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Kodak Moment As Sonia Joins Son Rahul On Bharat Jodo Yatra In Mandya

When Congress president Sonia Gandhi briefly joined her son Rahul Gandhi at the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ in Karnataka’s Mandya district on October 6, it created a photo opportunity. Amid cheers and slogan-shouting by party workers, as she walked beside her son Rahul and other leaders for a few kilometres, there were several Kodak moments. “We have weathered many storms and will overcome all challenges. Together we will unite India,” Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi as he posted a photograph of him walking with his mother, with his arm around her.  Another picture of the mother-son duo that was widely shared on social media by Congress leaders was of Rahul Gandhi bending to tie his mother’s shoelaces. “Those shielded by love fear nothing! On the road, the picture prompted Congress leader Shashi Tharoor to post in Hindi, which said “There are blessings even when she breathes, no one can replace a mother as mothers are mothers.” Sonia Gandhi, 75, joined the Bharat Jodo Yatra on the 27th day. Meanwhile, Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai sought to downplay the participation of Sonia Gandhi in the Yatra, saying “she has walked for half-a-km and gone.” He also asserted that Congress’s mass outreach programme will have no impact in the poll-bound state.” Sonia is likely to be back for a rally in Ballari on October 15.
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Udit Raj and Mallikarjun Kharge

Udit Raj's Attack On Prez Murmu Spoils Kharge Narrative For Congress

In a desperate attempt to draw attention, Congress Dalit leader Udit Raj dragged office of President of India into a controversy by tweeting that ‘no country should get such a President’. His tweet on President Droupadi Murmu, India’s first Adivasi woman, set the National Commission for Women cracking after him; it slapped him with a notice demanding an apology for insulting the President. Udit Raj was once a BJP MP from Karol Bagh (Delhi) and had switched parties. BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla tweeted, “Udit Raj uses unacceptable language for the 1st woman Adivasi President! Does the Congress endorse this insult of Adivasi samaj?” Udit Raj is the third Congress leader to comment on President Murmu. Earlier it was Ajoy Kumar and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. As his tweet created a furore, Udit Raj said those were his personal comments. What provoked Udit Raj’s tweet? Apparently, President Murmu at a civic reception in Gandhinagar said that Gujarat manufactures 76% of the country’s salt and that “it can be said the salt produced in Gujarat is consumed by all Indians.” The Congress hasn’t sacked Udit Raj as its spokesperson. But, party sources admit the idea of elevating Dalit leader Mallikarjun Kharge as Congress chief was to pose a counter to NDA’s President Murmu. With Udit Raj’s mindless attack on the President, much of the goodwill would be lost.
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Largesse Showered Upon Ashok Chavan By Shinde-Fadanvis Revives Doubts About His Plans

The suspense about former chief minister Ashok Chavan’s next move has deepened as the Maharashtra government has sanctioned a Rs728 crore water grid scheme for his Bhokar assembly constituency though it has reversed almost all the decisions of the earlier Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government. On his part, Chavan has maintained studied silence about his plans. It has been reported time and again that Chavan will walk into the BJP fold along with his nine supporters MLAs. Chavan has not reacted to such news items, adding to the rumour mongering. Chavan had disclosed a few days ago that chief minister Eknath Shinde had approached him in 2014 with a proposal to form a coalition government with the Congress by the Shiv Sena. The Congress party has not reacted to this claim. However, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has ridiculed Chavan’s disclosure. Pawar said, “I am president of my party. Had any such proposal been mooted, I would have been informed.” The Shiv Sena under Uddhav Thackeray or CM Shinde have preferred to remain mum about Chavan’s statement even after a week.  Chavan’s absence at a crucial confidence vote in the state legislative assembly began generating doubts about his loyalty with the Congress. Now that Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo’ yatra is to enter Maharashtra soon, the controversy has been revived.
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How India's Latest Attorney General Was Picked

Attorney General R Venkataramani, 72, is the third Tamilian to hold this position. The first person was K Parasaran. He served as A-G when Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi were Prime Ministers. G Ramasamy was the A-G when the late Chandrashekhar and Narasimha Rao were Prime Ministers. Several names were thrown after senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi refused the post. Venkataramani was a surprise appointment. It was widely expected that the Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta would be elevated as A-G but the Prime Minister has chosen Venkataramani. He has been handling cases in the Supreme Court for 34 years. He is inclined towards spirituality and is a Carnatic music aficionado; he is passionate about MS Subbulakshmi songs. The ‘caller tune’ in his mobile is the song ‘Kurai Undrum Ellai‘ sung by MS. The Attorney General has the right to participate in Union Cabinet meetings and speak in Parliament. Venkataramani has thanked the Prime Minister, Home Minister and Law Minister for appointing him to such a responsible post. His appointment has been well received by judges and lawyers. Even though there are many senior advocates from northern states, the reason why he was picked by the Government will always remain a well-kept secret.
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Tamil Nadu CM Stalin Wished The Malayalis On Onam But Stays Silent On Puja

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Another Hindu festival season is passing without a greeting for the people by the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin. While the Governor and leaders of all political parties wished the people for Ayudha Pooja, when all workers of the State spare a thought for the machines that enable their livelihood, etc., Stalin remained silent. In this, he follows his father’s footsteps in not wishing Hindus on their festivals while making it a point to wish the minorities on theirs. The exception is Pongal, which Kalaignar believed was the real New Year of the Tamils and not the birth of the Chithiari month, which is usually followed as Tamil New Year by a vast majority of Tamils. However, Stalin may have embarrassed himself as recently he wished people on Onam. Did he not know that Onam is also a Hindu festival? He tried to fob off his greeting in Malayalam as one for a festival of togetherness and solidarity to strengthen Dravidian links with Kerala and not intended as recognition of any religious festival of the Hindus. BJP’s Tamil Nadu chief K Annamalai lost no time in reminding the public the Tamils that Stalin had wished Malayalis on Onam but would not do so for the Puja or Deepavali or any of the significant Hindu festivals. Stalin might find it difficult to justify his Onam greetings as opposed to his silence in the Puja season.
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Unprecedented Turnout Certain For Rival Senas’ Dussehra Rally, Hindutva To Dominate

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Tussle between the two Shiv Sena factions will wear a stark saffron hue that will manifest in many ways on Wednesday in Mumbai on the occasion of Dussehra. It is going to be an unprecedented turnout for the rallies of both sides. The law and order preparation is ready like never before. The central theme of the speeches will be the ardent Hindutva propagated by Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray. The faction led by Uddhav Thackeray claims that the Sena’s Shivaji Park rally will overflow the traditional venue while chief minister Eknath Shinde’s spokesmen say the sprawling BKC maidan will seat at least two lakh sainiks tomorrow. Supporters of both sides from faraway districts have already started their journey towards Mumbai. According to reports reaching the state headquarters, more than 10,000 buses have been requisitioned by the two sides across Maharashtra. Moreover, thousands of supporters will arrive by train or in private vehicles. Adequate sanitary and parking arrangements are being made. Several thorny questions are flung by the rivals at each other. One such sensitive issue is the food to be served to the party workers. Shinde group’s Thane MLA Pratap Sarnaik said he had placed orders for feeding two lakh people. Uddhav confidant and former mayor Kishori Pednekar has questioned the propriety of such a sumptuous menu.
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Congress Insists It Is Giving A Level Playing Field To Kharge, Tharoor

