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Scindia & Shekhawat Disarm Belligerent Opposition With Wit & Facts

Two ministers stand out in tackling the Opposition on the floor of the House — Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Civil Aviation Minister Jyotirditya Scindia. Shekhawat, who piloted the Dam Safety Bill, 2021 in the Rajya Sabha, faced grim reminders that the Bill could be a repeat of Farm Laws. Not only did he stand his ground but reminded the Opposition that as he spoke 42 dams had collapsed because of lack of action on part of lawmakers. The Bill has been hanging fire for a decade. On the National Committee on Dam Safety (NCDS), Shekhawat made it clear the idea of limiting the number of member states to 7 on the 21 panel was a proposal drawn from the Standing Committee headed by late Congress leader Tarun Gogoi. It was the Gogoi report that didn’t want more states on the panels. As for Scindia, he effectively tackled Congress and DMK leaders who teased him for speaking only in Hindi. DMK leader TR Baalu wondered why the Civil Aviation Minister who was fluent in English was not speaking the language. Baalu was joined by Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Choudhary. To which Scindia replied: “I would be more than happy to reply in English. I am always available for you Baalu sahab in every language that I know; I am at your service.”
IAS Radhakrishnan

Photo : Twitter

Alpha, Delta, Omicron: Come What May, Tamil Nadu Seen Safe Under IAS Officer Radhakrishnan

At 55, J Radhakrishnan looks boyish, sartorially subdued and elegant; easily the poster boy for an IAS officer, mission driven and motivated. As Tamil Nadu’s Principal Secretary of Health & Family Welfare since 2020 with the previous AIADMK regime, it is easy to see why the DMK dispensation kept him on. Though he seems a bit frosty, his role in coordinating and controlling Covid-19 pandemic has earned him the respect and admiration of both mantrijis and aam aadmi. With no flamboyance in his work, Mr Cool ticks boxes effectively when it comes to challenges Corona has thrown up. No wonder Chief Minister MK Stalin and Health Minister M Subramaniam take his ability for granted and expect him to deliver. The Vax drive in this state had the stamp of system driven efficiency. So, when the new Omicron scare struck it was decided to check all TN airports. It is learnt both mantriji and Babu set off to Madurai airport. As the convoy was pulling out, Radhakrishnan’s car rammed into the airport’s wall, damaging his car. Radhakrishnan just got out of the car, and told the cringing driver, “Anna, don’t worry, we will take care,” a response typical of a man who faces adversities with equanimity. He reported the accident at a local police station, and then drove on to Tiruchirappalli airport. Covid-19, Delta, Omicron…TN is in capable hands.

Photo : Twitter -- Vijay Sardesai Second From Left

Action Heats Up In Poll-Bound Goa As Political Parties & Local Veterans Play Musical Chair

Goa Forward Party chief Vijay Sardesai was all gung ho about his one-on-one meeting with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. He had every reason to be. That is because his trip to Delhi not only established his equations with the Congress high command but also helped him take a swipe at the TMC which had poached his party functionary. In a slap to the TMC, Sardesai snitched an independent MLA Prasad Gaonkar from South Goa backing the TMC and brought him to Delhi. The TMC was naturally livid with Sardesai’s Delhi visit and his pact with the Congress. It took to social media to attack him. Of course, on his return to Panaji, Sardesai found his gains were short-lived. His third MLA Jayesh Salgaonkar had shifted to the BJP. It was felt Salgaonkar, who was a businessman and belonged to North Goa, may have been under pressure to switch to the BJP. At the national level, the BJP has been making new acquisitions. Manjinder Singh Sirsa, a close associate of the Badals, joined the party. Belonging to Haryana, Sirsa is a prominent Delhi gurudwara leader.

Decoded: Andhra CM In A Hurry To Firm Up District Expansion Plan

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy is in a hurry to finalise the district expansion plans, from the present 13 to 26. He has asked his key Secretaries and MPs to lobby with the Home Ministry to seek approval to go ahead with District Bifurcation plans immediately since there was an earlier directive that bifurcation can be done only after completion of Census 2021. Fortunately for Jagan, because of Covid-19, the census process has not yet started. He is keen to complete the district’s reorganization process before the census begins. And of course, nobody will complain as he enjoys a good rapport with BJP. What is the real objective for pushing and implementing district expansion? Is it to bring administration closer to people? Or is it to empower Zilla Parishad, Panchayati Samiti? The real reason is the need to meet electioneering promises and the potential to get additional funds from the Centre and create employment opportunities. Jagan and his bureaucracy are eyeing the benefits from district specific central government funding, particularly the backward districts which will become growth centres and the opportunity of participation in district specific schemes, creating better service delivery and solving administrative and governance issues. Also, a boom in land prices and new job opportunities are attractive factors, as AP has the second-highest density per district population after West Bengal.

All Eyes On Mamata-Pawar Meet For United Front To Take On BJP

Even though Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has decided not to visit regularly or call up 10 Janpath, she is keen to only meet NCP chief Sharad Pawar and seek his advice for the formation of a possible non-BJP front. She will meet Pawar on Wednesday (Dec 1) at the latter’s Silver Oak residence in Mumbai. Insiders from both parties said Pawar and Banerjee – with friends in various parties – can build up a front to take on BJP in the 2024 elections. However, Pawar has always been insisting that such a front won’t work without Congress. Pawar has already sent feelers to a few Congress leaders who have sent a positive signal but everything depends on the trio in the party – Sonia, Rahul, and Priyanka. Mamata is perturbed over Rahul not wishing her immediately after her record victory though Rahul later tweeted. They in turn are upset that TMC kept out of the opposition parties’ meet. It is learned that Pawar may organize a meeting between Mamata and Rahul at his 6 Janpath residence in New Delhi which is the new power centre for opposition unity. A senior Congress leader opines if Pawar is personally involved then Sonia may climb down. Interestingly, Maharashtra Chief Minister and Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray has declined to meet Didi. Now people are reading between the lines.
Rajya sabha

Rajya Sabha MP Suspensions & Farm Laws Repeal: Opposition Startled At Modi’s No-Nonsense Approach

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Opposition just does not know when it is going to lose the narrative. While the Opposition was planning to box in Modi, the PM caught the Opposition by surprise. First, he announced a roll-back of the three “contentious” farm laws on November 19. And 10 days later, on the first day of Winter Session of Parliament, 12 MPs in the Rajya Sabha from Opposition benches were suspended. Congress leaders privately admit that they were completely caught unaware that the Rajya Sabha Chair would penalise members for their unruly behaviour on the last day of Monsoon Session. “By reducing our bench strength, Modi has effectively shifted our goal post, Instead of discussing farmer issues, we are now discussing our issues,” rues Nasir Hussain, a suspended Congress MP from Karnataka. Rajya Sabha Chairman Naidu made it clear that there was no question of ignoring what happened on the last day of the Monsoon Session and the House was a continuous one. As for suspension of MPs, he said it could not be ignored that they were from the list of 33 people who had been named for their misconduct on August 11. Members were given an opportunity to explain their conduct and apologise. Instead of apology the Opposition has opted for confrontation with the Chair. No one wins here, only the Chair in Rajya Sabha does.  

