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L To R: Channi, Sidhu & Mann

AAP’s Bhagwant Mann Is CM Face, As Channi, Sidhu Await Congress’ Official Choice

The Aam Aadmi Party expectedly named Bhagwant Mann as its Punjab chief ministerial face after an overwhelming two lakh people phoned in backing him. Arvind Kejriwal played safe and has opted for a popular Jat Sikh, overlooking his tipeler interests. A popular comedian, Mann is a two-term Lok Sabha MP from Sangrur. Punjab has never boasted a non-Jat Sikh CMs since its formation in 1966, barring former President Giani Zail Singh (1972-77) – a Ramgarhia Sikh. The Congress has shied away from officially announcing its CM face or even its stated preference between Dalit CM Charanjit Singh Channi and Jat Sikh leader Navjot Singh Sidhu, apart from hosting a brief Sonu Sood video featuring Channi on its twitter handle. While the media views it as the crowning of Channi, there’s still no official word on it. With ED acting on a 2018 FIR of Punjab Police against companies and individuals involved in illegal sand mining including raids on Channi’s nephew, it appears less likely the Congress will prop him up. “Punjab CM and his relatives are involved in illegal sand mining”, declared Kejriwal. With AAP no longer worried about Channi as the Congress CM face, he may be eased out post elections like Maharashtra Dalit Congress CM Sushil Kumar Shinde, who won the 2004 elections but, was replaced as Maharashtra CM by the dominant Maratha Vilasrao Deshmukh.
state election commission

Battle Of Panchayats In Odisha: Can BJD's OBC Schemes Hold Back BJP's Winning Yojna?

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is on one political conquest after another! In the 2017 Zilla Parishad elections his party, Biju Janata Dal won 473 seats, even beating the collective BJP (297) and Congress (60) tally of a total 846 seats. For the 2022 panchayat elections, scheduled between February 16 and 24, Patnaik is eyeing 600 seats and will do battle with BJP, the only other serious contender. Master strategist Patnaik and his just-timed-right appeasement manifesto has already swung into action. Knowing fully well that caste politics will dominate in the Panchayat elections, Patnaik reserved 40% seats for OBC communities which constitute 54% of the State’s population. He also introduced a slew of pro-poor schemes while directing BJD MPs and MLAs to visit backward districts to ensure effective delivery of the populist benefits. Patnaik monitors progress in each district in real-time via video calling. Surprisingly, the BJP, a tad late off the starting blocks, is replicating Amit Shah’s election winning model Vistarak Yojana to be implemented through a maze of planning measures with appropriate filtration, committees and coordinators at the Block level to help capture more BJP seats. Political observers say that the elaborate process driven strategy may not help BJP secure the desired numbers given BJD’s aggressive stance and Patnaik’s ‘welfare’ measures. BJP perhaps may have to wait a bit longer to capture the State.

Akhilesh Yadav with Dharam Singh, Dhara Singh & SP Maurya

Will OBC Ministerial Resignations Impact Yogi’s Double Engine Poll Juggernaut in UP?

Three ministerial resignations in Yogi Adityanath’s government — Swami Prasad Maurya, Dhara Singh Chauhan, Dharam Singh Saini – that rocked the poll-bound BJP bandwagon in Uttar Pradesh had been in the works for six months. All the three quit Mayawati’s BSP and enrolled BJP just ahead of the 2017 assembly polls while alleging money demands made by Behenji. Their hurried exit and joining Samajwadi Party may take some sheen off the BJP’s “double-engine Sarkar” theme but, the OBC leaders by themselves are no political Bahubalis.  A segment of BJP in UP feels the BSP imports were overrated and blame BJP general secretary Sunil Bansal, who inducted them. Sources said while Maurya and Chauhan alleged neglect of OBCs during four years that he was a minister under BJP rule, even as the ex-ministers flexed their political muscles. They fell out over their demand for assembly seats not being met by the BJP. “Maurya asked for a dozen seats including a ticket for his son. Chauhan wanted 7-8 tickets for his people”, says a BJP insider. Will the OBC leaders’ exit wreck the caste coalition BJP had stitched in UP? “What is the guarantee that these OBC leaders will fit into the SP’s Muslim-Yadav (M-Y) matrix?  As it is, there is non-acceptance of M-Y domination in UP villages,” says UP minister Sidharth Nath Singh.

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

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

Will Voters Get Swayed By Priyanka's ‘Ladki Hoon Lad Sakti Hoon’ Poll Gambit In UP

AICC General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra kept her word giving 40% tickets to women in Uttar Pradesh as she released her party’s first list of 125 candidates for the state that featured 50 women candidates. There are going to be 120 women candidates out of a total 403 seats. Prominent among Priyanka’s picks were Asha Singh, mother of the Unnao rape victim, who battled for justice for her minor daughter. The other candidates include Poonam Pandey, an Asha worker who was allegedly roughed up by the police while trying to meet UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Shahjahanpur in November last year, and Congress leader Sadaf Jafar, who was incarcerated over the anti-CAA stir in the state.  The list also has Ramraj Gond, who had spearheaded the Gond tribals’ legal battle over land in Umbha village in Sonbhadra. Significantly, Priyanka took a lot of pride in her candidates that she aired a short video clip on her activist candidates. Priyanka feels by setting a gender agenda, she has made other political parties follow suit. Has she? The BJP dismisses such challenges. After all, in the Lok Sabha, out of 81 MPs, 42 belong to BJP.” It is not enough that more women are fielded; it is important that the party helps them get elected,” says BJP spokesperson Anila Singh.
CPM John Hopkins

L To R -- K Balakrishnan, Pinarayi Vijayan & VS Achuthanadan

CPM Trio Scuttled John Hopkins’ Kerala Hospital, Then Scurried To Facility In U.S. For Personal Treatment

The political party that swears by the ideology it preaches in India — the CPM — has failed the test of practice. By ideological standards, Communist leaders should head to Cuba, China for their medical treatment. Only, the preaching stops at the level of party members and the public without applying to the top leadership. At least three topnotch leaders, VS Achuthanadan, Kodiyeri Balakrishnan and Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan flew to the USA for medical treatment at the John Hopkins Hospital. Ironically, the same trio had scuttled John Hopkins University’s plans to set up its first University outside the USA in the 1990s, its Asian Institute of Public Health costing Rs 700 crore in Kerala’s picturesque hill station of Munnar. The Congress government headed by AK Antony then, had offered 150 acres of land free of cost as also the promise of local infrastructure. When the John Hopkins team landed in Kerala, however, they were red flagged by the CPM and, on the forefront were Achuthanadan, Kodiyeri and Vijayan. Seizing the opportunity, Singapore’s Li Kuan Yu, sent a chartered plane to fly out the John Hopkins officials from Kerala. The кряк для фотошопа cs5 result: John Hopkins Singapore International Medical Centre, a premier institute in Asia and the World came up in the Island nation instead seriales de activación malwarebytes anti malware 2018 of India
rahul gandhi_twitter_001