Congressmen are enjoying the media attention their party polls have generated. It just seems everyone is competing for a brief spot in the sun. That is why a little after spokesperson Pawan Khera tweeted about how he had sought leave as “chairman of media and  publicity department to campaign for the candidate” of his  choice and  found AICC general secretary media Jairam Ramesh had  not granted him leave “citing compulsions of running” the department,  party election authority Madhusudhan Mistry made it clear to all party functionaries that if they wished to campaign for either of the candidates — Shashi Tharoor or Mallikarjun Kharge — they will  have to resign from their organisational post first. It must be mentioned at least three spokespersons — Syed Nasir Hussain, Deepinder Singh Hooda and Gourav Vallabh – were first to quit their posts to assist Kharge. Sending WhatsApp messages to all functionaries, Mistry made it clear “Utmost care will be taken to ensure that there is no mala-fide campaign against any candidate”.  More than 9,000 Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) delegates will vote in the poll to be held on October 17. Kharge has the support of many party leaders including Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and is emerging as the front-runner. Tharoor, meanwhile, is focused on his campaign #ThinkTomorrowThinkTharoor.
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Media Protests Force PMO To Withdraw ‘Character Certificate’ Circular

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Himachal to dedicate AIIMS Bilaspur to the nation on Dussehara got shadowed by a controversy over instruction to the media to produce character certificates to cover the event. Following howls of protests from the media, the Press Information Bureau promptly countered it with a face-saving “it may be noted that the circular regarding requirement of certification of antecedent for covering PM events in Bilaspur tomorrow stands withdrawn and all press persons recommended by the state DPR and DPRO are welcome to cover the event”. The Hospital, whose foundational stone was also laid by PM Modi in October 2017 and is being established under the Central sector scheme Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana.”AIIMS Bilaspur, constructed at a cost of more than Rs 1470 crore, is a state-of-the-art hospital with 18 specialty and  17 super specialty departments, 18 modular operation theaters, 750 beds with 64 ICU beds.
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Gandhis' Dussehra Get-Together Irks Karnataka Congress Leaders, Rahul Visits Chamundeshwari Temple

Dussehra is an important festival in Karnataka. That’s why when Congress President Sonia Gandhi chose to visit the state to catch up with son Rahul, Karnataka Congress leaders were surprised that she had chosen the occasion of a two-day Dussehra break on October 4-5 in Bharat Jodo Yatra for a family get-together. The Gandhis have chosen to meet up in a resort in Coorg. This amidst reports that Rahul’s knee is already hurting him. Rahul visited Chamundeshwari Temple adjoining Mysuru. But for some reason did not tweet about it; preferred to keep his temple visit below the radar. He was accompanied by Siddaramaiah and Randeep Surjewala who tweeted about the temple visit. Perhaps, sleeping over in a network of parishes, exploring the meaning of Jesus had got the better of him. Unlike Kerala which has narrow highways, Karnataka with its broad roads is a challenge to flaunt crowds. That’s why KPCC president DK Shivkumar took care to set a target of 5,000 persons per office-bearer at district level for the yatra. Party leaders are already worried about the expenses they may have to incur to keep the yatra going for the next three weeks. Sonia Gandhi is scheduled to flag off the Yatra at Melukote in Mandya district on October 6. Priyanka Vadra is joining the yatra the same day when it passes through Nagamangala in Mandya district.
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First Electoral Battle Between Uddhav And BJP In Andheri On 3rd November, Congress Sidelined

The Andheri assembly constituency by-election scheduled to be held on November 3 will be the first electoral combat between the BJP and the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), though the Congress party has still kept its stand undeclared, creating some suspense. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar has declared his support of the Shiv Sena (Uddhav) candidate Rutuja Latke, wife of the deceased MLA Ramesh Latke. The other factor that will impact the outcome will be the allotment of the election symbol, Bow & Arrow, claimed by both Sena factions. The Election Commission will decide which claimant gets the symbol. The Sena’s Eknath Shinde faction has decided to allow the BJP to fight the by-election though earlier, it wished to stake its ownership of the seat, since it wants to establish itself as the ‘true’ Sena. But a BJP announcement on Sunday that it will field veteran Murjibhai Patel has put all speculation to rest. Patel had contested the 2019 election as an independent candidate and gained substantial votes. Late Ramesh Latke was a popular personality since he used to help anyone who approached, irrespective of party affiliation or caste or creed. Uddhav Thackeray’s unilateral decision to allow Rutuja is considered a smart move although the Congress party is facing a dilemma since its electoral presence in Mumbai is going to be reduced further.
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No G-23 Camp In Congress Says Cong Presidential Candidate Kharge

In his first media interaction in Delhi, Mallikarjun Kharge asserted that there was no G-23 camp now in the Congress. The Congress presidential candidate who is tipped to win the party polls said all those leaders wanted to fight unitedly against the RSS-BJP and therefore had supported him. Several dissident leaders such as Bhupinder Hooda, Anand Sharma, Manish Tewari and Prithviraj Chavan of the group of 23, who had written to party chief Sonia Gandhi in 2020 seeking scale organisational reforms, have put their weight behind Kharge by becoming his proposers instead of backing Tharoor who was a prominent member of G-23. Party leaders agreed if Kharge got elected it immediately raised the prospect of AICC headquarters functioning full throttle. That is because in his own words he has the habit of “working full-time”. “If I sat in Parliament then I would get up only in the evening at the time of shutdown.” With the Gandhis at the helm, most party functionaries preferred to operate out of their own homes as the Gandhis rarely visited the party office. “Unlike Indiraji and Rajivji who always met party workers before beginning their official work, Soniaji and Rahul never had time for Congress workers, ” pointed out a Himachal leader. Aided by three spokespersons, Kharge will start touring states beginning with Karnataka followed by Chennai on October 7.
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Casting Couch Allegations Against Ollywood Producer Akshay Parija

The only refreshing break in the ongoing slugfest between BJD and BJP in Odisha is the Ollywood casting couch allegation going viral with newspaper headlines screaming that an eminent high profile Ollywood film maker Akshay Parija has joined the unenviable list of men who have been accused of sexual harassment, assault and misconduct. Me-too campaign has hit Odisha. Akshay, is an NRI film producer who makes both commercial and parallel cinema. He is in talks with Zee Sarthak for a tie-up. This national award winner has won acclaim for his documentaries on environment issues such as Kadvi Hawa, Agastya, Paiko Bidroho, Kehi Nuhen Kahara and others. According to a FIR filed by a lady in Bhubaneswar Parija established physical relation with her, against her will at her house by luring her with an offer of a role in a film and threatened her if she dared to marry anybody else. It seems to be endemic in the film industry globally. In the case of the Odisha film industry it seems to be rocked by controversies. Popular actor Babushaan’s wife Trupti Satpathy stopped his co-star Prakruti Mishra from boarding an auto-rickshaw for having an affair with her husband. Earlier, actor Anubhav Mohanty and his actress wife Varsha Priyadarshini hit headlines over their marital discord.
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Now Raj Thackeray Demands Ban On Illegal Madrassas In Maharashtra

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena supremo Raj Thackeray has demanded that the government should investigate all madrassas in the state and ban those which are illegal. After MNS successfully conducted a campaign against loudspeakers on mosques, it has again flexed its muscles against what it calls anti-national activities. MNS spokesman Yashwant Chile told the media that his organization would launch a campaign against illegal madrassas in the state if the government did not concede to the MNS demand for a comprehensive survey and investigation. He said MNS was taking this step after receiving several complaints. Chile said unauthorized madrassas were being conducted in many residential areas with the object of turning such localities into Muslim-dominated pockets. Chief minister Eknath Shinde will be submitted a petition to demand such a survey by MNS on Monday (Oct 3). The faction’s spokesman Deepak Kesarkar said a decision in this regard would be taken by the government after consulting all concerned. Vishwas Hindu Parishad’s Maharashtra unit leader Shankar Gaikar’s meeting with Raj Thackeray against the backdrop of this warning is considered significant.
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Uddhav’s Man Friday Milind Narvekar Hits Headlines, Will He Desert His Boss?

Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray’s confidant Milind Narvekar has become the focus of political developments following a claim by a senior minister that Narvekar is likely to join the Shinde faction in near future. Known as Man Friday of the Thackeray family for over a decade, Narvekar is regarded as a troubleshooter during any political crisis in the state. It was Narvekar who was rushed to Surat by Uddhav to persuade the rebels to come back to the Sena fold. Off and on, Narvekar has been in touch with both factions. A trustee of the Tirupati Balaji Trust, Narvekar and Shinde have met at least twice in recent times. Minister Gulabrao Patil, famous for his outlandish statements, told a public meeting that Champa Singh Thapa, who was always found by the side of Balasaheb Thackeray, had joined the Shinde camp and Narvekar, too, would be doing so soon. Chief minister Eknath Shinde’s visit to Narvekar’s residence for Ganesh Darshan had generated speculation that the latter was about to desert his boss Uddhav. The statement by Gulabrao Patil has revived it, especially since there are reports that Uddhav has appointed Ravi Mhatre in place of Narvekar as his personal secretary. However, the Sena has neither refuted nor confirmed such reports.
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Gandhis Use Dalit Card Kharge To Block Digvijay Singh, Tharoor May Fade Out

If there was one candidate that the Gandhis were really worried about — it was former Madhya Pradesh CM Digvijay Singh. His entry enthused party cadres in north India. Many partymen were hoping Singh would move in as party chief and energise the moribund organisation. It was in this backdrop that the Gandhis adopted a strategy to stop Singh from filing his papers. They endorsed 80-year old Mallikarjun Kharge, a Dalit leader from North Karnataka, as their candidate. After a late-night meeting, AICC general secretary KC Venugopal conveyed to Kharge that the party leadership wanted him to contest.  Entry of Kharge was enough to persuade Singh to withdraw from the fray. It is significant that Sonia Gandhi did not opt for younger Dalit leaders such as Kumari Selja or Mukul Wasnik who are in their 60s. Besides, Sonia opted to endorse Kharge on the day Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra entered Karnataka. Immediately BJP spokesperson Amit Malviya tweeted that Kharge at 80 is an inspiring choice to be party chief…He should just pick Dr Manmohan Singh’s manual on “Living by the Remote Control” and it is all sorted”. Was Kharge chosen because the Karnataka assembly elections are scheduled early next year?  Possibly. Kharge will resign as LoP in Rajya Sabha. Will Divijay Singh succeed him?  Shashi Tharoor files his papers, vows to remain in fray but party hopes he may finally withdraw.
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Dussehra Rallies To Test Uddhav And Shinde Factions’ Claims Of Strength

Both Shiv Sena factions are making all-out preparations to outshine each other by ensuring a larger turnout than that of the rival for their Dussehra rallies. While the Uddhav Thackeray faction says the traditional rally venue of Shivaji Park will overflow with Sena supporters, loyalists of chief minister Eknath Shinde maintain that their meeting will be three times larger, endorsing the claim that they represent the true Shiv Sena. While the political atmosphere in Maharashtra is warming up hour on hour, the police administration is busy planning the traffic flow on that day as it has to ensure that at no place the two factions accost each other. An equally major concern is the traffic management since thousands of vehicles are expected to converge around the two rally venues, Shivaji Park in Dadar for Uddhav supporters and the BKC Maidan for Shinde loyalists. Reports are pouring in about bus reservations being made by both sides to ferry their workers. Some clips have surfaced, claiming that workers from even other friendly parties are being wooed to attend the mega event. Uddhav and Shinde factions have put up colourful hoardings and their teasers are keeping social media alive. Both sides say they are the true torch bearers of Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray. MPs, MLAs and corporators from different towns have been assigned a specific quota of people to be made present for the Dussehra rallies, leading to political suspense.
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CPI (M) Hits The Roads With “Nazare Panchayat” And Helpline For Complaints Against TMC

A renewed vigour can be witnessed with the CPI(M) West Bengal Unit. CPI(M) has always relied on its grassroots connections, especially the panchayats. Having been decimated in the 2021 Assembly election with no representation, the Left is now leaving no stones unturned to capitalize on their cadre politics. For 2023 Panchayat polls it has launched its campaign “Nazare Panchayat” (Eye on Panchayat) with a helpline number asking to submit complaints against the Trinamool Congress. It has also shared a video claiming that within the first seven days of the campaign the party has received 1500 complaints. Out of which, 55% are against TMC leaders, 77% of calls are from rural areas and 40% of those are related to panchayat issues. Significantly, the CPI(M) state leadership including state secretary Mohammad Salim, senior politburo members Sujan Chakraborty, Abhash Roy Chowdhury, Debolina Hembram, youth leaders Meenakshi Mukherjee, Satarup Ghosh are leading several protest marches, addressing rallies in the districts. The student and youth wing of the party — SFI, DYFI — recently called for an Insaf Sabha in Kolkata seeking justice for the murder of one of their youth leader Anis Khan witnessing a large turnout. It also held similar rallies in Murshidabad, Jalpaiguri, Siliguri, West Midnapore, Malda, and Raiganj. Incidentally, a supporter with bow and arrow surfaced during the Raigunj rally, which reminded the erstwhile Left agitation in Bengal.
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Gehlot Cuts It Too Fine, Says Sorry To Sonia And Checkmates Pilot

Emerging from a meeting with Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot announced that he will not contest the Congress presidential polls. His meeting with Sonia at 10 Janpath in New Delhi came just  after a series of missteps he took defying diktats for change in party leadership last weekend; it was also the penultimate day ahead of filing of papers for top Congress post. Gehlot said he had apologised to Sonia for the developments in Jaipur on September 25 when MLAs supporting him defied the high command and skipped the Congress Legislature Party meeting at his residence and submitted their resignations to the Assembly Speaker. While it is not clear if Gehlot’s public regret to Sonia was enough to salvage the damage caused to Congress leadership’s authority in Jaipur, questions still persist over what will happen to Sachin Pilot. Will Pilot remain in the party after this, eating humble pie? When asked if he will continue as chief minister, Gehlot said Sonia Gandhi would decide. He was clearly hinting that the Congress had little choice here in terms of the number of MLAs backing Pilot. Gehlot asserted that he had always been a disciplined soldier of the Congress for 50 years. In Rajasthan, the Congress high command cannot afford to please both Gehlot and Pilot. Either Gehlot hangs in till 2023 assembly polls or the younger Pilot explores other options.
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Eknath Shinde Faces Twin Assault By Uddhav Faction And Congress

Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde has become the common target for the Congress and the Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena as they have joined hands to level serious allegations against the CM. As soon as senior Congress leader and former chief minister Ashok Chavan had disclosed that Shinde had approached him in 2014 with a proposal to form a Congress-Sena coalition government, Shinde’s confidant Naresh Mhaske countered that Ashok Chavan himself had remained absent during a recent crucial voting in the state assembly. Moreover, Chavan had not denied news reports that he was planning to join the BJP, Mhaske pointed out. Maharashtra BJP president Chandrashekhar Bawankule shot back that the Sena was run by Uddhav Thackeray in 2014. “It must have been Uddhav who himself had asked Shinde to meet Congress leaders,” Bawankule said. Uddhav loyalist Chandrakant Khaire rushed to support the statement of Ashok Chavan. He said that Shinde was trying to join the Congress party along with 15 MLAs when Prithviraj Chavan was the chief minister. However, the plan fizzled out when the news reached Uddhav. The former MP alleged that Shinde had deserted the Sena just for chair and not for any ideology. Shinde faction MP Hemant Patil said the opposition was rattled since Shinde’s popularity was increasing day by day. Hence attempts were made to divert public attention from his good work.
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Will Bengal BJP Side With Congress, CPI (M) Against TMC For 2023 Panchayat Polls?