Photo : Twitter

Are Succession Plans Afoot For Udhayanidhi Stalin to Inherit The DMK Empire?

It is not exactly the House of Windsor with Prince Charles waiting in the wings for a long time to sit on that throne. Worldwide wagers don’t bet on his getting it soon. But hope floats. Compared to this, Udhayanidhi Stalin, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin’s son, heir imminent, Secretary of the DMK Youth Wing, cinema star, and MLA is on velvet… royal maroon, with gold trimmings. And why not? How many political dynastic heirs have the good fortune to inherit a whole ideological political party evolved over 70 years, a huge party apparatus, fan following, and be known as one of the wealthiest political scions? On November 27, he turned 44 and his party functionaries went overboard wishing him, sycophantic greetings dripping with Tamil eloquence. Amidst all this cacophony, silently, mother Durga Stalin has been relentlessly demanding Udhayanidhi’s elevation to the cabinet and an open claim to take over from Stalin, who has evaded a snap decision. There are a few other family claimants to TN leadership; Stalin’s elder brother MK Alagiri, whose talent for stirring up trouble is well known, his half-sister K Kanimozhi, an MP with acknowledged ambitions and acumen; late Karunanidhis, other not so well-known sons and their progeny. What if a palace coup were to upset the status quo, after DMK has managed to wrest TN after 10 long years?

Photo : Twitter

Vindictive Politics, Polarised Bureaucracy Hurting Jagan Reddy's Mandate To Turbocharge The Economy

For Andhra Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, the Telugu state is still at a crossroads. The three capital initiatives — Amaravati-Vishakhapatnam-Kurnool — which is the cornerstone of his political policy has hit roadblocks as hundreds of farmers in Amaravati moved the High Court contesting Jagan’s South African style initiative. He was forced to backtrack. This means Amaravati will be the working capital until the AP government postulates its new comprehensive Bill. For Jagan Mohan Reddy, his massive electoral victory in 2019 has not translated into improved governance, shoring up revenues, attracting big-ticket manufacturing investment, and creating more jobs in the state. Instead, his priority and focus have been to reverse the policies of the previous TDP government-led Chandra Babu Naidu. Reddy, says insiders, are spending more time crushing erstwhile political opponents, targeting non-complying bureaucrats and constitutional functionaries, and continuing populist dole out measures without sufficient financial backup. In the first half of 2021-22, Andhra Pradesh’s revenue deficit soared by 663% while the fiscal deficit was up by 108%. Half of the government earnings has been directed towards freebies schemes, subsidies, bills, salaries, pensions, etc. The writing is on the wall: Andhra Pradesh desperately needs to shore up revenue and attract big-ticket investments to put its economy back on track. Can it?
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Photo : Twitter --- Rae Bareli Congress MLA Aditi Singh Joins BJP

Free-For-All Show By Capt Amarinder, Manish Tiwari, Aditi Singh, Salman Khurshid Seen Hitting Congress Hard

After Rae Bareli Congress MLA Aditi Singh defected and joined the BJP last week, many wonder if her husband Angad Singh, who is a Congress MLA in Punjab (NawanShahr Assembly Seat) would be spared by the party leadership. It is quite possible that Congress may not renominate Angad as a party candidate. But then, Aditi and Angad may not be the only couple who would be at the receiving end of the party high command’s ire. Last week the Gandhis went all out to embarrass Perneet Kaur, Patiala Lok Sabha MP, and the wife of Capt Amarinder Singh. A show-cause notice was issued to her for publicly stating that she stands with her husband. The notice was issued by Punjab in-charge Harish Choudhary. Normally, notices to MPs are sent out by the AICC. Punjab Congress leaders are amused that the Gandhis should be more worried about Capt Amarinder Singh forming a party than take action against former minister and Ludhiana MP Manish Tewari who went all out to damage the UPA government with his book or Salman Khurshid who posed a lot of problems for the party with his book. In his book, Tewari laid bare how the UPA government had not acted strongly enough post 26/11.
jayalalithaa bungalow

Photo : Twitter

Blood Is Thicker Than Politics: Madras HC Nixes AIADMK’s Memorial Plan, Hands Over Jaya Villa To Heirs

When the late J Jayalalithaa and her mother, actor Sandhya bought this 24,000 sq ft sprawling property in tony Poes Garden in 1967 for Rs 1.32 lakh to build their luxurious home 81, Veda Nilayam, little did they imagine what controversies and intrigues it would churn up. This CM’s residence quickly became the epicentre of TN‘s destiny and the course of its history after her election as the leader of AIADMK and the CM. Her blood relatives, niece Deepa and nephew Deepak, children of JJ’s brother late Jayakumar were overwhelmed by the cunning attempts to usurp all that JJ owned, including her power and mass popularity by imposter claimants who had wormed their way into her bungalow and hijacked her life. Why didn’t Amma leave a will? Edappadi Palanisamy, successor to Jayalalithaa stunned everybody by issuing a government gazette order proclaiming the bungalow as a museum memorial that the public could visit and view. But her niece and nephews had immense faith in the law of the land. In a dramatic move, the Madras High Court has struck down the validity of the government acquisition turning it into a memorial. Jaya’s house would go to her bloodline heirs. Just goes to show many a shady plan of mice and men being torpedoed by law.

Photo : Fotocorp

Two Years Of MVA Govt: Thackeray-Led Coalition Takes Fresh Guard

The Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) has completed two years in office, yet the three alliance partners Shiv Sena, NCP, and Congress have to keep reiterating that their government is strong and stable, and BJP won’t be able to carry out Operation Lotus to come back to power. It may be recalled that BJP made several attempts to dethrone the current MVA government but failed miserably. The latest update on this one is Union Minister Narayan Rane’s statement that the MVA government “will fall” by March 2022. Meanwhile, sources say that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, currently recovering from spine operations, has not been able to yoke his MVA cabinet colleagues and leaders who are busy talking to the media to push their agenda. Some bureaucrats and leaders are complaining that Thackeray’s style of functioning is leading to delay in decision making. What is missing is a direct connection that is allowing BJP to attack the government for lack of coordination and delays in the implementation of decisions that have already been cleared by the cabinet. They are also complaining about his overreliance on a few bureaucrats. But, when it comes to his own party Shiv Sena, Thackeray has a firm grip and those talking in the media or leaking stories have been sidelined. But, in the end, everybody is asking how will Sena fare under Thackeray at the BMC polls and state elections? Only time will tell.

Photo : Twitter

CM Thackeray’s Agenda Next: Revive Covid-Hit Economy & Sharpen BMC Poll Plan To Fight BJP

The NCP Chief Spokesman and Minority Affairs Minister Nawab Malik continues his tirade against Narcotics Control Bureau vis a vis Sameer Wankhede, widely hailed as an upright officer. Interestingly, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, who has been an architect of the MVA government, has openly hailed Malik for his revelations and announced that NCP and MVA government, in general, are prepared to take on BJP and the central probe agencies despite their attempts to corner the MVA leaders. But the real problem facing the MVA government is on the economic front. The coronavirus pandemic has severely impacted the government’s functioning and finances. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will have to swing into action by taking his ministers on board for the revival of the economy and placing a slew of development and welfare projects on a fast track. Ahead of elections to civic and local bodies especially BMC, Thackeray will have to sort out the politically crucial issue of alliance or go solo to take on BJP. The victory in BMC will consolidate Thackeray’s position in MVA and also send a signal to BJP that he is a fighter and there are no chances of a reunion with them.

