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prabhakaran family

Games Politicians Play: Perpetuating Prabhakaran Myth

Believing in the myth of the LTTE supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran being alive is a kind of business in Tamil Nadu. Perpetuating the myth of the slain separatist who waged war against the Sri Lankan State on behalf of the Tamils is the MDMK leader Vaiko and a few others who were close to the Tiger chief when he was alive and even took breaks in Tamil Nadu to meet top political leaders, including MGR. As his anniversary comes around, the myth is narrated by Vaiko and even picked up by the media. This year, there was additional grist to this mill with a fake video surfacing purportedly showing Prabhakaran’s daughter Duwraka speaking. Truth is Sri Lanka’s top military brass reported to the political boss Mahinda Rajapaksa that the LTTE chief had been captured on May 17, 2009. The President was said to have then sent the army chief to get rid of the rebel leader and all his family as the State did not want his DNA to survive. This is why Prabhakaran was eliminated, so too his wife Mathivathani Erambu, daughter Duvaraga and son Balachandran. As his clan was seen as enemies who waged war against the State, the murder of his entire family was not seen as a human rights violation. Keeping him alive is the job of semi-retired politicians like Vaiko, who made a big business out of supporting the Eelam cause, Pazha Nedumaran and Kashi Anandan.
mk udhaya

Udhaya Crowning May Be Just Days Away

The DMK succession plan is gathering pace. The young gun Udhaynidhi Stalin, son of Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin, will be crowned as the Deputy CM to coincide with the DMK conference to be held on December 17 in Salem. The first family thought it through and with a bit of pressure coming from the home front, Stalin is inclined not to repeat the mistake his father did in not promoting him as the party boss though he was 92 during the 2016 elections. The CM was involved in making his son’s birthday on November 27 a bigger occasion with the Udhayanidhi-inspired cycle rally made part of the party’s poll campaign. The youth heard at the rally that a bigger role in the 2024 poll campaign for their young leader was on the cards after his successful appearances in the 2019 and 2021 polls that made an impact. As the young lion, Udhaya was able to speak up boldly against AIADMK as well as the NDA front the party was a part of. How the party views his promotion as Dy CM may depend on the mood of the elders, but there is none in the party today to question the chief on these matters as it happened in the case of Kalaignar Karunanidhi. And, as one politician ally said it, Udhayanidhi Stalin’s horoscope is a good one.
Durga stalin_002

First Family Of Faith Contradictions Helps Temples In Tamil Nadu

The first family household of Tamil Nadu may be a bundle of contradictions with an atheist head, a super faithful Hindu better half, a son tending to atheism with a wife from another faith and a daughter who is apolitical. It must cope with various demands in an intensely political life under a spotlight, which is why chief minister MK Stalin is going all out to stress that his party DMK, an offshoot of the non-believing Justice Party, is not against Hindus. He took umbrage at the Union Finance Minister’s statement that the government and the party were stealing from temples by usurping their lands. While assigning party loyalists and functionaries as chairpersons to temples that are in great public demand like Tiruvannamalai, Rameswaram, Srirangam and Palani, the government has gone all out to help temples recover lands alienated decades ago. The HR&CE Minister PK Sekar Babu, who goes on every temple run with the first lady to ensure she is received with honours, put out a statistic saying that so far Stalin’s government had reclaimed lands worth Rs 5,500 crore in two years. The figures are not in dispute, but what is also relevant is Union Minister Murugan’s statement that while TN temple lands were recorded in 1986 to be 5.25 lakh acres, now there are only 4.78 lakh acres in their possession. There may be some way to go in enabling temples to repossess their property, but the Stalin government is at least trying and the faithful must accept things are better now.
kapil dev

Kapil Dev’s Explosive Comment Of 1983 Retold 40 Years On

What did Kapil Dev say to two journalists soon after India had won the World Cup in 1983? In his earthy style, the winning captain told two journalists at Lord’s in London – “Ghoron ka aur Kaliyon ka, dhononka !@#4 paad diya”, translating to – “The whites and the blacks, we screwed them both”. This well-kept secret was revealed by one of the two journalists with whom Kapil Dev interacted after the final in the sponsor Prudential Insurance Company’s hospitality tent. He told me that 40 years on there was no harm in revealing what was an emotion that the captain felt in his heart after having achieved what was the greatest triumph of the underdog in the world of sport in one of its biggest stages, which was the ODI World Cup. Had these words been spoken in this ‘woke’ era it might have stirred up a real storm and Kapil Dev pilloried as a racist. But in those times, four decades ago, celebrities spoke what they felt, at least in asides to scribes in the confidence that it would not be blown out of proportion. There was no social media either in those times to exaggerate each word and troll the speaker in myriad posts.

Tamil Nadu Governor Put In His Place?

Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi has been put in place. It took strictures from the Supreme Court to bring this staunch authoritarian around. Governors in independent India were never meant to ‘govern’ but this person proved to be the most confrontational of them all, putting the likes of Channa Reddy in the shade when it came to operating from the Raj Bhavan in Chennai. “He acted more like an opposition member”, was one of the milder charges made by the DMK supremo and CM Stalin against him. In putting on the shelf close to two dozen Bills, the Governor was acting way beyond his powers and, only after top court frowned upon the tactics of Governors in non-BJP states, did he wake up to reality, lest he be quartered and hung by a top court angered at the sight of Governors destroying the interpretations to the Constitution by floating the theory that, once a Governor withheld consent to a Bill, the legislation was dead. Besides his regular job at needling the government of the day, the Governor also fancies himself as an interpreter of the Constitution. Now that 10 of the Bills he refused to give assent to have been sent back to him on the same day they were reenacted in a special Assembly session he is duty-bound to sign them into law. Of course, he might view the constitutional provision on this differently. So combative is this Governor!

Has Greater Madhya Pradesh Decided Who To Vote For?

The odds are that the undivided Madhya Pradesh in the form of MP and Chhattisgarh that are going to the polls will have voted overwhelmingly for the Congress. It may have been cocky for the son of the CM designate Kamal Nath has already fixed a date for his dad’s coronation, but the anticipation is he might have said so on the strength of various private polls that have been done in the two States. Senior BJP figures know that in these two states they have been fighting a losing battle, despite the divisions in MP between Kamal Nath and Digvijay Singh. People have been openly saying that the Prime Minister who is canvassing hard in his criss-cross campaigns is wasting his time because these are Assembly polls and not for the Lok Sabha. The people of MP are angry that the verdict they delivered for the Congress last time out was twisted by defections and the regular ‘Operation Lotus’ that goes on to undermine the majority won by non-BJP governments in the States. Chhattisgarh has been a Congress stronghold for some time now and the closer contests anticipated in MP may not come about because of public anger. So, will MP be another big State that will go Congress way after Karnataka and Chhattisgarh keep faith?
Glenn maxwell

Has ‘Bat First’ Time Come In The World Cup?

