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Border Dispute: Bommai Refuses To Relent, Warns Of Consequences

Although two Maharashtra ministers have ‘postponed’ their Belagavi visit on Tuesday following Karnataka chief minister S R Bommai’s public statements, his fresh reiteration that the dispute was no longer alive for his state has generated anger in the state. Moreover, Bommai’s warning that consequences would have to be faced if any attempt is made to enter Belagavi in connection with the dispute has incited opposition parties in Maharashtra again. Expressing his displeasure at Bommai’s outburst, Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has chided him by saying that as the matter is before the Supreme Court, neither Maharashtra nor Karnataka can do anything in this regard. Ministers Chandrakant Patil and Shambhuraje Desai were scheduled to visit Belagavi on 6 December but have dropped it. Despite this, Bommai has continued his combative stand. He has once again said that the request of Jath villagers from Sangli district of Maharashtra for inclusion in Karnataka would remain under his consideration. In a bid to blunt Karnataka’s initiatives, Maharashtra industry minister Uday Samant visited Jath area to reassure villagers that no effort would be spared to end their grievances. Samant said an industrial estate would be developed at Jath so that employment opportunities are generated there. A decision in this regard would be announced in a week, he promised the angry residents.
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Modi Hopes To Carry All Parties Along On G-20: Kharge, Mamata, Stalin To Attend His Meet

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is meeting heads of various political parties at the Rashtrapati Bhavan’s Cultural Centre to brief them about the significance of India’s G-20 presidency. West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and Tamil Nadu CM M K Stalin are attending the meeting convened by the PM to rally domestic political support for events linked to G-20 through next year. Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao is skipping the event. At the meet, Modi will underline the significance of the G-20 presidency for the country, and brief leaders on how his government is approaching the “unique opportunity”. The leaders will get a glimpse of year-long activities that are being planned to showcase New Delhi’s soft power. Significantly, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge will be attending the meeting even as his party’s media-in charge Jairam Ramesh mocked PM Modi as an “event manager” and tried to point out that India’s presidency was rotational and wasn’t extraordinary. The CMs are taking interest in the PM’s G-20 tete-e tete because from the time India will be holding the G20 presidency from December 1, 2022 to November 30, 2023 and during this period about 200 meetings on 32 sectors at multiple locations will be held. Already, India hosted the first meeting for G-20 sherpas in Udaipur on December 4 and set the stage for important conversations including technological transformation, and spotlighting women-led development.
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Modi’s Visit To Maharashtra Revised, To Inaugurate Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway’s First Leg And AIIMS Nagpur On Dec 11

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Nagpur tour programme has been revised as he is now scheduled to inaugurate the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) centre at the MIHAN complex in the second capital of Maharashtra. His scheduled inauguration of the first phase of the ambitious Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi Expressway will now take place from the same venue. Modi will also mark the beginning of the redevelopment of Nagpur and Ajni railway stations during the visit. It is also hinted that he will announce a Vande Bharat Express between Nagpur and Bilaspur. Modi will also inaugurate the two phases of Nagpur metro as decided earlier. The expressway, a dream project of then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, was to be ready much earlier but was delayed for various reasons, some of them political. The next phase, Shirdi-Mumbai, is expected to be commissioned early next year, cutting the travel time between Maharashtra’s capital and second capital to just eight hours. Modi will land at Nagpur at 11 am on December 11 and proceed to visit the expressway. He will then reach the MIHAN complex to declare the AIIMS centre opened. To ensure that all goes smoothly during the PM’s visit, Fadnavis and chief minister Eknath Shinde travelled the entire 520 km distance in about five hours with DCM at the wheel on Sunday.
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Border Dispute: Bommai Asks Two Maharashtra Ministers To Shun Visit To Belgaum, But Duo Firm

Karnataka chief minister S R Bommai’s missive to Maharashtra not to send its two ministers to Belgaum for holding talks with Marathi-speaking agitation’s leadership has aggravated the situation as both ministers are firm on their visit. Maharashtra ministers Chandrakant Patil and Shambhuraje Desai are scheduled to visit Belgaum on December 6 to meet leaders of Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES), which has been spearheading the agitation for merging Karnataka’s Marathi-speaking areas in Maharashtra over the past six decades. The two ministers will meet MES activists to understand their woes over the linguistic dispute. Ahead of the visit, Karnataka chief secretary has written to his Maharashtra counterpart at the instance of Bommai not to send Patil and Desai to Belgaum in view of the prevailing atmosphere. Patil, former state BJP president, said it has been Maharashtra’s consistent stand that the Centre should intercede to resolve the border dispute with Karnataka. Also, as the matter is in the Supreme Court, that factor also should be considered. In view of this, Karnataka should not try to prevent the visit.  A meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah could happen after Gujarat elections, Desai indicated while reiterating his resolve to reach Belgaum on December 6.
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Cong Policy Reversal: Gandhis May Let Kharge Remain As LoP In Rajya Sabha For The Winter Session

Looks like Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge will most likely continue as Leader of the Opposition (LoP) in Rajya Sabha at least for the forthcoming Winter Session of Parliament as the party hasn’t yet decided on his replacement. If Kharge holds two posts, it will be a complete reversal of the “One Person, One Post” policy that was formulated in the Udaipur Declaration. In fact Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, who was hoping to keep his CM post, lost out on being Congress chief because of Rahul Gandhi’s insistence that he must adhere to one man-one post resolution. Sonia Gandhi has called a meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) “strategy group” on December 3, ahead of the Parliament Session that begins on December 7. Rajya Sabha MPs Jairam Ramesh, KC Venugopal and Kharge have been asked to attend. In keeping with the Udaipur Declaration, Kharge had resigned as LoP in Rajya Sabha before filing his nomination papers for Congress chief. But then he handed in his resignation to Sonia Gandhi as CPP chairperson. Which is why there is a lot of speculation that Sonia may ask Kharge to continue in the post. On his part even after getting elected as Congress president, Kharge has taken care not to disturb the Gandhis. Like he did not make his photos visible at AICC headquarters. His focus is to win back Karnataka when elections are held early next year.
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A Bitter Cong Takes Potshots At PM Over G-20, Calls Him An Event Manager

A day after India assumed the leadership of the G-20, trust the Congress to say the presidency was rotational and inevitable, and dubbed PM Narendra Modi as an event manager. It went on to point out that none of the countries that held the responsibility earlier had staged a “high voltage drama” as was being done now. India assumed the presidency of the G-20 on December 1 with Prime Minister Narendra Modi making a strong pitch for “fundamental mindset shift” to benefit humanity as a whole, saying the country will work to further promote “oneness”. Several centrally-protected monuments including UNESCO world heritage sites spread across the country were lit up with the G-20 logo to mark the start of India’s year-long presidency of the grouping. Attacking the government, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh via Twitter went on to point out that “Previous presidents of G20 have been from the USA, UK, Canada, South Korea, France, Mexico, Russia, Australia, Turkey, China, Germany, Argentina, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Italy and Indonesia. None of these countries staged a high voltage drama as is being done around India becoming President of G20 for a year.”  Adding further he said, “I’m reminded of what LK Advani said in 2014 in Gandhinagar—he called Modi a brilliant event manager. That’s all there is to all the spin around G20.” India’s G-20 sherpa Amitabh Kant dismissed the Congress attack as “bizarre”.
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New Gold Blocks Detected In Maharashtra

Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde’s disclosure that gold blocks have been detected in Vidarbha region is expected to attract many private sector players to the state’s mining sector. The expectation is heightened since, within hours, news began flashing that gold blocks could be existing in Konkan region’s Sindhudurg district as well. Thus, two extreme geographical locations in the state will open new avenues of development, it is felt. While addressing an investor conference in Mumbai, Shinde said that out of a dozen coal fields in Maharashtra available to the private sector through auctions, two can have deposits of gold and platinum group minerals. Shinde welcomed the news of the possible findings as a good omen for his government. He said he had appealed to the Centre for further studies and cooperation in developing the blocks. Chandrapur, a tribal district sharing borders with Telangana, is perhaps the lucky beneficiary since its Minzari and Bamni areas are likely to be the home to potential gold mines. Moreover, the belt is endowed with rich reserves of copper, according to preliminary reports of the Union Ministry of Mining. The existence of precious metals in Sindhudurg district, sharing borders with Goa, has been discussed for decades. However, a positive signal from the Centre is still awaited.
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Next Maharashtra CM Could Be A Woman, Uddhav Thackeray Stirs Speculation

Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray’s indication that the next Maharashtra chief minister could be a woman has created ripples as various names are circulating as a possible incumbent. At the same time, he is facing flak with charges that he is trying to promote his wife Rashmi. Uddhav said at a function in Mumbai on November 30 that the joint efforts by three dominant forces in Maharashtra polity – Shiv Shakti (meaning Sena), Bheem Shakti (Dalit factions) and Lahu Shakti – would aim at installing a competent chief minister, man or woman. This statement is interpreted variously to either support Uddhav or criticize him. The function was organized to commemorate the armed struggle launched by freedom fighter Ustad Lahuji Salve against British over a century ago. The names of NCP MP Supriya Sule, former minister Pankaja Munde and Uddhav’s wife Rashmi Thackeray immediately began circulating. Although no prominent leader has so far reacted to this idea, independent MP Navnit Rana has alleged that Uddhav is trying to promote the prospects of his wife. “What he says and what he does are two different things,” Rana quipped. While Sule has been in parliament since 2006, Pankaja shot to prominence after 2014 when she publicly said she was an aspirant for the CM’s post. Critics say that Rashmi can enter the arena just like dark horse Uddhav grabbed the post in 2019.
Arwind Kejriwal

Kejriwal Upset As He Finds BJP Has Made A Remarkable Recovery In The MCD

As the campaign for December 4 elections to Municipal Corporation of Delhi peaked, frustration of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal became all too obvious. Not only was he forced to abandon his last-ditch campaign in Gujarat but he found in Delhi too the BJP has made a remarkable recovery on ground. Ideally, it should have been an AAP advantage as the BJP has been in power in the civic body for the past 15 years. However, the BJP recovered much of its lost ground by deploying its leaders and karyakartas in community specific areas. “We sent out leaders such as CM Pushkar Dhami and MP Ravi Kishen for a campaign to reach out to specific communities,” said a party source. BJP also reached out to Kejriwal’s vote bank of slum dwellers by showcasing houses built under PM’s housing scheme for urban poor in Kalkaji. Clearly upset with the BJP’s election strategy, a dejected Kejriwal lamented how the BJP had brought in CMs from other states and 17 Union ministers for the campaign. “There would have been no need to bring so many high-profile leaders if the MCD had done any work in the previous 15 years,”, Kejriwal lashed out at a public meeting. He blamed the BJP-led MCD for clogging the city’s sewers and for failing to resolve the problem of the overexploited landfills. Even as his government was caught in a liquor scam, he promised to make MCD corruption free within four months.
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Sex Scandal Case Rocks Odisha Assembly, Chief Minister Patnaik Maintains Stoic Silence

When Odisha’s high profile film producer Akshay Parija played the victim card in the sensational honey trap scandal, filing a police complaint for extortion, he possibly had no idea how his action would implicate BJD and embarrass Naveen Patnaik’s government. Odisha Assembly is now rocking with BJP and Congress questioning BJD’s hand in this sex scandal racket. BJP says Patnaik’s government is trying to protect the culprits as a cover up since his own party members were involved. Congress legislature party leader Narasingha Mishra is now demanding Naveen babu’s resignation on the controversial honey-trap issue implicating senior BJD members in the sex racket. Clearly, BJD is in a tight spot because ED is now looking into the money laundering aspect of blackmailing by Archana Nag and her husband Jagabandhu Chand which has the possibility to expose influential BJD politicians of their intimate moments. Naveen’s stoic silence on controversial issues involving BJD politicians is sending a signal that Naveen is too embarrassed to admit follies. The opposition is also saying that ED’s powerful noose on BJD’s misdeeds is already evident, wherein, the Commissionerate Of Police had let off suspects but ED reversed CoP’s earlier decision and arrested the suspects. Again, BJD’s Dhenkanal MLA Sudhir Samal’s brother Gangadhar, who owns a car showroom, deposed before the ED recently. He was grilled for suspicious financial transactions worth around Rs 35 lakh with accused Archana. As of now Patnaik’s BJD is on the backfoot.
Bhagatsingh Koshiary

Maharashtra Governor Looks Isolated, BJP Distances, Lodha Complicates

Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari appears isolated due to a reference he made about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaja as state BJP president Chandrashekhar Bawankule has made it clear that his party is not on the same page with the Uttarakhand leader on this issue. At the same time, Maharashtra tourism minister Mangal Prabhat Lodha invited a fresh controversy. His reference to Chhatrapati Shivaji’s escape from Aurangzeb’s Agra custody while describing CM Eknath Shinde’s exit from the Shiv Sena (Uddhav) was the trigger. Sena leader Sanjay Raut and others complained that this was an attempt to compare Chhatrapati’s brave action for Swarajya with Shinde’s political move. Bawankule was addressing the media after Chhatrapati’s descendant, Udayan Raje Bhosale, had boycotted a function to commemorate Chhatrapati Shivaji’s valour. Udayan Raje said he was offended by the governor’s remarks and upset that Koshyari was not removed by the Centre. CM Shinde’s request to attend was ignored by Udayan Raje. Shinde’s efforts to end the imbroglio by saying that Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was revered by everybody and comparison with him in any way was unthinkable did not make any dent. The Sena has intensified its broadside against the ruling alliance over Koshyari’s statement and taunted Shinde that he has no right to occupy office as the governor continues in the post.
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Is KCR Building Up Sharmila With Arrest To Divide The Opposition & Attention From BJP?

No one familiar with Telangana politics is surprised by the high political drama that erupted in Hyderabad on November 29; the police dragging  away the SUV of YSR Telangana Party (YSRTP) President YS Sharmila with the help of a crane, even as she sat inside it to protest against Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao. Sharmila, who is the sister of Andhra Pradesh CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, was later arrested by the Hyderabad Police as she proceeded to gherao along with her followers Pragathi Bhavan, the CM’s office. Action against Sharmila is being seen more as a coordinated act between KCR and her brother Jagan. Both the Telugu-speaking CMs have always supported each other. They have a common bond which is forged by their spiritual seer based in Visakhapatnam — Swamy Swaroopanandendra Saraswati. It is felt KCR is deliberately making it difficult for Sharmila as she has taken an adversarial position against her brother. BJP sources, however, feel Sharmila’s side show may have been propped up by KCR just to “subvert the political narrative” which is favouring the BJP.  By arresting her, Sharmila is being made to be someone who can divide the Opposition in the state and subvert BJP’s narrative. After all, Telangana BJP president Bandi Sanjay is on a padyatra and KCR is playing the politics of distraction to hijack focus on the BJP.
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Maharashtra Likely To Face Pincer Situation, Disputes With Karnataka & Telangana Resurface

Even as the old border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka is assuming serious tones, the issue of 14 disputed villages between the state and Telangana has been revived by activists to highlight what they call a ‘forcible action’ by the erstwhile part of Andhra Pradesh. As if two border disputes are not enough, residents of some villages along the border in Gadchiroli district, too, are expressing their dissatisfaction with the government over similar demands. Shiv Sena (Uddhav) leaders have been repeatedly blaming Karnataka CM S R Bommai for ‘stoking fires’ by his various statements to demand inclusion of various parts of Maharashtra in his state. The Sena votaries are talking of starting an agitation over the issue. About the dispute with Telangana, former MLA Wamanrao Chatap (Shetkari Sanghatana) has articulated the ‘plight’ of the 14 villages along the border by alleging that the villagers’ declaration that they wish to remain in Maharashtra has been ignored by Telangana authorities. As Telangana has refused to implement a SC order in favour of Maharashtra, various facilities like gram panchayats, dispensaries and anganwadis of both states continue to function in the villages, he has alleged. Incidentally, villagers appear in voter lists of both states. Villagers also lament that the Maharashtra government has not taken cognisance of their genuine grievance. Indications are available that Maharashtra will find itself in a pincer dilemma unless the disputes are resolved soon.
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Baba Ramdev Apologises For Comment On Women, Amruta Fadnavis Defends Him

Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev has sought pardon for his objectionable statement in regard to women’s attire by clarifying before the Maharashtra Commission for Women that it was not his intent to insult womanhood. Ramdev has been facing a barrage of criticism for saying that “women look nice wearing a sari or salwar suit; in my view, they look lovely even if not wearing anything.” The offensive remark was condemned all over and Amruta, wife of deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, also faced trolling due to her presence on the dais with Ramdev. Seeking pardon, Ramdev has conveyed to the Commission that what he meant was that women looked beautiful even in simple clothes. “I have not violated any provisions of the Commission’s guidelines,” he said. According to Ramdev, he had always been active for women’s empowerment. In his defence, Amruta told a daily that Ramdev wanted to support women’s emancipation but could not articulate those views in proper terms. He could have used different words and expressed them in a decent manner, she felt. After Ramdev’s remarks made at Thane went viral, a notice was served on him by the Commission, which warned him that it had taken a serious note of his remarks and directed him to file a reply. After his response, Commission chairperson Rupali Chakankar has tweeted Ramdev’s letter of apology.
President Murumu

When President Droupadi Murmu Got A Standing Ovation For Speaking Up For Undertrials

At the Constitution Day valedictory function on November 26 evening, while reading out her prepared English speech, President Droupadi Murmu digressed a bit to speak extempore in Hindi. From her expressions it was evident these words came from her heart. She got a standing ovation which no judge or lawyer got in the two sessions at SC additional building complex auditorium. She spoke about doing something for undertrials in our prisons. What President Murmu said, could best be summed up in these words, “You judges and lawyers are knowledgeable and experienced. You should do something for the people languishing in jail. Neither do most of them know about their fundamental rights, nor their fundamental duties. People who may have just slapped a person during a fight sometimes languish in jail for many years without any legal help. But people who take other’s lives sometimes roam free….people say more jails are to be built as there is overcrowding in jails.. You say we are progressing (“vikas? kaisa vikas”) …then what is the need for more jails? Bringing down crime rate is also part of vikas…it is just my thought…saying this much I am leaving it you…give a thought on what all I said. When I was an MLA, I had the opportunity to visit jails. I wanted to know how the prisoners lived there… especially undertrials. I tried to make changes, but I couldn’t do much”.
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Baba Ramdev’s Remarks On Women Offensive, Praises Shinde-Fadnavis

Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev has done it again. He has stirred a hornet’s nest due to his objectionable remarks about women at a function in Thane, outside Mumbai at a yoga event. Several opposition leaders and prominent women have condemned his remarks. In his speech, Ramdev had said, “Women look nice wearing a sari or salwar suit. In my view, they look lovely even if they are not wearing anything.” The women present for the event had come with yoga dresses. As part of the event, a gathering for them was arranged. Many had brought saris for it. But hardly any time was left for the change since a yoga camp was held in the morning and was followed by a yoga training session. Within moments, the gathering began. Hence, the women did not have time to drape saree. Commenting on this, Ramdev passed the offensive remarks. Eyebrows were raised when Ramdev showered praise on chief minister Eknath Shinde and deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis. On an earlier occasion, he had described Shinde as a glory of Sanatan Dharma and a true disciple of Shiv Sena icon Balasaheb Thackeray.  About Fadnavis, the yoga campaigner said that he is a great personality. Shinde and Fadnavis together have created history, and will be doing so in the future, too.
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NCP Leader Jayant Patil’s Son To Marry Industrialist Kirloskar’s Daughter, Many VVIPS Expected

Over two lakh invitation cards have been distributed for the Sunday wedding of NCP leader Jayant Patil’s son Prateek with industrialist Rahul Kirloskar’s daughter Alika at his home base Islampur in Sangli district. VVIPs like chief minister Eknath Shinde, deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, opposition leader Ajit Pawar and others have been sent special invites. The venue will be a pandal spread over thousands of square feet. All access roads have been resurfaced. Arrangements are being made to feed a large number of guests at any given time. The preparations for the wedding in one of the most influential political families in western Maharashtra have been discussed with a sense of awe for nearly a month. Jayant is the son of erstwhile political giant late Rajarambapu Patil, who controlled Maharashtra politics by taking on his rival, Vasantdada Patil, both belonging to the same district. Presently heading NCP’s state unit, Jayant has handled many important portfolios like home, finance and water resources in the state cabinet. The muhurta has been fixed at 5.35 pm on Sunday for tying the knot. Over the past few days, pre-wedding events like musical nights have taken place and some audio-video clips have become viral of the festivities. The newly married couple will accept good wishes from the guests at a special enclosure erected at Rajaram Nagar. Presence of various leaders is eagerly awaited since it would provide indications for future political formations in Maharashtra.
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Gehlot's Diatribe Against Pilot On Eve Of Rahul's Yatra Entering Rajasthan Raises Eyebrows

The infighting in Rajasthan Congress got a fresh lease of life with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot renewing his attack on his challenger Sachin Pilot. He not only called Pilot a ‘Gaddar’ but also accused him of taking money from the BJP to rebel in 2020. For some reason, Gehlot’s latest outburst was more a dare to the Gandhis to oust him from office. He threw the gauntlet at the Gandhi family barely 10 days before Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra is to enter the state on December 3. So why is Gehlot precipitating a crisis? Has Gehlot heard anything from Kharge about imminent change? After all he had defied the Gandhis in the most unimaginable way possible and survived so far. He had refused to move to Delhi and become the AICC President.  So why is he now trying to jeopardise Bharat Jodo Yatra?  Gehlot claimed Pilot and MLAs supporting him were paid Rs 10 crore by Home Minister Amit Shah to rebel in 2020; he even claimed he had evidence of it.  On his part, Pilot tried to be deferential and on the use of the word Gaddar, he said: “Such language doesn’t suit him… In the past too he called me useless.” Pilot’s MLAs are pinning hope on Jairam Ramesh’s statement that the differences between the two leaders will be resolved in a manner that strengthens the Congress. Will that happen?
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Maharashtra-Karnataka Border Dispute: Bommai Responds To Shinde’s Feeler For A Dialogue But Uddhav Smells Conspiracy

Although Karnataka chief minister S R Bommai has indicated that his state will decide its stand over the border dispute with Maharashtra in an all-party meeting next week, Shiv Sena (Uddhav) feels the issue has been revived to divert attention from the statewide protests occurring against Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari for his utterances regarding Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde had sent a feeler that the issue can be resolved through dialogue and Bommai has responded to it. But Sena MP Sanjay Raut said there was a deep-rooted conspiracy to rake up the border issue. Bommai’s earlier statement that areas like Solapur district of Maharashtra should be merged with Karnataka has led to a wave of anger in the state. Against this backdrop, his readiness to consider Shinde’s offer is viewed as a signal to wait and watch. But the Sena (Uddhav) is viewing it differently. The interstate border dispute is now before the Supreme Court following a petition by Maharashtra to challenge the inclusion of Marathi-speaking areas like Belgaum, Nipani and Karwar in Karnataka. Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti, representing Marathi-speaking population’s interests in Karnataka, has been agitating for the past six decades peacefully to press its demands. However, leadership in Karnataka has declared its intent to make Belgaum the state’s second capital. Incidentally, Belgaum is at the core of the dispute.
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India Frowns On US Referring To Waiver For Saudi Crown Prince And PM Modi Together