Photo : Twitter

Back Home, Rahul Gandhi Nixes PC's Tie-Up Talks With TMC

True to his style, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi returned from his two-week foreign trip on January 9 night and plunged straight away to take stock of Goa. He had a meeting with AICC observers for the state P Chidambaram and AICC General Secretary (organization) KC Venugopal. Much to Gandhi’s annoyance, PC has been advocating an alliance with the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and, speaking about a secular alliance in the western state to take on the BJP might. PC is also known to have personally written to Rahul for forging a tie-up with the TMC. Apparently, TMC strategist Prashant Kishor was sending feelers to the Congress for a tie-up. However, in a setback to the TMC in a late-night tweet on January 10, Gandhi through his close aide Venugopal clarified that the rumour in circulation that about “A possible alliance with the TMC was discussed by Rahul Gandhi in today’s meeting and is completely baseless and untrue.”  Rahul is piqued that the TMC wants to do business with Congress after poaching its MLAs like Luizinho Faliero and Alexio Reginaldo Lourenco in Goa. TMC has reportedly spread the word in South Goa that it got the FCRA account of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charities restored. But does Mamata Banerjee really have a friendly equation with the Centre to have secured anything for her home state?
kashi Footwear

Jute chappals being distributed for those working inside the temple

An Emotional Prime Minister Gifts Jute Footwear To Kashi Vishwanath Dham Workers

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s deep involvement with the Kashi Vishwanath Dham is quite well known. He keeps track of all related issues and developments in the pilgrim town and, recently found most people working at the Vishwanath Dham had to perform their duties bare-feet due to the bar on leather footwear, even made of rubber, within the temple premises. The bar covers priests, people performing Seva, security guards, sanitation workers, and other temple staffers. He immediately procured 100 pairs of jute footwear and sent them across to the Vishwanath Dham so that those performing their duties don’t have to remain bare feet in the chill winter months. Needless to say, people working at the Vishwanath Dham were elated. Not that this is the first time that the PM has shown concern for workers at the Kashi Vishwanath Dham. After all, it was their efforts that helped complete the corridor work in a record time of two years. That’s why at the time of the inauguration in December 2021, Modi had showered flower petals on construction workers and honored them for their role in bringing the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor project to life and even had lunch with them. At the time of inauguration, Modi had acknowledged their contribution despite the difficult period imposed by the Covid pandemic when they did not allow the work to stop here.    

Outspoken Tamil Nadu FM Resigns From DMK's IT Wing, TRB Rajaa May Take Over

Tamil Nadu’s Finance Minister, Dr P Thiaga Rajan (PTR) had many credits to his name when Chief Minister MK Stalin hand-picked him. His exalted background (Harvard, Wall Street, Bespoke political DNA, American wife, the yearning to serve his state). But, his quick temper, sometimes acerbic repartees, and not-so-friendly relations with other party colleagues have come under media focus.  The latest news wafting through from the DMK HQ is that PTR has resigned as DMK’s IT Wing Secretary, an important party post, citing his (increased) workload as Finance Minister as well as a member of the GST Council. It may be recalled that a few months back, Dr Mahendran, who quit Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Manram party, was appointed as Deputy to Rajan in DMK’s IT wing by Stalin himself. The DMK ‘s IT arm, though set up as late as 2018, did a commendable job during the 2021 Assembly elections under the guidance of poll strategist Prashant Kishor. But, post-election, there has been a lull in the IT cell since. Now Rajan is being blamed for his touch-me-not attitude. Of course, the first family’s meddling is quite evident with Udhayanidhi Stalin strongly rooting for TRB Rajaa, his candidate from the delta region to take control of the IT wing. Clearly, whoever runs this new platform, social media and optics are crucial for the DMK. Is this a signal for the FM?
Channi convoy

Sycophancy Thy Name is Channi, Punjab CM Goes Overboard To Score Brownie Points Against Sidhu

Even as an entire nation was outraged over the breach of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s security, with non-BJP CMs like Naveen Patnaik condemning it, a day later it made for quite a spectacle watching Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi across TV channels. Channi downplayed the “inconvenience that may have been caused to Modi” whose entourage was stuck on the Ferozepur flyover for 15-20 minutes as a “small matter”. What compelled the Congress CM to conduct himself in such a bizarre fashion? Did Channi go overboard in order to score brownie points with PCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu? Or, was he under pressure to compete against Sidhu to demonstrably prove his higher loyalty standards towards the Gandhi family? After all, Sidhu has been pressurizing the Congress high command to declare a CM face ahead of the assembly elections. Also, why else would a sensible Channi skip receiving Modi at Bathinda airport on the pretext that one of his staffers had tested positive for Covid and then follow it up, the very next day with a public interaction with people and the media, without any qualms whatsoever? Meanwhile, Punjab Congress campaign committee chief Sunil Jhakhar who flayed the way Channi handled the Modi visit has gone off to Sweden to attend to his ailing wife. As for the assembly tickets, sources say the screening panel had already finalized 82 of the 117 seats before Jakhar left. The remaining 35 seats will be finalized on January 8.

Photo : Twitter

Sidhu Spins A Yarn On Rahul's Secret Meetings Abroad While Surjewala Calls It Personal Visit

Trust Punjab PCC president Navjot Singh Sidhu to give a weird spin to Rahul Gandhi’s prolonged absence from the country — he claimed his party leader has gone for a “secret meeting abroad”. He even told a TV channel it was quite possible that the Gandhi scion was indulging in ‘secret meetings’ with karyakartas. “When others go on vacation or take trips abroad, nobody questions them. Today, wherever Rahul Gandhi has gone, he is probably meeting with Congress workers or holding a secret meeting to present his personal views. That’s his right,” said Sidhu. Sidhu’s claims regarding Gandhi’s sudden vacations did not go uncontested. The BJP wanted to know if he had gone to meet his Chinese handlers. Between Congress General Secretary Randeep Surjewala, who said Rahul Gandhi was on “a brief personal visit” and Sidhu’s claims of secret meetings with karyakartas, the party seems left in this year of elections looking leaderless. It is likely that the Wayanad MP may play a limited role in the assembly elections in the five states that go to the polls. Meanwhile, there was a lot of trepidation in the party after reports emerged that 125 of 179 passengers who arrived at Amritsar international airport by a chartered flight from Rome had tested positive for Covid. Will this impact Rahul’s return? This is a speculation that no one in the party is willing to hazard a guess about.
patnaik letter

BJD MP Emulates Modi's Lateral Thinking Mantra, Wants Odisha CM To Woo Corporate Talent For Public Minded Bureaucracy

There is now a call on Odisha’s Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to consider transforming public administration by hiring corporate talent from the private sector. The idea, mooted by BJD’s Rajya Sabha MP Dr Amar Patnaik, has urged the Odisha Government to consider lateral entry of young and brilliant minds from the private sector to be inducted into the state bureaucracy in the rank of Special Secretary and below, percolating down to the district level. The whole exercise will be routed through OPSC giving the candidates a fixed term of 3-5 years, similar to what the Government of Karnataka has initiated through a collaboration with a non-profit organization — the Nudge Foundation. Knowing Patnaik’s progressive mindset, he is likely to be receptive to such ideas. It may be recalled that two years ago, it was Naveen babu who had asked his bureaucrats to share “transforming game changing ideas” so as to improve governance, speed of action and delivery of public service in the state.  Should the Odisha government decide to recruit professionals from the private sector it will be touted as another major reform initiative by Naveen Patnaik’s government!