Panchayat polls in West Bengal is due in 2023 and the ground reality is that besides TMC, CPI(M)’s performance stands best with its network of cadres spread across. BJP still struggles with only a “Nabanna Abhijyan” (march to state secretariat) a face saver.  TMC is mired in corruption charges following the arrest of two of its top leaders and BJP leadership expected a groundswell in the party’s favour. That was not to be. Having failed to capitalize on this, prompted the party to seek support from its arch rivals — the CPI(M) and Congress during Nabanna Abhijyan. State president Sukanta Majumder had to tweet seeking support from the arch rivals asking them to participate in their programme, keeping aside political differences. More surprisingly, even his predecessor and critic Dilip Ghosh supported the call. It is a known fact that CPI(M) and Congress support each other to capture a Gram Panchayat or to rule a Zilla Parishad. District BJP leaders have made it clear to the state high command that it will not stop itself from supporting CPI(M) or Congress in forming a panchayat. The district leaders are aware that the majority of the supporters from Left and Congress switched camps in 2021 only to defeat TMC and now they have all moved back. As a support to the idea, the state BJP is all out to capitalize on CPI(M)’s programme Chor Dharo Jail Bharo.
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Wave Of Anger Against Bhujbal For Demanding Removal Of Saraswati Portrait From Educational Institutions

Police bandobast has been beefed up outside former minister and NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal’s residence in Nasik following his demand that the portraits of Goddess of Learning, Saraswati, should be removed from educational institutions. Chief minister Eknath Shinde and deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis have summarily rejected the demand. Addressing a function, Bhujbal had criticised the practice to adorn walls of educational institutions with portraits of Saraswati, who is revered as Goddess of Learning and Knowledge. He had said that instead, portraits of social reformers should be used in such places. “What has Saraswati done for your education? Worship those who fought society to spread education for you,” suggested Bhujbal. Bhujbal also alleged that just 3% of the population has benefited because of Saraswati, who had deprived other sections of education. Fadnavis said Goddess Saraswati was regarded as embodiment of knowledge, arts and culture. Only those disagreeing with these values can make such statements.  Shinde said his government belonged to the people and would do what the people wished. No portraits would be removed just because someone says something.  In the midst of the raging controversy, Bhujbal was not in Nasik, his personal staff told a BJP delegation, which had rushed to his farm house to protest.
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Popular Front Of India Was A Silent Killer: Devendra Fadnavis

Popular Front of India (PFI) was a ‘silent killer,’ according to Maharashtra deputy chief Devendra Fadnavis while chief minister Eknath Shinde has warned that no anti-national activities would be permitted to take place in the state. The ban is welcomed across the state. Also holding the home affairs portfolio, Fadnavis has disclosed that the PFI had kept many prominent people on its hit list. It was planning to engineer unrest. PFI had created a huge financial network. Its modus operandi was something like this: open a large number of bank accounts and deposit small amounts so that no suspicion would arise. Fadnavis said very soon, action would be initiated against PFI and six other organisations under the Centre’s direction. If any evidence was found, more people and organisations would come under the radar, he indicated. Supporting the ban, Shinde said the elements which shouted pro-Pakistan slogans were dangerous for the country and needed to be dealt with ruthlessly. In fact, people subscribing to such ideology had no right to live in India. He said the state home department and the police would ensure that no such activities recurred in Maharashtra. Workers of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) have welcomed the ban on PFI. In Pune, the ban was celebrated by MNS by distributing sweets. Its leader Sainath Babar said MNS chief Raj Thackeray was the first to demand banning PFI.
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Will The Five-Year Ban Reduce PFI’s Pro-Terror Activities Across India?

The PFI ban under UAPA may not wipe it out but will certainly help the probe agencies disrupt its pro-terror strategy in the country. SIMI (after its ban in 2014) had morphed into Indian Mujahideen and PFI. It is perhaps due to this capacity of the PFI to seamlessly change its identity that the enforcement agencies have not been able to recover arms and ammunition since the mother organisations morphed its name and registered themselves as legitimate social organizations. In 2020, the MHA had put together a dossier in the aftermath of the anti-CAA protest violence, pointing to the funding received by the PFI. According to the report, the PFI received funding from countries like UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. The PFI members actively operate in the UAE through frontal outfits like the Rehab Foundation and the Indian Social Forum. PFI leaders maintain an office at Muraba, behind Lulu hypermarket in Al Ain in Dubai. Now that the Home Ministry has banned the PFI and its support groups, those who agitate or protest against the notification or favour any comments for PFI may also be considered a threat or supporter of PFI and may be dealt with by the probe agencies. It is surprising to see Congress leaders equating PFI with the RSS and seeking the latter’s ban.
KCR goes national

Will KCR’s Dussehra Gambit Of Merging TRS With Bharatiya Rashtra Samiti Get Him Into National Politics?

Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) is making a curious gambit. He is to announce the founding of his national party BRS (Bharatiya Rashtra Samiti) with regional TRS to merge with it on Dussehra day (Oct. 5). The new party will retain the TRS flag, its car symbol as well as the party colour pink. TRS, which came into prominence during the emotional agitation for a separate Telangana, will soon be consigned to history. Will the KCR gambit work is the question as long time Andhra-Telangana observers see a huge wave of anti-incumbency sentiment against KCR. While it is possible that KCR is doing away with the name TRS on the advice of soothsayers, it is his national foray into 150 seats that is loaded with risk. Those trying to unite the Opposition for 2024 are convinced that a single entity to take on the BJP will work better, as it may have been proved in the recent Italian elections where the Right coalition fielded a united single candidate in most seats. KCR’s national opposition unity moves, which he began in flashy meetings with Arvind Kejriwal, Nitish Kumar and HD Kumaraswami are also being met with scepticism by the likes of Mamata and Sonia Gandhi’s Congress. The BRS will dictate who will be PM in 2024, the new party’s intending founder KCR has been heard saying.
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In Kerala, PFI Raids Were Conducted By NIA’s Central Team With Local Police In The Dark

Two days before the simultaneous raid by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Popular Front of India (PFI) premises on September 22, 10 companies of CRPF numbering 750 were flown from Ranchi to Kerala. In other states the raid was conducted by NIA officials of the respective states. But in Kerala it was led by the central team. Even Kerala Police were in the dark barring the State DGP. The raids on the PFI top leader’s residences and various offices across Kerala started around 3 am. The arrest, confiscation of computers/laptops, documents, vouchers etc were completed by 6 am. Before the PFI workers got wind of the raid, top leaders like chairman OMA Salam, president CP Mohammed Basheer and 17 others were already on a flight to Delhi’s NIA court.The raids were successful because 20-odd NIA personnel were camping in Kerala for two months disguised as shop workers monitoring PFI’s activities. Taken by surprise the PFI vented their frustration by calling for hartal and destroying public properties. The Enforcement Directorate revealed that a Malayalam newspaper Thejas was not only PFI’s mouthpiece both in India and Gulf but also a conduit for hawala funds. It seems Darbar Restaurant in Abu Dhabi was the hub through which all hawala transactions were made. Also unraveled were acquisitions of hotels/ villa projects in Munnar and a flourishing spices trade, all part of PFI’s funding.
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With Gehlot Plotting Revolt, Will Gandhis Take Action Against Him?

