Able, Opposition Speculations Unfounded: Shiv Sena

Ever since Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has been recuperating from a cervical surgery he underwent on November 12, intense speculation has abounded regarding his health status. Reason: he has avoided public appearances and preferred to operate from his official residence Varsha. He did privately visit the Vidhan Bhawan, participated in a cabinet meeting and tea party for legislators on the eve of the winter session via video conference.  BJP, which was trying to topple the two-year old Maha Vikas Aghadi government went into overdrive saying, if the CM’s health condition is not good he must distribute his official work among cabinet colleagues. Setting speculation to rest, a senior Shiv Sena minister’s aide told Short Post, “The CM is reluctant to assume full charge of office till he is a 100% fighting fit. No new cardiac challenges have come up now either (Thackeray had stents implanted a few years ago).” He dismissed the story doing the rounds of the CM’s son and minister Aadtiya Thackeray holding proxy charge as bumkum. He further said “If Uddhavji took a break, as per protocol in the Sena, senior most cabinet minister and industries minister Subhash Desai would take charge for the interim period.” It may be noted that right now Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar from NCP is holding the fort.

Fearing Backlash Political Parties In Maharashtra Likely To Field OBC Candidates In General Category

Does political will in India care about OBCs enough to update the last census, conducted in 1931-32, by the British government on their perception of Indian caste parameters? The fate of the 27% OBC reserved constituencies in Maharashtra will go to polls in January as general category seats. The OBC community’s population based political reservation was set aside by the SC. Only Prime Minister Narendra Modi via Ordinance or, the SC may revert back to the 27% political representation for OBC people, around 54% of the population now in Maharashtra. The PM’s avowed emphasis on meritocracy apart, the OBC issue in MP and UP has now prompted the BJP to seek a stay on the apex court order till a fresh census is completed, says former Union planning Commission member Hari Narke. The only way to appease the OBCs and circumvent SC’s diktat is for political parties to field OBC candidates for the re-designated public representative posts in general category. Tall ask at short notice, for want of winnable candidates that political parties may face. But, the Maha Vikas Aghadi’s political constituents have officially decided to give individual percentage wise representation for OBC as the 450 Maha OBC communities enjoy in the education and social sector while, this is consolidated at 27% for political representation, which may find limited success?

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Two-Year Old Maha Vikas Aghadi Govt Continues To Battle Within And Without!

The Maha Vikas Aghadi government, apparently on the verge of a collapse ‘anytime’, completed two years in power on November 28, 2021. Yet, all is not well between its constituents – Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress. Besides the enemy on the outside – BJP – the MVA is constantly battling the foe within – individual moorings of each political constituent. Mistrust, lack of transparency and double talk persists. For example: The Congress announced for a mega rally on the iconic Shivaji Park grounds on December 28. Then came news that CM Uddhav Thackeray would decide whether the Congress could mark its foundation day at the Sena’s traditional Dusshera rally venue. Then NCP sppokesperson Nawab Malik suggested that holding public rally would need prior court approval. Infuriated Congress’ (Ashok) Bhai Jagtap, Mumbai President, petitioned the HC only to withdraw subsequently. He insists that rising Omicron cases saw Rahul Gandhi deciding against the rally on pain of being termed as super spreader. He added that the venue would witness a Congress rally before the BMC elections in Mumbai. For now, the NCP, Congress and Sena don’t see eye-to-eye on a number of issues. NCP chief Sharad Pawar seems preoccupied in getting non BJP parties together to rally behind Mamata Banerjee (for the time being) to take on BJP for 2024 general elections.
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Fate Of 12 Suspended BJP MLAs Hangs In Balance: Will Maha Congress’ Nana Patole Return Favour?

Fifty-eight-year-old Nana Patole, President, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee, is a happy man. Not because his daughter found a suitable alliance and was married off with much fanfare and the ceremony being attended by the Governor Bhagatsingh Koshyari, Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) colleagues Balasaheb Thorat (Congress) and Nawab Malik (NCP) among others but because he pulled off a coup of sorts recently. Sources say he got Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah to withdraw their party candidate in the recently held state’s by-election to the Rajya Sabha necessitated by the demise of Congress MP Rajeev Satav. His earlier stint in BJP probably helped. He left BJP and joined Congress in 2017. Patole, who has earned brownie points with the Gandhis, now faces the real test on December 22, 2021, when BJP will expect a quid pro quo on the issue of 12 suspended BJP MLAs from the Maharashtra legislature. How Patole delivers remains to be seen. The issue of the 12 suspended BJP MLAs will figure majorly in the forthcoming state session and is likely to create fissures within the MVA constituents with Sharad Pawar’s NCP and Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena likely to be on opposite sides of the Congress while deciding the fate of the suspended BJP MLAs.