Is it ‘bat first’ time from here onwards in the World Cup? Putting a total on the board and challenging the opponents to meet the target used to be a regular tactic in World Cups, the first five of which were won by teams batting first. Being played in the modern era after the advent of T-20, the 2023 World Cup has been bucking the trend with great chases, none more excellent than the one staged by Glenn Maxwell for Australia against Afghanistan with New Zealand getting close to 400 and coming within a six hit against the Oz. But the obvious things on the minds of captains at the toss will be India’s virtual invincibility batting first, enhanced by the new balls zipping around under lights for Bumrah, Shami and Siraj. The only way to play them would be to take them on in the afternoon when there may not be that much swing and seam. But the challenge is that India’s spin twins may then throttle those aiming to put a large total on the board. Considering South Africa are lions when batting first and lambs when chasing may mean that we know what would happen at the toss if India and Australia win theirs in the semi-finals. Can New Zealand beat India even if the toss goes in their favour? Can South Africa shake off the choker’s tag if they are chasing?

DMK Succession Plan May Have Been Advanced

It was always a question of when and not if. But the DMK succession plan involving Udhayanidhi, son of Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin, may just have been moved up due to pressures from within TN’s first family. It is learnt that Stalin’s wife Durga is keen that the succession be quickly defined so that her son does not undergo the long waiting period her husband suffered because the DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi was unwilling to let go of the top party post lest they isolate him after such a long innings in public life.  Durga was known to criticise her father-in-law for delaying the nomination of his son as the CM candidate and so losing out in the 2016 election to J Jayalalithaa who retained power. Having spent 40 years as heir apparent, Stalin became party president only when his father was facing ill health in old age and allowed the promotion of the once deputy CM to party boss as well as CM candidate. The scion, now sports development and youth welfare minister, could well be deputy CM by December when the party will be holding a youth wing conference. Udhaya has also been the loudest voice of the party in taking on Governor RN Ravi on the Sanatana Dharma issue, gathering signatures against the medical entrance test NEET and drawing praise from his father and CM on his work. Udhaya is also convinced there is positive resonance in the public on the topics he is picking to take on the Centre and the Governor. 

DMK Pleased To Have Confrontational Governor In Tamil Nadu

The standard response to confrontational Governors, whose number is growing in State capitals, would be for the regional party to ask for their recall. But the DMK is taking a different view of retired security forces honcho, RN Ravi, who is the Tamil Nadu Governor. The DMK and its chief MK Stalin want him to stay on in the Raj Bhavan because his run-ins with the State government is finding resonance with the party cadre as well as people as they are seeing through his game as one of North versus South. The Governor’s actions in stopping legislation, certain high-level appointments and his critique of the State’s view of Sanatana Dharma are making him the kind of anti-hero who can bind the opponents together. So high are the decibels of the confrontations with Stalin’s government that the DMK believes it will help the party get even more votes in the next polls. The daily cries of hate against the Governor grew to such an extent that someone tried to throw a Molotov cocktail at the Raj Bhavan. And the Director General of Police had to put out the visuals from CCTV to show it was as much a dud as a non-performing Diwali firecracker. DMK’s head honcho, firmly in the saddle and with the power play button in his hands as he alone can assure to deliver close to 40 seats for the I.N.D.I.A bloc which will be the highest number after the Congress, is laughing all the way to Fort St George as the Governor is helping his cadre bind into a cohesive vote gathering unit.
India SL Ferry

Sri Lanka-India Ferry Service A Goner

The resumption of the ferry service between India and Sri Lanka has run into rough weather of the literal and metaphorical kind. The ferry from Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu and Kankesanthurai near Jaffna, promoted as a game changer in ties with Sri Lanka, has met with such a tepid response from the travelling public that it faces closure once again. Passenger movement was lukewarm to begin with after all the effort put in to create the travel-visa-customs infrastructure at both ends. It fell even further after the much-publicised maiden run on October 14 and the government of India decided to call a temporary halt, quoting the onset of the Northeast monsoon as an excuse. The economics of it was probably not studied hard enough as New Delhi stretched itself to resume the service. It costs Rs 7,600 to cross over on the ferry, that too from the southern tip of India to the northernmost tip of Sri Lanka. It probably costs less to fly from Chennai to Jaffna, or even Chennai to Colombo. The idea of floating the ferry service again was not only for nostalgic reasons. A Boat Mail used to run from Madras Egmore railway station to Dhanuskodi for the transfer to ferry and a longer sea journey to Colombo. Dhanuskodi was washed away in the 1964 cyclone and the ferry service had to stop. No one wants to ride the ferry anymore as it is no luxury cruise either.

Stalin May Demand His Pound Of Flesh If I.N.D.I.A Wins

Secure in the belief that he is the only one who can deliver upwards of a guaranteed 35 seats to the I.N.D.I.A front, Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin is looking for a place at the high table when and if the coalition were to gain power at the Centre. While nursing no personal ambition to be in New Delhi even as Deputy Prime Minister as he would be totally out of his Tamil environment, Stalin may demand several high-power ministries if the bloc is able to snatch power at the expense of the BJP-led NDA. While a central ministry would be a way to reward the likes of his cousin Dayanidhi Maran who surrendered his personal ambitions to be part of the Stalin-Udhayanidhi party setup, Stalin may also like to promote his favourite minister Thangam Thennarasu who has been a loyal lieutenant while proving capable of managing the industry ministry in a manufacturing heavy state. Stalin’s aim has been to promote his son Udhaya with an eye on the 2026 Assembly polls rather than at any earlier time as, say, in a promotion to Deputy CM. Stalin knows that the DMK is the party that can furnish the biggest block of MPs as their alliance is capable of landing close to maximum in the 39 TN seats, of which they won 38 in 2019. Stalin feels the least threatened of any in the I.N.D.I.A bloc.
KL rahul_Ashwin

Score Is 1-1 In Team India Versus Critics

In returning to peak form and playing crucial innings in the World Cup opener for Team India against Australia, and before that figuring in a long stand with Virat Kohli against Pakistan in the Asia Cup, KL Rahul has bowled his critics over. They had railed against the selectors and Rahul Dravid for reposing blind faith in the batter and part-time white ball wicketkeeper, but he repaid them in spades. His delicate late cutting of balls from the stump line to various parts of point and third man was outstanding just after Team India was down in the dumps having lost three batters for ducks with less runs on the board than wickets. But then critics had leapt into the lead 1-0 by proving right on Ravi Ashwin. They had been blasting the BCCI, selectors, team coach and captain for openly showing their bias against the off spinner for nearly two years since 2021 when they played him in only one Test, which was the first WTC final against New Zealand. Critics certainly scored as the team left out Ashwin from the World Cup squad and sheepishly brought him back only by posturing that Axar Patel was so badly injured as to be out of the World Cup. And they even picked Ashwin for the opening game at Chepauk and he shone with the ball to prove how wrong they have been in discriminating against him.

Ruling BJP’s Worst Nightmare Just Round The Corner, In Five State Polls

The ruling BJP’s worst nightmare might be round the corner. Rahul Gandhi was not far off the mark in releasing the results of early internal surveys of the mood in the five states going to the polls soon. He said Congress could certainly win three of them –Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana – while Rajasthan could be a tossup, with Mizoram in the northeast likely to also be affected by what is going on in Manipur and hence could turn against the national ruling party. While Chhattisgarh is a given considering it has been a Congress stronghold for a while now, Telangana is where the Congress might put up its most impressive show. The BJP, acutely aware that the party stands little chance in the State given its indistinct local leadership, is banking on KCR to withstand the anti-incumbency wave and keep the State away from the Congress. There is talk in Hyderabad of a deal already struck between BJP and BRS regarding the Assembly and Lok Sabha polls. The Congress is hoping to create a national mood swing with a good showing in four states, including Rajasthan which may see a close-run race. Telangana is the big swing State that might impel the Congress campaign for the big polls in 2024.