Maharashtra Violence: A Case Of Intelligence Failure?

The recent communal flare up witnessed in Amravati, Malegaon and Aurangabad in Maharashtra over data cooked up online of desecration of a religious place of prayer, should not have occurred, says Maharashtra’s former additional Chief Secretary (Home) Chitkala Zutshi. A senior retired bureaucrat says when actionable intelligence was available it was fairly simple to pre-empt the violence witnessed on November 12-13 this year. Ideally, the State’s cyber intelligence hi-tech department should have sounded the red alert after virulent posts were shared just days before the violence occurred. So, was this a deliberate instance of sitting pretty on hard intelligence? “Nothing new,” says a home department official. Way back in 2004 the Maharashtra’s CM received an intelligence report on the proposed agitation against the Nanar power project in Navi Mumbai. He was advised to speak to the opposition leader so as to tame it down. Did he speak? Nobody knows. But poor Navi Mumbaikars suffered collateral losses after rioters indulged in arson gutting several cars. Ditto the Bhima Koregaon violence erupted on the 200th anniversary year during Devendra Fadnavis’ tenure. Currently under the watch of Maha Vikas Aghadi government it has happened once again. Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, has demanded “imposition of a ban on Raza Academy” for its role in recent violence; the institute was earlier accused of leading Mumbai’s Azad Maidan riots on August 11, 2012.

Kirit Somaiya and Nawab Malik

Maharashtra’s New Pastime Amid Gossips Galore: Slapping Rs 100-Cr Defamation Suit

In Maharashtra’s political arena it is raining Rs 100-crore defamation suits. State Transport Minister Anil Parab sought Rs 100-crore damages from BJP leader Kirit Somaiya over allegedly defamatory tweets. This was followed by former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ wife Amruta seeking damages from Skill Development & Entrepreneurship Minister Nawab Malik for tweeting pictures of her with an alleged drug peddler. More followed. Controversial Narcotics Control Bureau officer Sameer Wankhede’s father filed a Rs 1.25-crore defamation suit against Malik to stop daily tweets and disclosures against his son and family. Even former Chief Minister and current Revenue Minister Ashok Chavan against whom Somaiya went gun blazing told, “Wild allegations were levelled without consideration for facts. I will consider all legal options at an appropriate time.” This brings to fore why people file defamation suits? Is it to put pressure on the rival camps or the media? Do they yield results? Senior counsel Prakash Devdas says, “Most high profile defamation suits see no logical outcome.” Advocate Apoorv Srivastava says, “Defamation is a retrograde law. Journalists, academics, legislators, and bloggers realize lawsuits are used by corporations, businesses, and public officials to silence, intimidate and control the truth.” Truth is, while criminal defamation suits are fast-tracked, civil cases drag on for nearly 25 years. In most suits, both parties lose interest after the controversy dissipates and amicably settle out of court.

Photo : Twitter

Didi’s Nephew Abhishek Emerging As The New Power Centre In TMC

Ever since his appointment as general secretary in June this year, Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee has been wielding enormous clout in the party. No, it has nothing to do with him enabling his aunt Mamata Banerjee to return to power for the third time in West Bengal. Of course he is credited with hiring election strategist Prashant Kishor who enabled the TMC to overcome jinx of incumbency. But at the heart of hero-worshipping the 34-year-old Diamond Harbour MP is a deeper tale of heart-burn. Abhishek has become so powerful in the TMC, that now no one feels the need to queue up before the aunt. They feel now it is better that issues of organisation and state issues are left with bhaipo (nephew in Bengali). And the bua or pishi (aunt in Bengali) is left to handle higher, national-level goals. Yet what has upset the TMC rank and file is the manner in which Abhishek has given away Rajya Sabha seats from Bengal to outsiders — like Sushmita Dev and former Goa CM Luizhno Faleiro. While many don’t grudge Sushmita who hails from Assam as she speaks Bengali, Faliero being rewarded with RS berth, has not gone down too well. Faleiro was entrusted with responsibility of spreading the TMC in Goa and doesn’t seem to have delivered much on ground.

Photo : Twitter--- Naveen Patnaik and YS Jagan Mohan Reddy

Minister Pradhan Nudges Odisha & Andhra CMs To Resolve 6-Decade Old Border Dispute

Latest news wafting from east India is that the Chief Ministers of Odisha Naveen Patnaik and Andhra Pradesh (AP) YS Jagan Mohan Reddy met to settle the inter-state boundary dispute that has been simmering for over six decades now. The bone of contention seems to be the Kotia Panchayat. AP is already in physical possession of Odisha territory in Kotia Panchayat by holding rural elections. In the case of Odisha, it is trying to find solutions by acceding 106 acres of its land to make AP Srikakulam District Dam projects viable. It is learnt that the Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan is mediating between the two Chief Ministers to work out an amicable settlement. In a way, Patnaik eyeing the next election, has perhaps understood that time has come not only to redress his own failure in not being able to resolve the border dispute related to Kotia tribal pockets in Koraput district but also follow Supreme Court’s directive that the border dispute should be solved through mutual discussions between two states. For Jagan Reddy the initiative to meet Patnaik in Bhubaneswar was only to ensure completion of Neradi barrage project.  However, the Odisha’s opposition leaders feel it is a lost case as far as Kotia is concerned as AP after conducting elections has renamed three villages, elevated them to panchayat level and merged it with Salur block in Vizianagaram.

Congress Secular Stranglehold Seen Threatened By Mamata & Kishor’s Mission Goa

While on Goa and the TMC, it is important to note that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is so obsessed in having Goa Forward Party (GFP) leader Vijay Sardesai by her side that she first insisted that he merge his party with hers, when he refused and preferred to go along with the Congress, she struck on him by snitching a senior GFP functionary Kiran Khandolkar belonging to North Goa. As if that was not enough, she deployed poll strategist Prashant Kishor to do an alliance talk with Sardesai. PK is a glib talker and keeps visiting Goa to keep up Mamata’s deadlines. Not that Khandholkar’s exit would affect GFP’s electoral fortunes — apparently, he is much of a grassroots leader, it certainly may possibly hit Sardesai’s bargaining with the Congress. GFP is looking to contest between six to eight seats in alliance with the Congress. Looks like Mamata is determined to wipe out the Congress as the main player among secular parties in Goa. Aiding her in this task of unmaking the Congress in the state are two former Congress CMs — one of course is Luiznho Faleiro. The other is still in Congress and is its South Goa MP — Francisco Sardinha.
Modi farm

Repeal Of Farm Laws & Loud Welcome By Captain Amarinder Raises New Possibilities In Punjab

In a big, bold gesture, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stooped to reach out to Sikh farmers in Punjab by announcing repeal of contentious three farm laws on the occasion of Gurpurab. In a national address, he apologised to farmers who have been protesting for close to a year against the farm laws and declared that all three laws will be repealed in the upcoming winter session of Parliament beginning November 29. Punjab’s former Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh welcomed it. In fact, he had insisted on resolution of farm laws as pre-condition for his alliance with BJP.  The former Punjab CM is launching Punjab Lok Congress. There are about 20% Hindu votes in urban Punjab areas, usually aligned with the BJP; an alliance with the BJP is viewed as useful to clinch elections. Rakesh Singh Tikait seemed defiant and said he will call off the agitation only after the Bill is repealed in the Parliament. But, those in support of the Bill were shocked by the expediency displayed by the Government. Was it merely to secure an election victory in Uttar Pradesh? Or make some gains in Punjab? Or is it the prospect of unrest being fueled from across the border in Punjab? People in the know say issues of security seem to have weighed on the minds of PM Modi. From cracking down on PIOs who were funding the agitation, to blocking visas of some Canadian employees to increasing the BSF patrol of up to 50 km in border states, the Government wants to ensure that there is no misadventure in a border state.  Shetkhari Sanghatna chief Anil Ghanwat, who was part of the Supreme Court appointed panel to find a solution, feels the move to withdraw laws is the most retrograde step: “After this no Government in India will have courage to initiate agriculture reforms for next 30 years.”