Maharashtra Violence: A Case Of Intelligence Failure?

The recent communal flare up witnessed in Amravati, Malegaon and Aurangabad in Maharashtra over data cooked up online of desecration of a religious place of prayer, should not have occurred, says Maharashtra’s former additional Chief Secretary (Home) Chitkala Zutshi. A senior retired bureaucrat says when actionable intelligence was available it was fairly simple to pre-empt the violence witnessed on November 12-13 this year. Ideally, the State’s cyber intelligence hi-tech department should have sounded the red alert after virulent posts were shared just days before the violence occurred. So, was this a deliberate instance of sitting pretty on hard intelligence? “Nothing new,” says a home department official. Way back in 2004 the Maharashtra’s CM received an intelligence report on the proposed agitation against the Nanar power project in Navi Mumbai. He was advised to speak to the opposition leader so as to tame it down. Did he speak? Nobody knows. But poor Navi Mumbaikars suffered collateral losses after rioters indulged in arson gutting several cars. Ditto the Bhima Koregaon violence erupted on the 200th anniversary year during Devendra Fadnavis’ tenure. Currently under the watch of Maha Vikas Aghadi government it has happened once again. Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, has demanded “imposition of a ban on Raza Academy” for its role in recent violence; the institute was earlier accused of leading Mumbai’s Azad Maidan riots on August 11, 2012.

Kirit Somaiya and Nawab Malik

Maharashtra’s New Pastime Amid Gossips Galore: Slapping Rs 100-Cr Defamation Suit

In Maharashtra’s political arena it is raining Rs 100-crore defamation suits. State Transport Minister Anil Parab sought Rs 100-crore damages from BJP leader Kirit Somaiya over allegedly defamatory tweets. This was followed by former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ wife Amruta seeking damages from Skill Development & Entrepreneurship Minister Nawab Malik for tweeting pictures of her with an alleged drug peddler. More followed. Controversial Narcotics Control Bureau officer Sameer Wankhede’s father filed a Rs 1.25-crore defamation suit against Malik to stop daily tweets and disclosures against his son and family. Even former Chief Minister and current Revenue Minister Ashok Chavan against whom Somaiya went gun blazing told, “Wild allegations were levelled without consideration for facts. I will consider all legal options at an appropriate time.” This brings to fore why people file defamation suits? Is it to put pressure on the rival camps or the media? Do they yield results? Senior counsel Prakash Devdas says, “Most high profile defamation suits see no logical outcome.” Advocate Apoorv Srivastava says, “Defamation is a retrograde law. Journalists, academics, legislators, and bloggers realize lawsuits are used by corporations, businesses, and public officials to silence, intimidate and control the truth.” Truth is, while criminal defamation suits are fast-tracked, civil cases drag on for nearly 25 years. In most suits, both parties lose interest after the controversy dissipates and amicably settle out of court.


Changing Political Fortunes As Christian Missionaries Expand Footprint

In Rajasthan, both the Congress and BJP have woken up to the stark reality of widespread conversions happening in the tribal regions. And both parties are blaming Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) for this conversion. BTP is a force to reckon with in the tribal dominated regions of Rajasthan including Dungarpur where it won four local panchayat elections recently. Besides, BTP has two MLAs, who supported the Congress government led by Ashok Gehlot. Is conversion a new thing? Not really. It has been thriving for decades now thanks to poverty and illiteracy. Currently, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are hot spots of conversion along with Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.  In the last six months, these states have witnessed a spike in conversion with 80% of converts belonging to SC/ ST. The BJP, it is reliably learnt, plans to launch nationwide agitations against conversions. According to an Intelligence Officer, “The impetus (read funds) for conversions has witnessed a spike as India is considered a soft state. However, these missionary movements funded by radical Christian groups based out of the USA and Europe have consciously kept out of most Islamic nations as they fear reprisals from Islamic forces.” One such missionary activist from the USA, who visited India recently, told this correspondent when asked about the residual fallout of her activities (on escalating tensions between denominations of Indian citizens), “Well I have a lot of money and I can give it to anyone I choose, even you.”
bhupesh_TS Singh

