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PM Modi Advises Partymen To Be Ready For Bitter Attack From The Opposition

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is unfazed by the sharp criticism mounted by the Opposition about the alleged role of the BJP leaders in the conviction of Rahul Gandhi in a defamation case and subsequent disqualification of his membership of the Lok Sabha. Modi’s response is that the BJP leaders should not fall prey to the barrage of “insinuating” attacks on him. His word to the party leaders is that they should go on the counter offensive and tell their constituents about the utterances of Rahul Gandhi on several matters including that on Veer Savarkar, which has already caused a split in the Maharashtra alliance. As far as Modi is concerned, the government has not interfered in any way either in the Lok Sabha Secretariat’s announcement. In 20 odd cases of disqualification of MPs and MLAs, the procedures adopted were the same. So why is BJP targeted? Modi thinks that the Opposition is nervous after the BJP’s impressive performance in the recent elections in the Northeast. They had a similar reaction after BJP’s Gujarat victory too. “The PM told us that the Opposition will attack us more as they are rattled by the repeated victories of the BJP. The more we win, the harsher the attack will be. Now they are worked up because of our wins in Gujarat and Northeast,” said an MP who was part of the meeting.
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Sharad Pawar’s New Masterstroke, Rahul To Stop Attacking Savarkar

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar has once again kept his supporters and opponents intrigued simultaneously, this time by preventing censure of Veer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.  He has done it by forcing the Congress party and its leader Rahul Gandhi to sheath their tirade against the Hindutva icon. At a meeting of various Opposition leaders at the residence of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, the contentious issue was raised by Pawar, who warned that attacks against Savarkar would prove politically costly for all three partners of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) – the NCP, Congress and Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena – in and beyond Maharashtra. This stand was supported by various Congress leaders, making Rahul to yield. Pawar has shocked the polity time and again by his changing priorities. A close confidant of then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and BJP leader Pramod Mahajan,  he became a powerful minister under Manmohan Singh for 10 years. In 2014, he announced unilateral unasked support for the BJP in Maharashtra after the assembly elections. This announcement forced the BJP and the then Sena to form a coalition. In 2019, his nephew Ajit Pawar took oath along with Devendra Fadnavis but their regime survived barely 72 hours. Pawar’s masterstroke was installing Uddhav as Maharashtra chief minister. Once again, he has shown that he can give politics the direction he wishes. 
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BCCI To Benefit From ICC's $ 3 Bn Media Rights Deal With Disney Star

The news in the grapevine is that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is likely to get a humongous increase in its share of revenue from the International Cricket Council (ICC) for the 2024-2027 cycle. All this because Disney Star has reportedly shelled out $ 3 bn for the ICC media rights for India (broadcast & digital) for the four year cycle. The ICC recently sold the UK media rights to Sky Sports for the 2024-2031 cycle. People privy to conversations among the high echelons of the full members in the ICC  say that the BCCI  has been urging the Cricket Boards (in the ICC)  to allot it a  higher share of money because it is the  Indian companies that are sponsoring much of ICC’s international events. Not long ago the ICC — with Shashank Manohar as the independent chairman — changed its financial and governance structure that was a little more considerate towards other full members (other than Australia and England) and the Associate Members. But with the new media rights agreements to be in place from 2024, the BCCI will receive more money from the World body from next year. The higher revenue from the ICC next year could result in higher receipts from the BCCI to its affiliated members which already are said to be receiving around Rs100 crore each year. More the better is the refrain among the BCCI members. And why not!

Bitter Divorce Battle May Derail Odia Actor Anubhav Mohanty’s Political Career, BJD Hunts For Names

For Odia actor and Biju Janata Dal Lok Sabha MP Anubhav Mohanty the divorce battle with his actress wife Varsha Priyadarshini which has been getting uglier by the day, has reasons to smile. The Odisha High Court has declined Varsha’s petition to restrain media from accepting Anubhav’s video targeting her. So Anubhav is going full steam to project his side of the story. But, this domestic battle could derail his political career. The Odia actor who defeated BJP’s Baijayant (Jay) Panda in 2019 from Kendrapada’s constituency standing may not get the 2024 BJD ticket, party insiders. They are looking at alternative names to replace Anubhav because of the negative publicity he has received over his divorce battle. Sources say Anubhav has been left out of BJD’s recently held state campaigner list and this clearly indicates BJD’s thinking. Some time back BJD’s Cuttack district unit head Debasish Samantaray said “Parliamentarians should not wash dirty linen in public …they need to keep their image intact”. Names that are doing the rounds to replace Anubhav are: Mission Shakti Head Sujata Kartikeyan; wife of 5T Secretary V K Pandian as a possibility; Odisha energy minister Pratap Keshari Deb and Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak could also be a possibility. Looks like Anubhav Mohanty may not get the Lok Sabha ticket and will now have to focus on his film career.

The World Now Respects India As A Partner Across Hi-Tech Verticals

The current push from both the Indian and UK governments to expand their engagement on defence, aerospace and homeland security has seen an intensity of engagement between the two countries that is unprecedented since Independence. A recent meeting with the UK’s national security advisor, on the sidelines of a meeting in London for cooperation in the defence industry, showed the ‘huge’ respect India now commands from the world. The delegation met three UK ministers including the minister for defence procurement, besides the national security advisor and many senior bureaucrats. Says a ‘happy and proud’ Shekhar Sardessai, Executive Vice Chairman & Managing Director of the Goa-based Kineco Ltd and Kineco Kaman Composites, who was part of the delegation: “I have seen how we were treated 10 years back as an insignificant country. The same people are now keen to woo India as a partner. All credit to what our government has done in the past few years to build a formidable position for our country.” Other business leaders agree. “Great!” says Senator Dr PKC Bose, Vice Chairman & Managing Director of the Bengaluru-based Enercon Windenergy, a subsidiary of Germany’s Enercon Group. “It’s India’s time.”

The Other Side Of Vocalist Mahesh Kale You Don’t Know!

India’s renowned vocalist and national award winner Mahesh Kale is a globally respected artiste. But, there is more to him. Recently, the singer flew into the UK three days before his concerts leaving his organisers, fans and followers guessing. No, it was not to do a dry run but to travel the local tube in London, walk over 15000 steps in Central London, and explore the “vibe of the city.” Kale believes that weather is part of human life as nature has an inseparable bond with mankind. Kale is a tree hugger and also chooses to sit on a park bench and write a poem. He ensured that his disciples from Edinburgh accompanied him at both his concerts in the UK. Local travel in the city of performance helps him to understand a little more of the culture of that land, their liking for music. At his show in Manchester, a 6-month old baby Swananadi Kulkarni, overwhelmed by the audience and gathering, started crying. Kale walked up to her and whispered a song into her ears, and soon she stopped crying and started smiling. Kale is an avid traveler. This year he will be performing in the U.S., Germany and Switzerland. Kale is married and lives in the Bay area.

Are The Lines Between Bollywood And Kollywood Blurring?