Revealed: Why Prime Minister Modi Visited Varanasi Railway Station At Midnight

During a recent year-end TV event, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami revealed how Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s post-midnight visit to Varanasi Railway Station actually came about. The visit followed immediately after the PM concluded his meeting with 12 BJP Chief Ministers and two deputy CMs that had gone on way past midnight. After the meeting ended around 12.30 am, Modi told the CMs that he had one more engagement before he called it a day. They were collectively taken aback! “What engagement could the PM possibly have at such a late hour?” they wondered. The PM ended the suspense by stating that he would be checking the progress of development works in Varanasi city. He added that he did not want to do it during the day as his formal visit would disturb normalcy. So he preferred the wee hours of the night to inspect Varanasi railway station and other infra projects with UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in tow. By 6.30 am the Prime Minister had launched into his next day’s official tasks without having slept a wink. Modi takes immense pride in his Lok Sabha constituency, particularly on remaking the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor, and has asked party MPs to visit the pilgrim city, considered sacred by Hindus. Party leaders were also given booklets regarding the reshaping of Kashi under Modi.
mother theresa_patnaik

As Centre Cuts Off FCRA Funds To Mother Teresa's Charity, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik Steps Up Relief Supplies, Goes Missionary

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has mastered the art of saying ‘No’ tactfully, without acrimony, notwithstanding his bonhomie with the BJP. So, when the Ministry Of Home Affairs refused to renew the registration of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act leading to a fund crunch and threatening a possible collapse of its charitable activities in the state, Patnaik stepped in with relief supplies. Acting quickly and, instead of indulging in empty political rhetoric, Patnaik directed all District Collectors (DCs) to ensure that no inmates would miss a meal or suffer health-related issues at any of Mother Teresa’s homes due to food shortage or lack of medical supplies. The Odisha CM opened up the coffers of the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. While doing so Patnaik was not cocking-a-snook at the Centre over the blockade imposed on foreign funding but ensuring that people in Mother Teresa’s homes in Odisha did not suffer hunger or sickness. Some political analysts say that Patnaik, unlike other opposition leaders, did not whine or go to the media about the Centre’s action but took decisions in the best interest of his state. Once again, Patnaik has reiterated that he is the boss of Odisha and his governance style is to talk less and do more public service.

Yogi's Dream: Election Temple Run From Mathura, As Akhilesh Faces Hindu Backlash In Kannauj, Mainpuri

Will Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who turns 50 this year, contest elections in the forthcoming assemblies? Conventionally, UP Chief Ministerial candidates are known to prefer the legislative council route, as Yogi himself did in 2017. Things may change in 2022, however, and there is a strong buzz that he will definitely seek to enter the UP Vidhan Sabha, although Yogi has left the decision to the BJP’s top leadership.  Will he opt for Ayodhya or his home turf of Gorakhpur which elected him 5 times as Lok Sabha MP? Yogi could also choose Mathura, where efforts to reclaim Krishna’s janmabhoomi are ongoing. Party MP Harnath Singh Yadav even dashed off a letter to BJP chief JP Nadda proposing Yogi’s name from Mathura, even claiming it was the ‘wish of Lord Krishna, who had communicated with him (Yogi)’. Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav countered Yogi’s Mathura plans claiming that Lord Krishna had visited him in a dream also and told him that SP would form the next government! A year younger than Yogi, Akhilesh is the sitting Lok Sabha MP from Azamgarh. Picking an assembly seat, however, won’t be easy after Yogi launched a no-holds-barred pitch of ‘Garv Se Kaho hum Hindu hai’ in Amethi. Akhilesh may not even find it easy going to contest from Yadav strong-holds like Kannauj and Mainpuri.

Stalin Slights AIADMK, Wants Ex-Minister KT Rajendra Balaji Jailed For Milking Cooperative Federation

Former AIADMK minister KT Rajendra Balaji, who embarrassed his party by a public reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he said, “Modi is our Daddy”, has been on the lam for over a fortnight now. The Tamil Nadu police are on the lookout to arrest Balaji for alleged involvement in a Rs 3 crore recruitment scam reported during his ministerial stint at the helm of the Tamil Nadu Co-operative Milk Producers’ Federation, which markets products under the brand name Aavin. The fugitive ex-minister, who was hopeful of securing anticipatory bail, was last seen addressing a public meeting in his Virudhunagar constituency. The moment police reached the spot he did a Houdini act and vanished much to their consternation. The TN police formed six special squads to nab him and have gone into overdrive, viewed by many as vendetta politics of the MK Stalin government. The underlying objective of the ruling DMK government is to tarnish the image and name of the AIADMK. Balaji is known to sport a red tilak prominently on his forehead and, mostly attired in bright mustard yellow shirt, is equally colorful in his choice of words. He served as Tamil Nadu’s Milk & Dairy Development Minister between 2016 and 2021. During the last Assembly elections, he tried his best to jump onto the BJP bandwagon but found no takers.

Photo : INC.IN

Rahul Gandhi Scores Self Goals Galore, This Time Through His Hinduism Speak

Before he flew to Europe over the year-end, Wayanad (Kerala) MP Rahul Gandhi thrust a futile debate upon his own unsuspecting Congress party — Hinduism versus Hindutva-vadi. At an anti-price rise Congress rally in Jaipur held on December 12 to launch the party’s campaign in poll-bound states in north India, Rahul had inexplicably veered off-course while mid-speech.  A needless debate was kicked off by the Gandhi scion and has now been capped by UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on January 3. In his counter Yogi made clear that the Congress leader was lecturing people about the differences between Hinduism and Hindutva even though he had once sat on his knees in a temple instead of sitting cross-legged. “Gandhi’s ancestors called themselves accidental Hindus”;Yogi said, referring to Hindu Mahasabha leader NB Khare’s assertion about Nehru in 1950. Yogi asserted that he had never hesitated to refer to himself as a Hindu. “We don’t hide..We said it when I was not a chief minister, we keep saying it when I am the chief minister, and will continue saying in future too — Garv se kaho hum Hindu hain. It’s interesting that Yogi made the remarks in Amethi where Rahul had further sharpened his Hindu versus Hindutva postulation against the BJP.  It was during his, now very rare and, infrequent visits to Amethi that Rahul had also taken a swipe at PM Narendra Modi for taking a solo dip in the Ganges while inaugurating the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor.
Varun Gandhi_FC

Photo : Fotocorp

Poll Paradox: BJP’s Varun Gandhi Questions Daytime Poll Rallies, Night-Time Curfew in UP

Some of the sharpest questions are being asked by one of their own but the BJP will not move against Varun Gandhi unless and until the big two take it up. To have a Gandhi name in the party was seen as a prized trophy when Maneka Gandhi, the estranged daughter-in-law of Sonia Gandhi, moved over to the saffron camp. While she has taken to staying off the limelight her son is making up for various insults to his mother by speaking up boldly on issues. His question on the paradox of polls in pandemic times contains such logic as to defy retorts. He asks if it is not ridiculous to impose curfew at night in Uttar Pradesh, one of five States heading to the polls in 2022, while rallies comprising thousands of cadre, party workers and the general public are attending poll rallies by day. With Covid cases going up in the State which has the most impact on who may get to rule in New Delhi after the general elections of 2024, UP has hit upon curfews to try and stop its fragile healthcare system from being overwhelmed. The EC is to take a call soon on polls in 2022 but word is it will only ask for a special vaccination drive in the poll-bound states where Omicron cases are still in very low numbers. Meanwhile a young BJP Gandhi is proving to be a cat among the pigeons.