Bhupesh Baghel, TS Singh Deo

Crisis Averted As Congress Empowers Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel To Take On Yogi In Poll-Bound UP

The Congress party’s Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, who broke the political pact (power sharing arrangement of 2.5 years each) with state colleague TS Singh Deo, is staying firmly put in his chair. Even as the scheduled 2.5-year milestone was reached and Singh Deo invoked the pact for the CM’s chair, Baghel broke his word, even flying a dozen party MLAs to New Delhi in a sort of public posturing of his political clout in the state. Lo and behold, the party high command lost its resolve to go through with the power transition at least for the immediate future. A senior political leader from New Delhi told Short Post: “Baghel was able to get a recharge for a year more at least as Rahul Gandhi has additionally appointed him as Congress incharge for the forthcoming Uttar Pradesh polls. After his fresh appointment, Baghel will use his political acumen and government machinery in Chhattisgarh to impact BJP prospects in UP. Will the Gandhis now remove him from his CM post and risk their own UP prospects?” Seems unlikely. However, the Congress is known to pull a rabbit (read Charanjit Singh Channi) out of its hat at the last moment as in Punjab when the battle between Navjot Singh Siddhu and Captain Amrinder Singh threatened to boil over. It will be interesting to see Singh Deo plotting a silent jockeying for power.

Photo : Sachin Pilot, Ashok Gehlot

After Punjab Experiment, Spotlight Shifting On Rajasthan’s Gehlot-Pilot Contest

Emboldened by the Punjab experiment of installing Charanjit Singh Channi, a Dalit leader, as the Chief Minister, much to annoyance of Captain Amarinder Singh, the brother-sister duo Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra have now turned their attention on Rajasthan. For over a year now, there has been a strong undercurrent and mistrust between Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot who very nearly joined BJP. But the Gandhis placated Pilot and saved the day. It is now learnt Sachin is spoiling for fights and Rahul-Priyanka are all ears for him. Gehlot, say insiders, went into self-imposed isolation (read refused to meet the high command) after his bete noire Pilot met with the Gandhis in Delhi. So, will Pilot succeed a second time? Not really, feel senior Congress leaders. They say Gehlot is an old time Congress loyalist who has strong base; removing him from the CM’s position will cause political upheaval and perhaps Congress losing the State when elections are held. Interestingly, BJP’s former Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje seems to have good rapport with Gehlot and she says insiders stopped Pilot’s entry into BJP. Political analysts feel that in the end both Gehlot and Pilot will lose out and some new face will be foisted on CM’s chair. For now, it seems the pot boiler in Rajasthan will continue.
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Photo : Fotocorp

Covid Hero Sonu Sood’s Tax Troubles Result Of Political Witch-Hunt?

Why is the reel life villain but a ‘hero’ in real life being hounded by the government agencies? The 48-year old Sonu Sood has been in the eye of the storm ever since he began his philanthropic activity of helping thousands of migrants stranded at different parts of the country to reach their home safely during Corona lockdown. Sood is booked by Income-tax authorities for financial fraud and siphoning of funds. According to a central revenue intelligence official, Sood is also liable under provisions of the Disaster Management Act, in force since the Covid-19 pandemic was declared a national emergency. “Under the act, any relief material, even a packet of dry rations being diverted, invites criminal action and imprisonment of up to two years. Besides, charges levelled against Sood is that he diverted funds to purchase realty assets.” But these provisions were yet to be invoked in the actor’s case, says the official. According to a BJP leader: “Sood was on our radar from day one when he started helping migrants. His celebrity status ensured free media publicity. However, his close association with some left leaning NGOs made us cynical of his efforts that constantly attempted to show the work done by the ruling government in bad light.” Is that the real reason or the news that he may be appointed brand ambassador of AAP?