Are the lines between the south Indian film industry and north Indian film industry (read Bollywood) blurring it? It seems so, as both the territories are very important for them. And incidentally, factoring these north-south audiences the film makers are doing casting that will appeal to both the worlds of cinema. Whether it is Oscar winner RRR or now Sriram Raghavan casting Vijay Sethupati in Merry Christmas with Katrina Kaif is certainly going to help both the industry. Now that’s just the operation part but we notice that the south is making that attempt of bridging the divide that was there in the earlier days. Now south stars have Pan India appeal but a few decades back actors like Kamal Haasan, Rajinikanth, Nagarjuna were not easily accepted. Today, satellite and dubbed films of south are being lapped in the north and the south’s overall business has grown by 20%. Perhaps Bahubali, KGF triggered this trend. Karan Johar was the distributor of Bahubali 1. One may not hear so much from Bollywood honchos but south actors have been vocal about calling it as one big industry. While talking to media Telugu star Nani said “Pathaan hamara hai aur Dasara (his film) aapka hai.” But all this conversation of one film industry started with KGF 2 when Yash fondly called Rocking Star said that we should stop talking about various industries and consider cinema in totality.  And celebration of the victory of RRR in the international world and by the whole country means we are now one.

Environmental Issues Dog Adani’s Navi Mumbai International Airport

Environmental issues continue to dog the upcoming Navi Mumbai International Airport being built by Adani Airports. As the project secures extension of Environmental Clearance to allow Adani to complete the project, green groups are up in arms against what they called misleading Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report submitted by the company. The EIA quotes exhaustively the research report by the BNHS which called for protecting and conserving at least five major wetlands as migratory bird destinations. The State-government owned city planner CIDCO would take steps to implement these suggestions. Moreover, the controversial golf course planned by CIDCO filling two wetlands – NRI and TS Chanakya – was cancelled, the EIA said. But the ground reality is totally contradictory as the wetlands continue to be under attack, green groups Save Navi Mumbai Environment and NatConnect Foundation have complained to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Control. One wetland at Bhendkhal, has been completely buried, another one at Belpada majorly landfilled and a third – Panje – often goes dry as the intertidal water flow to it is blocked by “vested interests”, the greens said. The golf course plan is still alive as the project proponent has recently obtained Coastal Regulation Zone clearance. The tragic part is that CIDCO refuses to accept the existence of the wetlands identified by BNHS as well as the State Mangrove Cell, Nandakumar Pawar of NGO Sagar Shakti said.

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.

Patnaik’s Governance Style Of Empowering Bureaucrats Draws Flak From Ministers, Opposition Leaders

It is no secret that Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik has successfully run the state with a clutch of hand-picked trusted bureaucrats. These bureaucrats are so well entrenched that senior ministers take instructions regarding line of action or policy decisions from them. That’s Naveen babu’s style of empowerment. The continuance of bureaucratic top down decision-making has come with a price, a few days ago thereby forging unity amongst Opposition parties. The issue pertains to Odisha Housing Minister Usha Devi who was clueless about immediate cabinet decisions pertaining to her own department where she said she will check with the Principal Secretary while addressing the Media. The minister’s self-confession brought in a barrage of criticism over Patnaik’s style of running Odisha wherein the Cabinet Ministers are clueless about their own ministries. BJP Leader of Opposition Jaynarayan Mishra said “It is pathetic to see senior ministers standing in front of bureaucrats with folded hands for a darshan only to be heard.” BJD says, here lies Naveen’s unique brand of managing politics converging the think tank mind of bureaucrats and the party leaders working together assuring Odisha’s growth and development. The government and the bureaucrats complement each other where the CM’s work performance speaks for itself.

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.
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Now New Challenge For Congress: To Fight 2024 Polls Without Rahul Gandhi

In a surprise move, the Narendra Modi Government decided to go by the law and disqualified Rahul Gandhi following his conviction by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Surat in a criminal defamation case on March 23 for his remark on the “Modi surname” while addressing an election rally in Karnataka in 2019. The Wayanad MP will be the second member after Lakshadweep Lok Sabha member PP Mohammed Faizal, who was disqualified within two days after his conviction in an attempt-to-murder case on January 11. Interestingly, Faisal’s disqualification by the Speaker was not revoked even after he appealed to the Kerala HC for a stay on his conviction and sentence, which the HC suspended on January 25. Official sources said the government felt encouraged to move against Rahul after several legal experts including Kapil Sibal pointed out that he stands automatically disqualified as an MP and getting only the jail sentence suspended was not enough. Rahul could have continued as an MP only if his conviction was stayed. That’s why eyebrows were raised about his visit to Lok Sabha a day after his conviction. In being convicted by a court, Rahul joins his grandmother Indira Gandhi who was convicted of election fraud in 1975. While Rahul’s legal team is confident of overturning the Surat court’s verdict in higher courts, party circles have begun to think of facing 2024 polls without Rahul. But then is Priyanka Vadra ready to helm the party at this crucial juncture?

Aurangabad Renaming Opposed By Over A Lakh, Supporters Just 1300

While the Supreme Court has dismissed a petition over the renaming of Aurangabad saying it would be heard in the high court in Mumbai next week, over a lakh objections have been filed against the change though the number of supporting applications is less than 1300. The last date for filing objections or supporting applications in the Divisional Commissioner office is March 27. On March 23 alone, over 46000 objections were filed to oppose the rechristening. So far, around 115,000 applications against the renaming have been received. The total number of supporters was less than 1300 till last evening. Despite spirited speeches and demonstrations by the pro-renaming groups, those in favour of changing the name to Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar are much less as compared to the opponents. Some supporters have announced that 30,000 postcards to support the renaming will be sent to the authorities. A similar scenario is seen about the renaming of Osmanabad to Dharashiv. About 20,000 objections have been received but the number of supporting applications could not be ascertained. It is believed to be just a couple of hundred. The renaming issue is becoming political and the final court verdict will determine the direction in which it will be exploited by either side. The state government had attempted to rename Aurangabad in 1996 but the court had issued an order to maintain the status quo.

Are Karnataka Cong Leaders Giving Party President Kharge Sleepless Nights?

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge is a very worried man these days. He feels he doesn’t enjoy the heft of being party president even after his election was duly ratified at the AICC Plenary Session in Raipur in February this year. He is at the receiving end mainly from those who belong to his home state Karnataka. They give him a short shrift most of the time as they keep him waiting even after fixing appointments. Partymen from his home state who seek time to meet him in Delhi do not show up at the appointed hour and it is left to Kharge’s office to find out why they have not turned up. Another major worry for the new party chief is that he is not able to get his way even in reshuffling the AICC. Party sources said he has not been able to get either his favourites like R S Surjewala as general secretary (organisation) or give more responsibilities to Pawan Khera. He finds he is getting stymied by the elephant in the room — Rahul Gandhi — who is not allowing him to move out a K C Venugopal or a high profile Jairam Ramesh.

Is Politics Straining Personal Relationships Of Leaders In Maharashtra?