India has expressed its displeasure after a US state department official referred to PM Narendra Modi while talking about waiver to Saudi leader Mohammed bin Salman to travel to the US. At its weekly briefing on November 25, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi frowned upon remarks made by the US state department principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel in citing examples of immunity given to several heads of state including Indian PM Modi along with that of Saudi Crown Prince. “Frankly, I fail to understand how the comment on PM Modi was either relevant, necessary or contextual. Our two countries enjoy a very special relationship which is growing from strength to strength and we look forward to working with the US to further deepen it,” said Bagchi. Significantly, he also flayed attempts in the social media to downplay the outcome of the bilateral meetings at G-20 summit at Bali between US President Biden and PM Modi. “We’ve seen some social media stuff. So let me just say the PM did meet President Biden on a number of occasions during the course of the Bali Summit, including a brief bilateral meeting and trilateral meeting that involved President Widodo (Indonesia). During these interactions, they exchanged views on a number of issues. Our press releases and tweets as well as you would recall foreign secretary’s briefing in Bali, encapsulates all these conversations.”
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Clarifications Apart, Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde’s Astrologer Visit Goes Viral

Maharashtra Chief minister Eknath Shinde’s unscheduled detour in Nasik district on Wednesday (Nov 24) has become the talk of the town following media reports that he had dashed to Eeshanyeshwar temple in nearby Sinnar to consult an astrologer. ‘Shinde came only for darshan in the temple, not to know his future,’ astrologer Ashok Kharat has clarified. Shinde had visited the famous Shirdi Saibaba temple amidst tight security on Wednesday. On way back to Mumbai, his convoy suddenly turned to Eeshanyeshwar temple in adjacent Sinnar taluka. This diversion in his schedule resulted in his criticism in which NCP president Sharad Pawar and many Shiv Sena (Uddhav) leaders joined. Workers of the anti-superstition groups, too, hit out at Shinde ‘for this anti-scientific act.’ Education minister Deepak Kesarkar, who had accompanied the CM and his wife to the temple, has explained that Shinde had made a donation some time ago to the astrologer who wished to develop a shelter for cows. Kharat had requested Shinde to visit the temple and the CM acquiesced. Kesarkar said, “Kharat is my friend. Revenue minister Radhakrishan Vikhe Patil and I were present with the Shinde couple.” Disapproving the spread of ‘wrong’ information, Kesarkar quipped, “Had Shinde wanted to know his future, he would have called Kharat to Mumbai.” One of Shinde team’s ministers remarked, “Shinde creates futures. He does not need to know his future from an astrologer.”
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Didi’s National Ambition Sees TMC Making Serious Bid To Make Inroads In North East States

Trinamool Congress (TMC) is trying to gain a foothold in the North-eastern states. It has seriously started campaigning in Meghalaya which goes to poll in March 2023. Having bitten the dust in Tripura in the last Assembly polls held in 2018 and by-poll in 2021, TMC’s focus on Meghalaya came to fore after the former chief minister Mukul Sangma switched camps from Congress to Trinamool in November 2021. Interestingly, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee’s mission to evolve from a regional party to a national party is being shaped in the north-east. It may be recalled that her Goa experiment failed miserably. Didi, who is personally focusing only on West Bengal, has asked her nephew, party’s national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee to oversee the North-eastern states affairs. And he has got into the new role quickly. He has already addressed a rally in Tura and is expected to do more in the coming months. Besides, he has launched a scathing attack against the present state government led by Conrad Sangma, chief of National People’s Party, who is in alliance with the BJP. Abhishek has claimed that the NPP government is shadow governed by the Centre and Assam chief minister Hemant Biswa Sarma. He announced that “sons of the Meghalaya’s soil Chief Minister Mukul Sangma would be the party’s chief ministerial face in the upcoming polls and that the TMC will not run the new government from Bengal if it comes to power.
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Why Modi's Aggressive Campaign Is Crucial To Breach Threshold For BJP in Gujarat

After a day’s break, if PM Modi was back in Gujarat for electioneering it should not be a surprise; he is scheduled to address 35 more rallies in 93 assembly segments that are going to polls in the second phase on December 5.  Over the next two days, he will address rallies at Mehsana, Dahod, Vadodara, Bhavnagar, Palanpur, Dehgam, Matar, and Dholka. He has already addressed 16 rallies during his first visit, taking his overall tally of meetings to 50. It is apparent that Modi’s aggressive campaign is crucial to breaking his own record of 2002 when BJP won 127 seats. In fact, at the end of his speeches Modi appeals to people to help CM Bhupendra Patel break his record so that Modi could go “back to do his work in Delhi” — that is to hand the BJP 150 seats. Gujarat takes a lot of pride in Modi’s achievement as PM. It is for this reason Modi hit out at Congress leader Madhusudan Mistry’s remark about showing “aukat” to him. Taking a swipe at Rahul Gandhi for hand-holding social activist Medha Patkar as someone opposed to Narmada Dam, Modi said those who stalled the Narmada project for 40 years through litigation had kept Gujarat thirsty for 40 years. “The people of Gujarat will punish those who are doing padyatra to get back to power and punish those who were against the Narmada project”.
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Maharashtra-Karnataka Border Row Hots Up, Both BJP Governments Adamant

The age-old border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka has pitted BJP governments in both states against each other again. On the other hand, all political parties in Maharashtra have come together to oppose any move by the neighbouring state Karnataka in this direction. The dispute was born with the formation of Maharashtra and Karnataka (then Mysore) states on linguistic basis over 60 years ago. Several Marathi-speaking areas were included in Karnataka. Since then, the two states are at loggerheads even when both have had governments of the same parties, first the Congress and now the BJP. The dispute at present is before the Supreme Court. After an all-party meeting in Mumbai a couple of days ago decided to jointly fight the matter, Karnataka chief minister Basavraj Bommai has asserted that his government was considering a demand by 40 villages in Jath taluka of Sangli district along the border to merge them with his state since they were facing water scarcity. Deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said the demand was made way back a decade ago. During his chief ministership, the problem of water shortages was handled by him. If the remedy is held up due to some reason, it will be implemented soon, he promised. Fadnavis has emphatically declared that not a single village from the state will go to Karnataka. 
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BJP And Spin Doctors Pull Out All Stops To Hijack Tamil And Tamilians To Kashi

People are still shell shocked by the concentrated and concerted effort of the BJP’s Kasi Tamil Sangam show, presided over so eloquently as a hard sell by the PM, a month long event focussed on the Tamils. Thirteen religious heads of Mutts from Tamil Nadu are camping in Kashi, Uttar Pradesh, the PM’s much vaunted constituency. Maestro Ilayaraja and his group performed a mesmerising Shiva sthotram with the PM clapping in rhythm. A full trainload of religious Tamil Savants and assorted youth was seen off by no less than Governor of TN for back to back religious events and tours of Kasi .And oh! not to forget the 13 language translation and book release of the Thirukkural, a historic spiritual work of poet Thiruvalluvar, long hijacked by the Dravidian parties as their own. Topping this blitz cake was the PM’s address; he looked comfortable in a “Veshti and Angavastram”. Kashi is the second home for Tamils. Who scripted this eclectic show? When the PM’s chopper trip to Madurai airport was cancelled due to bad weather he took the road. And BJP’s Tamil Nadu K Annamalai was handpicked as a solo companion to accompany the PM on this hour-long drive. And the entire Kashi caper was scripted and presented to the PM. Kashi, the oldest city in the world is now the newest magnetic confluence of politics.
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Corruption Charges, Bad Optics May Hit Kejriwal’s Election Campaign In Gujarat, Delhi

Even before AAP could make much headway in Gujarat, it has been caught into a trap of its own making in Delhi. Yes, the party that was founded by the Ghaziabad boys — Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia — and won its first election in 2013 on an anti-corruption plank has now lost its credibility over corruption charges. Allegations of selling tickets for the upcoming Delhi municipal corporation (MCD) elections are flying thick and fast and Kejriwal has no answers. Two videos purportedly shot by an ex-AAP member Bindu Sriram alleged that the AAP had sold tickets to candidates contesting the polls. Sriram claimed that she was asked to fork out Rs 80 lakh to get a party ticket from Rohini ward D. IIT-educated Kejriwal who won three back to back assembly elections (2013, 2015 & 2020) on power freebies, is a cornered man now. It appears he will not be able to easily wrest control of the MCD which has been with the BJP for 15 years. Besides, the AAP Government’s flawed liquor policy, and visuals of its jailed minister Satyendra Jain receiving massage from a rape accused Rinku in Tihar Jail have further dented Kejriwal’s image. On its part, the BJP has unleashed a mega campaign to reclaim the MCD. Senior leaders like Rajnath Singh, CMs of Haryana, Assam and Uttarakhand have all hit the road.
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Industry Minister Uday Samant