The issue of picking the next Rajasthan Chief Minister has turned into a full-blown crisis for Congress high command. With 85 MLAs of the Ashok Gehlot camp in a protest mode, meeting the Speaker and claiming they want to resign if Gehlot doesn’t continue as CM, it has now become imperative for the Congress leadership to establish its authority in Jaipur. The Gehlot loyalists became so defiant that they even dared to skip a CLP meeting to interact with AICC observers Mallikarjun Kharge and Rajasthan in-charge Ajay Maken. The AICC observers first wanted to meet with MLAs collectively, then later sought one-on-one meetings to assess their views. It just seemed Gehlot was working on a different sub-plot. His loyalists instead preferred to attend a meeting at the residence of Cabinet Minister Shantilal Dhariwal where they set out terms and conditions to the party command. In a video that has gone viral, Dhariwal could be heard saying Rajasthan could go Punjab way for the Congress. With Gehlot’s closet rebellion his prospects of becoming AICC President are now dim. Maken has already dubbed the proceedings at Dhariwal residence as an act of “indiscipline”.  As for Sachin Pilot, architect of 2018 Congress victory, Srimadopur MLA Deependra Shekhawat says “Sachin’s appeal isn’t limited to the Gurjar community”. That’s why Gehlot ministers like Raghu Sharma and motor-mouth Pratap Kachariyavas are covertly supporting him.
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Fotocorp

Gujarati Dandiya To Don Marathi Attire With Eye On BMC Polls

Though anguish is being expressed over major industrial projects shifting to Gujarat from Maharashtra, there is no dearth of enthusiasm in donning Gujarati Dandiya with Marathi attire. This cultural fusion, with strong political overtones, will be enjoyed by Mumbaikars soon. To exploit the situation, Mumbai BJP president Ashish Shelar has taunted the Sena under Uddhav Thackeray by saying that Hindu festivals were banned by the previous regime. “But henceforth, all Hindu festivals will be celebrated with full vigour.” BJP MLA Mihir Kotecha has organised one such event, meant to assault the so-called Marathi bastions in Mumbai. So far, these prominently Marathi-speaking areas were regarded as a Shiv Sena monopoly. However, after the split in the Sena, the BJP has launched all-out preparations to oust the Sena’s Uddhav faction from power in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). One aspect of the plan is to organize political events, couched as cultural activities. The ‘Marathi Dandiya’ is just an example, which will be replicated in hundreds of localities in the metropolis. Kotecha’s event will be among the largest. It will take place at Kalachowki in south-central Mumbai, a traditional Shiv Sena stronghold. Marathi Dandiyas will be held in various areas between 30 September and 4 October. Around 15000 visitors are expected daily by the conveners.
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Congress MP Manickam Tagore and CPI (M) MP Su Venkatesan at the Madurai AIIMS site.

Not A Single Brick Laid, But BJP President Nadda Claims That Madurai AIIMS 95% Complete

This emperor was fully clothed. But like the Hogwart Wizard of Harry Potter he conjured up (with his rhetoric ) a whole Hospital building in the spot chosen in Toppur, Madurai for an ambitious AIIMS project where even the inaugural brick had been whacked as a memento. The project was launched by the PM on January 27, 2019, and that single brick became the target of brickbat over three years. Even in the run up to the 2021 TN Assembly Elections, the single brick that was laid on the muhurat inaugural was the target of severe ribbing by BJP baiters. So on this Madurai visit, when BJP president JP Nadda, in a full flow rhetoric got carried away and announced that the Hospital was 95% ready, the audience had a collective jaw dropping moment. It’s another matter that the party hacks quickly turned this into a claim of 95% ready on paper yet to be started. Congress MP Manickam Tagore and CPI (M) MP Su Venkatesan visited the site to show that it was ground zero. What ensued was a classic meme fest by comedian Vadivelu. In one particular meme, Vadivelu brings a posse of cops to the wilderness, and points out that AIIMS has disappeared, you must lodge my complaint. Announcing grandiose projects to address an election crowd is easy…skilful oratory suffices. But reality hits sooner than later.
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Party May Be In Power Yet BJP Flags Removed From Central Vista

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the helm, it seems even his own party cannot get away with any violation of norms. Well that’s what seems to have happened after he threw open the revamped Central Vista on September 8 to the public. While the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) that manages the area has been battling with an avalanche of litter thrown by the visiting public, what caught the attention of the civic authorities was a surge of BJP flags in the area put up without permission around the India Gate. The NDMC is controlled by the BJP, and the enforcement department raised the issue with the authorities after which the flags were removed four days after the event. According to officials, the flags were installed during the mega event BJP organised on September 17 to mark PM Modi’s birthday. A NDMC functionary asserted that it was routine business “to remove flags, banners and posters installed without seeking permission from us. Be it BJP or any party, we remove all such illegal installations in our areas routinely”. According to the rules laid down by the civic body, no flag or hoarding by a political or private organisation can be put without prior permission in the area it governs. “Only national flags and banners or posters related to government functions are allowed in the NDMC controlled area,” says a senior civic official.
EPS and Amit Shah

Ahead Of AIADMK’s October Meet, EPS Visits Delhi To Seek Amit Shah’s Blessing

Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS), former Tamil Nadu CM and twinning leader of the AIADMK, pulled off a coup of sorts on his Delhi visit. Home minister Amit Shah gave him a full 20 minutes for parleys, yet EPS met the press and reiterated, “It was a courtesy call. We did not discuss politics, we talked about linking Kaveri and Godavari rivers”. Obfuscation is a sleight of hand master strategy of politicians. The internal power struggle of EPS and OPS, the fight for the party’s twin leaves symbol, and even for the party HQ’s, an invincible fortress that J Jayalalithaa imbued with unquestioned power have all pushed the once powerful party to the abyss. Astutely, the BJP Chanakyas have labelled OPS “a clay horse” not a dependable ally. The flailing fortunes of OPS have apparently buoyed up EPS. He has gained the trust of the Trimurthis — Modi, Shah and Nadda which in turn has raised his stock among the cadres. With an eye on the upcoming General body meet in mid-October, EPS has made his Delhi visit good optics to bolster his image. It may be recalled that after a division bench of the Madras High Court gave its verdict, EPS was restored as the (interim) General Secretary of the party.
Nirmala Sitaraman

No Tacit Pact With Sharad Pawar About Baramati, Sitharaman Tells BJP Workers

Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has declared in unequivocal terms that the BJP’s central leadership has no tacit electoral understanding with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar regarding Baramati parliamentary constituency. “Don’t be misled by any talk,” she told her party workers. Sitharaman was interacting with BJP workers of Baramati Lok Sabha constituency, a fiefdom of the Pawar family for decades. She has been entrusted with the responsibility of the seat for 2024. She was trying to dispel the widespread impression that Pawar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s camaraderie had prevented any serious BJP attempt to wrest the constituency from the powerful political family. This sentiment was articulated by Daund MLA Rahul Kul, who told Sitharaman bluntly that such signals affected the enthusiasm among the party workers. The finance minister replied that her mission was to strengthen the BJP and hence she was not concerned for any particular family. Sitharaman advised the BJP workers to comb all six assembly segments of the constituency to spread the Union government’s message about the various welfare schemes. She blamed Pawar for ignoring genuine problems of grape growers when he was India’s agriculture minister. “Our colleague Nitin Gadkari led a farmers’ delegation to me and the grievance was resolved,” she recalled. Pawar’s daughter Supriya won the last LS election by a slim margin and the victory was attributed to Modi’s decision to skip the constituency from his campaign tour.
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Union Minister Vaishnaw Puts Odisha's Fears On 5G At Rest