The uncertainty in Maharashtra is straining personal relations among political relationships. Every cursory visit or comment is viewed with suspicion and tends to create much speculation about the future political direction of every political leader. Visits by chief minister Eknath Shinde to the deputy chairperson of legislative council Neelam Gorhe raised eyebrows forcing her to clarify her position stating that “Even earlier chief ministers would visit and confer with the presiding officers of the legislative council or assembly for official purposes. Be it our earlier chief ministers Uddhav Thackeray or Devendra Fadnavis who would confer with the then speaker Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar. Our earlier speaker Shivajirao Deshmukh also received chief ministers regularly over official matters. These are routine procedures and should not be viewed beyond that.” Gorhe has her loyalties with the Uddhav Thackeray faction of Shiv Sena, whose 16 legislators are being wooed by the Eknath Shinde-led Sena that enjoys the support of over 40 legislators. Though Maharashtra has a history of political leaders maintaining civil relations beyond party lines, this political culture of civility is now clearly under strain in the new political atmosphere. Former chief ministers Shiv Sena’s Uddhav Thackeray and Bharatiya Janata Party’s Devendra Fadnavis’ warm greeting when they happened to enter the assembly together by chance, also created much flutter.
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Will Surat Court’s Two-Year Jail Term Order Work In Rahul Gandhi’s Favour?

The Congress party launched a nationwide campaign over a Surat court order that sentenced Rahul Gandhi to two years in jail in a criminal defamation case for his remark on the “Modi surname” while addressing a poll rally in 2019 in Karnataka. Based on a complaint filed by Gujarat MLA Purnesh Modi, Congress leaders have begun to privately admit that the latest legal development could prove to be a blessing. Many party leaders feel the Surat order could at least help Rahul Gandhi win sympathy among people if he fails to secure any relief in the higher court. Party veterans feel the Surat case could help in boosting the Wayanad MP’s image. For a change he may appear like a victim and probably help his sagging career take off. “Just as Marxist veteran Jyoti Babu had helped in building up Mamata Banerjee by targeting her. Or for that matter the Congress had helped in building Narendra Modi’s image by attacking him, I guess PM Modi is also helping Rahulji via this Surat order,” said a Congress veteran from Bengal.  Apparently, BJP leaders are not happy with the latest legal twist. Aware that the Surat order could give the Congress leader an advantage, the BJP has mobilised support of the OBC “Teli” community against Rahul’s remark.


Didi Moots Regional Party Front Sans Cong To Fight BJP In 2024

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has taken the lead to create a new Regional Party front sans Congress to give a tough fight to BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Taking a cue from her previous slogan of “Khela Hobe” (There Will Be A Game), Didi has sounded 2024 poll bugle with her new slogan “Abar khela hobey (We Will Play Again). Recently, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav came calling to Kolkata and has expressed his party’s whole-hearted support to whatever Didi does for a BJP-mukt India. Taking the regional pact a step forward, Mamata visited Odisha to meet her counterpart Naveen Patnaik. She will host former Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy at her residence.  It is learnt that the TMC supremo will be staging a sit-in dharna near Ambedkar Murti in Kolkata from March 29 till the night of March 30. This is against the pending dues of the state and excesses by the central agencies. According to political observers, instead of calling for a Third Front, Mamata has floated the idea of Regional Front as there are around 200-250 Lok Sabha seats where powerful regional parties are in direct contest with the BJP. TMC insiders say that Mamata is critical about Congress stating that “PM Modi cannot be dislodged if Rahul remains the leader of the Opposition because Rahul is Modi’s biggest TRP and the saffron camp uses the Congress scion for their own good”.

Who Stole My Jewellery Asks Aishwarya Rajinikanth?

This filmi family is constantly in the news by design or by accident. Last month, Tamil star Dhanush was in the news for his newly built Rs 150 crore home in Poes Garden, close to his father-in-law Rajinikanth’s oft vaunted residence. The latest news is about Dhanush’s estranged wife, the feisty Aishwarya who lodged a complaint at the Teynampet police station in February about valuables –jewels, silver utensils, gem stones — missing from the locker. Apparently, it was discovered by her, four years after her sister Saundarya’s wedding when the jewels were worn. In her complaint Aishwarya mentioned that the valuables had moved lockers and locations three times as she had moved from their family home to her current apartment and frequent visits to parent’s home.  Naturally, suspicion for the theft pointed towards house maid Eashwari and driver Venkatesh. Both have been grilled by police, in the course of which some suspicious real estate deals and jewellery pledging trails have been unearthed. Reportedly, her maid has bought a plot worth Rs 95 lakhs at Sholinganallur with a bank loan. The police are investigating the money trail.  Meanwhile, Aishwarya is busy producing-directing Lal Salaam in which Daddy dear is doing a cameo, rumoured to be fast emerging as more substantial.
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Taparia Tools: Highest Dividend-Yield Stock Quoting Dirt-Cheap On BSE!

Generally Rs 10 paid-up stock that carries a dividend of 1725% (Rs 172.50 per share) would have commanded a price of not less than Rs 2000. Taparia Tools, which earned more than Rs 200 per share from its operations and distributed Rs 172.50 as dividend for fiscal 2022, was quoted on March 20, 2023 at just Rs 10.50. At this price the dividend yield works out to 1643%! The company has now proposed a first interim dividend of 775% as against 700% first interim last year which indicates that in all probability current year’s yield may shoot up beyond 1700%! The Nasik-based Taparia Tools Ltd has been manufacturing hand tools in technical collaboration with a Swedish company since 1969.  Its financials have been very impressive with topline growing from Rs 475 cr in FY20 to Rs 670 cr in FY22. In FY23 it is expected to touch Rs 750 cr. Likewise net profit more than doubled from Rs 30 cr to Rs 65 cr during the same period and expected to exceed Rs 75 cr in FY23. Why is the stock quoting so low? It has a small equity base of Rs 3.04 cr with promoters holding 69.73%, directors & relatives 13.72%, two corporate bodies 10.56% and 229 shareholders 3.84%. In the last 21 years, TTL was traded only on 39 days. In the first three months of 2023, the stock has been traded for 5 days. By arrangement with
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After Collapse Of The U.S. Bank, ‘Hungamma’ On Adani Makes No Sense Admits A Section In Cong

Even as the Congress MPs are stalling the Parliament and pushing for a JPC into Hindenburg report on Adani companies, the Congress leadership itself is quite divided on the issue as it doesn’t seem to strike a chord with the general public. In fact, a section of leaders close to Rahul Gandhi is coming around to the view that only those in the stock market may be interested in the Adani issue and the rest of the public may not be concerned with stock price manipulations. It is also felt that after a series of developments following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank in the U.S., the Congress could be simply flogging a dead horse in India. Party sources  also point out that Rahul’s London trip was a big hit as huge crowds had turned up to hear him because of Bharat Jodo Yatra. Everyone wanted to watch and hear the new Gandhi.  At the same time what has foxed Congressmen, how did the government come to know of what exactly Rahul had spoken at Cambridge? Wasn’t it supposed to be in-camera? Congress leaders close to Rahul were flummoxed that the BJP was making such an issue of Rahul’s speech in the UK. Looks like TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee was perhaps right when she said the BJP was keen on making Rahul Gandhi a hero for PM Modi’s “TRP”. 
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Maharashtra Government Stands By Adani Group Over Dharavi Redevelopment Project