Will TN Governor Deviate From Prepared Text, Say Jai Hind and, More On His First Address To The Assembly?

All eyes will be on Governor R N Ravi at his first address to the Tamil Nadu State Assembly when the legislative session commences next week — January 5, 2022. The customary Governor’s address will be delivered after a gap of two years and delivered at Fort St George. During the pandemic, assembly proceedings were held at a state government auditorium ‘Kalaivanar Arangam’ in Chennai. It was in March 2020, when AIADMK was in power that the assembly proceedings were held in the British era Fort St George. Governors usually read the text prepared by the state government in the address to the legislative assembly. However, there is much speculation that Ravi, like his predecessor Banwari Lal Purohit, will depart from the prepared text and even conclude his speech with “Jai Hind”.  Apparently, Tamil Nadu’s babudom refrains from incorporating “Jai Hind” in official texts. In his address, Governor Ravi, a Kerala IPS cadre officer hailing from Bihar, has planned to include a few lines in Tamil also. He is likely to meander a bit more than to restricting to the “Jai Hind” deviation alone. The buzz going around is that he has sent the official text, prepared by the state law department, to the Union Home Ministry for suggestions.

Record Rs 257 Crore Cash Haul From Kanpur Trader Raises Poll Heat In Uttar Pradesh

A scandalous cash haul of Rs 257 crore and, gold and silver bars were recovered from the premises of perfume trader Piyush Jain at Kanpur and Kannauj after raids by the I-T officials and the GST Intelligence unit. This has led to speculation that he was “punished” for financing the Samajwadi Party (SP). Post raid, SP became defensive. Initially, it protested the raids that coincided with similar action on Akhilesh Yadav’s close aide Rajeev Rai, also a party spokesman. Soon the party distanced itself from perfume man Piyush Jain. While the party had launched a Samajwadi Perfume in November with much fanfare, it was at pains to explain that its perfume maker was an MLC from Kannauj, Pumpi Jain, with no ties with the Kanpur-trader. Piyush Jain was arrested for GST evasion and taken to Gujarat for further probe. Taking advantage of the raids, the BJP UP unit tweeted, “People of SP, the smell of your sins will not be washed away by the ‘perfume of corruption’. The entire UP knows that SP means corruption.” SP spokesperson Udaiveer Singh says Piyush Jain’s own son has denied his father had links with the SP. But is that nearly enough? As of now, Akhilesh Yadav prefers to stay put on his home turf Saifai these days.

Photo : Twitter

Turf War Between Kanimozhi And Udhayanidhi Stalin Over DMK Women’s Wing?

The late Kalaignar’s favourite child among the large brood and DMK MP, K Kanimozhi had to cut through a swathe of family animosity while jockeying for power. Kanimozhi, which means sweet language, has been put to test by nephew Udhayanidhi Stalin. When the DMK Women’s Wing Secretary Kanimozhi issued an advisory, claiming sole and “exclusive right to enrol young women cadres into DMK”, the emergency fire alert was sounded. Stalin Junior, the party’s Youth Wing Secretary, MLA, and almost certain political successor of his father, announced a drive in Coimbatore to enroll 2,000 young women to his youth wing. Did his daddy dear tacitly clear the drive? So far, Kani has reacted to the turf violation sweetly in a civil way, as an aunt of the young scion. Some insiders are busy fanning the fire. Does Kanimozhi have exclusive rights to rope in women of all ages? Is Udhayanidhi’s gambit of recruiting young women for his Youth Wing, just a dog fight over a bone? Cleverly, the name was changed to Young Women’s Youth Wing implying that Kani and cohorts were over-the-hill, much older women! Calling a woman of any age old is akin to asking for a full on cat fight. This aunt and nephew tussle is being watched with salacious interest. After all, who can resist a hot family fight?
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Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's Succession Plan Has No Familial Aspirants

The Biju Janata Dal’s 25th Foundation Day on December 26, 2021, saw Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik telling party workers, “The party has evolved into a social movement and represents aspirations of 4.5 crore people of Odisha”. Patnaik, an accidental leader, faced a veritable trial by fire throughout his political career. His vision, determination and conviction has led Odisha on the path of real transformation. The state’s growth trajectory stands at 7.1%, higher than the national average growth rate of 6.6%, overshadowing 13 states of India. But for the Covid-19 pandemic, growth parameters would have further accelerated. Patnaik’s ‘talk less, deliver more’ motto has consistently worked for Odisha. An ambitious goal of plunging the state’s poverty rate from the existing 33% to 10% over the next five years is Patnaik’s next goal and people trust he will achieve the target objective. The no nonsense CM transformed, reshaped the state with his clean image and governance delivery bestowing the unique status of being irreplaceable upon him. However, the 75-year old CM, facing some health issues, has gone on record about succession plans. “People will choose their leader and it is not necessary to groom one,” he said and also putting to rest speculation by stating that, “There is no one from the family” who aspires to succeed him.   

Post Ludhiana Bomb Blast Modi Rushes Rijiju To Placate Fears & Provide Healing Touch

Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached out to Ludhiana after last week’s bomb blast in a court’s premises. He rushed Law Minister Kiren Rijiju to ground zero to convey empathy and support of the Centre for victims of the explosion and people of Punjab. Rijiju, a young BJP leader from Arunachal, provided some sanity even as Congress leaders in the state, Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and PCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, were seen making contradictory statements, post blast that claimed the life of one person.  The idea of rushing Rijiju to Ludhiana was to underscore that safety and security of judicial complexes and judiciary was top priority of the Centre. As the minister himself pointed out, many review committees were already in place and it was only a matter of discussing it with the Chief Justice of India. Rijiju stuck to his brief in the Punjab, refusing to wade into politics and muddying waters. He simply emphasized how the “Centre and the state” would work together to take strong action against elements trying to spoil the peace and harmony of the state and, in the country. The minister also interacted with district and session courts judges and lawyers and had a word of praise for their resilience in the aftermath of the blast.

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

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

Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi’s casual approach to the Ludhiana blast as not a “big gal” or deal in a state that has seen major terrorist acts has not gone down well within his own party. Matters turned worse when PCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu added that a series of events were planned by vested interests to create a law and order situation to polarize communities, promote vote bank politics. From acts of sacrilege to terror, everything is being viewed as an attempt to intimidate minority Hindus that would benefit the Akalis and, may be to some extent Capt Amarinder Singh’s Punjab Lok Congress. Party sources point out that Channi’s statement was outright irresponsible; he has been encouraging Dalit identity politics much to the Congress’s worry as Jats already feel excluded.  As for Sidhu he seems more anxious to give his friends from across the border a clean chit than winning support within the state. Which is why former PCC chief Sunil Jakhar felt the Government needs to assure people of Punjab about its commitment and ability to maintain peace and harmony. “The CM can’t afford to be seen floundering on this account”. It is in times such as these when one misses a sturdy, wise man like Capt Amarinder Singh, say Congress leaders.