Photo : Fotocorp

Spotlight On PM Modi’s Sikh Outreach & Surprise Farm Laws’ Repeal

It is on the occasion of Gurpurab – the birth anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Dev – that Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to break the impasse by repealing three farm laws. Modi’s surprising climbdown on farm reforms acknowledges that the farm protests were not only hurting BJP’s prospects in poll-bound states but were also causing unintentional, deep divide in the society. During his earlier outreach to Sikhs (February 2021), Modi offered the nation’s gratitude: “What have they not done for this country? Whatever respect we give them will always be less.” At Rajya Sabha came his call to stand with the Sikhs: “We must not forget what happened with Punjab. It suffered the most during the Partition 1947. It cried the most during the 1984 riots.” The new farm laws – despite being transformative – had stirred passions with the most vocal resistance coming from Punjab and adjoining geographies that gave Green Revolution. The PM’s fresh outreach must be welcomed: The Sikh families not only contribute disproportionately to the farming sector but also send the bravest of warriors to the defence forces. It may be recalled that it was the failure of the then government to manage the Punjab agrarian alienation which eventually led to a violent separatist movement, followed by a series of tragic consequences: Operation Bluestar, assassination of PM Indira Gandhi, and anti-Sikh riots in 1984.

Photo : Twitter

Kejriwal’s New Model: Spend Rs 16-Cr On All India Ads For Rs 40k Pollution Solution For Delhi

Even as the Supreme Court warned the AAP Government in Delhi that it could order an audit of its advertisement spending if it did not submit an action plan soon enough to combat toxic air in the national capital, the warning got the BJP to dig out an RTI reply given by the Arvind Kejriwal Government. Citing an RTI reply and statement in the Delhi Assembly given by the Kejriwal Government, the BJP showed how the AAP leadership was more busy promoting itself than in tackling pollution. “As per information provided by the Government, we see the AAP Government bought a biodegradable solution from Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Pusa for Rs 40,000. The solution was to be used on paralis or rice stubble. The programme covered 310 farmers in the National Capital Region. So far so good,” points out BJP spokesperson Dr Sambit Patra. However, what takes the cake is the money splurged by the Kejriwal Government to disseminate information about its efforts to check stubble burning via ads all over India. “The AAP Government spent close to Rs 16 crore on ads about itself. It tried to educate even people in Kerala about what it is doing in Delhi. This also we came to know via RTI,” said Dr Patra.
kangana ranaut_twitter

Photo : Twitter

India @ 75: Making Sense Of Kangana's Pro-Modi Remarks

Actor Kangana Ranaut’s remarks that India’s Independence from the British was bheekh and that “real freedom was won in May 2014” has hardly amused the BJP. Though she may have made politically incorrect noises about India winning freedom only after Narendra Modi came to power, the party is simply going nowhere near this pretty young woman from Himachal Pradesh. Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil was the first to openly denounce the decorated actor’s views. With the Modi government all geared up to celebrate the 75th year of India’s Independence, one can hardly expect the party to endorse her views. “Kanagana is not a member of the BJP, why should we even be talking about her,” says a party spokesperson. This even as the Congress took to the streets, launching public protest against her. There is no doubt that the 34-year-old actor is a self-made person who has carved a niche for herself in the big, bad Mumbai film world. It speaks volumes about her grit and determination. As for her assessment about the freedom movement, guess it was not meant to be taken seriously.
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Photo : Fotocorp

Making Sense Of Kangana’s Viewpoint On The Great Indian

Kangana Ranawat has earned the sobriquet stormy petrel of Indian Cinema. Time and again she has shown a near megalomaniac side, with strong delusions of her own grandeur. She is in the news for all the wrong reasons. Like the time when the combined vitriol of the Shiv Sena, Maharashtra Congress and the BMC led to demolishing illegally a part of her plush Mumbai office…Kangana called it “rape”! Kangana moved from B Team apparatchik to A team BJP mouthpiece, and then came the foot-in-the mouth moment. She declared loftily, deadpan and sensationally to a news channel, “What India got in 1947 was not Independence, it was Bheek from the Brits. We became truly Azaad only in 2014”. Many clutched their bellies LOL, but most came down strongly on this silliness. Varun Gandhi, the also ran of the clan, “It is an outrage and national betrayal.” But what historian Ramchandra Guha wrote is the most telling indictment of all such affront profanations…Winston Churchill, the Greatest Briton hated the Greatest Indian….Mahatma Gandhi! The cigar chomping bulldog pathologically loathed this loin cloth fakir marching up the steps of the Imperial Viceregal Palace, demanding Freedom for India. And he got it for us, without firing a single shot from his gun. Kangana Ranawat, don’t ever desecrate or denigrate the Father of Our Nation. He is above all party aspirations.

Photo : Twitter

Modi Warns Ministers To Focus On Vikas Instead Of Courting The Media

Though it was not spelt out in as many words, a major cause for concern for Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his interactions with his Council of Ministers through the chintan shivir last week was that his ministers must focus on the job at hand rather than on speaking to the media. Modi, who inducted several new faces during Cabinet reshuffle in July, is apparently quite a worried man. Not for his own sake but what may actually befall some of his ministerial colleagues. He is worried that some of them may be tricked into speaking with the media. He could not but help reminding the new ministers that what befell former BJP president late Bangaru Laxman in 2001 should not happen to them. He reminded them that how a trap was set for the first ever Dalit president of the BJP by a Congress-backed magazine in a sting operation. Modi’s real worry may not be surreal since now the Congress is more frustrated after setbacks in Rafale and Pegasus and may be inclined to go all out to ensnare NDA ministers. Though such incidents may not personally affect Modi, his ministers were warned that individually their careers could get ruined.