Hope Dawns For Refinery Project At Barsu, Uddhav Sena MLA Supports It

The mega oil refinery project to be developed around Barsu village in Ratnagiri district is appearing to be taking off, involving an investment of over Rs 2 lakh crore and generating large scale employment. A positive prospect about the project’s revival became apparent after a meeting industry minister Uday Samant held in Mumbai. Significantly, it was attended by local Shiv Sena (Uddhav) MLA Rajan Salvi. In fact, previous chief minister Uddhav Thackeray had written to the Centre at the fag end of his tenure that nearly 13,000 acres of land could be acquired in Barsu and vicinity, in addition to over 2.000 acres at nearby Sakri-Nate village. Barsu is about 20 km away from Nanar, which was to be the original location but had been scrapped for political reasons.  The refinery project will require 6,200 acres of land. Consent letters for 2,900 acres from land owners have been obtained. Its fresh water requirements will be fulfilled by bringing supplies from the massive Koyna hydel project. Salvi had demanded deletion of a few villages from the refinery project lands. Samant indicated that a positive response would be forthcoming by considering local sentiments. Sena (Uddhav) MP Vinayak Raut did not attend the meeting for which he was specially invited, Samant said. Meanwhile, a local committee to oppose the project has decided to intensify its agitation.
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DMK’s Grand Alliance Ambition Puts Big Question Over The Future Of Congress In Tamil Nadu

The Tamil Nadu branch of the Congress seems to be on a suicide mission. There is a rebellion against its chief KS Alagiri but then this is routine for a PCC that has a leader thrust on it from New Delhi. Worse is to come for the party as the DMK is on the road to forming a grand alliance against AIADMK and BJP and wants to corner as many of the TN (39)+ Puducherry (1) 40 seats as possible to take a leading hand in the government formation after 2024 polls. The DMK plan is to include PMK, DMDK and Seeman’s Naam Tamilar Katchi besides old allies like VCK and MDMK in its coalition. The Congress share of seats may come down drastically from the 10 seats they had last time out. At best, DMK may allot 5 or 6 seats to the Congress as it must accommodate so many others. The DMK is also sweating after the new thrust of BJP under K Annamalai resulted in his being able to organise demonstrations against rising milk prices in as many as 1,200 places in the State with 25 to 1,000 workers at each spot. The AIADMK-BJP alliance is in trouble over unity issues in AIADMK that may lead to the Two Leaves symbol being frozen if Edappadi K Palaniswamy is not willing to compromise.
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Savarkar Effect: Rahul Calls Up Sanjay Raut, Indications Of Truce Ample

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Shiv Sena (Uddhav) MP Sanjay Raut have given ample indications to signal a truce between the two parties following their open differences over some remarks by Rahul against Hindutva icon Vinayak Damodar Savarkar who is revered by the Sena. Raut himself has revealed that Rahul called up him to enquire about his health and express concern over ‘the crushing of dissent’ around the country. Raut said he was thankful to Rahul for showing such magnanimity in the present milieu of political hatred. Rahul had criticized Savarkar in the last leg of his Bharat Jodo Yatra in Maharashtra. Incensed at his remarks, Raut had threatened serious consequences for the Maha Vikas Aghadi for the ‘uncalled for’ utterances. Subsequently, Rahul totally skipped the subject of Savarkar at his Shegaon rally, which marked the conclusion of his march in Maharashtra. However, Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ did not spare him and lambasted the remarks in strong language. Raut made it a point that he was expressing the sentiments on behalf of Uddhav Thackeray. In a bid to prevent any further fallout after some Congress had maintained that their party had its own stand, Rahul called up Raut. Expressing gratitude, Raut said the call was like a breeze of fresh air whereas Sena’s former allies like the BJP and MNS had not bothered to find out how he was.
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Karnataka Cong President DKS Tightens Grip On Party, Makes It Tough For Leaders To Contest From Two Constituencies

It was an exercise to filter non-serious ticket aspirants for upcoming Karnataka assembly elections next year.  Tightening grip on party, KPCC president DK Shivakumar had asked ticket aspirants to avail forms paying Rs 5,000 and submit the applications with a demand draft of Rs 2 lakhs between November 5 and 15. When he found that at least 35 sitting MLAs, particularly senior leaders like G Parameshwar and former CM Siddaramaiah had not responded to his call for applications; he extended the deadline to November 21. Finally 1,100 applications were received and out of which 945 were submitted with a DD of Rs 2 lakh for the general category and Rs 1 lakh for SC & ST aspirants. Party sources said while the high fee ensured only serious applicants remained in the fray, the Congress was richer by Rs 55 lakh. The party picked about Rs 20 crore in the form of DD. Shivakumar also made it clear that aspirants will be allowed to apply for one seat. Restricting the contest to a single seat could put seniors like Siddaramaiah in a spot. Last time, Siddaramaiah had contested from two seats and lost in one. Shivakumar has already submitted his application seeking a ticket from Kanakapura constituency in Ramanagara district. Siddaramaiah is yet to finalise his constituency but may not contest from his incumbent Badami seat as it is far from Bengaluru.
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NCP Protestors Pull Away Dhoti Of Koshyari Look-Alike, One Lakh Rupees Reward For His Cap

Nationalist Congress party (NCP) demonstrators in Pune tried to pull away the dhoti of a youth dressed as Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari on Monday following his controversial statement about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj a couple of days ago. Koshyari has attracted statewide ire after he quipped that Shivaji Maharaj was an icon of the past while modern icons are like Babasaheb Ambedkar or Union minister Nitin Gadkari. Anger erupted as soon as various news channels made the statement viral. The comparison has been condemned by all opposition parties. Protest actions have been taking place all over the state. NCP organized a protest near Savarkar statue in Pune where demonstrators had brought a young boy dressed as Koshyari. The boy was wearing a dhoti and a black cap, like the one Koshyari wears. Some protestors tried to pull away the dhoti worn by the boy. In Beed town of Marathwada, Shiv Sena (Thackeray) district chief Anil Jagtap has announced a reward of one lakh rupees on behalf of his organisation for bringing Koshyari’s black cap. NCP spokesman Mahesh Tapase has complained against Koshyari to President Draupadi Murmu. He has demanded that Koshyari should be removed forthwith. A few months ago, Koshyari had invited another round of protests when he had said that no money would be left in Maharashtra if Gujarati and Rajasthani people were removed from here. Later, he apologized for it.
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Sporadic Violence Ahead Of Panchayat Polls Gives Trinamool Congress Jitters

With months to go for the Panchayat Election 2023, reports of back-to-back violence, crude bomb blasts, recovery of firearms and live bombs are being reported in some districts of West Bengal. Some of the districts of South Bengal — Birbhum, North and South 24 Parganas, Murshidabad, and Junglemahal areas have seen recent cases of political violence with bomb blasts killing three minors and injuring several people including children in separate incidents. Both Didi and second in command of the party, her nephew Abhishek Banerjee have been categorical to keep away from violence after the party suffered brutal electoral losses in last Lok Sabha polls due to political violence that took place during Panchayat Election 2018. Incidentally, both Bengal Police and Bengal Special Task Force (STF) have arrested a number of people having allegiance to the ruling party for being involved in the blasts and clashes. This has largely prompted Oppositions to claim that Bengal is “on a bed of bombs and arms”. However, senior cabinet minister Firhad Hakim countered stating the Union Government has eased inter-state border vigilance so that arms could be smuggled into the state to create anarchy. According to political analysts, the panchayats of Bengal have emerged as the epicenter of political violence as they provide critical opening for the parties to strengthen their hold over nearly every aspect of rural society besides the dominance and political influence to the grassroots.
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Dharavi Redevelopment On The Horizon, May Take 7 Years To Complete