Politics Might See Strangest Of Bedfellows Yet If AIADMK Joins I.N.D.I.A After The Polls

Politics makes strange bedfellows. The strangest of them may even come together after the big break up that occurred in Tamil Nadu where Dravidian major AIADMK severed its links with the BJP and NDA. It is learnt that long before the alliance was off, Edapaddi Palaniswami (EPS) was in touch with Mallikarjun Kharge about AIADMK seeking admission into the I.N.D.I.A bloc. Apparently, Sonia Gandhi was not for confusing the picture for their supporters and voters by allowing such an alliance. Yet EPS was told to first break free from the BJP and that any offer to join the alliance might be considered in a post-poll scenario. Keeping all his options, EPS is looking to first win a few seats that may be useful post the verdict and then play his cards accordingly. The break from the NDA is final, so far as EPS is concerned. The undisputed leader of AIADMK might even see his hold on the party challenged in the top court by O Panneerselvem who is now looking to confirm his entry into the NDA once he forms his own party that could be named Puratchi Thalaivi Amma DMK. Annoyed by the Big Brother attitude and BJP’s propensity to dictate who all from the former undivided AIADMK may be in the NDA, EPS walked out and created a stir in national politics.

New Twist: BJP Ready To Patch Up With AIADMK

It appears BJP is ready to patch up with AIADMK if there are any problems regarding their alliance, which was said to have been broken by AIADMK unilaterally announcing that the BJP was no more in its alliance. But it appears there was more to it than meets the eye. It was Edapaddi Palaniswami (EPS) who was peeved not so much at the demand for 15 Lok Sabha seats out of 39 in Tamil Nadu (Pondicherry to remain with BJP as it is in power there in alliance with Rangasamy) as the insistence on the alliance expanding to bring in Sasikala’s nephew TTV Dhinakaran into the poll mix. AIADMK is adamant that whoever BJP wants to accommodate can be within their quota of seats. Even there, EPS would like to draw the line on any sneaky comeback bid by Sasikala through her ardent supporter O Panneerselvam. The AIADMK supremo, who is in firm control of the Dravidian major now, will not compromise on the issue of a re-entry for OPS. The former CM would, however, not be averse to a reconciliation bid as he is aware that without the Centre’s support he and his party leaders would be under pressure from the TN government, which is ready to set the DVAC and other state agencies after them in corruption cases. There is no easy way out of the impasse, but the allies are playing a game of oneupmanship now.
Jayakumar aiadmk

AIADMK Drops A Bombshell, Says BJP Not In Its Alliance


AIADMK spokesperson Jayakumar dropped a bombshell on Vinayaka Chathurthi day in Tamil Nadu saying that the BJP Is currently not in the AIADMK alliance. He will obviously not be speaking without authorisation from his party boss Edapaddi Palaniswami (EPS). The war over local BJP chief K Annamalai and his outspoken ways in which he has been criticising revered AIADMK figures like Jayalalithaa and Annadurai and threatening to lay bare the corruption in previous AIADMK regimes is now out in the open. Jayakumar, however, kept the alliance lines open saying that any understanding with the BJP would be forged only before the polls. In a cheeky comment, Jayakumar said that, on its own, the BJP would fare poorly in the polls in the state and that Annamalai would struggle to beat NOTA. Former ministers have of late been lashing out at Annamalai for dragging the names of departed party leaders when speaking about his war on corruption and his exposes. The local chieftain may not be speaking without authorisation from BJP’s top brass either. But EPS’ equation with BJP’s top duo plus party chief JP Nadda is on a different plane and chances of a patch up cannot be discounted. Right now, AIADMK has dared to declare war and the ball is in the BJP court.
EPS amit shah_002

EPS Faces Kodanad Estate Robbery And Murder Case Heat, Meets Amit Shah

Former Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) is in a bit of a bother with the Kodanad Estate robbery and murder case coming too close to him for comfort. Taking a leaf out of the operations of the Union government through central investigating agencies to pile the pressure on political opponents, Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin, is also cranking up the machinery for replicating such tactics. The DVAC has moved against a couple of former AIADMK ministers even as the long delayed Kodanad case is picking up momentum amid myriad conspiracy theories and angles to move the lens towards former CM Palaniswami. Afraid of being framed in a case in which he had to take an interest as it involved the former CM J Jayalalithaa and her confidante Sasikala’s possessions and secrets, EPS went to New Delhi to convince Home Minister Amit Shah to get the CBI to take up the investigation so that he may not be called in for questioning by the State police who can be hostile to him. While a smokescreen was drawn to make it appear as if EPS had travelled to the capital to seal the alliance with BJP, the main purpose of the trip was to seek BJP top brass support in taking the heat off him from the Kodanad Estate case.
poll finger

Likely Poll Scenario: 10 States To Go To Polls Along With Lok Sabha Elections In April-May 2024

A very likely poll scenario for 2024 is the holding of the Lok Sabha polls along with Assembly elections in 10 States. Private polling as well as analysis of opinions gathered by their own pollsters is that the BJP is beginning to fear defeat in all four major states in 2024 – MP, Rajasthan, Telangana and Chhattisgarh. They do not want such results impacting the Lok Sabha polls, which is why this idea of a national poll is being pressed at this time and may come up in the special session of Parliament called for during Ganesh Chaturthi time. The LS poll plus 10 States at the same time is what the BJP is aiming for after having brought up the concept of ‘One Nation, One Election’ idea. While the Assemblies in five States — Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram – will see their terms run out on different days in January 2024, the States of Andhra, Odisha, Sikkim, Jharkhand and Arunachal Pradesh will have to go to polls some time in 2024 after the LS polls. The idea now gaining ground is to pass legislation to push back the dates of the expiry of five states that go to polls in early 2024 to a common period in the summer of 2024 as in late April and early May and to push forward the closing date of the assemblies in the five other states so that 10 states can go to the polls together in April-May.
Ram nath kovind

Expect Huge Surprises In Special Lok Sabha Session

The special session of Parliament has not been convened just for the government to sing the praises of India’s scientists who put a lander and rover on the Moon and has sent a probe towards the Sun with spotless precision. Insiders say that a lot of Bills are to be presented which, with an eye on the elections, will have an impact on the electorate. The primary one may be the introduction of the simultaneous polls towards which leading lawyers have briefed the government on how legislation can be passed. It is learnt that reservation for women in legislative seats will be introduced through at least 10% of Lok Sabha seats earmarked for them in the coming polls. Also, a Bill to raise the reservation limits beyond 50% to accommodate Dalits, tribals, and other disadvantaged communities is said to be on the anvil. The formation of the Ram Nath Kovind panel on “One Nation, One Election,” is no mere kite flying exercise. Apparently, a lot of work has already been done to draft Bills and legal advice may have it that it could even be passed in a joint session where the government will have the clout in terms of the required majority. The BJP is prepared to pull out all stops in its bid to retain power in 2024.
Stalin onam