Photo : Twitter

Governor RN Ravi’s ‘Devanagri’ Signature & Chennai Deluge Keep Dravidian Politics On Boil

Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi’s signature in Hindi in official communications is one thing that has stumped the state government. Allergic to anything in Devanagiri, the DMK leaders have been wondering if the Governor has deliberately chosen the script to irritate the DMK leaders. Hailing from Bihar, Ravi made it clear that he has always been signing in Hindi. Just as the Tamil leaders make it a point to sign in their mother tongue. Of course, apart from signature issues, the Governor had sought details of welfare schemes from the state government. During the floods too, he was quite hands-on, speaking with the NDRF DG. As for Chief Minister MK Stalin, he has been quite unhappy with floods which brought Chennai to a grinding halt. Hoping to take a break from work and travel abroad for a health check-up, he was upset with Chennai rains for a different reason. In a review meeting with MPs and civic officials, he apparently regretted that the scenes in the southern city seemed so much like a replay of what happened in 2015 when AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa was in office. He is worried about the impact it would have on upcoming urban body civic polls. He has also pulled up the civic staff for lack of preparation for the storm.

BJP Expands Governors’ Mandate, Irks Tamil Nadu’s Ruling Party Members

Historically, the governor’s role is considered a plum gratification for faithful services rendered to the party. Not many envied this gubernatorial position of ribbon-cutting, administering oath of offices and attending various ceremonies. But, things are fast changing with the BJP now drawing up an all new paradigm shift to the role of the Governor. A Dravidian wag now refers to them as “snooper cells” – a line favoured by non-NDA parties in some other states too. Is the new Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi sketching out a whole different strategy for TN? The 51st Governors’ meet just held at Chez Rashtrapathi, with the Veep, PM, and HM – all there to drive home the new role of Governors – raised eyebrows and hackles. Ramnath Kovind exhorted Governors to make fewer home town trips, try to learn from the good governance practices of other governors. Vice President Venkaiah Naidu appeared to be in campaign mode. He said, bring awareness to the people of every state about the Centre’s development and welfare programmes, and supervise the implementation. The PM went one step further, bring your feedback from states to Mann Ki Baath. TN governor Ravi with his impeccable intelligence background, has already set the cat among the pigeons. Considering the BJP’ long term plan to become the main opposition to the DMK, ruffled Dravidian egos are on edge.
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L to R : Salman Khurshid, Rahul Gandhi, Rashid Alvi

Salman Khurshid’s Assault On Hindutva & Akhilesh Yadav’s Jinnah Card: Is This New Secularism?

It almost seems an intense fight for Muslim votes has broken out among secular parties in Uttar Pradesh. First, the Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav praised MA Jinnah. Then there was Salman Khurshid trashing Hindutva, equating it with ISIS and Boko Haram in his book Sunrise Over Ayodhya. His party colleague Rashid Alvi from UP joined him with a word of caution about Ram Bhakts. Giving a boost to Khurshid and Alvi, Rahul Gandhi also sought to drive a wedge between Hinduism and Hindutva– describing it as a hateful ideology of RSS/BJP. The only sane voice was from CWC member Ghulam Nabi Azad. In this backdrop it is interesting to know that the Oxford educated former Union Minister Salman Khurshid was actually hoping to score a legal point through his book. He says he had been studying through the 1,500-page order of 2019 Supreme Court order. He admits no one had hoped there would be a resolution to the vexed issue of Ram Janmabhoomi temple but somehow the Apex Court had found one. But no one would have expected a book from the Congress stable – that was bound to be a political disaster. Earlier, Congress president Sonia Gandhi was upset with Khurshid for his book – The Other Side of the Mountain wherein he had suggested that Pranab Mukherjee should have been made the PM.

Naveen Patnaik, Dibya Shankar Mishra

Opposition Steps Up Pressure On Odisha Chief Minister To Sack Home Minister Over Sex Scandal

For Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik criticisms cutting across parties is getting uglier. Part of the reason for escalating opposition is Patnaik’s continued silence over sex scandal allegation levelled against Minister of State for Home Dibya Shankar Mishra. According to local reports, a school teacher, Mamita Meher of Mahaling Sunshine English medium school in Kalahandi district, was allegedly abducted and murdered by Gobinda Sahu. BJP National spokesperson Aparajita Sarangi alleges the involvement of Mishra in the incident. The minister, she says, was frequently visiting the school and staying in the school at night. According to her, there was a sex scandal going on inside the school campus. Stories linking ministers to sex scandal is not new. People of Odisha remember how Patnaik’s swift sacking of several ministers like Maheswar Mohanty, Debasis Nayak, Manmohon Samal, late Pradeep Maharathy for their involvement in sexual harassment cases won him admiration. But, Patnaik’s cryptic one-line statement in the latest case stating that “Law will take its own course” with regard to Mishra has shocked people. Sources say that all evidence linked to minister Dibya Shankar may have been destroyed by the alleged murderer Gobinda Sahu. So at the moment, the question of damage control to sack the minister does not arise despite pressures mounting from the Congress and BJP.

Police Inspector Rajeshwari

Chennai’s Tales Of Courage & Kindness Bring Succour To The Deluge-Hit City

The selfless ways of thousands of workers who rose to deal with the emergency created by a couple of days of extraordinary rainfall in Chennai came in for high praise. This was a redeeming feature of life as the Tamil Nadu capital was inundated incommoding the lives of lakhs of people. The one who stood out as thousands of relief workers toiled to take on the conditions rendered extremely difficult by the rain and water-logging was Police Inspector Rajeshwari. She saved a man in a cemetery who was injured by a falling tree by carrying him on her shoulder and running to the road to try and hire an auto rickshaw to ferry him to a government hospital. She became an internet sensation as her response to a situation beyond the call of duty was recorded on a mobile and made it nationally. Known to be committed to social service while working in the police force, she had been awarded medals for her dedication. There were also many a nameless worker who waded into the water to rescue people, handle electricity problems and outages, man row boats and dinghies to offer help to the stranded and strove to bring back a semblance of normalcy so people could manage to live through a city in the grip of a crisis caused by a natural disaster.

L TO R: ,Jose Philip Dsouza, Sanjay Raut, Sushmita Dev, Digambar Kamat

Goa Polls 2022: Cong, NCP, Shiv Sena & TMC Open Back Channels To Turf Out BJP

In very much with the saying, “Politics is the art of possible,” the non BJP parties like the Congress, NCP, Trinamool Congress and Shiv Sena have opened a backchannel to explore the possibility of an alliance to defeat BJP in the upcoming elections to the 40-member Goa assembly to be held in February 2022. Although all these four parties have announced to go solo in a bid to cash in on anti-incumbency against the BJP- led government, leaders from these parties themselves admit that a united opposition can pose a serious challenge to BJP, which is struggling to bring together various factions, to retain power. Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, senior Congress leader and former Goa CM Digambar Kamat, Goa state NCP chief Jose Philip D’Souza and Trinamool Congress MP Sushmita Dev are likely to be fronting their party’s initiative to explore alliance possibilities. They have a common goal to keep BJP at bay. Reliable sources in the know point out that second rung leaders are keen to forge an alliance as then their chances of winning is very high. But, seniors and veterans from these parties are hesitant as they fear they may lose their prospects to become the CM. Clearly, you can’t have the cake and eat it too!
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Samajwadi Workers Baffled At Akhilesh Yadav Peddling Stench Of Jinnah With 'Ittar' Of Diversity

Akhilesh Yadav, Samajwadi Party chief and the principal challenger to UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath, is supposed to be rolling up his sleeves for this crucial battle early next year. In a sign that his heart is not really into the battle, the Opposition leader launched his campaign not by making poll promises; instead he chose to launch a perfume — Samajwadi Sugand or the fragrance of socialism. The perfume comes in a red-and-green glass bottle (the party colours) and is made of 22 natural ingredients from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, signifying the diversity of India. SP leaders say the launch of perfume should not be seen as a non-serious gesture. It was launched in Kannauj which is the Lok Sabha constituency of his wife Dimple. The place is known for perfume making and was produced by a Samajwadi worker. Besides perfume, Akhilesh also tried to tap Muslim voters by heaping praise on Mohammed Ali Jinnah (credited with dividing India to create Pakistan for Muslims). He hailed Jinnah as a freedom fighter on par with Gandhi, Nehru and Patel. If Akhilesh hopes voters would be thrilled with Samajwadi ittars and happily vote for the Cycle in solidarity with “brotherhood”, he would be mistaken. Party workers already feel the Samajwadi leadership has been too tight-fisted as it doesn’t see a prospect of a comeback.