The ambitious Dharavi Redevelopment Project (DRP) appears to be finally taking off after official procrastination of over three decades to launch it. The estimated time to complete the massive scheme is around seven years. Bids for DRP have been submitted by three giants – DLF, Adani and Naman. This was in response to a tender published by the state government on October 1. Soon, the technical bids will be examined. The next step will be to open financial bids. Officials feel that it will be possible to wrap up the bidding process by the end 2022. Actual working on the project can start early next year. According to previous projections, the DRP would have cost around Rs.23000 crore. However, now the picture will be clear only after financial quotations are examined. The DRP’s highlight is rehabilitation of nearly 68,000 families by offering each a minimum of 400 sq ft apartment. In return, the developer will be able to exploit 4 FSI on the land mass admeasuring almost 210 hectares. DRP was originally conceived nearly 30 years ago. It was revised in 2004. Its focus remains resettling about 68,000 families and a large number of commercial establishments already existing for decades. Dharavi is planned to be redeveloped as a counter to the sprawling Bandra Kurla Complex that is almost saturated. Dharavi can pour billions in government coffers if the project is implemented professionally, officials feel.
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With Pressure Mounting Rahul Avoids Savarkar Topic, Still Roasted By ‘Saamana’

Although Congress leader Rahul Gandhi refrained from saying a word against Veer Savarkar in his public rally at Shegaon in Vidarbha Friday evening, the Shiv Sena (Uddhav) has taken him to task for raking up ‘irrelevant and avoidable’ issues. In the same breath, it has reiterated its reverence for Savarkar, Pandit Nehru, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Sardar Patel. Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ in its editorial has lamented that even though Rahul’s Bharat Jodo yatra had been evoking huge public response, the march took an undesirable turn due to Rahul’s tirade against Savarkar. Why Rahul and the Congress repeatedly speak against Savarkar is beyond comprehension, the edit has wondered. “Rahul has caused embarrassment for even Congress people in Maharashtra by his uncalled for comments,” it said. Savarkar’s grandson Ranjit had yesterday passed some snide comments against Pandit Nehru at his media conference. Disapproving them, the editorial opined that all freedom fighters had made sacrifices for the country’s independence; hence it is unfair to speak against them. Savarkar was, in fact, the apogee of Indian freedom fighters, it stated.  After Rahul’s remarks against Savarkar, widespread protests had erupted all over the state. To avoid further aggravation, Rahul avoided any reference to Savarkar. Instead, he focused his attack against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In his well-attended rally, Rahul alleged that the Modi government had abandoned farmers’ interests and was working for select capitalists. The yatra is scheduled to enter Madhya Pradesh tomorrow.
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Descendants Of Mahatma, Nehru And Savarkar Clash, Opposition Unity In Maharashtra In Peril

Great-grandsons of Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru and a grandson of Veer Savarkar are at the centrestage of a controversy that can imperil opposition unity in Maharashtra. At the same time, Hindutva sympathizers are consolidating to repulse the criticism of their icon. Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, while reiterating his organisation’s reverence for Savarkar, has warned those attacking Savarkar and questioning his patriotism. Raut said, “We highly respect Savarkar. Our leader Uddhav Thackeray has already made this clear. Hence, we are not on the same page with the Congress party.” Very soon, Raut was contacted by Congress spokesman Jairam Ramesh, who adopted a conciliatory tone. He said differences on some core issues existed before the formation of Maha Vikas Aghadi and some still exist. However, the three parties had come together for the same objective, which is still relevant. Ramesh told the media that MVA was and would remain intact. Reviving the issue, Mahatma Gandhi’s great-grandson Tushar endorsed the criticism leveled by Rahul Gandhi. He said historical evidence was available to prove that Rahul’s statements were factual.To counter, Savarkar’s grandson Ranjit has dug out some of Mahatma Gandhi’s letters to the British government. At one place, a letter ends with a respectful salutation.  ‘’But we know that it was the protocol of those days. We won’t misinterpret such use of words,” Ranjit has said.
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PM’s Favourite Officer Gets Another Year-Long Extension In Enforcement Directorate

Who is the Prime Minister’s most favourite officer? Well, after getting yet another year-long extension on November 17, Enforcement Directorate (ED) chief Sanjay Kumar Mishra will now have a longer term than the senior most bureaucrat in the country, the cabinet secretary. Mishra, an Indian Revenue Service officer, will now enter his fifth year as the ED director while the maximum term that any cabinet secretary has had so far is four years. Mishra was appointed the ED chief in 2018 and the latest order says he will continue in his chair till November 18, 2023. A number of sensitive and high-profile probes, especially against various opposition leaders, are being led by the ED presently and the move is hence expected to attract swipes from the opposition parties. The government had last year brought in an ordinance to enable itself to give a five-year term to the ED and CBI chiefs, up from two years. The government had argued before the Supreme Court, where the move was challenged, that the tenure of the ED chief had been earlier extended “in public interest” as various cases being probed by the agency were at a crucial juncture and continuity of officers means proper and expeditious disposal of cases. The ED is investigating cases against Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren, TMC leaders in West Bengal, AAP minister Satyendar Jain, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut and Congress leaders including Gandhi family.
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Ex-IAS Is Bengal’s New Governor, Mamata Tells Amit Shah She Was Not Consulted

When Union Home Minister Amit Shah called up West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to inform her about the appointment of Dr CV Ananda Bose as the new Governor for her state she apparently told him that he had not consulted her before taking a decision but was only routinely informing her. The HM retorted that “consultation with states did not require consent”. Speaking in a lighter vein, he assured her that she would perhaps have better equations with the new governor than may be even Meghalaya Governor La Ganesan who had temporarily held the charge after Jagdeep Dhankar was elevated as Vice President. Bose, the 1977 batch IAS officer, recalled his emotional relationship with the state; his first job as bank officer was in Kolkata. Although from Kerala, he was named Bose by his father, who was a freedom fighter, apparently after Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Bose joined the BJP before the 2019 general elections. During the Covid pandemic, Bose was asked by the Union Labour Ministry to prepare an action plan for the welfare of migrant workers. He was Principal Secretary to the late Congress veteran K Karunakaran during his term as Kerala Chief Minister. He was District Collector of Quilon district (Kollam). Born in Mannanam, Kottayam district, Bose has penned over 40 books in English, Hindi and Malayalam.
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Widespread Protests In Maharashtra As Rahul Repeats Remarks Against Veer Savarkar

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra will face an acid test on Friday due to reiteration of his caustic remarks against Hindutva icon Veer Savarkar as workers of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) have been directed to protest by remaining present at his rally at Shegaon in Buldhana district. In Mumbai, the freedom fighter’s grandson Ranjit Savarkar has demanded arrest of the former Congress president, who has dared anyone to stop his long march in the state. Chief minister Eknath Shinde’s supporter MP Rahul Shewale had demanded that the yatra should be stopped. Enraged by Rahul’s statements against Savarkar who is held in great esteem by MNS, party chief Raj Thackeray has directed his workers to reach Shegaon to protest. Maharashtra BJP, too, has condemned Rahul for his comments. Rahul’s diatribe against Veer Savarkar, meanwhile, has evoked widespread protests across the state. Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray, too, has expressed displeasure about the remarks amidst media reports that he will not participate in the yatra for which he and NCP president Sharad Pawar have been specially invited to join at Shegaon, a famous pilgrimage town in Vidarbha. Rahul is scheduled to address a public meeting there tomorrow. Uddhav’s son Aaditya had embraced Rahul during the yatra a couple of days ago, generating large scale criticism for cozying up with a ‘Hindutva critic.’
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PM Modi Seals His Ties With G-20 With Special Gifts From India For Every World Leader

Many of us may have noticed world leaders turning on warmth and bonhomie while greeting PM Narendra Modi. Be it French President Emmanuel Macron giving a friendly tap to our PM on his shoulders as he walked in or US President Joe Biden acknowledging him, it just showed the bond world leaders have been sharing with Modi. On his part, Modi also seemed to be making an effort to seal his ties with every leader. He had special gifts for each one of them showcasing India’s culture and arts. Like he gifted a Kangra miniature painting portraying ‘Shringar Rasa’ to the US President. The UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak received Mata Ni Pachedi, a sacred textile piece made by nomadic communities in Gujarat. While the head of state from Italy got the Patan Patola Dupatta packed in a ‘Sadeli’ box, which in itself is a decorative piece of woodcraft native to Surat. The Patan Patola textile woven by the Salvi family in Patan area of Northern Gujarat is so well crafted that it becomes a feast of colours, with the front and the reverse being indistinguishable. Leaders from France, Germany and Singapore received Agate bowls from Kutch which are supposed to have healing powers. Modi gifted a tribal art piece, Pithora paintings, to his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese. As for the host country, Modi gifted Indonesia a silver bowl from Gujarat and a Kinnauri shawl from Himachal.
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Can BJD Put Dhamnagar Defeat Behind To Win Padampur By-Election?