Goans Warm Up To AAP's Poll Dance, Say Kejriwal Better Poised Than Mamata Didi's Stance

With an eviscerated Congress, those opposed to the BJP in Goa feel it is better to back AAP than go with the TMC. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal’s party is emerging a favourite among Catholics in South Goa because they would rather go with AAP than a rank outsider like TMC Chief Mamata Banerjee, who has ventured into the state for the first time. According to political analysts, what has put off Goans about TMC is Mamata’s aggressive campaign style during her frequent trips to Panaji. It has completely unnerved locals. Used to interacting with Bengal’s working class, who land up in the state for casual work, Goans find it hard to believe that the TMC supremo has anything more to offer. TMC has been bringing in trainloads of Bengali volunteers into the state and many fear that these volunteers could double up as voters and capture booths as they do back home. On the other hand, Kejriwal they feel is disarming and approachable and could be the better alternative to fight the BJP; he has after all made forays in the state in past elections. Many feel a vote for the TMC would be a waste as Mamata may not get any support from the Centre unlike Kejriwal, who has learnt his political lessons well and mended his relations with the Centre.
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Photo : Twitter

After Public Sulk And Harsh Tweets, All Is Well Says Harish Rawat And Retreats

Former Uttrakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat has been sulking and showing it too.  First, he felt the Congress had not been caring for his efforts. However, now summoned to Delhi by the AICC brass to meet with Rahul Gandhi, he says he is surprised that rivals were reading too much into his tweets about “non-cooperation” from his organisation. So what actually was bothering the Congress campaign chief in poll-bound Uttrakhand? Well, party sources point out that it is the manner in which everyone from Delhi who made a trip to Dehradun gave a pep talk about “collective” leadership in the state. Rawat could not understand why the Congress was not projecting a single leader (read him) to take on BJP CM face Pushkar Singh Dhami? Far from picking him as the CM candidate, he found too much importance being given to former PCC chief and Congress Legislature Party leader Pritam Singh. Worse, Rawat found he was put almost on par with Pritam Singh. This hugely upset him. While Rawat is the only mass leader within the Congress and hails from Kumaon region, Pritam Singh and PCC chief Ganesh Godiyal both belong to Garhwal region. AICC sources, however, are confident that 73-year-old Rawat would mellow down after a pep talk with Rahul Gandhi.

After 10-Year Wait For Power, Stalin Takes No Chances On Governance Front

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin who waited 10 years to come back to power is leaving nothing to chance this time on the governance front. He recently unveiled the ‘CM Dashboard’ for real time tracking of progress of welfare schemes and effective governance. PWC Davidar, a retired IAS officer, recently appointed as Adviser to TN E-Governance Agency designed the dashboard for real time information on every aspect of the state, from vegetable prices to inflation. By putting in place this kind of system, Stalin wants to ensure his party never loses again. TN’s electorate is probably one of the country’s most savvy, articulate and quick to reward or punish a party that rides on catchy slogans, and fizzles out on results. Tamil Nadu, when compared to other states like Uttar Pradesh or Bihar, has risen steadily on the development index, even though it’s polarised Dravidian parties have often failed to meet Tamilian aspirations. The late chief minister J Jayalalithaa had to mend her authoritarian ways. And Stalin too, learnt to rewrite responsibility, the hard way. A clutch of pro people measures announced in quick succession has made him the people’s CM of choice, a hard act to follow.

Andhra Pradesh Tethering On Bankruptcy After Sops Galore

Forty-seven year old Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy is having sleepless nights as the state tethers on the brink of financial bankruptcy. With no special status being conferred on AP, and no industries being set up the state is getting deeper and deeper into the debt trap, primarily caused by unviable freebies promised by Jagan to win the elections.  As a result, it is surviving a hand-to-mouth existence through borrowings from public sector banks. Even public sector banking finance is drying out with the Union Finance Ministry questioning the banks over such lending to AP.  Every year AP has to pay over Rs 43,000 crore as interest alone, says a government source. As per CAG report the fiscal deficit for Andhra was Rs 68,538 crore in FY 2020-2021. Jagan’s anxiety to provide 3 million homes to the poor as part of his election promise is also adding to the financial burden. Responding to a  recent Gazette notification by AP Government, realtors are up in arms as builders are expected to hand over 5% land voluntarily for public housing or give matching cost compensation to accommodate free housing accommodation for the poor. For now, welfare measures are negatively impacting the state’s finances with no real investment going in for revenue generation.

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

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

Is Priyanka Gandhi Vadra playing the ‘ladki hoon, lad sakti hoon’ card to empower women across the country or, is it more about just herself? Is she pushing the ladki issue merely to enlarge her own canvas within the Congress party? Why else would Priyanka be travelling outside Uttar Pradesh (UP) in the midst of heated poll campaigning and conducting herself like a super Mahila Congress president to spread the message about her Pink manifesto? This is a question party leaders are asking. In early December, within days of launching her Pink Manifesto for women in UP, promising 40% reservation for women candidates alongside tax sops for organisations represented by women as 50% of their workforce, Priyanka suddenly headed off to another poll-bound state of Goa. She spent an entire day there pitching her women’s agenda extensively. While many in the party believe Priyanka Vadra is looking to expand beyond her limited charge of Uttar Pradesh as AICC General Secretary, some party sources say Priyanka may strongly be competing with brother Rahul Gandhi to provide a new leadership to the Congress. Significantly, at the Mehangai Hatao Rally in Jaipur she addressed the crowd jointly with Rahul. With the Congress likely to fare poorly in the upcoming polls, Priyanka is perhaps already recalibrating for the aftershocks.

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Hell Hath No Fury As Mamata Scorned, TMC’s Mission Goa To Decimate Congress

TMC chief Mamata Banerjee has made acquiring Goa’s 40 assembly seats almost a prestige issue. She has apparently poured money to acquire political assets —  namely three sitting MLAs,  two belonging to the Congress — Luizinho Faliero and Alexio Reginaldo Lourenco, and one  from the NCP, Churchil Alemao, ahead of the Goa assembly elections slated next year. With Alexio’s exit, only two of the 17 MLAs elected in 2017 are left with the party. Going against its grain of procrastination, the Congress for the first time decided to go ahead with finalizing candidates and released the first list of eight candidates last week, just to prevent TMC from poaching its leaders. It was apparently former Union Minister P Chidambaram’s idea to halt the erosion of rank and file. Sources say the TMC was so livid with the Congress’ first list that poll strategist Prashant Kishor even boasted to a Goa leader that he would poach a candidate even after the list was finalised by Rahul Gandhi. He did it with Alexio joining TMC. AICC in charge Dinesh Gundurao was aware of this development. Well, If you want to know why no effort was made to stop this MLA from Curtorim from leaving the party, it was because the AICC made no offer to finance the elections.