Stalin Paradox Of Onam Greetings

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin continues to present his festival paradox by wishing people on the occasion of Onam while he would not countenance doing that for Deepavali. In some strange Dravidian party ideology logic, their leader is not to wish people on Hindu festivals, but somewhere they seem to have lost the plot because Onam is very much a Hindu festival, marking as it does the good governance of a mythical Hindu king Mahabali. The date of the festival coincides with the day of the Thiruvonam star according to the Hindu Panchangam. While the celebration of festivals has an increasingly universal ring to them these days with people of all religions joining in to take in the grid times and the feasts that go with them, it does appear Stalin has to explain the paradox at least to himself that while he wishes the people of Kerala on a festival he would not do so for a more pan-Indian Hindu festival like Diwali. Of course, on the political front, Stalin has picked up courage to take on Prime Minister in a direct frontal attack saying Narendra Modi has no moral right to comment on corruption and how he plans to fight it while his own government has been pulled up on seven counts by the CAG.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister On The Offensive Against Centre, Governor

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin has decided to go all out to oppose the Centre on all issues while throwing his weight behind the I.N.D.I.A that has been cobbled to try and beat BJP in the 2024 polls. He has told his party to go flat out to expose the Governor RN Ravi’s activities in support of the Centre and in being a spanner in the works in the State. He also sought the help of the Congress to highlight the Governor’s activities on occasions on which the government cannot oppose him directly as in the case of the Governor seeking clarifications on the proposed appointment of the retired DGP Sylendra Babu as head of TNPSC. The CM is also prepared to let go of the good equation with the Prime Minister at a personal level if that would help the case of the Opposition bonding more. Any chance of DMK changing sides even in a post-poll scenario of an unclear majority in the Lok Sabha may have disappeared already with the CM deciding on this hard line against the PM and BJP. The State will also take up the reopening of cases against two of its ministers by the Madras High Court by approaching the Supreme Court. The gloves are truly off now that Stalin has decided to throw in his lot with I.N.D.I.A.
EPS Stalin

Do Smaller Political Parties In Tamil Nadu Have A Future?

Tamil Nadu’s minor parties are finding themselves without friends willing to take them into alliances and give them a fair number of seats. As the 2024 Lok Sabha polls are looming, there has been hectic political activity in the State dominated by the two Dravidian majors. But the caste party PMK and the last of the cinema hero centric party, DMDK, are finding negotiations are getting tough. While the VCK, another caste party, will not allow VCK into the DMK-alliance fold, DMDK reflects the virtual shadow of a man that its leader Vijayakanth has become. In an assertion of its perceived strength in a two-horse race, the AIADMK, under Palaniswami, is asserting itself, and is willing to offer only 10 (+ Puducherry where BJP ally Rangasami heads the government) seats to the BJP and is asking its national ally to accommodate smaller parties within that number. And it will not countenance the AMMK of TTV Dhinakaran nor his aunt Sasikala being in the alliance. Betting on its equations with the Delhi duo who control the party, AIADMK is unwilling to listen to Annamalai’s idea of a grand coalition including PMK, DMDK and AMMK. The DMK coalition is on a smoother wicket except that ally Congress is expecting half the 40 seats available in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry

Will The PM Choose To Stand From Rameswaram In 2024?

A rumour, or is it a news tip, refuses to go away. This has to do with Prime Minister Narendra Modi being close to fixing Rameswaram as the constituency from which he will stand for the Lok Sabha in the 2024 election. The BJP is paying a lot of attention to the district in south Tamil Nadu of which Rameswaram, a famous abode of Lord Shiva, is host to a temple that draws devotees in their millions. Rameswaram is also where PM Modi is to host a big meeting on August 18 with Tamil Nadu fishermen to apprise them of steps being taken by the government of India to ensure their safety and better treatment at the hands of the Sri Lankan Navy if ever they stray past Indian territorial waters in search of better catch in more southern waters. The district is also from where the TN BJP chief K Annamalai will begin his padayatra after taking the blessings of BJP biggie Amit Shah on July 28. The party is laying much store by the padayatra its chief is planning during which he will also be releasing more of the DMK Files of the kind that shook up the ruling party in TN when it exposed audio clipping featuring the then Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan (PTR). Maybe, there is some heft to the news of Modi toying with the idea of moving south from Varanasi to another holy city.
Zak Crawley

Selection Foibles Are Not Team India’s Monopoly

The Australians take the cake for selection blunders. They not only make them look foolish but also endangers their lead in the Ashes series, which they could well lose 3-2. They had not gone into a Test match for 10 years without a spinner as Nathan Lyon played 100 Tests, but his breakdown seems to have confused them so much that they went in with four seamers into a dry Old Trafford pitch. A run riot of 384 off just 72 overs is the result even if they came on the back of an extraordinarily attacking innings by Zak Crawley. Sent on a leather hunt from which there may be no recovery because the Aussies wasted the gift of batting first as Team England boldly inserted them at a venue where no team has won after opting to bowl, the Ashes may well be going out of Australia. So, it is not only Team India that made blunders in England where the conditions this summer have been confusing, to say the least. Cloud cover and a greenish tinge to the pitch saw Rohit Sharma insert Australia in the WTC final after omitting India’s best spinner Ravi Ashwin. Todd Murphy may be a poor imitation, but he deserves to play to give the attack some balance from a monotony of pace.

EPS Leaves OPS Far Behind In AIADMK War

The EPS-OPS battle for the AIADMK mantle may have been settled finally with the Election Commission formally recognising Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) as the General Secretary of the party. The entry was up on the ECI website leading to celebrations among the cadre owing allegiance to the EPS-controlled majority section of the party. This leaves the other former CM O Panneerselvam’s (OPS) political career out on a limb. He has lost the final battle for the party and has nowhere to go save to form his own party. There too he may have little support as even Sasikala, to whom he owed total allegiance despite her nephew riding roughshod over him when he was CM in Jaya’s place, has started spurning OPS. Additionally, his son has lost the fight in the Madras high court over his election to the Lok Sabha and will be appealing to the Supreme Court to hang on. It does appear as if time has turned sour on OPS, once the most powerful lieutenant of the Poes Garden dual power centre of Jaya and Sasikala. Long before EPS came on to the big stage in AIADMK and TN politics, OPS was ruling the roost with his Thevar connection keeping him relevant as Sasikala pulled the strings. That is all history now. The Salem strongman, EPS, has simply drawn away from his rival, taking the party with him.
G Kishan reddy

Is BJP Committing Hara-Kiri In Telangana?