Photo : Twitter

Nadda Seen Making Renewed Attempt To Reclaim Maharashtra, Keep BJP Rank And File United

After several failed attempts to oust the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra, now it is the turn of the BJP national president JP Nadda to have another go at it. Apparently, Nadda called for a meeting of senior BJP leaders in the state to revisit strategy on how to overthrow the MVA government. Insiders say this meeting was just an eyewash. Basically, it was an attempt to keep the flock together who are running out of patience. State party leaders including Devendra Fadnavis, Chandrakant Patil and Narayan Rane have stopped issuing new deadlines due to internal contradictions. Insiders say state BJP leaders have failed to provide a concrete plan to conduct Operation Lotus to the national leadership which has ultimately told them to stop talk of collapse of the MVA government which is completing two years in office on November 27. Nadda, who has not made any statement on BJP’s failure to regain power after estranged ally Shiv Sena parted ways to form MVA government, has asserted that the state cannot achieve a new high in growth unless the MVA government is overthrown. However, he has not spelt out any strategy thereby making state leaders to work out their own arithmetic to engineer a split in one of the ruling parties. They, in private talk, admit it is an impossible task but claim Modi Hai to Sub Mumkin Hai.

Photo : Twitter

Stalin’s Emergency Handling Of Chennai Floods Is In Sharp Contrast To Jayalalithaa’s Style

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister visiting rain-affected areas of Chennai after an extreme rainfall event last Sunday was not mere tokenism. He spent hours together over three days surveying areas under water, overseeing the distribution of relief and attending endless meetings on monsoon preparedness while fulfilling duties associated with normal CEOs of States. If there was a message in Stalin’s sustained supervision of relief measures it may have had to do with what happened to Chennai in 2015 when its wettest ever time came about in 36-hours with a perfect storm dumping 50 cms of water. The average of 20 cms that the city received overnight in 2021 was not as phenomenal but it caused nearly as much damage. What had made 2015 rain so catastrophic was the uncontrolled release of over 100,000 cusecs of water from a city reservoir in Chembarambakkam, flooding the Adyar river and causing immense loss of life and property. This had come about because desperate water managers had not been able to get through to Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who was not 100% well at the time and was prone to sleeping it off in her Poes Garden residence. Stalin, a fit 67-year-old with a healthy lifestyle, would like to show that his antenna is up and is always available for duty.

NOTA Polls More Votes Than Congress' Pratibha Singh’s Mandi Win Margin Over BJP’s Kargil Hero

Poll reverses in Himachal Pradesh where the BJP lost one Lok Sabha and three Assembly seats in by-elections was one reason that may have well forced the Modi government to rein in galloping fuel prices. However, a closer look at the Mandi Lok Sabha by-elections may reveal that the winner — Pratibha Virbhadra Singh — was not such a popular candidate. Apparently, no one in the Congress was keen that she should win as she is known to be quite an inaccessible person. Widow of former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh seems to have won the seat through a series of happy coincidences. Her victory margin — 7,490 votes — against BJP candidate Brigadier (Retd) Khushal Thakur is actually less than the 12,626 NOTA votes polled. Which means there were not many who overwhelmingly voted in her favour. But then it is being said that even the BJP cadre was also not happy with the ticket going to Brig Thakur, a Kargil war hero. That means dislike for official candidates seems to have plagued both the parties and reflected in high NOTA. As for the Congress winning in three Assembly seats in the state it is being said the BJP did not take the challenge seriously. Officially, of course, chief minister Jairam Thakur acknowledged that high fuel prices may have made voters angry.
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Photo : Twitter

As Chennai Buckles Under Deluge, Ideas Pour In To Act Upon Stalin's 'Varumun Kappom' Slogan

People of Chennai had that horrible déjà vu of 2015 when incessant rains lashed the city, inundating many parts of the city thereby bringing the city to a grinding halt. This city which saw power cuts and some lives being lost has been witnessing water logging disasters very often. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, clad in heavy rain gear, was everywhere, wading through knee deep swirls, inspecting the flood havoc and supervising relief. Compelling optics no doubt. But, why should Chennai face this disaster almost every monsoon? The answer lies in the short term, populist vision of the two parties — DMK and AIADMK — who would rather respond to calamity than engineer prevention. And Stalin is the author of that catchy election slogan Varumun kappom (let’s prevent, before it hits). Countries like Switzerland, New Zealand and Norway have perfected water management and rainwater harvesting. Israel is the world leader in water recycling; treats 80% of sewage to produce 500 billion litres of water per annum for irrigation and public works. Why, even neighbouring Karnataka has the world’s largest rainwater harvesting project, covering over 23,000 school rooftops to harvest rainwater and prevent inundation. Surely TN can engineer a permanent solution for flooding in monsoon, and water scarcity in summer.
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Photo : Twitter

Ex-IPS Hero & Tamil Nadu BJP Chief K Annamalai Seen Among The Leaders To Watch At The Party National Meet

Clearly, the star of the one-day BJP national executive was Tamil Nadu BJP President K Annamalai who got the opportunity to second the political resolution; UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was the mover of the resolution. Annamalai was not only handpicked for the task but Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself chose to introduce the 37-year-old former Karnataka cadre IPS officer to the audience. This after BJP President JP Nadda had already finished doing the honours. Speaking about Annamalai, Modi was quoted as saying that as an officer he had a bright future in his profession; in politics he could have also chosen regional parties like AIADMK or the DMK, but he zeroed in on the BJP for probity and clean politics. BJP leaders felt the way PM showered encomiums on Annamalai, it certainly seemed he was the chosen one. Under Annamalai’s stewardship since July this year, the state BJP has been making rapid strides. The BJP made gains in panchayat elections in nine districts in northern Tamil Nadu. Modi focused on looking at the silver lining – without making any reference to Himachal reverses. Annamalai’s success in a hostile environment like TN was worth showcasing to the party cadre. The spotlight was also on the decisive win in Telangana; and vote accretion in Badvel (SC) in AP, and in Ellenabad in Haryana amid farm law protests.
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After Loss Of Hangal Seat To Cong, The Message From Karnataka BJP: Family Emotions Matter Too

In Karnataka, the loss of Hangal Assembly seat to the Congress in the by-election should actually be seen as something that is of BJP’s own making. Here the party seems to be caught in a web of misery because of its principles. Refusing to cash in on sympathy factor and deciding against fielding close family members of deceased candidates, the BJP needlessly lost a seat to the Congress. It seems the party decided against fielding either daughter-in-law or son of the late six- term MLA CM Udasi whose death necessitated the by-election. Karnataka State BJP committee too had rooted for his son Shivkumar Udasi, a Lok Sabha MP from Haveri. Chief minister Basavaraj Bommai too wanted someone from the family. “If someone from the family had contested, BJP would have secured the seat by 20,000 votes,” admitted a BJP source. Chief Minister Bommai who camped for 10 days in Hangal to secure the seat was quite disappointed. The seat was narrowly lost. Close to his backyard, the loss of Lingayat-dominated seat seemed like a slap on his face. Of course, the only people who were happy were supporters of former Chief Minister BS Yedyurappa. They saw this as a good time to push for rehabilitation of his son BY Vijayendra by linking Hangal loss to unhappiness of Lingayats.