The embattled Adani Group has been provided with much-needed relief by the Maharashtra government, which has strongly defended its decision to entrust the Dharavi redevelopment project to the giant. Disregarding a demand to drive the conglomerate away in view of the clouds hovering over it due to the Hindenburg disclosures, deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis made this clear in the state assembly. Dharavi’s Congress MLA and former minister Varsha Gaikwad had demanded that the project should be handed over to some other reputed firm by taking it away from Adani. Maintaining that the group had won the bid in open competition, Fadnavis said unless Adani Group fulfilled all the legal and financial formalities, the government would not issue it with a letter of intent (LoI). If financial institutions were satisfied with Adani’s status, they would extend the funding. In such a situation, there was no reason for the government to intervene. Former finance minister Jayant Patil reminded the government that Adani had recently withdrawn from a huge power project buyout in Central India and asked what was the timeline for completion of the project?. It will be completed within seven years, Fadnavis assured him.  The project was originally conceived nearly three decades ago. Redeveloped Dharavi will absorb the overflow into the Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) and add billions to the government’s coffer.
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Have Rahul Gandhi's Utterances Become A Liability For The Congress?

In this election season, has Rahul Gandhi’s utterances during the UK tour become a liability for the Congress? Well, the speeches delivered by him at a number of events in London have been a flashpoint between the BJP and the Congress and have led to the stalling of the Parliament for the 7th day in a row during the Budget Session. Rahul may have asserted that criticizing PM Modi or his government is not an “attack on India”, but party sources admit that his Cambridge speech where he spoke about “democracy in India” is under attack has not been liked by people at large. In fact, Congress leaders say at a time when the party is in a good position to win the Karnataka assembly elections, Rahul should not be “visible” during the election campaign. “The more Rahul Gandhi campaigns, Congress will stand to lose,” points out a party strategist. There was poor public response to his first rally in Belagavi on March 20 where he announced a series of sops such as Rs 3,000 to every unemployed graduate every month for two years as is done in Chhattisgarh. In contrast to the kind of reception PM Modi recently received in Belagavi, the crowds were simply not enthusiastic about Rahul.  Besides, many in the Congress felt the Chhattisgarh model of unemployment dole cannot hold well in a progressive state like Karnataka where more educated jobless youths will be found.


Vulnerable Backs Of Bumrah And Iyer Push India Back To The Wall!

The back ailment to fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah and middle order bat Shreyas Iyer has affected India’s groundwork for the ICC World Test Championship final to be played at The Oval, London from June 7 to 11. Bumrah has played nine Tests in England and has taken 37 wickets at 26.27, but a surgery in New Zealand to alleviate his nagging back has virtually ruled him out of action for an unspecified period of time. He has not played a Test match and ODI for India since last July and a T20 since last September. Bumrah will not be seen in action in the IPL-16. India is now accustomed to going into a match without Bumrah and everyone is keeping his fingers crossed of his availability for the ICC World Cup in India this October- November. Without him, India’s pace department will only be at half its strength. Iyer’s back problem is much more than a niggle; India’s captain Rohit Sharma pitied Iyer’s plight after the Ahmedabad Test, saying: “Poor guy. It just was such an unfortunate incident.” Iyer had established himself as a key batsman in the middle order and it looked as though he would be in rehab for a long period of time. Insiders say Mumbai’s Sarfaraz Khan will finally make the India squad for the WTC final and for the series in the West Indies.

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.

Why Did Superstar Rajini Visit Thackeray’s Home

The buzz around why Superstar Rajinikanth called on the Thackeray family at Matoshree is as audible as crickets chirping in a forest as night falls. It is well-known that intense activity, public profiling, media mentions, are all activated before a Rajini film release, and the legion of crazy (though now disillusioned ) fans lap up every bit and byte. Yes, his upcoming film Jailor’s publicity machine is on overdrive currently with news of mega stars joining the Jailor bandwagon. After all, the focus is that Jailor should overtake Kamal’s Vikram’s box office success, and so every appearance helps. Even a hint that yet another go at politics could set off clanging fan bells. So is Rajini’s alter Shivaji Rao Gaekwad creating more impact by calling on a bruised Uddhav? How easily this could be interpreted as a Marathi Manoos assuring Thackeray of his support! Did Uddhav take the lead? In politics, resurrections and relevance come in many packages. Uddhav needs a big jolt of support. So was the meeting for mutual advantage? Tamil Nadu whispers point to another direction. Rajini, the superstar, is a canny businessman, practical and political. It is well known that much of his huge net worth is invested in Karnataka and Maharashtra real estate and a token invested in TN.  Is he buying insurance to protect his properties because of the sudden clash between Kannadigas and Maharashtrians over the age-old border issue?

Weak Maharashtra Opposition Fails To Put BJP On The Mat For Bookie Daughter Scandal

The recent scandal linking a designer-bookie’s daughter Aniksha Jaisinghani with Amruta Fadnavis, wife of Maharashtra’s deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, was viewed as an opportunity lost by the Opposition party Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA). Leaders of MVA regret that they have been unable to put the ruling dispensation on the mat or demand their resignations. “Had the BJP got such a chance, they would have raised a ruckus enough to get the entire government to resign on this. Our ministers have had to put in their papers for much smaller errors. Vilasrao Deshmukh lost his chief ministership over film director Ram Gopal Varma’s visit to Hotel Taj post the 26/11 attack, while Union minister Shivraj Patil was made to resign for changing his clothes multiple times during serial blasts in Delhi,” said a former MVA minister. Referring to a stricture passed by the High Court against chief minister Eknath Shinde for reversing his deputy cooperatives minister’s decision, Opposition leader Ajit Pawar had said such HC strictures would have been enough reason for a minister to resign earlier, but not anymore. Not surprisingly, the ruling Fadnavis-Shinde government ministers seem quite lackadaisical skipping legislative discussions over catching up at the lobby instead. The Opposition had to tell the CM to instruct his ministers to attend the house so that they could hear Opposition leaders’ various demands including that of holding civic polls in the state immediately.