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New Sacrilege Killing Cases, As Punjab CM Channi Tries Akalis For Past Instances

Two incidents of sacrilege, in a span of 24 hours, leading to two deaths, one at the Golden Temple in Amritsar and the other at a gurudwara in Kapurthala has shocked and raised hackles of everyone. The murderous assault on a man at Harmandir Sahib caught for the sacrilege by devotees seemed something akin to events in the run-up to Operation Blue Star in 1984 noted a Congress veteran. BJP leaders feel the sudden spike in religious violence could probably be an attempt to scuttle Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi’s move to get justice in an old sacrilege case — Bargari Case of 2015.  After all, Channi had changed the state DGP and was trying to bring Akalis to book. Looks like whenever Akalis are in trouble, they foment sectarian trouble. There was a spike in sacrilege incidents in the run-up to 2017 assembly polls. As for Channi, he is not in a happy place either. He is sort of sandwiched between two kinds of CMs — AICC in-charge Harish Chaudhury who functions like a super CM in Punjab, attends Cabinet meetings and a wannabe CM and PCC chief Navjot Sidhu.  While Chaudhury, a close Rahul aide, gives directions on running the government and enjoys facilities available to CM’s office, Sidhu simply avoids sharing any forum with Channi; he thinks he will be the CM post poll.

Sidhu's 'Thoko' Brand Of Politics Is Playing To The Gallery

The firebrand Navjot Sidhu is on the warpath again. He has seized upon the two incidents of sacrilege and subsequent lynchings as his ticket to dominating the Punjab poll scene. Amid the silence of Punjab’s political faces over the two lynchings, Sidhu is demanding public execution for those accused of desecrating religious texts. Sidhu knows this is a topic on which opposing political parties can tread only softly as they can’t be seen justifying lynching in a civilized country. The space is thus open for the Congress chief Sidhu to exploit the emotions that are attached to anyone playing the fool with religion and attempting sacrilege by attacking the holy text. Sidhu is alleging a “conspiracy against one community” and that fundamentalist forces are trying to disturb peace in Punjab. He had made an issue of the inaction over past attempts at the desecration of the Granth Saheb against which the government had not acted in time with due prosecution. Sidhu made it his plank against the then Congress CM Captain Amarinder Singh and dethroned him and got Charanjit Singh Channi installed. The CM has slammed the alleged sacrilege attempts but, chosen to remain silent on the lynchings. Sidhu has no qualms about it. He is virtually giving a license to the public to go after sacrilege while giving lip service to making laws stringent with a death sentence for sacrilege.

Stalin's Rewarding Scheme for Good Samaritans: 5K Reward And No Pain of Prosecution For Taking Accident Victims To Hospital

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin announced a slew of welfare schemes in quick succession. Political watchers wonder if poll strategist Prashant Kishor still hand holds the DMK or, is it the Think Tank constituted by Stalin for reform that is behind these schemes? TN has been on top of its Corona vaccination priority alongside pandemic control. Health Minister M Subramaniam and his Health Secretary were fully primed to deal with every contingency. Consciously projecting an all-around presence in TN’s government landscape, Stalin announced the ‘Save A Precious Life’ scheme to render timely medical aid to accident victims. Accident victims are now entitled to free medical care for the first 48 hours, including the crucial golden hour, at government or notified private hospitals. As a further impetus, being a good samaritan no longer holds worries for citizens. Many victims remain unattended due to the fear of subsequent police inquisitions. Now, good samaritans would be rewarded Rs 5,000 each for taking accident victims to the hospital. The CM’s mass Health Insurance Scheme bagged the “e-India Jury Award” for best practices in the Health Insurance sector.  People can discern between mere populist announcements and tangible results on the ground. Lofty slogans must translate into real benefits is Stalin’s doctrine.
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Shashi Tharoor Practices & Preaches Development Sans Negative Politics.

Thiruvananthapuram’s Member of Parliament, Shashi Tharoor dons many hats. He’s famous as a wordsmith, ladies man, trend-setter on social media et al. Even as a politician, he takes on the high and mighty, even from his own party.  On December 16, at the launch of the biggest Lulu Mall of India in Trivandrum he hobnobbed with CPM Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, even praised him for his development agenda. This, when the Congress led-UDF has launched a concerted campaign against Vijayan’s controversial Rs 55,000 crore Silverline Rail project connecting Trivandrum and Kasaragod, aimed at accomplishing train travel from one tip of the state to the other in four hours flat. While UDF MPs petitioned the Union Railway Minister against the project, Tharoor refused to fall in line to demand more time and discussion before inking of the deal. This is Tharoor’s way of getting back at fellow MPs and party colleagues who backed the Communist government’s blockade of the privatization of Thiruvananthapuram airport. The Congress was against the airport being handed over to Adani although it was the Congress-led UDF’s erstwhile government that handed over Thiruvananthapuram’s greenfield deep-sea port to Adani. For Tharoor, development sans negative politics is the new mantra. Political conversations abound on how he would make a better leader of Opposition in Parliament than Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury.

Now, Corrupt Ministers Invest In Cryptocurrency, Not Gold Or Property

After raiding 69 premises linked to P Thangamani, a former AIADMK minister of Tamil Nadu, the Directorate of Vigilance & Anti-Corruption (DVAC) revealed that the minister, his son, and kin had made huge investments in cryptocurrency. This must be a first in India in the world of investments from ill gotten money. While it is common enough for I-T raids to unearth huge investments in gold and properties across the State, assets in newfangled cryptocurrency, Bitcoins, and the like which have been unearthed lends a new dimension to the sophistication of those who find themselves showered with new riches. Tamil Nadu has always been suspected to run openly corrupt governments in which ministers and their offspring have made huge money from deal-making and fixing contracts for government contractors and suppliers. It is no secret that TN regimes led to many Dravidian politicians making quick money, as is evidenced in huge properties and assets being taken over by ED or I-T after raids on politicians once they lose power. Protests hinting at revenge politics in DVAC raids by succeeding governments mean little because disproportionate assets are in black & white and show a trail of corruption. It is suspected to be even more so in electricity purchases to make up for the deficiency in production because the kickbacks every summer are said to be huge.

Is Cong Becoming A Closet Admirer Of PM Modi?

Is the Congress really becoming a closet admirer of Prime Minister Narendra Modi? Or else why should the main opposition party get into an ugly credit war on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh Liberation War just because the PM made no reference to Indira Gandhi by name in any official function? If Modi wasn’t important, why should the Congress make so much fuss about whether he mentioned Indira’s role in liberating East Pakistan. For a party that celebrated the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh Liberation War a day earlier than the official date — December 16 — it was quite odd  for the Congress to complain about not being invited as part of the official celebrations. This after the manner in which the party has been boycotting every function hosted by the Modi Government beginning with the Republic Day parade this year. Rahul Gandhi made matters worse by choosing to be in Uttarakhand — which is the home turf of jawans. Instead of speaking about jawans who shed blood for the country he kept talking about sacrifices made by his family. In a shocking disservice to his memory, the Congress continued to drag late CDS Gen Bipin Rawat into a political slug-fest. They first used his cut-outs in a rally; later raised questions about his untimely death.

Durga Stalin For Kashi Darshan! To Pray For Son's Elevation As Dy CM!