It appears the BJP is committing hara-kiri in Telangana. Rumours are rife of a big compromise having been struck between the central BJP leadership and KCR by which the BRS will play a supporting role to the national party and KCR is for this only to avoid his son and daughter from being pursued by the central investigating agencies. While the BRS playing second fiddle itself may be sufficient to put people off in choosing an alternative to the BRS in the BJP, it is obvious that the national party is playing into the hands of the Congress in India’s youngest state. The appointment of the soft-spoken G Krishen Reddy of the Union Cabinet as the Telangana party chief in place of Bandi Sanjay is seen as damaging to the party’s ambitions of capturing power in the state. It is being said freely that private surveys are showing the people are disinclined to vote for the BRS again thanks to KCR and his clannish administration and in looking for an alternative are now viewing the Congress as the ideal party to vote for. Spotting the shift in the people’s mood, droves of BRS leaders are joining the Congress and more are expected to cross over in the next couple of months before the poll by the end of the year.
Brandon McCullum

Ashes Cricket On Fire

The cricket in the Ashes may have come closest to resembling the ‘Bodyline’ series even as tensions rise across the world in Britain and in Australia. Prime Ministers have been wading into the ‘stumping’ row involving wicket-keepers Alex Carey and Jonny Bairstow, with Rishi Sunak outright condemnatory of Aussie behaviour that he said is against the spirit of cricket while Antony Albanese saw the humour in it all, saying ‘Same old Aussies, winning all the time”. At the heart of the dispute is England’s Kiwi coach Brendon McCullum whose ‘Bazball’ philosophy is under attack like never before as Team England find themselves 2-0 down and needing to do only what the Australians of 1936-37 have ever done in winning a 5-Test series from the depths of 2-down. It appears McCullum himself had been the guilty party in twice running out batsmen who had left the crease only to celebrate a batting colleague reaching a landmark like a century or a 50. He did it once each to the Sri Lankans and the Zimbabweans though New Zealand were well on the way to victory in both Tests. Years after leaving the active game, McCullum is guilty of talking now of the spirit of cricket. There are no winners and losers in these arguments over controversial incidents – only poor losers damaging the image of the game.

Tamil Nadu Governor Ravi Must Go

The Centre may have realised that the Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi must be shifted out. He has exceeded his brief of taking on the DMK government with his ill-considered timing of dismissal of the minister accused of high graft – V Senthil Balaji. Having made several trips to New Delhi to consult lawyers on the Constitution, the Governor seems to have been carried away in his mission of putting down the MK Stalin government. In his actions, the Governor seems to have been guided by a one-point agenda of embarrassing a government that enjoys the confidence of the public, irrespective of an image of high corruption that is creeping in, thanks to the operations of fundraisers like Balaji with key portfolios. After having sought legal opinion, the Governor dismissed the minister without portfolio in haste and the Centre may have to pay the price in terms of the sympathy wave that is gaining ground in the State for the DMK seen to be suffering from the highhandedness of the Centre in its dealings through the Raj Bhavan. In creating this embarrassing situation in which the Home Ministry had to tell the Governor to seek the Attorney General’s opinion on the powers of a Governor to dismiss a minister, however obnoxious a personality, Ravi may have bitten off more than he can chew. Expect a transfer sometime soon.
Nirmala sitharaman

Nirmala Sitharaman May Contest 2024 Lok Sabha Poll From Chennai South

No one can blame BJP for being a party that works 24×7 on elections. There is no predicting yet how 2024 may go but the ruling BJP is already busy planning its campaign to maximise its chances. The party may be a fledgling force in Tamil Nadu, but it has already initiated planning for the polls in terms of suitable constituencies and candidates who would fit into them. For instance, the party seems to have plumped for Nirmala Sitharaman, finance minister, to contest the South Madras seat where they feel she may get maximum support going by the profile of the constituency voters. Union minister L Murugan may have earmarked the Nilgiris as his place to contest. The party has also zoomed in on constituencies in western and southern Tamil Nadu as potentially most likely to be attracted by its ideology. The party’s bigwigs have been touring the state in the last couple of weeks to put in motion poll plans. Apparently, the AIADMK has agreed to apportion nine Lok Sabha seats plus Puducherry for BJP and the heads of the party have authorised its leaders to examine which nine constituencies would be best to lay early claims to putting up candidates there. The alliance may be far from sealed and seat sharing is even further away, but the BJP is already doing its pre-poll work thoroughly in the State.

V Senthil Balaji: Key Fundraiser To Be Backed To The Hilt By DMK

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Stalin is determined to milk the detention of V Senthil Balaji by the Enforcement Directorate to the hilt by keeping him on as minister without portfolio. There is political mileage to be had in demonstrating that the Centre is misusing the investigative agencies to pile on pressure against regional parties. The case of this politician is peculiar because he has been a key fundraiser for both the major Dravidian parties and has been known to handle key portfolios where the money flow is the highest like liquor and electricity. There are huge margins in both commodities, including electricity where the most funds flow not from generation and sale as much as purchase of electricity from other states to cover up shortfall in peak demand months. Senthil Balaji has been known to be a fair distributor of the money flow to Dravidian party seniors. He may prove a tough nut to crack as it is unlikely that he will involve anyone else in the troubles he is in because of which he could well become the Manish Sisodia of the south. His ‘show’ of ill health that facilitated a HC order to move him to a private hospital patronised most by DMK bigwigs has come to the notice of the Supreme Court too.

‘Nepo Baby’ Jay Shah Among Most Influential People Now

He has been described as the biggest ‘nepo baby’, meaning nepotism got him to where he is as the Secretary of the all-powerful BCCI. He has been voted among the 50 most powerful people in India by a newspaper rating people for 2022. While many decry the engineering graduate as a member of the dynasty corps of India, and quite ironically because his Union Home Minister father is the biggest anti-dynast, belonging as he does to the ruling BJP and its known bias against dynasties. Even so, Jay has quietly achieved in his job, exerting the power and heft of Indian cricket to get some of the biggest television and digital deals in cricket history. Also, he has been bullying Pakistan into accepting secondary status in ACC, running rings around them in terms of making them play in the World Cup in India while India will not play in Pakistan. He is also swinging a big deal out of the ICC money chest by getting India a share of revenues that is about five times that of England and Australia, a sum in excess of $200 mn a year as compared to the once mighty powers of the Imperial Cricket Conference getting a pittance. In short, he is the undisputed Shah of cricket administration.
Nitish Kumar

‘Rest Of India’ Team To Take On BJP?

The one thing that the Karnataka verdict has done is to energise the moves for Opposition unity. The term itself may be a myth given the complexities of the Indian political scene. What the Opposition needs is a broad understanding of the ‘BJP versus the Rest’ formula for their stated ambition to bring the ruling party down in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. There is no need to pay psephologists or such fancy titled analysts and data crunchers to come up with the finding that a seat sharing formula is the best chance for the combined opposition to come up trumps. A simple analysis shows that in about 180 to 200 seats it is a straight contest between the BJP and the Congress. If the Congress, despite its euphoria of a Karnataka triumph, accepts that and is prepared to play second fiddle to regional parties in about 330 seats or so, there is a mighty good chance of the Opposition coming close to upsetting the BJP applecart. Nitish Kumar is hunting for acceptance of this formula in which many parties must ditch their egos, sacrifice their great national ambitions, and accept to be a member of the ‘Rest of India’ team. The search for unity in seat sharing will begin at a Patna meeting of like-minded parties he is hoping to convene very soon.