Mumbai Cricket Fans Deserve Pat On The Back

The Mumbai cricket fan deserves a pat on his back for thronging the Wankhede Stadium at Churchgate for the India-Australia one day international on Friday (Mar 17). The Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) must be thrilled seeing a near full house, all having a gala time for seven hours; the mischief mongers tried to spoil MCA’s party by posting fake pictures of shabby seats at a popular stand. The MCA Secretary Ajinkya Naik said officials visited the stand and found everything spic and span. The spectators got their money’s worth too, seeing the ebb and flow of fortunes before KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja got involved in a rescue act initially, steering their team out of troubled waters and then finally giving the finishing touch in the 40th over. But there was so much excitement packed after India chose to bowl winning the toss, all started by the bang-bang going Mitchell Marsh. Then Shane Warne’s ‘Rockstar’ Jadeja rose to the occasion with the white Kookaburra. The match appeared to have swung in Australia’s favour when classy left arm fast bowler Mitchell Starc removed three in his opening burst before Rahul and Jadeja responded with barndoor defence and attractive stroke play. The spectators could not have had a better fill. Looks like the MCA went out of the way to roll out a super pitch that afforded the batters and bowlers a chance to shine.
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Bribery Trap: Fadnavis Disclosure Could Affect Many Politicians And Top Cops In Maharashtra

A tacit message by Maharashtra Deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis that he has in his possession the names of some top politicians and police officials in connection with an attempt to implicate his wife Amruta in a bribery trap has cast a pallor of apprehension since many heavyweights would face trouble, if his threat becomes a reality. The disclosure by Amruta that a designer, Aniksha, had tried to offer her a bribe of a crore of rupees in return for protecting her father Anil Jaisinghani who is a bookie, shook the political circles in the state. Immediately, guesswork began about the different angles of the serious matter. Fadnavis himself explained later that there was truth in the complaint and many prominent names could tumble out during the investigation. Aniksha  has been arrested and sent to police custody till March 21. In the special court, Mumbai Police said that they have added charges of extortion against Aniksha, for demanding Rs 10 crore from Amruta. While most political leaders desisted from commenting upon the shocking development, Uddhav Thackeray’s follower Priyanka Chaturvedi, a Rajya Sabha member, was engaged in a Twitter war with Amruta. She wondered how Aniksha could obtain access to such an important household. In retaliation, Amruta has castigated Priyanka for doubting her honesty.

Will The Teacher Recruitment Scam Pull Trinamool Down In Panchayat Poll?

With the Enforcement Directorate telling the Calcutta High Court that the volume of the school recruitment scam in West Bengal may reach up to Rs 350 crore, the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) has gone all guns out to find out those from the Opposition involved in the scam. Several TMC leaders including former second-in-command of the party Partha Chatterjee have been arrested in connection with the scam. TMC for the first time expelled two youth leaders who had been arrested by ED for their involvement in the scam. Earlier, it had suspended senior leader Partha Chatterjee and legislator Manik Bhattacharya, but did not expel them from the party.  TMC has alleged that Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari was directly involved and demanded his custodial investigation in the case. Recently, the court dismissed the appointment of over 800 candidates out of which 55 people were recommended by Adhikari, claimed TMC. The series of dismissals from the job of candidates have left Didi worried since the Panchayat Election is knocking at the door. She has even made a fervent appeal to the court to punish ‘culprits’ in the recruitment scam but reinstated “legally” those who are losing their jobs. Political observers believe in the light of the recruitment scam TMC may lose a few districts in the Panchayat Poll to be held in May. If that happens it will give an impetus to BJP in West Bengal.

In Midst Of Chaos, Rajya Sabha Chairman Dhankar Ensures A Lively Tribute To Oscar Winners

Must give it to Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankar for bringing lighter moments to house proceedings while recording praise for Oscar winners. He even acknowledged that had he not become a lawyer he could have become an actor. He got the House to appreciate India’s mega double-win at the Oscars with MPs across the political spectrum praising the achievement. While Union Minister Piyush Goyal lauded the role of women in ‘The Elephant Whisperers’, LoP in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said “This award is given to Naatu Naatu and The Elephant Whisperers. Both mostly come from South India. It is a great pride for us.” His only worry was the Centre should not take “credit” for directing the film. His quip left the House in splits with senior ministers S Jaishankar and Piyush Goyal enjoying it. Goyal was quick to point out that V Vijayendra Prasad, “RRR” scriptwriter, was a President’s nominee to the House from July 2022. Danseuse Sonal Mansingh reminded about the genesis of the word “Naatu Naatu (Dance,Dance) and said it gets its roots from Nataraj. The entire world is singing to the tunes of the song. Secondly, the award won by the documentary, ‘The Elephant Whisperers’, we are devoted to Ganesha, he is Prathamesh and the elephant is extremely auspicious for us.”  The MPs may get to see the Oscar winning films as I&B minister Anurag Thakur assured the House to arrange for their screening.
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PM Modi's Speech In Karnataka Sets Agenda For Parliament

For the second consecutive day both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha were adjourned soon after they met as the heated exchange between the BJP and Congress over Rahul Gandhi’s remarks. It was quite clear that the Parliament was following the agenda set by PM Narendra Modi who took on Rahul for his remarks on India. Speaking in Karnataka, Modi had warned people to be wary of those “who raise questions about Indian democracy”. At a London event Rahul said India’s institutions are under attack and a large chunk of Indian democracy has “come undone” and are not likely to end any time soon. The BJP has demanded an apology from Rahul Gandhi. The Congress has trashed the ruling party’s allegations and said “those crushing democracy are talking of saving it”. The party also dubbed it as an attempt to divert attention from its demand of a JPC into the Hindenburg report on Adani. “A member of the House goes to foreign country and talks against the democracy of India. I am shocked that some parties are also backing him. I appeal to all parties to criticise how a senior MP tried to defame Parliament on foreign land,” said Rajya Sabha Leader Piyush Goyal. Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil has filed a breach of privilege notice against Goyal for criticising a Lok Sabha member “without truth and was intentionally going on with derogatory remarks”.

Rohit Sharma Deflects 'Sick Story' About Virat Kohli With Aplomb!

Rohit Sharma — as he would do to a wayward delivery around his pads — deflected a sensitive question related to Virat Kohli being sick while he scored his Test century No 28 at the Narendra Modi Stadium on March 12. Sharma said “It’s funny what people talk about on social media. For us, we don’t really respond or look into what’s happening (in social media). I don’t think he’s sick, he was just coughing a little bit. He’s not that bad health-wise.” He also went on to say that the splendid century Kohli scored (after more than three years) in Test match cricket did not in any way was like getting the monkey off his back. Kohli himself was thrilled to play a big part in India outsmarting Australia in the first inning of the fourth Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Sharma endorsed Kohli’s classy eight and a half dig saying: “He’s just enjoying his cricket at the moment. Obviously, he wants to put up big performances for the team which he has done in the past so many years. He just wants to do that every time he plays for India.” The question raised at the post match media interaction was a reference to Kohli’s wife Anushka Sharma’s social media post that stated: “Playing through sickness with his composure, inspiring me always.” All that can be said about the drawn Test is that Kohli gave a solid masterclass on slow and drab pitch.

Political Clash Likely In Maharashtra Over Bhushan Desai Joining Eknath Shinde

Former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray’s right hand Subhash Desai’s son Bhushan’s entry into the Shiv Sena is likely to create a political clash between the two parties running the Maharashtra government. The BJP’s Goregaon unit leader Sandeep Jadhav has strongly objected to the development. In his letter to CM Eknath Shinde, he says, “Bhushan is afraid of getting implicated in some economic transaction and hence has joined the Sena to protect himself. Entry to such a tainted person can adversely affect the BJP’s alliance with the Sena.”  Desai’s political career of over four decades shaped in Goregaon, is now the BJP’s stronghold. Although Desai has politically disowned his son, the local BJP’s anger against Bhushan can’t be overlooked by the party, it is felt. As Shinde himself welcomed Bhushan into the Sena fold on Sunday (Mar 12), all eyes are now on deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who will have to douse the sparks which threaten to erupt any moment in an inferno. Uddhav’s spokesman Sanjay Raut recalled that industry minister Uday Samant, earlier with Uddhav, had levelled serious allegations against Bhushan in the past. “The CM has cleansed him through his washing machine,” said Raut. Explaining his decision, Bhushan has said that he decided to support Shinde who was following the path laid down by Balasaheb Thackeray.