Governors L to R : Lt Gen Gurmit Singh (Retd), RN Ravi and Banwarilal Purohit

Horses For Courses: How Modi Is Placing Proactive Governors In Active States

The overnight transfers of three governors to Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Uttarakhand by Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently aims to continue the new political doctrine of proactive governors (not rubber stamp governors) to tackle ground level political realities in these states. Modi demonstrated this strategy in West Bengal, Delhi, and Maharashtra. The appointment of Ravindra Narayana Ravi, retired IPS officer and former Governor of Nagaland as TN Governor, comes as BJP perceives the new DMK government as an anti-Hindu dispensation, in addition to an increased incidence of conversions and to curb the resurgence of insurgency in the south Indian state, says BJP think tank constituent Mahendra Jain, based out of Mumbai. Similarly, Lt Gen Gurmit Singh (retd) has been given the responsibility of Uttarakhand. A former deputy chief of army, Singh is an expert on China affairs (Uttarakhand shares the international border with China) and was part of at least eight delegations to visit China and was a research fellow on the subject. Banwarilal Purohit had additional charge of Punjab as TN governor but is now given full responsibilities of Punjab where the Congress is in apparent disarray. Unlike old times (pre Modi era) the role of governors is recast to tackle challenges politically as part of the new Modi doctrine. Meanwhile it is learnt Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari has expressed a desire to retire from politics.
parambir singh

Photo : Fotocorp

Mumbai’s Ex-Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh On The Run, After Lookout Notice By NIA

Former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh has gone absconding, according to the Maharashtra home department. A home department official told this website, “A team of police officials visited his residence in Punjab where we were told he is unavailable. He is wanted for questioning in a number of cases registered against him at several police stations of Maharashtra.” A well-placed central revenue intelligence official also confirmed that Singh, who proceeded on leave after being transferred as chief of Maharashtra Home guards, in the wake of several complaints of corruption against him was unavailable at his residence in Chandigarh. Singh did not respond to phone calls, SMS and WhatsApp communications. A well-placed source in the Maharashtra police department added, “A lookout notice had been issued against Singh by the National Investigative Agency (NIA) that had also informed the Bombay High Court that Singh also faced the prospect of arrest despite being the complainant in the case registered against former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh, against whom also a lookout notice was also issued recently. Singh is also accused of running a den of corruption with his stint as police commissioner of Thane city is believed to have been enjoying the patronage of political satraps from Maharashtra that allowed him to operate with impunity for several years before he fell foul of his political mentors.  

Photo : Afghanistan 24/7

Is Afghanistan Heading To Become Another Syria?

Afghanistan is headed to becoming the next Syria, hold experts, since infighting broke out between the Taliban factions, Pashtuns and Haqqqanis besides ISIS, which has also now jumped into the fray to apparently assert its rights over the spoils of war. A well placed MEA source said, “Unlike media reports of freshly initiated backroom parleys with the Taliban, Jaishankar was a very busy man for several weeks and months now. India engaged in talks at the instance and initiative of Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, the official head of the Taliban political leadership in exile based out of Qatar.” While Stanikzai repeatedly pressed for official political relations with India and recognition from the Modi government, India focussed on evacuations of minorities (with only 3,500 now still remaining to be airlifted) and even the Afghan nationals trapped in the mess. In turn, India has been able to get the Taliban to promise that no terror attack upon India would be permitted or supported from Afghan soil. However, now infighting has broken out between the three major players, namely the Taliban (factions in exile), the Haqqani group and the Pashtuns that is threatening to escalate into a full-scale war even as an unprecedented famine-like situation has become prevalent in Afghanistan.
anil deshmukh

Photo : Fotocorp

Maharashtra Ex-Home Minister’s Hideout Mystery Deepens Post Arrest Of Lawyer, CBI Sleuth

Maharashtra’s ex-home minister Anil Deshmukh is on the lam, after the Enforcement Directorate issued a look out notice for him a week ago. A well-placed source confirmed, “Repeated failure to comply with ED summons in an ongoing investigation (five times) resulted in the notice being issued to pre-empt any attempt to leave the country.” Ironically, a lookout notice was also issued earlier against former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh, on whose complaint, the case against Deshmukh was registered. Singh has also gone underground in the wake of multiple criminal cases registered against him by multiple Maharashtra police stations. Former Maharashtra home minister, who belongs to the Nationalist Congress Party led by Sharad Pawar, is believed to be outside Maharashtra, holed up in under the active care of a very powerful Congress leader in that state. On September 1, Deshmukh’s son-in-law and lawyer were detained by the CBI that subsequently released the former while arresting the latter. Also arrested was a CBI sleuth for leaking a preliminary report regarding investigations against Deshmukh, apparently indicating his innocence. The CBI subsequently issued a disclaimer. Deshmukh is also being probed for alleged money laundering through shell companies based out of Kolkata with the central revenue intelligence agency already having attached properties worth over Rs 4.20 crore belonging to the five time MLA from Nagpur, a close confidant of Sharad Pawar.


Technology Cannot Disrupt Original Content Provider: Short Post Editor

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

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

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