The Odisha government felt slighted recently when the Union Telecom Ministry did not include Odisha cities with regard to the pilot run of 5G services to be initiated in 2022. These cities, restricted to 13, were chosen on the basis of their economic returns for the telecom operators and on this criteria the entire state of Odisha was left out.  Miffed, several opposition political parties wrote to Union Minister for Railways, Communications, Electronics & Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw over disparity in selection criteria. Vaishnaw, a seasoned bureaucrat turned BJP politician knows that he owes his present position to chief minister Naveen Patnaik who endorsed his candidature to Rajya Sabha on a BJP ticket three years ago. Given his earlier connection with Odisha as an IAS officer, he did not want to be seen as serving narrow political ends with regard to the 5G roll out plan nor create a proverbial storm in a tea cup of ministerial high handedness. This explains why Vaishnaw clarified that Odisha will be included in the 5G first phase launch. His decision to include Odisha in 5G expansion was greeted with jubilation not merely by the Odisha government and people as well.
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NSA Ajit Doval's Role Comes To Fore In Planning Pan-India Action On PFI

Amidst speculations that he is unwell and may step down, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval made a comeback. He sprung nationwide raids on the Popular Front of India (PFI) and ensured the arrest of 105 of its members. Official sources reveal that the massive crackdown carried out on midnight of September of 22 took months of planning and coordination. With directions from Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the security team executed the operation with Doval taking charge. Security officials held meetings discreetly to ensure that secrecy was maintained akin to the time when Article 370 was abrogated. Such was the secrecy that Doval held meetings with Kerala Police at a time when PM Modi visited Kochi for commissioning of the INS Vikrant. After Kerala, Doval moved to Mumbai where he stayed at Raj Bhavan. Action against the PFI was planned for three to four months to ensure that the action across the 11 states was coordinated and executed around the same time to prevent PFI cadres from getting alarmed and fleeing. Seeking remand of the accused, the NIA in its plea said the PFI office-bearers and cadres were involved in recruiting and radicalising Muslim youths to join proscribed organisations like the ISIS. Doval’s role in dealing with PFI is being compared to the way cleared the Nizamuddin Markaz in Delhi of Tablighi Jamaat attendees two years ago.
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High Court Takes BMC To Task, Allows Uddhav Faction To Hold Dussehra Rally At Shivaji Park

Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde’s faction has lost a spirited battle against Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena as the High Court in Mumbai has permitted the latter to hold its traditional Dussehra Rally at Shivaji Park, Dadar. The issue has sentimental overtones as Sena founder Bal Thackeray used to address huge rallies for decades. This is the second time the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been taken to task by the High Court in two days. The issue about getting the BMC permission was hanging fire for several weeks as the faction loyal to Eknath Shinde, too, had staked its claim for the venue soon after the Uddhav faction had filed its applications. Considering the potential breach of peace, the police and finally the BMC decided on Thursday (Sep 22) to reject both the applications. However, even before the BMC had taken any stand, both sides had moved the HC to claim the venue. Terming the BMC’s decision as improper, the court permitted the Uddhav faction to hold the rally but laid down certain conditions like maintaining peace on the occasion. The court said the BMC had misused its powers. Only a day before, the HC had issued stern directions to the BMC to demolish illegal construction in Union minister Narayan Rane’s Juhu beach bungalow. It had castigated the civic body for shifting its earlier stand of not tolerating the irregularity.
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Federal Fund Transfer Policy: Tamil Nadu FM's Grouse Is Valid

Tamil Nadu finance minister PTR Palanivel Thiagarajan’s grouse about the nature of revenue gathering having changed in India is credible criticism of the system as it exists after the introduction of GST. Before the “great and simple tax” came into being, states were free to raise revenues through indirect taxes which allowed financial freedom to make policies. States are now dependent on federal fund transfers that have become too political. Today, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the two states with the least population growth and best fulfilment of parameters of progress in child health, education and several other social spheres, are suffering the most in terms of being denied a fair share of revenue. The two States are among the worst off in terms of the differential between transfers from the Union and their own tax revenue. Thiagarajan’s complaint about States having become virtual municipalities in terms of managing their own finances has more than a ring of truth to it. The chart from a data scientist carried by the BBC brings out the enormity of the unfair nature of federal revenue transfers. Given the population parameter by which revenues are distributed, the south, well-known for population control measures that have been woven into the system through education and awareness, is likely to suffer even more if the delimitation process is completed this decade and seats to Parliament are decided.
Digvijay Singh

Congress Presidential Election: With Rahul Gandhi Backing Him, Digvijaya Singh Now Edges Past Ashok Gehlot

With former Madhya Pradesh CM Digvijaya Singh ruling himself in as a possible candidate in Congress Presidential election via a TV interview on September 21, the buzz in Congress circles is that Ashok Gehlot has been edged out as contender. That is because Rahul Gandhi himself validated the objection Digvijaya Singh had raised against Gehlot’s insistence on continuing both as Rajasthan CM as well getting elected as Congress President. In the TV interview, Singh made it clear that Gehlot could not possibly continue as Rajasthan CM if he got elected as Congress President referring to the Udaipur Resolution passed in May 2022 that talked about “one man, one post (OMOP)”. Interestingly, echoing Singh’s views Congress leader Rahul Gandhi reiterated on September 22 that he expects the commitment on ‘Udaipur Resolution’ of ‘one man-one post’ to be maintained for CP’s election. Party sources say it’s possible Singh may have used the OMOP clause to bail out Gehlot from the pressure of bowing out of CM’s office and handing power over to his rival Sachin Pilot. Many in the party feel elevation of Digvijaya Singh could have a larger appeal in North India. He is known to have good equations with partymen across the country and known to continuously interact with party workers. His only drawback: he may not remain a puppet of the Gandhis.
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Vilasrao Deshmukh’s Name Surfaces In Dharavi Controversy

The controversial Dharavi Redevelopment Project is leading to newer disclosures even as the Maharashtra government is hastening the process to issue fresh tenders for the estimated Rs 28000 crore plan.  Now, the name of then chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who passed away in 2012, has surfaced in connection with a meeting convened by NCP president Sharad Pawar to discuss the much-delayed project. The plan has not moved an inch despite major changes in the state. The sudden call by industrialist Gautam Adani on former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray at ‘Matoshri’ has added another dimension to the controversy. While chief minister Eknath Shinde has merely promised ‘to look into the matter,’ Dharavi Redevelopment Project CEO SVR Srinivas has announced that fresh tenders will be issued within a fortnight. Dharavi has remained a thorny issue for decades and no chief minister has been able to find a satisfactory solution. But for a brief period, Dharavi assembly constituency has remained loyal to the Congress party. However, the Congress and the NCP have maintained silence over the meeting between Uddhav and Adani despite its suddenness. The Sena under Uddhav, too, has not divulged any details about the hour-long closed-door talk. Close to the prestigious Bandra Kurla Complex and the international airport, Dharavi’s redevelopment has immense potential. That is the reason several international firms are also interested in grabbing the project.
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Senior DMK Woman Leader Subbulakshmi Jagadeesan's Decision To Retire From Politics Surprises Everybody

It’s not often that an active party member resigns when the party is in power. But that is what former Union Minister Subbalakshmi Jagadeesan has done. She was currently Deputy General Secretary of the DMK when she sent her resignation to party president MK Stalin declaring that she was retiring from politics. Insiders, however, say that she was unhappy about her prospects in the party after being denied a Rajya Sabha seat nomination that she was expecting considering her seniority. She was in the UPA-1 Cabinet (2004-09) as Minister State for Social Justice and Empowerment. Her husband Jagadeesan may not have helped her cause by putting out posts on the social media critical of the party, the contents of which were promptly relayed back to the party command. The party president did ask his senior minister Durai Murugan to find out what the problem was but, apparently, the lady said she was suffering health issues and that she wanted to retire from politics. Stalin had no option then but to accept the resignation. Heading a party that believes in transparency in dealing with its senior members and pays a lot of attention to its cadre-based strengths, Stalin had done his bit to keep the senior former minister in the fold. Her departure may not mean much as it is not the start of defections or desertions.
Mamta Banerjee and PM Modi