Ajit Pawar Alleges Shinde-Fadnavis Govt Using Fund Allocations To Arm Twist MLAs Supporting Uddhav Thackeray

Opposition leader Ajit Pawar has hinted that Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde misused the state financial allocations to pressurise legislators from the Uddhav Thackeray faction of Shiv Sena to quit their party. Pointing out that only 52% of last 2022-23 budgetary allocations had been utilised, Pawar stated that soon after assuming power, the Shinde government had stalled funding for developmental works in constituencies of the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi legislators. While a few legislators from the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress did manage to get their way subsequently after meeting up with Shinde, those supporting the Uddhav Thackeray faction, had it really bad. Pawar alleged that the Uddhav’s MLAs were told that disbursal of funds for their projects was simply subject to their decision (to shift their allegiance). Pawar also pointed out that the state had failed to utilise 67% of the Rs 13,290 crore allocated by his government district development works. Pawar, who had presented over 9 budgets in the state, termed the 2023-24 Devendra Fadnavis’ maiden budget as finance minister as an election-oriented one lacking vision and peppered with unrealistic promises.

How Kangana Ranaut Has Seamlessly Integrated Her Reel And Real Life

Bollywood queen Kangana Ranaut has the art of staying in the news. Recently when the Khalistan movement played up in Punjab she took to social media to say she had predicted this problem two years ago. A hardcore Modi supporter, she has been nursing political ambitions and reportedly made it known that she was not averse to standing for elections from her home state, Himachal Pradesh. Her outspokenness cost the 35-year old actor dearly when the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government headed by Uddhav Thackeray gave orders to demolish her house. Even her reel life role has been reflecting her political ambition, the kind of role she cherry picks or produces. She has played the role of modern leaders like Indira Gandhi and Jayalalithaa. Besides, she has also donned the role of legendary and religious characters in movies like Manikarnika 2, Sita: The Incarnation. Kangana is now busy shooting for Chandramukhi 2, a sequel to Rajnikanth’s horror comedy directed by P Vasu. Of late, she is more focused towards the south film industry. In Bollywood where she is known for not mincing words, she gets along with people who are right-winger like Anupam Kher; but one was surprised to see her making fun of Selfiee which had Akshay Kumar. And another surprising factor was her support for Nawazuddin Siddiqui and it may be because she is working with him. After fighting courting too many battles including a defamation suit filed by Javed Akhtar, Kangana, according to industrywallahs is now careful and measured in her talks and social media message. Is it?

How Has The Promoter Of Styrenix Become A `Public’ Investor?

The Vadodara-based Styrenix Performance Materials Ltd is a strange company in many ways. In the last three decades, the company has changed its name as many as seven times. Its original promoter sold the company on the eve of its Silver Jubilee and bought it back on the eve of its Golden Jubilee. Surprisingly, MNC INEOS Styrolution sold its stake to the Indian promoter at a time when the company had achieved its best performance. What’s more, the MNC sold its stake at less than one-third of the peak price. Just before the MNC sold its stake, the company, for the first time, came out with bumper special and interim dividends aggregating to Rs 297 per share which benefited the MNC to the tune of Rs 253 cr. The acquirer, whose net worth was less than Rs 60 cr, committed to buy the MNC’s stake for a consideration of more than Rs 600 cr.  The transaction between the MNC and the Indian promoter triggered a mandatory tender offer to the non-promoter shareholders. The quarterly disclosure filed by Styrenix on January 18, 2023 presented SPML’s holding of 62.73% as promoter’s stake. But on February 9, 2023, the company made a revised filing which lists SPML’s stake under the `Public’ category! How has the promoter become a `public’ investor? The company is yet to reply to the e-mail sent in this regard. By arrangement with
Cong opposition

Why Congress Is In No Hurry To Play Opposition Unity Number

Ever wondered why the Congress stayed out of the Opposition’s open letter written on March 5 to PM Narendra Modi, alleging “blatant misuse of central agencies”, citing the CBI arrest of Delhi’s former deputy CM Manish Sisodia? The missive, believed to be the brainchild of Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao was signed by AAP supremo Kejriwal, Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Bihar deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena (UBT) head Uddhav Thackeray. While the Congress itself was sending out mixed signals on action against Sisodia, Delhi Congress leaders are happy that party chief Mallikarjun Kharge took a firm stand against AAP. Congress leaders feel now is the time to put AAP in its place and regain lost ground in the national capital. Besides, the letter made no reference to the National Herald case which had badly hit the Congress. Interestingly, most signatories seemed like affected parties — that is either they had been investigated or their kin have been under ED/CBI scanner. Congress sources said the party was in somewhat august company as JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar too did not sign. As for the Left parties, Kejriwal flaunted a letter from Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan expressing concern for Sisodia.

In Spite Of Bail, Political Options For "Corrupt" Karnataka BJP MLA Madal Virupakshappa Run Out

BJP MLA Madal Virupakshappa, whose son V Prashanth Madal was arrested by the Lokayukta police for taking a bribe of Rs 40 lakh, may have secured conditional anticipatory bail from the Karnataka High Court. But, his political future remains under a cloud, notwithstanding his proximity to veteran BJP leader B S Yediyurappa. It was his mentor who urged him to surrender to law. It is more likely that the BJP may not retain him. Party sources say, even before Rs 8 crore cash were recovered by Lokayukta police from his son last week, Virupakshappa had made it known that he would not contest this year’s assembly election. The high court has asked the MLA to surrender before the Investigation Officer within 48 hours after receipt of the anticipatory order. The judge also told him not to tamper with evidence and not to enter the office of Karnataka Soaps and Detergent Ltd Virupakshappa, an MLA from Channagiri in the Davanagere district, was booked in a bribery case in which his son was caught red-handed while receiving a bribe of Rs 40 lakh. Lokayukta then registered an FIR in the bribery case and named Virupakshappa as the number one accused.
cpm cong

Will Bengal CPM And Congress Make Their Alliance Official For Lok Sabha 2024 Elections?