Photo : Twitter

PM Modi’s Invite To Pope Takes Joie De Vivre Out Of Didi’s Goa Holiday

Nothing more upset supporters of Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee than the warm meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pope Francis on October 30 at the Vatican. Modi pulled off a surprise by not only calling on the Pope but also extending an invitation to visit India. It would be the first such visit after a gap of 22 years. RSS general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale welcomed PM’s meeting as well as invitation. Modi presented the Pope with a book on a topic close to his heart — The Challenges Of Climate Change: Children On The Front Line. The invite for papal visit had a positive impact with Kerala Catholic Bishop Council looking forward to it. Only TMC backers looked distraught and began to question Modi’s timing of the invite. Was it timed with Goa polls? Mamata had spent three days in Goa. A third term CM of a large state such as West Bengal, she was scouting fish markets of Mapusa to fraternise with locals. Journalists from Kolkata were brought to chronicle the beginning of her journey from “Goa to Delhi.” Did Mamata zero in on Goa thinking that since Modi became PM only because it was at Goa BJP National Executive in 2013 that he had been declared PM candidate for 2014 Lok Sabha elections, she too must start from Panaji!

Photo : Twitter

Shiv Sena’s First Big Win Outside Mahahrashtra, Turfs BJP Out Of Dadra & Nagar Haveli

It is a big victory for Uddhav Thackeray that too outside Maharashtra. Shiv Sena’s candidate Kalaben Mohanbhai Delkar, wife of former MP Mohan Delkar who had committed suicide in a Mumbai hotel, won the Dadra and Nagar Haveli Lok Sabha seat with a margin of 51,269 votes defeating BJP candidate Mahesh Gavit. In most by-elections, BJP candidates have lost. This convincing victory margin could make Sena think of spreading its tentacles and also aligning with like-minded parties to take on BJP in 2024 Lok Sabha polls. It may be recalled that Uddhav during the meeting of CMs of states ruled by Congress and allies – convened by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi – had called to be ready for a fight against BJP. It was TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee who was the first to respond to Uddhav’s call. Uddhav, according to sources close to him, prefers his work to do the talking. He feels BJP can be defeated by reaching out to voters with a promise for a change. In this win, Uddhav has played his cards well. Though he wants to play spoilsport in Uttar Pradesh, he knows what happened in Bihar and West Bengal. As for BJP in Maharashtra, they need to do serious introspection: the proverbial wolf cry has come to nought. For now, the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi seems well entrenched.

Photo : Twitter

Give Modi One More Chance, Elect Yogi Once More: Amit Shah’s Message For UP

In an interesting move, Union Home Minister Amit Shah went all out endorsing UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath as BJP’s face for 2022 state assembly elections. He said electing Yogi in 2022 was very necessary if people wanted PM Modi to be re-elected in 2024. Shah appealed that “Modiji ko ek aur mauka dijijye, Yogiji ko mukhyamantriji banadijiye” (Give Modi one more opportunity. Make Yogi chief minister again). Shah’s fulsome endorsement of Yogi nixed speculation about the status of his relationship with the UP leader. For some time there has been a view that there was perhaps an undercurrent between the two leaders close to Modi. Age-wise, Shah and Yogi are almost contemporaries; both in their 50s; though Shah is a couple of years older than the UP CM. In terms of profile, both leaders are known to aggressively pursue Hindu causes and interests. So it is in this context that Shah’s backing of Yogi becomes significant. In 2017, Amit Shah as BJP President, had tirelessly worked for his party’s astounding victory in UP and helped Yogi become CM for the first time. Last week, Shah returned to Lucknow to launch BJP’s campaign for 2022. People who worked with him in the past such as UP BJP General Secretary Sunil Bansal are also in the team as key strategists. Union HRD Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has been given charge of the state.

Realpolitik Sobers Down Tamil Nadu’s Outspoken Finance Minister

Working in a corporate environment is one thing. But being a part of the government is quite another. Perhaps, he got a bit carried away initially. And, that got him into one controversy after another. Well, Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Dr P Thiaga Rajan, popularly known as PTR, appears to have understood the difference. He doesn’t stray into avoidable terrain now. He has chosen to be a lot more measured and focused. He made the right noises when he met the Press on October 1, 2021. A huge quantum of public money is lying outside the treasury. The task is to identify and bring it back into the Treasury. His efforts seem to be bearing fruits as close to Rs 2,000 crore of unused funds were identified by a task force set up by him. He is not against freebies (for the poor and the backward). But he is all for accounting, even the freebies. Handing out freebies without any responsibility is clearly not his way of doing things. The government order on gold loan waiver gives a clue or two to his thinking. The benefit should reach the deserving. And the system should be capable of doing this. This is what he is striving to do. Well, the thought-process is laudable.
charanjit singh channi_twitter

Photo : Twitter

Indira Gandhi’s Death Anniversary Sees Emotional Atyachar Episode Playing Out In Punjab Congress

Mid-October, Rahul Gandhi surprised CWC members by praising Charanjit Singh Channi’s humility. He informed them how Channi broke into tears on being told he has to take over as Punjab CM. Channi had become emotional because in a state dominated by Jat Sikhs he had never expected a Dalit like him to be picked as CM. However, today no one in Punjab Congress is sure if Chief Minister Channi continues to be Rahul’s favourite. Reason: Channi chose to ignore October 31– Indira Gandhi’s death anniversary. This was in stark contrast to what his predecessor Capt Amarinder Singh used to do: issue advertisements paying tribute to the slain PM. Mind you, Capt Singh was someone who had quit the Congress in protest against Operation Blue Star and resigned as Congress MP in 1984. This difference in approach to Indira Gandhi between Channi and Capt Singh was brought to fore by former Punjab PCC Sunil Jakhar. Meanwhile, the appointment of Jagdish Tytler — someone allegedly linked to 1984 anti-Sikh riots — as permanent invitee in Delhi PCC has evoked mixed reactions. On his part, Rahul Gandhi stayed aloof and preferred to tweet a video of the last moments of his dear dadi’s funeral. As for Channi’s tears, he must be shedding more of it now considering Sidhu has almost become adversarial, questioning every policy decision of his.
mulliperiyar dam

SC Finds Raj Era Mullaperiyar Dam Safe But Tamil Nadu & Kerala Continue To Quibble