Why Didi Gave “Clean Chit” To PM Modi

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s latest attempt to de-link PM Narendra Modi from the ED-CBI investigation in the state surprised the political fraternity across the country. “Modi is not doing these things,” Didi told her state assembly while speaking about the recent raids by the CBI and ED against top Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders, rather passing the onus completely to second-in-command of the country Amit Shah. Incidentally, besides NIA no other agencies come directly under the Union Home Ministry and no investigation would be possible without a go-ahead from the PM. Meanwhile, TMC is clear that Didi along with chief ministers such as Bihar’s Nitish Kumar and Jharkhand’s Hemant Soren will join hands to fight BJP vis a vis PM Narendra Modi in 2024 and continue to be the “fulcrum of opposition unity”. Political analysts in West Bengal feel it is too much of a risk as Lok Sabha Polls are two years away and with TMC government only 16 months old it needs to have cordial relations with the Centre for its smooth functioning as well as tackle several issues like GST dues, fund allocations etc.  Analysts also feel that it is slowly dawning on Mamata that the opposition unity remains an unreal proposition, especially with Arvind Kejriwal and Rahul Gandhi two of the main Hindi-heartland anti-BJP forces doing their own brand of politics?
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Why Is Ashok Gehlot Entering The Cong Prez Election Fray?

Elections in the Congress could just be farcical since as many as 11 Pradesh Congress Committees in states including Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Himachal, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Bihar, Haryana and J&K have passed resolutions backing Rahul Gandhi as party president. While these resolutions are being prompted by the AICC managers, party media-in-charge Jairam Ramesh gave an altogether different spin; he dismissed it as “measures that have no binding effect”. He insisted that any person could contest for the post. It is in this context that the possible entry of Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot that comes as a bit odd and curious. Gehlot said “If people in the party think I am needed in the role of party president or CM, then I won’t say no….I will again request Rahul Gandhi (to become Cong president). If he conducts Bharat Jodo Yatra as party president, then it will create an aura for the party,” he says. Party sources say the Gandhi family could be hugely betting on Gehlot as its trustee to head the Congress. The Gandhis want a non-Gandhi to steer the Congress as a stop gap atleast for six months. It is felt Rahul could make a comeback as Congress chief just before 2024 polls. Only Gehlot could be flexible to make such adjustments provided he gets to continue as CM.
Sharad Pawars

Patra Chawl Land Scam: Sharad Pawar Dares Government To Act Against Him

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar has dared the Maharashtra government to begin a probe against him within eight days regarding a land deal in Mumbai. But his condition is that the government should first announce what its stand would be if the charges are proved unsubstantiated. Mumbai BJP MLA Atul Bhatkhalkar had demanded an enquiry against Pawar after it was revealed that the ED chargesheet against Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut had said that a former Maharashtra chief minister had held a meeting to discuss the multi-crore Patra Chawl housing redevelopment scheme in Mumbai. The MLA has written a letter to chief minister Eknath Shinde to press the demand. Stung by the allegation, Pawar hurled the challenge at the government. Former housing minister Jeetendra Avhad, who was sitting by Pawar’s side, said that Pawar did hold a meeting to discuss the matter but it was routine for Pawar to offer guidance and advice in any important situation, he being the elder statesman. Pawar has held thousands of such meetings, Avhad remarked. Last year, Pawar had threatened to walk into the ED office when news was splashed that he had been issued a summons. However, it proved a storm in a tea cup when the ED clarified that it had not sent any such missive to Pawar.
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Kanimozhi Thanks Amit Shah For A Trouble-Free Germany Trip

Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s bonhomie with DMK leader Kanimozhi has always had other party bigwigs on the edge and perplexed. Shah is known to wish Kanimozhi on her birthday. She too, like senior leader TR Baalu, has been regularly meeting with Shah and other ministers in her capacity as DMK parliamentary party deputy leader. That’s why recently when Kanimozhi took her mother Rajathi to Germany for medical treatment, Shah not only phoned her but also ensured that she got all necessary help from the local Indian embassy. It is being said, on her return, Kanimozhi called up the HM and thanked him. Conduct of Kanimozhi, who is Thoothukudi Lok Sabha MP, is in contrast to her party colleague and former Union Minister A Raja. The Nilgiris Lok Sabha MP was once a promising Dalit face of the DMK and was even considered to be a potential CM candidate by late DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi. If he was recently found airing controversial statements, it would only be to stay relevant. With pace picking up in Delhi to bring  a closure to the 2G scam by the CBI and Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin working to install his son Udhayanidhi as his heir, Raja who did some jail time in the 2G case just as Kanimozhi did, may have a good reason to sulk.
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Patnaik Goes All Out To Promote Buddhist Tourism Using State Funds As Centre Not Providing Any

The astute chief minister of Odisha Naveen Patnaik is leaving no stones unturned to transform the state.  So be it the economy, sports, culture or religion all areas and sectors are given equal importance. His latest focus is promoting Buddhist Tourism so as to attract both domestic and foreign tourists to Odisha. This drive will boost local employment and support stone artisans famous for carving Buddha murals.  Come October 28, Odisha will celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Dhauli Shanti Stupa also known as Peace Pagoda located in outskirts Bhubaneswar. It is estimated that 150 monks from different parts of the world would join the celebration. The Dhauli Buddhist Stupa built in 1972 was a collaborative effort between Japan Buddha Sangha and Kalinga Buddha Sangha. But, why is the Odisha government going all out to promote Buddhist Tourism? Reportedly, Patnaik is upset that Odisha despite having a rich heritage of Buddhism dating from 6th century to 16th century, spread over 200 sites across the state, was not included as a Buddhist Circuit Project funded by the Union Government. Instead it gave preference to other neighbouring states like Uttar Pradesh. Instead of whining Patnaik thought it prudent to build up Buddhist  circuit tourism through state funds. It is understood that the Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan who hails from Odisha has urged the Union Culture Minister to include Odisha in the Buddhist circuit list. Now one has to wait and watch.
Collage Maker-19-Sep-2022-01

With Festival Season On, FDA Officials Step Up Raids To Check Food Adulteration

Come festive season the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) is abuzz with raids and surveys to check rampant food adulteration. Since the consumption of sweets is high during festive seasons there is a tendency to adulterate sweets and make a quick buck. This year between May and August 2022, the FDA raided 18 places and seized about 11,697 kg of adulterated foodstuffs valued at over Rs 19 lakhs according to the joint commissioner FDA, Shashikant Kekre. Though Mumbai is no longer a food manufacturing hub, the adulteration with cheaper stocks essentially takes place in the city during the repackaging stage. The FDA officials either track adulteration rackets with the help of tip-offs or trace them with their documentary evidence. If for instance, the final stock of packaged oil doesn’t tally or exceeds the bulk stock procurement, then clearly there is scope for investigation. Once the foodstuffs are confirmed as adulterated by the laboratories, the stuff is destroyed. In the case of milk which is either diluted with water or laced with urea, thus making it unsafe, it is drained off while items like gutkha are burnt out. But in case of palm oil, which is used as an adulterant in other costlier cooking oils like sunflower or groundnut or mustard oil, it is resold in the market to commercial users.
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Attack On Hinduism: Raja Too Close To DMK First Family For Action To Be Taken

A Raja, a favourite of the ruling DMK’s first family, may have got away with the airing of his opinion on Hindus that stirred a hornet’s nest. Apart from fringe Hindu groups in the Nilgiris, the home district of the former Telecom Minister infamous for the 2G scam that rocked Indian politics, not too many took serious note of the MP’s comments.  His controversial statement comparing Hindus with “shudras” had kicked up a religious and political storm with the Tamil Nadu BJP taking exception to it and accusing the politician of spewing hatred against a section of people. But not much came of it as Raja was mouthing a theory that would have pleased Periyarists who form a majority of the DMK party. The party chief MK Stalin may have been indulgent towards Raja in not rebuking him even privately. The suspicion is the first family may not be averse to prominent party members expressing opinions provided that they do not take on the top BJP brass with whom the CM has cordial relations. And Raja has always been considered close enough to the family for his excesses to be forgiven. In fact, it was Raja’s doings at the telecom ministry that had led to him and Kanimozhi spending a long time in Tihar jail at the height of the 2G scandal.
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Shinde-Fadnavis Intent On Reviving Nanar Project, Corner Uddhav Thackeray