Yashasvi Jaiswal: Rarest Gem Among IPL Performers

Yashasvi Jaiswal has just proved that he is the rarest talent to have emerged in Indian cricket for a very long time. There will be a lot of claimants now on who groomed him. The quick transition he has made into a modern T-20 batsman with several strokes in the 360 degrees marks him as one who has arrived and is ready for the international stage. There should be no hesitation now in putting him right at the top of the order in the white ball game. All the stories about his selling pani puri on the periphery of a Mumbai maidan at friendly snack stalls can be consigned to history. The background he comes from as a cricket emigre from his home state of Uttar Pradesh will fill newspaper and online space. What is important is the recognition he deserves and the opportunity to prove himself in tougher arenas. In playing a remarkable innings of 98* on a two-paced pitch that seemed to put everyone else off he has shown the range of his talent that can match the best in the white ball business like his opening partner Jos Buttler. Team India beckons a batter who looks a perfect fit for the rough and tumble of the international white ball game which is several notches above IPL game because of its intensity.

Thevars Look To Regain Their Place In Tamil Nadu Politics

The Thevars, once a politically powerful community when Jayalalithaa was the CM and Sasikala her confidante wielding power from Poes Garden, are looking to regain some of the clout by seeking allies. Numerically strong in the state, the Thevars were sidelined after Jaya’s demise and Sasi’s jail term. Their once trusted leader O Panneerselvam, CM in Jaya’s place on occasion, had rebelled against the clan and had even complained about their strong-arm tactics to Prime Minister Narendra Modi who laughed it off as OPS was CM then and had the police under him. They are now joining hands again in their attempt to regain their hold. OPS’ power electorally is suspect but TTV’s AMMK has a reasonable vote share which appears to be their lifeline. The OPS-TTV combine is hoping that the BJP, in its hunt for an umbrella coalition to take on the powerful DMK alliance, will spare some seats for at least the two of them as Sasikala is out electorally until 2027 as she has been banished for 10 years from standing in polls. The BJP is said to be planning to extract more seats from EPS and use some of them to accommodate the likes of TTV, OPS and even GK Vasan. With less than a year to the Lok Sabha polls, a lot of political action can be expected now.

Congress Propensity To Shoot Itself In The Foot May Lead To Close Contest In Karnataka

In a tense run to the finish in Karnataka, the BJP is seeing a small swing thanks to the propensity of the Congress to shoot itself in the foot. The grand old party can be said to have picked up a genius for defeat since it began stumbling as UPA-II leader from 2009. The run continues with the current Congress chief keeping up the tradition with his “snake” comment that boomeranged on the party. Most private surveys were showing a distinct swing for the Congress which seemed set for a clear majority on its own in the 224-seat Assembly. The BJP campaign was on a staid double engine refrain even as the Prime Minister was elaborating on a corruption plank, although it was his party that was in power in the State. Things began changing the moment the snake comment came and it was too late by the time Malikarjun Kharge came up with an apology. Whoever is advising the party may not have gauged the backlash of a proposed ban on the Bajrang Dal which found its way into the Karnataka poll manifesto. Waiting to pounce on any plank that could stoke the majority Hindu sentiment, the BJP drummed up a fierce campaign chanting “Jai Bajrang Bali.” While only the exit polls on May 10 can offer pointers to the result, expect the battle for seats to be much closer than previously forecast.
PTR MKStalin

PTR Escapes The Guillotine – For Now!

Tamil Nadu’s Finance Minister has escaped the guillotine – at least for now. He will neither be dropped from the Cabinet nor will his portfolio be changed at the impending reshuffle before CM MK Stalin heads to Europe on May 23. Before the Cabinet met on Tuesday, PTR Palanivel Thiaga Rajan had a bit of a frosty meeting with the CM on Monday when Stalin spoke his mind and conveyed his family and party’s unhappiness with the audio tape episodes. PTR received a very cold reception from other Cabinet members at the meeting when only the CM spoke to him. He also excused himself after reading out matters connected to finance saying he had to attend a function at Meenakshi Amman temple in the evening. What Stalin has decided thus far is that by dropping PTR or changing his portfolio he would be sending a wrong message to his opponents that DMK is accepting the truth of the audio having been recorded secretly while PTR spoke to someone. Unless the BJP takes it further by registering cases against PTR, the CM and his party would like to let the status quo be. The CM also wrote on the subject in his Q&A that he did not want to waste time on a matter that had already been clarified by his finance minister.
EPS Amit shah

Beyond Karnataka, BJP Looks Ahead To 2024

The national party BJP may be preoccupied with Karnataka as the polls there are proving a challenge despite Congress missteps like Malikarjun Kharge’s ‘snake’ comment. Opinion polls are favouring the Congress, so too do some internal surveys done by the contesting parties. But the BJP is looking ahead to 2024, towards which Maharashtra looms as its next big issue as the verdict on the Sena split is due soon and preparations are on in case Eknath Shinde’s rule is disrupted. With the Karnataka polls round the corner, BJP had been asked by Amit Shah to put Maharashtra operations on hold, much as the Congress had done with its Rajasthan problem. Meanwhile, the BJP tied up its alliance with Edappadi Palaniswami as he had offered 10 seats in all to BJP – 9 in Tamil Nadu plus Puducherry – while the AIADMK would fight most of the other 30 seats, subject to what it may have to part with for allies if the likes of PMK and TMC stay with it for the 2024 Lok Sabha pills. It appears EPS had chosen to ignore whatever the TN BJP chief Annamalai may have said about alliances because he was confident that any decision would be made by Amit Shah, who he met in New Delhi. He has also requested the Home Minister that the CBI be asked to take over the Kodanad estate probe as the DMK is said to be playing games through the police.
Harsha bhogle

In Anodyne World Of Tutored Commentary, Harsha Bhogle Stands Out

Harsha Bhogle drew praise recently for making Mahendra Singh Dhoni feel so much at home in the post-match interview that he opened his mind on impending retirement. The popular commentator is a rare one from the amateur world of early radio days to make it big in the professional world of TV cricket commentary of today. In an anodyne world of tutored speaking that is largely controlled by BCCI, which virtually owns world cricket and hates contrary ideas and words, Bhogle survives in a rat race of former players looking to don the mike and making a buck after retirement. Cricket jobs are virtually monopolised by ex-players who rarely let any competition in. But there are exceptions in this controlled world of opinionated speakers like Sanjay Manjrekar who sprouts independent opinions, not always good. He is one of the few who speaks his mind, however poorish the diction may be and however misplaced his low opinion of performers who prove him wrong so often. Ravi Shastri had blazed a trail of airing his opinions freely in a professional manner before becoming an Establishment figure in his coaching days. There are too many others who fit the bland stereotypical, obedient, middle-of-the-road ‘gobs on sticks’ in the commentary box. There are very few on the IPL scene who match Mike Atherton and Nasser Hussain in informed, entertaining comment on what goes on in the middle
Annamalai eps

Even As EPS Grows In Stature, Annamalai Wades Into DMK Corruption Issues

Edappadi Palaniswami getting the nod from Election Commission might prove embarrassing for the Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai. The Supreme Court had nudged ECI to take the call within 10 days and the EC came up with the permissions needed for EPS to be recognized as the general Secretary of AIADMK and while also granting his faction the right to use the ‘Two Leaves’ symbol. Word on the ground as a tiff was developing between EPS and Annamalai was that the BJP was not happy about a Gounder (caste) taking on a Gounder, which is why it appeared there was a chance that the party might press for O Panneerselvam’s faction so the party could bring the dominant caste Thevars to support them. All that proved to be just speculation, which was fuelled some more by the Prime Minister not meeting EPS or OPS on his Chennai visit. Meanwhile, Annamalai, who is busy taking up corruption issues against the top DMK leaders, played an audio tape reportedly containing finance minister P Thiaga Rajan’s (PTR) alleged admission that the CM’s son Udhayanidhi and son-in-law Sabareesh were collecting Rs 10 to Rs 20 crore a day and that they may have amassed Rs 30,000 crore so far. Indeed, these are interesting times in Tamil Nadu where alone the central agencies like ED and CBI are not seen to be that busy.
bjp karnataka