The mood at BJP Odisha HQ is upbeat after winning the recently held Dhamnagar by-election. The party is hoping to repeat the feat in the Padampur by-election to be held on December 5. Smarting under the defeat Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal is also taking no chances. It plans to replicate BJP’s sympathy wave strategy in Padampur with the hope of securing women and youth votes. BJD is fielding 29-year old highly qualified Barsha Singh Bariha, elder daughter of the late BJD MLA Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha. Besides, to woo voters BJD has promised to accord district status to Padampur by carving it out of Bargarh district. The BJD government has already announced a slew of projects worth Rs 488 crore for Padampur before election dates were announced which shows its thorough preparedness. It has also inducted politician Raju Ghibela into its fold as he had earlier polled 2% of total vote in the last election as an Independent candidate. If Barsha wins, BJD will make history. This is because Padampur has a history of not voting the same party for two successive terms. BJD had won Padampur seat in 2000, 2009 and 2019 while BJP’s Pradip Purohit lost by a margin of 5,734 votes last time, while Congress finished third. Looks like BJD is determined to rewrite history at Padampur. All eyes on December 8 results.
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Thackeray Family Members Adorn Banner Outside Matoshri, Trick To Activate Party Machine

A huge banner has been installed outside Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray’s residence, ‘Matoshri’ in Bandra East at his own behest. It displays pictures of Balasaheb, Meenaatai, Uddhav himself and Aaditya Thackeray. The 70 feet long and 8 feet broad banner has been put up “to prevent defacing of the area outside Matoshri.” The banner also informs the visitors that it has been arranged by the Sena’s Bandra (East) unit following directions of Uddhav. An ace photographer, Uddhav was unhappy since the area outside his residence was used by various Sena leaders on different occasions like birthdays and anniversaries to display their own images and hoardings. This banner will be a permanent fixture so as to protect the frontage of ‘Matoshri,’ which is regarded like a holy place by Shiv Sainiks. The Sena’s new name, ‘Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray)’ and its election symbol ‘Torch’ have been inscribed prominently on the banner. The imposing artwork has been viewed as a new initiative by the Uddhav Sena to instill fresh confidence in the rank and file to rejuvenate it for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections though their date is to be announced. Party leaders are in upbeat mood after the unilateral victory of its candidate Rutuja Latke in Andheri (East) assembly by-election last month though they feel the party machine needs to be kept active one way or the other.
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Congress In A Cleft Stick On EWS Quota; Could Hurt Its Support Base Among Jats, Lingayats & Marathas

When the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the Modi Government’s decision to implement 10% reservation in jobs and higher educational institutions for the economically weaker sections (EWS) in the general category, the Congress initially welcomed the court’s ruling. The party even claimed credit for implementation of the reservation meant for the poor among general category people. The 10% quota, based on economic status, excludes the SCs, STs and the OBC, who already have 49.5% seats reserved for them in government jobs and higher education. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said the amendment was the result of a process initiated in 2005-06 by the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government. The government had appointed a three-member commission, headed by Major General (Retd) SR Sinho which submitted its report in July 2010. Both the Congress and Modi government have cited the Sinho Commission report as the basis for the legislation. Now, it seems the initial enthusiasm for the EWS quota of the Congress has waned and the party is caught in a cleft stick. That is because the DMK is in no mood to implement EWS quota as Tamil Nadu is already providing 69% reservation. The DMK is stoking anti-Brahmin sentiment over EWS. Interestingly, the Congress manifesto for the 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha elections had taken a different stand. Any anti- EWS stand by the Congress could ultimately hurt its Jat, Lingayat and Maratha support base.
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EPS Determined To Keep Door Shut On OPS, Sasikala

Edappadi Palaniswami (EPS) is determined to fork out on his own path if the BJP pushes him too hard to take back OPS and Sasikala to make a united AIADMK. If push comes to shove, EPS will not hesitate to break the alliance with the BJP provided he is secure in the legal status quo of his heading the party with the Two Leaves symbol and the Lloyds Road HQ. The local BJP chief K Annamalai asserted recently that the BJP-AIADMK alliance is intact and that the AIADMK lead by EPS will lead that alliance into the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The national leadership seems, however, to favour a united AIADMK party along with the two politicians who are right now out in the cold – OPS and Sasikala. OPS made a show of going out to meet Amit Shah at the India Cements diamond jubilee celebrations but all he got was a perfunctory greeting from the Home Minister who later went into a huddle with his own party men in Chennai rather than invite allies over. The Prime Minister was in Tamil Nadu too but on a schedule in four states in two days too busy to pay much attention to Tamil Nadu politics.
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When Biryani Robbed Tamil Nadu Minister Of His Audience

Our voters are very clear about what they want, when they want. This single-minded focus makes mincemeat chunks out of the best laid plans of er…mice and men. Take the case of Tamil Nadu’s Revenue Minister KKSSR Ramachandran and his well-planned address to his constituency in a marriage hall at Tenkasi’s Alangulam, clutching his eloquently prepared keynote address, intended to delight his eager audience. DMK District Secretary, Siva Padmanabhan, wanting to please his boss and other DMK functionaries, announced, “We want to celebrate our election victory. Our generous Presidium chairman has arranged a sumptuous non-vegetarian feast, cooked with 22 goats and many chickens for you, our cadres”. Good intentions can go horribly wrong when hit by bad timing. No sooner had he said non-veg biryani the crowd deserted the hall and ran towards the dining hall, drawn by the irresistible Biryani aroma. A stricken Ramachandran was heard extorting the crowd “Friends, please remain seated. The Biriyani will be there for later “. He looked crestfallen as the audience was in no mood for speech. Reality hurts. Ramachandran learnt his lesson – the best way to a voter’s heart is the stomach but timing is very important.
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Dimple Yadav filing her nomination

UP By-Elections Will Test Akhilesh Yadav's Leadership Qualities After Mulayam's Exit

A series of by-elections in Uttar Pradesh on December 5 will put to test the mettle of Samajwadi Party leadership of Akhilesh Yadav after his father Mulayam Singh Yadav’s death. More so as he has chosen to field his wife Dimple from the Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat, a constituency that has traditionally backed the party patriarch. Dimple, who lost the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Kannauj, was hoping to ride on the sympathy wave in Mainpuri. Apparently, it is not going to be a cake walk for her as Akhilesh has not managed to secure a truce with his uncle Shivpal Yadav. Of the five assembly constituencies under the Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat, two of the five seats are currently held by Akhilesh Yadav and Shivpal Yadav as MLAs. However it is significant that the BJP has fielded Raghuraj Singh Shakya, a former MP and someone close to Shivpal Yadav, as its candidate. Shakya joined the BJP earlier this year after quitting Shivpal Yadav’s Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party. With tacit support of Shivpal Yadav, the BJP is hoping to breach this Yadav bastion. BJP is also hoping to pick up the Rampur assembly seat that fell vacant after SP MLA Azam Khan was convicted by an MP-MLA court in a 2019 hate speech case.
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Eknath Shinde, Follower MLAs, To Revisit Kamakhya Temple To Fulfill Vow

Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde and all his supporter MLAs who left the Uddhav Shiv Sena under his leadership are planning a pilgrimage to Guwahati to fulfill their earlier vow before Goddess Kamakhya to return to bow before her once they had formed a government. Although it is said that the visit will be taking place on November 20 or 21, Shinde himself is yet to announce the exact date. However, preparations are underway to schedule Shinde’s courtesy calls on Assam’s political elite, including the state governor and the chief minister. Shinde and the supporters had been camping in a Guwahati hotel earlier this year to ensure that the government led by Uddhav Thackeray along with the Congress and the NCP crumbled down after the Sena’s split. They returned to Mumbai only after all the fine details were worked out with the BJP to install him as chief minister. During their Guwahati sojourn in June-July this year, several well-wishers had made their stay comfortable. The Guwahati trip will be undertaken to propitiate the Goddess and thank all those who helped, according to Shinde camp leaders. A highlight of Shinde’s temple visit will be to perform a special type of pooja, which he had done in the earlier stay as well.
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In Tamil Nadu, Battle For The Ballot Will Be Over Dravidam Vs Hindutva

November 11 saw intense VIP presence in Tamil Nadu as both the PM and HM descended on this political beehive. Overtly, the PM continues his inaugural optics series; first, in Karnataka for a stunning new airport terminal, and a Vandhe Bharat train to link Karnataka and TN with superfast speed, and presiding over the Dindigul-based Mahatma Gandhi University Convocation in Gandhi cap. The TN leg was more covert than overt, as it saw high voltage political confabulations among the BJP top brass and other functionaries. Is K Annamalai the handpicked Desert Fox, Rommel to implement the BJP’ pincer movement in TN? The secret sketch of BJP to capture at least 8 seats, target 25 in the 2024 general election. Amit Shah is as much Annamalai’s political muse as the PM, and the see, talk, plan strategy is implemented, in military style. Take the pivotal booth committees, Annamalai is to constitute 67,000 such frontline grassroots units to ensure votes for BJP. Even the constitution of such committees is laid down formally — members from SC, ST, women and youth are a must, and at least 5 ideologically vocal members who can influence with their eloquence. To stave off any rebel challenge, Annamalai has already announced that the alliance with AIADMK will stay. 2024 is definitely Dravidam Vs Hindutva. The pincer is all laid out. Charge as planned, strike on all fronts.
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Jitendra Awhad Threatens To Resign His Assembly Seat, NCP Furious

Controversial NCP leader Jitendra Awhad’s announcement to resign his membership of the legislative assembly to protest against police atrocities has created a political storm in Maharashtra as the former minister has dragged chief minister Eknath Shinde into the whole affair. Awhad has announced his intent as Thane police have filed a second case against Awhad within 72 hours. The case pertains to a BJP woman worker’s complaint that he had pushed and molested her in a crowd that had gathered in Thane during Shinde’s visit on Sunday (Nov 13). Awhad is already out on bail in a case when his supporters assaulted a cinegoer in his presence a couple of days ago in regard to some debatable references to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in a Marathi movie. According to the complaint filed by the aggrieved, he had gone to watch the movie with his wife. When Awhad and his supporters stormed the theatre and stopped the screening, the cinegoer demanded a refund of his ticket money. It was at this juncture that he was roughed up. He has alleged that this happened in Awhad’s presence. The NCP has condemned the police action and warned that the level of politicking in the state had been deteriorating day by day. Maharashtra NCP president Jayant Patil has declared that he will try to convince Awhad not to take the extreme political step.
Rahul bharat jodo yatra

Rahul To Take Yatra Break For Gujarat Poll Campaign, May Skip Parliament Session

There is speculation whether Rahul Gandhi who is busy with Bharat Jodo Yatra would be attending the winter session of Parliament in December. The session is expected to be held soon after Gujarat and Himachal assembly results are out on December 8. As such he has kept himself away from the election campaign in Himachal because of yatra. So did the incumbent AICC chief Mallikarjun Kharge. However even as the yatra is now moving northwards, Rahul has not included poll-bound Gujarat– in his route map. Incidentally, Gujarat was a state, he had extensively campaigned in 2017 and had got good results. This time his yatra has decided against entering Gujarat; may be as late political secretary Ahmed Patel is no longer around. So he has chosen to spend some time in Rajasthan and will be visiting Bulandshahr in western UP before reaching J&K via Delhi. It is now being said that the Wayanad MP will spend a day campaigning in Gujarat on November 22 — the state goes to polls in two phases on December 1 and 5.  After this Rahul may most likely skip the winter session as he  would not like to be seen taking any break from the 3,500 km long foot march from Kayakumari to Kashmir Yatra.
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Despite Hectic Poll Season, Amit Shah Doesn't Take His Eyes Off MHA

Union Home Minister Amit Shah inarguably remains the best election strategist and untiring campaigner for the BJP. With Himachal and Gujarat elections on his plate, one must give it to him that he makes it a point not to ignore his ministerial responsibilities as advised by PM Narendra Modi. He held as many as six rallies in Himachal. Even then he was recently seen holding a six-hour-long meeting in Delhi on how to further strengthen the process of information sharing and enhancing liaison between counter-terrorism and anti-drug agencies of the states, MHA officials were stuck in awe. The meeting started at 11 am and continued till 5pm. Shah chaired a high level meeting of Intelligence Bureau (IB) officers from across the country and reviewed the internal security situation of the country. The meeting held extensive discussions on various issues related to national security. At the meeting, Shah underlined the government’s commitment to ensure the country’s security and lauded the IB for its “very important contribution in maintaining peace in the country since Independence, anonymously without any expectations.” “Our fight is against terrorism as well as its support system; till we do not fight strictly against both of them, victory over terrorism cannot be achieved,” he said. He called for the need to control the Left Wing Extremism (LWE) by dismantling its financial and logistical support system.
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Nirmala Sitharaman To Visit Baramati Again, Will Ajit Pawar Pose A Rider?

Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman is due to tour the prestigious Baramati Lok Sabha constituency soon, as part of the BJP’s mission ‘B for Baramati.’ She had visited Baramati in August this year. The BJP has decided to keep 16 LS constituencies in the state on its radar.  All out efforts will be made to win them in 2024. While most are from the earlier Shiv Sena quota, NCP leader Sharad Pawar’s home constituency Baramati will be the focal point of this mission. Union minister of state Pralhad Singh Patel has been camping in Baramati to prepare for Nirmala’s visit, which is being finalised. Maharashtra with its 48 LS constituencies is the second largest electoral slice after Uttar Pradesh. As the BJP feels that it has little scope in expanding its winning spree in UP and Gujarat, it has decided to concentrate more on Maharashtra. Although the LS election is two years away, BJP leaders have decided to begin preparations well in advance. The electoral scenario in Baramati is expected to change in the days to come owing to Ajit Pawar’s intriguing moves over the past month. Though he has discounted all rumours of his parting ways with the NCP, the friendship between him and deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis is considered a decisive factor in future permutations and combinations. At present, all concerned have kept their fingers crossed.

TRENDS & VIEWS

We Have Created A New Segment That Has Resonated Well With Readers: Short Post Editor

Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come, said Victor Hugo a long time ago. I felt likewise. So instead of waiting endlessly for the Covid-19 tide to ebb, I decided to take the plunge and launch www.shortpost.in on January 28, 2021. This website, the first of its kind in the country, focuses only on short ‘Authentic Gossip’. Clearly, content is king more so if it is short & crisp (225 words), as a large section of our society is steadily shifting to digital and mobile space. To achieve this, I was fortunate to muster editorial support of some of the most senior and respected journalists in the country to bring out credible content that involves, stimulates and entertains our highly discerning readers — from across continents. We have so far uploaded close to 1,000 posts covering areas like Business, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment. Yes, today we have crossed an important milestone in our journey – #ShortPostFirstAnniversary —  and we are confident many more will follow in keeping with our stated vision – to become a one stop site for authentic gossip. So, what next?  With the third wave showing signs of slowing down things can only look better. So as the year rolls by we promise to pack in more punches. Before I sign off I would like to thank our advertiser IDFC FIRST Bank, angel investors Anuradha Verma, Ashish Kakkar and you readers for making this journey possible.