Skewered by the Vedanta-Foxconn experience, the ruling leadership in Maharashtra has renewed its efforts to ensure that the massive oil refinery facility, popularly known as Nanar Project, stays in the state.  Additionally, it will be able to corner the Shiv Sena under Uddhav Thackeray, who himself, as chief minister, had recommended to the Centre that the project should be revived. While chief minister Eknath Shinde and deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis have repeatedly proclaimed  that no important project will be lost to Maharashtra, Union minister Narayan Rane has announced that no efforts will be spared to start the Nanar project at the earliest. The 60-million tonne annual capacity project will entail an investment of around Rs 3 lakh crore. It shall be a joint venture between Saudi’s Aramco and oil PSUs of India. Originally planned to be situated at Nanar in the Konkan region, it was stalled by the then unified Shiv Sena, claiming local opposition. However, former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray initiated its revival by writing a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January this year. Instead of Nanar, he suggested that the project could be situated at Barasu, a nearby village. Rane said none will not be permitted to obstruct the project. He has had discussions with top leadership about its revival and the process will begin soon, he indicated. Rane blamed the Sena under Uddhav for delaying such an important opportunity.
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Is Kejriwal Toying With Idea To Replace Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann?

On a day Capt Amarinder Singh is scheduled to merge his Punjab Lok Congress with the BJP, there is a strong buzz that AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal may replace Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann with his Education Minister and Anandpur Sahib MLA Harjot Singh Bains. This comes amidst reports that Mann was deplaned from a Delhi-bound Lufthansa flight in Frankfurt on September 17 because he was not found fit to travel. While AAP sources described Mann “as being a little unwell and would catch a flight from Frankfurt later in the night to return back home,” a passenger aboard the flight from Frankfurt described Mann being “totally drunk” who couldn’t stand “without support of his wife and security guards”. The passenger said the departure of the flight was delayed by over four hours as the luggage of the CM’s entourage which was loaded on the plane had to be taken off.  Punjab government officials tried to prevail upon the Lufthansa flight crew but they refused to compromise on their flight safety rules. Navneet Wadhwa, media in-charge of the CM’s office was quoted that he would board a flight on “September 17 evening from Frankfurt around 4.30 PM (GMT+2) and land in Delhi at around 1 AM (GMT+5.30),” adding that as per the schedule available with him the CM was to remain in Germany till September 18.
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@veera284

Six Months Jail For Contempt Of Court By TN Whistleblower

For contempt of court, the Madras High Court has given six months jail term to Tamil Nadu’s whiplash whistle blower Savukku Shankar. Chennai-based Achimuthu Shankar has transformed himself from a social media journalist to a whistleblower folk hero. He gained both fame and notoriety as Savukku Shankar. Savukku in Tamil means whip. He gained a fast reputation for his mercurial exposes in digging up entrenched corruption in government, police, real estate and the judiciary. His YouTube interviews and fearless talk have brought him enough admirers, and an equal legion of adversaries and detractors .The expose about 5000 police personnel working as domestic help in police top brass’s homes was a victory for his whistleblowing. Similarly, the dirt he dug up in the questionable B Square real estate scam brought him more popularity. Now, his brash talks and no-holds barred exposes have run him out. In a much publicised story, he claimed that the entire judiciary was riddled with corruption, without concrete proof. In particular he took a pot shot at “Paarpaniya Adhigaram” (Brahmin stranglehold of the judiciary). Justices GR Swaminathan and B Pugalendhi heard the contempt proceedings. Interestingly, Savukku sought to and pleaded his own case very lucidly. According to Prashant Bhushan who is appearing for him in SC, this case and the order for imprisonment violates the natural principles of justice.
Eknath S

Uddhav Wanted To Continue By Taking BJP Along, Reveals Eknath Shinde

Uddhav Thackeray wished to continue as chief minister and was ready to do so by taking the BJP along, Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde has revealed in his various public functions. According to Shinde, the proposal to remain in power with BJP’s help was mooted by Uddhav after he was urged by many of his supporters to jettison the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), partners of the Maha Vikas Aghadi that ruled Maharashtra earlier. Uddhav wanted Shinde to liaise with the BJP to give a final shape to the arrangement. Shinde said during the earlier (2014-19) stint, then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had offered deputy chief ministership to him (Shinde) but Uddhav did not give a nod. Uddhav declined the offer. Replying to criticism his government is facing over the Vedanta-Foxconn decision to establish its project in Gujarat, Shinde said, “Our doors are still open for Foxconn.”  He reiterated that the Nanar oil refinery project and the Vadhvan port will definitely materialize in the state. Shinde blamed certain political forces for creating misunderstandings about the two great investment and employment opportunities. Shinde announced that Maharashtra will attain the objective of becoming a trillion-dollar economy much before the projected deadline of 2030 because of its policy of welcoming industry and business in the state.
Collage Maker-17-Sep-2022-02

Didi Plays The Hindu Card, Hikes Grant To Durga Pandals And Puts Lid On Inner Party Rumblings

For this year’s Durga Puja, the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has decided to increase the grant to 40,000-plus Durga pandals from Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000 each which will cost the State exchequer Rs 240 crore. This grant, part of Didi’s vote bank politics, was started in 2018 and continues to draw flaks from the Opposition. It also finds no favour from her own party men as they feel the imagery propagates Hinduism which will benefit the BJP. Is this hike in grant Mamata’s desperate attempt to rebuild a clean image of her party? Isn’t this a big risk when time and again Didi has been stating that the state’s financial health is not at its best as a result of which the government employees disbursements have been stalled, new recruitments postponed and crucial repair of embankments in riverine Bengal put on hold? Analysts feel that this could be seen as the deflection of attention from the rumbles of unrest between the party’s old guard and emerging younger leadership. Adding further analysts explain Mamata’s pujas extravaganza is to blunt the allegations of the BJP about her alleged indifference to the sentiments of the majority community. Even her recent rally to thank UNESCO for the “Heritage” tag for Durga Puja is another clear attempt to divert political instability within the party.
Devendra 1

@Dev_Fadnavis

Maharashtra Will Overtake Gujarat In Two Years, Vows Fadnavis

Stung by opposition onslaught, Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde and his deputy Devendra Fadnavis have vowed to accelerate the state’s industrial quantum leap in the near future. Fadnavis has declared, “In the next two years, two mega projects will take off, thereby taking Maharashtra 10 years ahead of Gujarat.” He was referring to the oil refinery at Nanar in the Konkan region and the Wadhvan port complex in Palghar district. The projects had been stalled during the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi regime. While addressing a function in Mumbai, Shinde said a roadmap is being crafted to chart out the state’s onward industrial march much more vigorously. Both leaders have been trying to prove that while they did not spare any efforts to keep the Vedanta—Foxconn project within the state, the MVA’s inaction was responsible for its departure to Gujarat. Shinde said such massive projects did not materialise in a week or two. It took a long time to weigh the pros and cons for the investors to make a final decision. As far as this project was concerned, he said no concrete assurances were forthcoming from the previous ruling combine. Just back from Russia, Fadnavis declared confidently that the efforts of the present dispensation will bring substantial FDI in the state, thus overtaking Gujarat by at least a decade.

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.