The Congress candidate winning the Sagardighi Assembly seat in West Bengal in alliance with CPM has put both the parties in a dilemma. The arch rivals are now thinking hard whether to forge an alliance officially in the run-up to the Lok Sabha Elections 2024. Interestingly, Berhampore MP and President of West Bengal Pradesh Congress Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has categorically stated that his party is keen to fight future elections in the state in an alliance with the Left to take on the Trinamool Congress and BJP. Moreover, with this result, Congress gets one representation at the Assembly. Chowdhury, who happens to be close to the Gandhi family, has made it clear that lower-level party cadres are keen on this alliance contrary to some top Left leaders thinking otherwise. The senior Congress leader said that he had requested CPM Politburo member Biman Bose and State Secretary Md Salim not to field any candidate for this seat. However, previous attempts at similar alliances backfired during State Assembly Elections in 2016 and 2021 and both were unable to even win a single seat. Insiders said that Chowdhury had expressed his concern to Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi to speak against TMC. Gandhi’s statement against TMC in Meghalaya campaign results from that request. Incidentally, both Rahul and his mother Sonia Gandhi enjoy an excellent relationship with Mamata Banerjee.
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Biopic On ‘Biscuit King’ Rajan Pillai Runs Into Rough Weather

Malayalam superstar Prithviraj Sukumaran, who was supposed to direct and act in the web series Biscuit King, a biopic on Rajan Pillai, seems to have put the project on the back burner. Yoodlee Films, a subsidiary of Saregama, had announced in December 2021 that it was backing the project on Rajan Pillai who died a gruesome death in Tihar jail in 1995. Recently, when Prithviraj and actor Suriya got together for a photo shoot it was speculated that the Tamil superstar was in discussion to act in the biopic. However, Prithviraj’s PR team has now clarified that there is no biopic project and that the director’s next two projects are Empyrean and Tyson. Suriya is now expected to do a cameo role in Empuraan or Prithviraj could star in the Tamil actor’s upcoming movie. It may be recalled that in 2021 when the web series Biscuit King was announced, Prithviraj had said, “This story has it all; ambition, success, a jet-setting lifestyle and then a hubris-induced fall. It will be very interesting to discover what made this charismatic personality tick and to relive his intriguing, complex life”. It now looks like the project has been dropped. The biopic since its announcement had his critics as it was not clear whose version it was — Rajan Pillai’s wife Nina, Nusli Wadi/Sunil Alag combine who dethroned him or Rajan’s brother Rajmohan Pillai.

Ashwin Muthiah To Pass The Baton To Eldest Daughter Devaki

Sustainability of any family business is a tough challenge. When family expands, it gets even tougher. More than anything else, the challenge lies in keeping the interest alive among the GenNext in the family. The story is different here, however. A member of the fourth generation, Devaki Ashwin Muthiah has just joined the board of AM International Holdings. She is the eldest of the two daughters of Ashwin  Muthiah, the son of indefatigable AC Muthiah. As a part of the leadership team, Devaki will drive the group’s strategic growth plans across Singapore, India and the UK to accelerate its future-readiness. She had earlier interned in global luxury firms such as Joseph and Chopard in the UK. She has been a mentor and university liaison for the GAIN (Girls are Investors) charity in the UK.  Devaki is already on the boards of Penn Globe Ltd and Notedome Ltd, subsidiaries of Manali Petrochemicals. Her induction into the holding company board sets the succession line clear. Her brief is clear: to prepare the group future-ready. For a group that traces its history to the launch of the country’s first motor scooter Lambretta by Automobile Products of India (a group company then) half-a-century ago, the entry of a fourth generation member invests this iconic traditional industrial family business group with a sense of freshness and energy to move forward.

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.
UStalin free bus

DMK Govt Goes Back On Its Promise, Free Bus Rides For Women, Senior Citizens To End

At last, the DMK had to get realistic; even reckless election promises need money to be fulfilled. The pink coloured free buses for women, free rides for old, infirm, transgender, subsidised travel for students, monthly bus passes can no longer subsist on ideology. The DMK has announced a plan to allow private bus operators to own and run buses on MTC routes under a Gross Cost Contract (GCC), which would factor in adding 500 vehicles for 2023, and increase it by another 500 by 2025, on a per km rate revenue sharing  model. Is this a creative public-private partnership model? Or is it mandated by the World Bank funded C-SUSP (Sustainable Urban Service Program)? The announcement was not happily received by the MTC workers who see in it a diabolical plan to gradually hand over the bus transport to private operators. K Arumuga Nainar, General Secretary of the Federation of Transport Workers has opposed the move as do other CITU unions. Interestingly, the Indian Express carried a stout denial by the Transport Minister SS Sivasankar, claiming that the government had only undertaken a feasibility cum revenue study. “Private operators will likely be allowed to run buses only on routes that have high patronage.” MTC is the lifeline of Chennai which operates 3436 buses over 625 routes, and is used by 30 lakh people every day.

Why Blame Us For The "Poor Pitch" When The Fault Lies Elsewhere Ask BCCI Member Associations

Three Test matches have been played in the four-Test Border-Gavaskar Trophy and the pitches at all three venues have been damned by the International Cricket Council (ICC) Match Referees. Zimbabwe’s Andy Pycroft gave an “average” rating for the pitch at Nagpur’s Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium and New Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla, and England’s Chris Broad did not hesitate to give a “poor” rating to the Holkar Stadium pitch, Indore. The ratings were as good as anyone, from a fan to official, would have imagined after seeing the behaviour of the pitch right in all three Tests put together, but the moot point is which entity should take the blame for the quality of the pitches for international matches played in India. Officials of the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association (MPCA) were peeved that it had to face the flak, when fingers should have been pointed at the BCCI pitch and ground committee representatives who supervise the pitch preparation. The team management would not admit, but the officials of the BCCI member associations have divulged that the pitches have been prepared at the behest of an influential support staff member in order to suit the team’s spinners. The Indore pitch has been given three demerit points and the MPCA is fuming because they are not at fault. What’s in store in Ahmedabad is anybody’s guess!
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Are Bollywood Photographers Crossing The Laxman Rekha?

Celebrities across the world have to put up with pesky paparazzis. Bollywood is no different. Recently, a freelance Paps clicked Aliya Bhatt sitting by the window in her house. It was not scandalous but Alia raised ‘the right to privacy’ stink and it became a headline. Interestingly, sometimes back when Alia told Paps to avoid taking photos of her daughter they readily agreed. But Anushka Sharma was not that lucky, her child’s photo went viral. And everybody knows Jaya Bachchan’s aversion for Paps. Do Bollywood stars have love-hate relations with paparazzis? In Bollywood there are two kinds of Paps: professional, organized ones and freelancers (mobile phone wielding ones). The organised ones are officially tipped by the PR guys about film stars’ schedules like visits to malls, theatres, restaurants or airports. But, freelancers are not part of this loop. Since they are paid only if they deliver. And their KRA is how far you can go to get those exclusive photos/videos. This sheer fight for survival to take money home sees them break barriers of decency; at times pass lewd remarks against female stars. Basically, they lack etiquettes and manners. In the last three years, especially after Covid-19 pandemic, some of these freelancers have crossed the Laxman-Rekha and have intruded into the star’s privacy. This has irked many female stars.
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In The Matrix Of Winning & Losing Elections, Cong Still Clueless

For reasons best known to it, the Congress decided to toast and celebrate its by-election wins even though it was decimated in the North East. Party leader Jairam Ramesh went on to emphasize how the Congress had wrested the Kasba Peth assembly seat in Pune after 33 years and managed to make a debut in West Bengal assembly by winning Sagardighi seat after 51 years. In the last West Bengal assembly elections, the Congress had drawn a blank. Congress sources, however point out that winning Kasba Peth was more due to inept handling by state BJP; the assembly seat was handed on a platter to the Congress. Pune MP Girish Bapat reportedly wanted the seat for his daughter-in- law but he had failed to get Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis’s backing. When the party leadership refused to oblige him, Bapat sulked and did not push for a BJP win. Even as PM Modi vowed to expose the CPM-Congress alliance in Kerala, Jairam explained how the tie-up proved to be a face-saver – it had helped the party get at least 5 seats, in 2018 it was zero. In Meghalaya, of course after its entire team of 21 MLAs led by Mukul Sangma joined TMC, the party had reasons to be happy that it had won 5 seats. But then the Congress doesn’t realise that exodus to the TMC wouldn’t have happened if it had not handed over the PCC to Lok Sabha MP Vincent Pala– he lost the assembly elections.