BJP Is Up Against The Odds In Karnataka

The ruling national party BJP is facing the biggest challenge nine years after coming to power at the Centre. It has lost assembly elections before but never been beaten out of sight. Such a prospect is in the offing in Karnataka unless its lead campaigner and charismatic leader Narendra Modi can pull a rabbit out of a hat again. The word on the ground is the Congress is in for a big shot at revival in Karnataka even as the BJP campaign has hit solid roadblocks. Lingayat leaders have been deserting the BJP and without their backing it would struggle to win enough seats for a majority though the JD(S) is expected to lose ground. The distribution of tickets is always tricky business. The BJP’s cleaning up campaign to deny seats to incumbents whose image may have taken a hit has not been popular with those who have been left out. This is the first time that whispers on the ground are suggesting that even local BJP leaders are inclined to accept that the tide is turning against them and the sympathy factor when JD(S) was up to its old tricks has dried up. Karnataka, important for a BJP footprint in the south, might slip away unless Modi can convince the voters that he can control local leaders whose corrupt ways have led to this.
Saudi stadium

Cricket May Get Super Saudi T20 League Boost

There are super teams in T-20 owned by Indian franchises that will soon be dictating terms to world cricket. But even their influence and reach could be dwarfed by a super T-20 league that is being planned in Saudi Arabia as part of its ‘greenwashing’ programme through sport and tourism. The Indian franchises like MI, CSK, KKR and others already owning teams beyond India are likely to be included in the super Saudi League that will be spending billions on the sport and its players. It is learnt that Saudi authorities are already in talks with international franchises around the world. Why they would like to rope in the Indian franchises is because Indian players cannot play in foreign T-20 leagues and that could change only if the likes of MI and CSK are roped in to play in the Saudi Super league. Cricket is the next big project for the Saudis after Formula One and LIV golf. The ICC Chairman Greg Barclay himself acknowledged that the Saudis are serious about bringing cricket to the kingdom. “Given their advance into sport, cricket would work quite well for the Saudis,” he said. Building stadiums might take a year or two with venues in Riyadh, Jeddah, AlUla and the Red Sea. They will also have a ready-made cricket knowing crowds of Indian expats who are working in Saudi. So cricket must get ready for another super T-20 boost.
K annamalai

Shocking Numbers: Tamil Nadu BJP Chief Releases Assets List Of DMK Leaders

Rs 1,34, 317,00,00,000 crore. Those were the sensational figures used to portray the Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai’s projection of the assets owned by DMK leaders. In a bombshell announcement on Tamil New Year Day on which he also undertakes a padayatra, Annamalai, the ex-police officer, detailed what he believes are the kind of assets that DMK leaders have piled up over the years. He released a document titled ‘DMK Files’ where he published the assets list of DMK top leaders from the first rank of DMK families including late M Karunanidhi, Chief Minister MK Stalin, Kanimozhi, Durga Stalin, Udhayanidhi Stalin, Sabareesan (MK Stalin’s son in law), Senthamari, (Stalin’s sister), Dayanidhi Maran, Murasoli Maran, CEO of Sun TV Network, MK Alagiri (Karunanidhi’s son) and Dhayanidhi Alagiri. He alleged that DMK top ministers and CM MK Stalin’s family members had unaccounted assets worth Rs 1,343,170, 000,000 crore in their family members, friends and benami’s name. “27 DMK leaders alone have assets amounting to over Rs 2 lakh crore, which is 10% GDP of Tamil Nadu.” BJP Tamil Nadu state president alleged. “The part 1 of the DMK files which contains the assets of DMK families released today. Part 2 will be out soon which will release the details of the black money assets of the DMK families.” Many more revelations are likely in the days to come. As is customary, most TV channels were asked to block the news out.

Governors Under Fire: Tamil Nadu Guv Went By Constitution But It Was Too Little Too Late

The office of Governor, a colonial era relic, is under fire like never before. The very need for it is being questioned vigorously by State governments that resent the holder of an ornamental office virtually spying on the States that host them. The Tamil Nadu Governor, probably the one most under fire in a mantle he may have inherited from Jagdeep Dhankar who has become the Vice President of India, went by the Constitution in clearing the Bill banning online gambling because he was bound to sign legislation that was sent to him a second time after being passed in the Assembly. Ironically, on the very day that he did his duty, he was being roasted in the Assembly with MLA after MLA finding it difficult to stay within boundaries and refrain from personal attacks which the Speaker was advising. But then Governor R N Ravi had never missed an opportunity to wage an ideological war with one comment or another on the Dravidian model, Sanatana dharma, the treatment of SC/STs, the uniform test of NEET in medical education. The cold vibes between the two was obvious as they accompanied Prime Minister Narendra Modi to various functions in Chennai even as CM Stalin and PM Modi were displaying bonhomie like never before. Tamilisai’s problems were almost as many in Telangana as States are beginning to take on Governors with a vengeance.

AIADMK Woos BJP National Leaders As Annamalai And EPS Don’t See Eye To Eye

AIADMK and the local BJP under K Annamalai’s leadership are not on the best of terms. Despite being told to go easy on alliance talk, the former cop keeps harping on the uneasy ties and how 2024 Lok Sabha polls could see BJP go it alone in Tamil Nadu. This is why Edappadi Palaniswami (EPS) is hoping to impress on Prime Minister Narendra Modi the need for BJP to treat his party as a trusted ally. EPS will be meeting the Prime Minister on his busy Chennai visit on Saturday (Apr 8) when he will also be asking him for a few seats in Tamil-dominated areas of Karnataka like KGF, Marthahalli and other border areas and Chamrajnagar for the polls on May 10. This would help seal the relationship with the NDA.  Meetings that AIADMK MP, M Thambidurai, had with Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP national president J P Nadda set the tongues wagging in the political circles. But the AIADMK was said to be feeding him with news of what the TN government and its leader MK Stalin are up to and how to keep a check on them. With the courts inclined to support a majority of the party that is behind EPS, the BJP is interested in furthering ties with him but would still keep a door open for the likes of O Panneerselvam in the hope of uniting Jaya’s party.