On December 13, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor at Varanasi and offered puja at the temple complex. The entire ceremony was telecast live on all the news channels, courtesy of the Doordarshan. Many had questioned the live telecast of a religious programme done by the Prime Minister, particularly by the national public broadcaster. Liberals were upset that the corridor itself was being made using ‘tax payers’ money’ by a government of a ‘secular nation’. Nonetheless, the live-streaming of the event had left many Indians across the country quite impressed. Notably, one such person is Durga Stalin, wife of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin. She was so impressed with the idea of a re-developed Kashi temple that she is apparently planning to make a quick visit to Varanasi for darshan. Chennai police is expected to recce the holy city for the VIP visit. Though married into the DMK first family which is committed to the party’s ideology of atheism, Durga is a devout, practising Hindu, who patronises temples. She had visited Kashi to perform the last rites of her late father-in-law M Karunanidhi in 2018. Her urgency to visit Kashi and offer prayers is being linked to a renewed push to elevate their son Udayanidhi as deputy CM. As a mother, Durga must be wishing an auspicious start in office for her son.

In The Run Up To Municipal Elections Kejriwal Does A BJP, Plays The Hindu Card To Woo Delhi Voters

If there is one political leader who is at ease sporting the Hindu card on his sleeve, outside of the BJP, then it is Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Ahead of municipal corporation elections in Delhi in April 2022, Kejriwal has gone all out to woo Delhiwallas with yet another freebie. All the three civic bodies in Delhi are with the BJP. So this time Kejriwal has come out with a free of cost yoga class called Dilli ka Yogashala. On the offer from January 2022, is what the AAP chief touts will be first of its kind Yogashala. Just like AAP’s mohalla clinics, power freebies and the happiness curriculum in government schools, yogashala too will be an innovative government programme. As for enrolling on the yoga programme, all one needs is a group of 25 people willing to learn yoga. Some 400 yoga instructors have been lined up for the programme. It is said that Kejriwal is not averse to playing the Hindu card whenever elections are around the corner. From conducting Diwali puja in public to sending people on pilgrimages to reciting Hanuman Chalisa, Kejriwal has been competing with the BJP to cater to popular sentiments. He reached a TV event recently announcing that he was coming from the railway station where he had gone to see off people boarding the train to Ayodhya.
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Photo : Twitter

IPS Transfer Case Gets Curiouser As Former Maharashtra Chief Secretary Lobs Ball In CBI Chief’s Court

Former Maharashtra Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte, now a principal advisor to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, has deftly lobbed the ball in the court of CBI chief Subodh Jaiswal in the curious case of IPS transfers unearthed by erstwhile state intelligence department head Rashmi Shukla.  A senior secretariat official said Kunte, recorded his statement before the Enforcement Directorate and placed on record actions taken by him as then additional chief secretary (home) of Maharashtra. Then Director-General of police, Subhodh Jaiswal (now CBI chief) had written to Kunte following Shukla’s expose using eavesdropped conversations that indicated money exchanged hands for effecting IPS postings. Kunte clearly stated his position as home secretary and clarified, “The DG (Jaiswal) had raised two to three concerns regarding the IPS transfers (15 in all) and immediately the Chief Minister froze all the transfers. Once the cited concerns were addressed the transfers (remaining 12) were effected while three in respect of which Jaiswal expressed concerns were canceled,” the secretariat official told Short Post. Meanwhile, Shulka (on deputation in Hyderabad) is yet to appear before the Maharashtra cyber cell regarding the leakage of a pen drive containing conversations she is alleged to have eavesdropped upon following which the allegations of IPS transfers for cash were made.

Post Nudging, Odisha Chief Minister To Get NITI Aayog Blueprint To Transform The State

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who enjoys very good relations with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is also known to speak his mind freely on issues of national importance even if it means opposing Modi’s government. Patnaik, who is on mission mode to transform Odisha has been nudging the Centre through NITI Aayog, for enhanced central grants for the development of the state’s aspirational districts and the real-time filling up of much-needed infrastructure gaps in the wake of incessant natural calamities.  For its part, NITI Aayog vice chairman Dr Rajiv Kumar, who visited the state, was quick to respond after being suitably impressed with Patnaik for the state’s incremental per capita income, major improvements in the agrarian situation and maintenance of the fiscal deficit below the 5% margin. On his part, Dr Kumar has also advised the government to double its mining production, find ways to attract investment and FDI to support the state’s mineral development boards. Besides these, he also proposed that the state government set up a Sustainable Development Goal monitoring unit and advocated the use of chemical free farming. He promised that NITI Aayog will help bring out a development blueprint for the state. Besides the government, Dr Kumar also interacted with industry associations to get their feedback for boosting industrialization.

Photo : Fotocorp

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

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

Protocols Of Condolence: Why President Kovind Did Not Place Wreath On CDS Body

Initial buzz said President Ramnath Kovind would be among dignitaries to lay a wreath on the mortal remains of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and others killed in the Tamil Nadu helicopter crash, at the Palam air base.  Apparently, however, as per protocol the President may not place a wreath on the bodies of any soldier. Being Supreme Commander of the armed forces he may not discriminate between a general or a soldier while paying tributes. The President, of course, had canceled all engagements after the helicopter crash and tweeted his condolences to the bereaved families. The PM and Defence Minister who laid wreaths had actually done so on behalf of the President. However, when it comes to commiserating civilian deaths, the President is not encumbered by any such protocols. Ramnath Kovind was first to write to Mallika Dua, daughter of late journalist and Padma Shri awardee Vinod Dua who passed away early this month. PM Modi also followed suit, condoling Dua’s demise. Modi’s gesture surprised some in the news media as the late journalist was among the PM’s staunchest critics. Was it a move intended to soften the liberal media that is vocally against the PM or, just a routine letter from the PMO? Only time will tell.

No Mamata For Mahua, Didi's Public Rap Over Moitra's SEBI Chat!

Feisty 47-year-old investment banker turned TMC MP, Mahua Moitra was taken by surprise when her party boss and, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, ticked her off for her brand of politics. Moitra nodded meekly as Didi dressed her down in public, apparently for writing to SEBI chairman alleging irregularities by brand Adani Power when it delisted. The letter, came just days after the Mamata-Gautam Adani meet in Kolkata, a prelude to the business summit planned in January 2022 so, Didi naturally blew her top. Moitra’s letter to SEBI was the proverbial last straw. Sources say Moitra’s solo style of politicking finds her out of team TMC’s favour. Her negative local politics over seat distributions and rumour mongering on TMC corruption in Nadia (where elections are scheduled) sparked off the party chief’s ire. And Mamta said “Mahua, let me give you a clear message here. I don’t see who is in whose favour or against. I don’t believe in the politics of putting on a show on YouTube, paper, digital etc. This kind of politics cannot sustain for long. And it is not right to expect that one person will stay at one post forever.” Question doing the rounds now is: Will Moitra quit after her public humiliation?

Yogi's Double Engine Drive Lifts ‘Dronagiri’ For PM Modi, As Kashi Shines!