Are Adani Stocks On A Comeback Trail?

The Adani group and its shares have been under tremendous pressure over the last five weeks since the report from Hindenburg hit the markets. 2nd March was a great day — a big comeback of sorts for Adani. GQG Partners Emerging Markets Equity Fund invested Rs 15,500 cr approx. in four of Adani’s companies. These shares were bought from the Adani family. The price at which these shares were bought are Rs 1,408.25 for Adani Enterprises, Rs 504.60 for Adani Green Energy, Rs 596.20 for Adani Ports and SEZ, and Rs 668.40 for Adani Transmission. These prices at which the deal was done would become a benchmark for valuation going forward. In the near foreseeable future these prices would not break unless a new disaster hits the stock markets. On the same day, the Supreme Court appointed a six-member panel to look into the allegations against the group and submit a report in a sealed cover within two months. This would clear doubts raised by Hindenburg, the continuous disruption in Parliament would now stop and alleged cronyism, a charge raised by the Opposition would also be resolved. The proof of the pudding is in the eating and at the time of writing this article the share prices of three of the four stocks mentioned have gained between 11.13% to 11.32% (as they are subject to a 5% circuit filter) and the fourth has gained a staggering 29.8%.
Atmanirbhar_Pawan Anand

Taking Atmanirbhar A Step Further In India’s Defence Industry

The USI Atma Nirbhar Bharat Initiative (USI-ANBI) has given new meaning has been given to the work of the United Service Institution (USI) of India in furtherance of its avowed objective of “furtherance of knowledge in the art, science and literature in the interest of national security”. Such initiatives bring defence industry players in contact with the Services departments dealing with procurement and indigenisation. In July 2022, for example, it had a panel discussion (PD) with Aditya Birla Securities Ltd on the impact of the geopolitical situation on global and India’s financial markets, followed by one with Microsoft on cybersecurity, where the apex cybersecurity officials were brought in. Start-ups are allowed to register and asked to join when there is a round table discussion (RTD), seminar or closed-door meeting on the issue relevant to them. USI of India is a strategic think tank with a wealth of retired officials from Services, IAS, IPS and IFS, explains Major General Dr Pawan Anand, AVSM (Retd), Distinguished Fellow and Head of USI-ANBI. “It is a great brand!” he says. “We are now planning on foreign industry offerings too at our RTDs.” Obviously, India’s role on the global stage continues to grow in its presidency of the G-20 which it took over in December last year.

MNS Leader Attacked, Investigate Aaditya Thackeray And Sanjay Raut Says Party

Fatal attack by four unidentified assailants on MNS leader Sandeep Deshpande  in the busy Shivaji Park area has fuelled a bitter political war as his party colleagues have demanded arrest of Aaditya Thackeray and Sanjay Raut. The police are treading cautiously as any wrong action by any side can potentially blow up in a serious law and order problem. Known as a politically mature state once upon a time, increasing incidence of violence has become the norm in recent times. Beating up of government officials and assaults on police personnel was never heard of in older times but even that scenario is changing for worse. Alleged involvement by ministers like Jitendra Awhad or Bachchu Kadu in thrashing political opponents and conviction of some of them has been becoming frequent. The sad part is that the political parties concerned avoid taking any disciplinary action fearing electoral fallout. Deshpande, a vocal critic of the Thackeray family and a confidant of MNS chief Raj Thackeray, has been in the forefront of exposing the BMC corruption. He has vowed to continue his crusade.

Did Cong Plan Lokayukta Raid Against BJP MLA’s Son To Revive PayCM Campaign In Karnataka?

Emphatically returning to power on its own in Tripura in the face of the CPM and Congress alliance, there was a story waiting to spoil BJP’s party in Bengaluru. It all seemed well planned by the Congress and its cohorts of contracts. It was too much of a coincidence that the anti-corruption wing of Lokayukta should strike on March 2 evening. Prashanth Madal, a Karnataka Administrative Service officer and the son of BJP MLA Madal Virupakshappa was caught receiving a bribe of Rs 40 lakh from a contractor who supplied raw materials for the factory. Lokayukta Police were surprised when they found over Rs 6 crore from Prashanth’s residence. Following the recoveries, his father Virupakshappa quit as chairman of Karnataka Soaps and Detergents, the manufacturer of Mysore Sandal Soap. Virupakshappa is a MLA from Channagiri in the Davanagere district. Prashanth is the chief accountant at Bangalore Water Supply & Sewerage Board. Predictably chief minister Basvaraj Bommai asserted that action against Prashant could be taken only because the BJP government had appointed Lokayukta. Politically, the Lokayukta action against the BJP in South was planned by the Congress; it was essentially to help the Congress once again revive its PayCM campaign against Bommai. The Lokayukta action was possibly scripted by contractors who are pro-Congress. Interestingly, reflecting on squabble within the Karnataka Congress, a video has gone viral where potential CM candidate Siddaramaiah is heard saying bringing people to rallies by paying Rs 500.

Ideas2IT Plays Good Samaritan, Provides Training For Laid-Off Tech Professionals

Sometime ago, this one did an out-of-the box innovation to reward long-time loyalist-employees. This Chennai-based high-end product engineering company distributed 100 Maruti cars to staffers who have served the company for over five years. Now, it has come out with yet another innovative idea. With tech giants such as Google, Zoom and the like dishing out pink slips, Ideas2IT has decided to play Good Samaritan.  It has now launched perhaps the country’s first proprietary up-skilling program. The idea is to help tech professionals bounce back from the adversity of recession and layoffs! “Pledge2Propel”, a career enhancement initiative, is primarily intended to help tech professionals affected by the economic slowdown and layoffs. This initiative aims to provide all the support they need to re-group and pursue new opportunities by means of up-skilling or venturing into entrepreneurship while prioritizing their mental health. To be sure, this initiative does not promise or guarantee a job. Along with IdeaRX, a HealthTech start-up, Ideas2IT hopes to help the laid-off professionals to navigate the psychological and professional challenges and guide them to reach a secure terrain. “With this association, we intend to transform the lives of many tech professionals through empathy, inspiration and empowerment,” says Gayathri, CEO of Ideas2IT.  This non-profit program is available for free to all affected tech professionals across the globe. A twice-blessed initiative, indeed.


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.