Kalakshetra Sexual Harassment Case: Its DMK Vs BJP

The Kalakshetra dance school sexual harassment issue has taken a political turn with the Director Revathi Ramachandran, who is a BJP member and nominee of the Union Culture Ministry, under fire from the State Women’s Commission. After the NWC did a cover-up in collusion with the Director under pressure from BJP bigwigs, the State commission swung into action and turned the issue around in favour of the hundreds of girls who suffered sexual harassment for years at the renowned institute. Only under the prompting of the local commission did the Director agree to stop harassing girls who were coming forward to lodge complaints, including an FIR lodged with the police that set in motion the arrest of Assistant Professor Hari Padman. The said gentleman was felicitated on Women’s Day just last month for his contribution to dance, under the watchful eyes of Revathi. While a resignation would have been graceful given the circumstances and a number of complaints against her for not doing enough to protect young girls at the dance school, the Director now seeks an extension that should come up when her second term comes to an end in September. The State, well aware of the political undertones, has told the police to go all out to get the four accused male dance teachers for interrogation or custody. It’s now DMK versus BJP in the dance school fracas.

Independent Probe Called For Into Kalakshetra Sexual Harassment Complaints

The #MeToo issue surrounding the famous dance school Kalakshetra, run by the Union Culture Ministry in Chennai have blown up into a massive controversy. The brave girls of the school, who had voiced their misgivings and complaints about at least four male teachers at the school of sexual harassment, came out in protest defying the school closure order given by the director Revathi Ramachandran. The State government was compelled to take note of the goings on as complaints aired over social media for months coalesced into a movement akin to the one against Harvey Weinstein in Hollywood that blew open the issue of inappropriate male behaviour. The school director, an appointee with political influence in New Delhi, was seen protecting the accused rather than take the side of the hundreds of girls with grievances against the male teaching staff. Only the lack of a specific complainant was holding up a police probe but after the issue came up in the Tamil Nadu Assembly, the hands of the State government have been forced to act. It may set up an independent probe soon under the aegis of the State Women’s Commission as the NWC tried to sweep the issue under the carpet after an inadequate internal probe. Only a powerful probe panel that can set up a safe channel to receive complaints can bring any justice to hundreds of affected girls.

Setback For OPS: After Madras HC Order, EPS Becomes AIADMK Supremo

On a day of fast-paced action, Edappadi Palaniswami was declared elected as General Secretary of the AIADMK, the party founded by MGR and nurtured by Jayalalithaa. In the morning the Madras High Court had rejected a plea on behalf of the O Panneerselvam faction on delaying the election of the General Secretary of AIADMK. The interim applications filed by the OPS camp were rejected and the EPS group, with a clear majority of the party behind it, moved quickly to the party headquarters to first celebrate the news of the HC order and then go ahead and announce the election of EPS as General Secretary. Earlier, the court had allowed the election to go ahead but asked the EPS group not to announce the result until the court ruled finally in the matter. It is clear now that the will of the majority has prevailed and that the attempts by OPS, with a small splinter group basically comprising supporters of the Jaya confidante Sasikala, to scuttle the complete takeover of the party by the EPS group have failed. The control of the trust funds worth about Rs 3,000 crore will also rest with the EPS group. Of course, OPS may go to the Supreme Court with challenges, but the de facto position with EPS as duly elected General Secretary will continue until further orders.

Tamil Nadu Governor Duty-Bound To Sign Anti-Online Rummy Bill

The Tamil Nadu Governor sits on the horns of a dilemma. The Bill against online Rummy was brought to the Assembly again by the Chief Minister MK Stalin and will be with the Governor soon for signing into law. As per the Constitution, R N Ravi is duty bound to sign it even though he passed judgment on it by saying that the original law as passed the first time in the Assembly was against the Constitution. He had questioned the legislative competence of the Assembly to pass such a law when the Supreme Court had consistently ruled that rummy is a game of skill and not of chance. But, being a stickler for going by the Constitution, the Governor cannot refuse the Bill once it is passed by the Assembly a second time. However irritated the State government may be by the Governor’s reluctance to sign Bills passed by the Assembly, it is true that Governor Ravi has gone by the Constitution in dealing with legislation. While there are Governors who simply sit on Bills without saying yes or no for an interminable time, Governor Ravi at least makes his case against legislation he believes goes against the grain of the Constitution and returns it to the State Assembly. The big question now is whether the Governor will precipitate another crisis by not signing the Bill into law.

Annamalai Will Have To Simmer Down And Continue To Work With EPS and AIADMK

It is being stressed that the Tamil Nadu alliance of the AIADMK and the BJP is intact. The local BJP chief K Annamalai may not think so, but he has been told to lay off from spreading any disaffection in the ties and to be prepared to work with the Edappadi Palaniswami group into the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. This is a decision taken at the highest levels of BJP and is way beyond Annamalai’s status in the party to change anything unless the AIADMK feels it can risk dropping BJP. After defeats in 2019 and 2021, the AIADMK has been tending to blame its loss of vote share on its association with BJP, which doesn’t jell with the voters in Dravidian Tamil Nadu. And the recent bypoll to Erode East was further indication of where voter sentiment lies. Annamalai has been a proactive local chief who has given the party some presence on the ground where he has shown organising ability to gather forces for protests, etc. Yet, it is a far cry for the BJP to go independent in a land that will not openly recognise Hindutva or far-right views. Unless the top two in the BJP decide otherwise, Annamalai will have to buckle down and work with EPS regardless of his personal opinion on the prevalent cash-for-votes brand of politics.
N Srinivasan_ Dhoni

N Srinivasan: The South Indian Who Dared To Rule The Cricket World

A swanky new pavilion to complete the total renovation of the MA Chidambaram Stadium was his pet project. His dream has been fulfilled, but on the day of fruition, the progenitor of the project will remain a detached figure. N Srinivasan will be at the inaugural of the brilliant new pavilion structure, including one for the ancient Madras Cricket Club, but only after having given away the top post at the TNCA and asking his daughter also to resign so that the association may be handed over to a representative of the ruling DMK.  At a time when even the Prime Minister has a stadium named after him, the architect of Indian cricket administration in its most modern avatar will see the pavilion named after one of his close friends who was the patriarch of the DMK family, M Karunanidhi. Cricket lover that he was, the litterateur may deserve the honour. But suffice it to say that Srinivasan deserved the honour more. Maybe, one day, the MA Chidambaram Stadium will be renamed after N Srinivasan who ruled Indian and world cricket like a czar but fell to his own hubris, leaving space for him to be derided as a South Indian who dared to rule the national sport. No one could have used cricket’s riches to better serve the game and its players. Alas! today he resembles Ozymandias.

EPS All Set To Crown Himself General Secretary Of AIADMK

Edappadi Palaniswami is a man in a hurry. He would like to use his de facto position as chief opposition to the DMK government by getting himself elected as General Secretary of AIADMK, a post previously held by the likes of J Jayalalithaa and her super ambitious aide VK Sasikala. EPS would like to take advantage of all court rulings having come in his favour after fending off challenges from OPS, who was seeking to exert the influence of the Thevars.  To prepare the ground for his election as General Secretary, EPS has called a meeting of office-bearers at various levels on March 9 and 10.  After the passing away of Jayalalithaa in 2016, her close confidante Sasikala became the General Secretary by calling the general council that chose her to the top post though the party constitution framed by MGR clearly states that the General Secretary could be elected only by the primary members. Much of that is water under the bridge now as EPS pushes on to be recognised as the second biggest force in State politics after DMK’s MK Stalin. Having tried to steer a course midway between surrendering to the BJP and retaining some political independence, EPS would like to keep himself in a position strong enough to negotiate the terms on which the AIADMK-led alliance will be formed with the BJP ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.


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.