PM Narendra Modi’s complete endorsement of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, whom he calls ‘Karmayogi’, was clear and evident over the last several weeks during his frequent trips to Uttar Pradesh, ahead of assembly elections slated next year. Modi has good reason to be happy with the manner Yogi has executed and delivered projects very close to his heart, in particular, the Kashi Vishwanath Dham Corridor in Varanasi, well within the scheduled timelines. Returning the compliment Yogi compared the PM to Ahilyabhai Holkar and Raja Ranjit Singh who had contributed similarly and restored the temple. At the inauguration ceremony of the corridor, Yogi was at the PM’s side all the time at various stages of the ceremony. Several other BJP leaders, including chief ministers, attended the ceremony but no one accompanied the PM. Significantly, a month ago Yogi’s twitter handle shared a picture of PM Modi during a stroll with his hand on Yogi’s shoulder. The picture, snapped up at the UP Raj Bhawan captured Modi in deep conversation with Yogi.  The PM was in Lucknow attending the DGPs conference when the CM called up on him. Buzz is, the idea to share the Modi-Yogi picture of camaraderie had emanated from the PMO.

Jai Bhim' Inspiration: Real Life Judicial Crusader Calls Out Andhra Pradesh Judiciary

Justice Krishnaswamy Chandru is in the limelight after the critically acclaimed movie Jai Bhim, based on the human rights abuse case that he handled to expose police brutality in Tamil Nadu, is not popular with the judges of the Andhra Pradesh high court at the moment. A division bench of the AP high court was up in arms about comments made by the outspoken retired judge who is championing public causes in his speeches these days. Speaking at an event in Andhra recently, Justice Chandru had said, “We need judges who will protect the rights of the people. Now, what do we see in AP? Today, an elected government is fighting for survival not from rivals, not from political rivals or mass movements, but from the judiciary itself!’’ He had gone on to say that the judiciary, whose duty is to defend the rights of the people, “is doing something different, which is not expected.” The AP HC chief justice blamed the celebrity without naming him, saying remarks made against the judiciary were just to be in the limelight. Why should a judge from another state come to Andhra and make comments on the functioning of the court, the CJ asked. He explained that contempt of court proceedings are not being contemplated now in consideration of the judge’s contribution to the judiciary in the past.

Gen Rawat Chopper Crash Aftermath: Tamil Nadu CM Stalin Working On The Ground & BJP Unit Mobilizing Locals Move The Nation

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin’s decision to visit Coonoor after the helicopter crash that killed Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat is being much appreciated in Delhi by PM Narendra Modi and his ministers. He took a flight to Coimbatore from Chennai and drove to Coonoor. Besides paying homage to Rawat, Stalin also stayed back overseeing arrangements to transport bodies to Delhi. Stalin’s actions were prompted by a phone call from NSA Ajit Doval to Tamil Nadu DGP C Sylendra Babu. The NSA had asked Babu to secure the area for investigations. Babu rushed to the site. Soon, Stalin wanted State Chief Secy V Irai Anbu to be at the site. By evening, Stalin was there at Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, meeting with military officials and directing local officials. Stalin’s conduct is in sharp contrast to what his father M Karunanidhi did as CM in 1990 when he had refused to receive the IPKF in Chennai even as it was pulled out from Sri Lanka by then PM VP Singh exactly as he sought. Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan was also spotted in Wellington. As for bidding hero’s farewell to Gen Rawat and his men in Tamil Nadu, and mobilizing a rousing public line-up outside Sulur air base, credit must go to state BJP unit headed by a former IPS officer K Annamalai.
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Photo : Twitter

The Legacy Of General Bipin Rawat: Hunt On To Fill The CDS’ Big Boots

The question uppermost in everybody’s mind is: who will be the next Chief of Defence Staff following the untimely demise of CDS Gen Bipin Rawat. PM Narendra Modi had picked Gen Rawat for CDS post on January 1, 2020 — because he was blunt, outspoken and a man of integrity. Rawat was liked as he was not afraid of speaking his mind when it came to military reforms and the defence of the country. He was a fighter and a nationalist to the core. Modi noticed his qualities after he, as Dimapur Corps Commander, supervised a strike against NSCN (K) insurgents across the Indo-Myanmar border by Special Forces in June 2015. Prior to that he performed exceptionally as the 19 Division commander in the Uri sector against the Pakistanis. On December 17, 2016, Modi appointed Rawat as India’s 27th Chief of Army Staff after superseding the then Eastern and Southern Army Commanders on grounds of merit, track record and vision. Modi saw Rawat’s role as a military commander when he took on the Chinese PLA at Doklam Plateau on the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction in June 2017. He stopped the PLA from building a road to the Jhampheri Ridge, which would have made India vulnerable in the Siliguri corridor. So Modi wants the next CDS to be someone like Rawat! Who can it be?
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Will Ghulam Nabi Azad Do A Capt Amarinder In J&K?

In September there was a strong buzz that the 72-year old Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad who had retired from Rajya Sabha (RS) as the Leader Of Opposition on February 15, 2021 might re-enter RS from Tamil Nadu. But, come the D Day and Azad’s name was missing. Now comes the real story from an insider. Apparently, Tamil Nadu (TN) Chief MK Stalin at the behest of Azad called up the Congress President Sonia Gandhi and said they are willing to support Azad to RS from TN. This telephone call from Stalin to Sonia seems to have irked her. Apparently, she did not like the way the suggestion to elect Azad came from Stalin. Generally, it is the other way round.  Since then the chasm between Azad and Gandhis have widened.  In between Azad, part of G 23, had thawed the ice. All that is history. He has been kept in the waiting mode. Now, the latest buzz is that Azad might do a Captain Amarinder Singh, form a party in Jammu & Kashmir and BJP may support him. It may be recalled that Azad enjoys a very good rapport with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the latter even broke down while talking at Azad’s farewell speech in the Rajya Sabha. If Azad sets up his own party it will be a win-win situation for both Azad and BJP.

Odisha Politics Heat Up On Sex Scandal Allegations: Chief Minister Patnaik Refuses To Budge

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is facing intense pressure from the opposition parties to sack the state’s home minister Dibya Shankar Mishra for his alleged involvement in sex scandal. The state Assembly continues to be paralysed over this demand. The opposition parties –BJP and Congress– are asking the Chief Minister to meet face-to-face on the floor of the house to discuss the Mishra issue. Patnaik so far is avoiding such a floor show. This hesitation convinces the opposition leaders that Patnaik is shielding the home minister for reasons best known to him. The sex scandal relates to the alleged murder of a school teacher Mamita Meher of Sunshine English Medium School on October 8. Reportedly, Mamita had threatened to expose the sex racket in the school implicating one accused. It is alleged home minister Mishra used to visit the school frequently. Patnaik, meanwhile, has requested the Odisha High Court to appoint a retired District Judge ABS Naidu to monitor the police investigations pertaining to Mamita murder case which will be subject to court scrutiny, investigating the role of Mishra. Opposition leaders are saying since the police force is accountable to the Home Ministry, how can one expect a fair report. Patnaik’s no action against Mishra has surprised the people at large as he is believed to be a no-nonsense CM having sacked ministers for slightest wrong doings in the past.


Technology Cannot Disrupt Original Content Provider: Short Post Editor

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

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

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