The head honchos of Tamil Nadu and Kerala have been collaborating on keeping the alarmists at bay over the Mullaperiyar Dam issue. The States are at loggerheads over the permissible height of water storage in the dam with Kerala wishing to build a new dam and take the 125-year-old dam out of the equation even as TN insists on its water rights from a perennial treaty. Alarmists are having a field day spreading rumours of impending disaster even as the opposition AIADMK is whipping up a campaign on TN’s water rights. The CMs are seeing reason in a tense scenario. The Supreme Court may have said the dam is safe and water can be stored upto 142 feet. Taking into consideration the fear of Keralites living below the dam in Idukki district, TN is keeping the water level only at 139 feet or less. The irrigation and drinking water needs of TN’s southern districts may be great but they will not be met by endangering the safety of a dam that stops a west-flowing river to take the water eastwards through giant pipes from the dam built by British engineer Penniquick who pledged his wife’s jewels to complete the work on his limestone masterpiece that has stood the test of time.
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Photo : Wikipedia

Why Did Lalu Fake A Call To Sonia Gandhi Ahead Of Bypolls?

Sparring between the RJD and the Congress has peaked so much that the national party outright denied a claim put out by RJD chief Lalu Prasad that Congress President Sonia Gandhi had telephoned him and inquired about his well-being. Lalu’s phone claim was debunked by none other than Congress’s Bihar-in charge Bhakta Charan Das, a Dalit leader from Western Odisha. And Lalu had been dismissive of him and called him “a stupid man” who was helping the NDA by fielding candidates in the forthcoming by-elections without consulting the RJD. In this backdrop, it is interesting to know why Lalu made a fake claim that Sonia Gandhi had telephoned him. Was it to confuse voters or Congress workers ahead of the by-elections to two assembly seats in Bihar — Kusheshwar Asthan (SC seat) and Tarapu — on October 30? It has almost become a prestige battle between the Congress and the RJD, UPA allies who had fought the 2020 assembly polls together. During the assembly polls, the Congress had fought and lost Kusheshwar by a narrow margin. This time the RJD decided to field a candidate in a seat it had left to the Congress constituency and is accusing the Congress of not consulting it. The by-elections have been caused due to deaths of sitting JD(U) MLAs. And usually, in such polls candidates of the incumbent government have an edge.

Photo : Twitter

Modi’s Simple Ideas Creating High Performance Ministerial Teams

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had stayed overnight in a cave near Kedarnath Temple in the run up to 2019 Lok Sabha elections, will be visiting the temple again on November 5 but for a different purpose. It was Modi’s stay in the cave that had led it to becoming a big tourist draw. This time Modi is going there to inaugurate Adi Shankaracharya Samadhi that was reconstructed after the destruction in 2013 floods. The entire reconstruction work has been undertaken under his guidance. His guidance is visible not only in major governance reforms but also in forging high performance ministerial teams. Not only in the way files –that too e-files will move within the government departments but also in the way ministers themselves will move. As regards to movement of e-files, it has been decided that they will not move beyond four hands or four levels before a decision is taken on them by ministers. As for ministers themselves, Modi suggested that the ministers could have a carpooling system to come for meetings like the Council of Ministers — such as the one he had held recently. Carpooling, he felt, would not only save energy but also give them an opportunity to share information about their ministries with each other. The idea is to get one Cabinet minister and two junior ministers in the same car


Changing Political Fortunes As Christian Missionaries Expand Footprint

In Rajasthan, both the Congress and BJP have woken up to the stark reality of widespread conversions happening in the tribal regions. And both parties are blaming Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) for this conversion. BTP is a force to reckon with in the tribal dominated regions of Rajasthan including Dungarpur where it won four local panchayat elections recently. Besides, BTP has two MLAs, who supported the Congress government led by Ashok Gehlot. Is conversion a new thing? Not really. It has been thriving for decades now thanks to poverty and illiteracy. Currently, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are hot spots of conversion along with Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.  In the last six months, these states have witnessed a spike in conversion with 80% of converts belonging to SC/ ST. The BJP, it is reliably learnt, plans to launch nationwide agitations against conversions. According to an Intelligence Officer, “The impetus (read funds) for conversions has witnessed a spike as India is considered a soft state. However, these missionary movements funded by radical Christian groups based out of the USA and Europe have consciously kept out of most Islamic nations as they fear reprisals from Islamic forces.” One such missionary activist from the USA, who visited India recently, told this correspondent when asked about the residual fallout of her activities (on escalating tensions between denominations of Indian citizens), “Well I have a lot of money and I can give it to anyone I choose, even you.”

With G-23 Cut To Size, The Gandhis Reinforce Their Role As Congress’ Saviour-In-Chief

Her patience and perseverance are proverbial. Her silence stoic. But enough is enough for her. Sonia Gandhi has heroically sat on mentoring mode for years, hoping Rahul will pluck the party from her studious and strategic clutches. The time has come to talk about cabbages and kings, to muster enough ballast, to cast the die. Has Sonia seen the writing on the wall? Now or never….choose your successor, the heir apparent and quit the regent mode. Congress watchers and seasoned media hands are speculating that Rahul will take over the Grand Old Party, and Priyanka could be the electoral face, a doppelgänger for her Dadi. The party must be in the Gandhi family, take direction from Rahul. How else can one interpret Sonia taking the offensive to the party rebels and baiters? She made it clear that her party veterans lacked “clarity and cohesion.” She voiced her unhappiness… the party must fight the diabolical campaign of the RSS and BJP. At least, she has bought some time and respite from the rebel 23, chafing at the bit. Also, poll strategist Prashant Kishor’s statement – nothing can unseat the BJP, at least for now – suggests he may not be joining Congress. Sonia knows well enough: her children have the DNA to claim the throne. Heads or tails, she knows it is the TINA factor she has to work on.
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Can Priyanka Gandhi’s Charisma Win Voters In Uttar Pradesh?

The Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has moved centre-stage in campaigning in the BJP ruled Uttar Pradesh by releasing a mini-manifesto, but the party is yet to decide whether to go solo or have alliance partners. Samajwadi Party has made it clear that it will not have any truck with the Congress due to past experience. Congress insiders said the party has no choice but to go solo. Among Brahmins, Yadavs, Muslims and various sub castes of Dalit the Congress party has little presence and they are not sure whether Priyanka’s charisma will work to defeat the mighty BJP. Meanwhile, there is unanimity among smaller parties to contest elections by joining hands with the Samajwadi Party under the leadership of Akhilesh Yadav. NCP chief Sharad Pawar has announced that Akhilesh Yadav will lead the alliance of like-minded and secular parties to take on the BJP. They will soon meet to formally work out a seat sharing arrangement. Clearly, smaller parties feel that fighting the upcoming polls under Congress party’s leadership will be suicidal. Ironically these parties except BSP, AAP and AIMIM are okay with the idea of coming together and forging an alliance to take on BJP at the national level but are averse to joining hands with Congress in the state. Is Congress doing self-introspection as demanded by G23 for its rejuvenation?

Photo : Fotocorp

Mamata-Kishor Chalking Out Mission TMC For Poll-Bound Goa

Looks like West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s plans to make a big bang start in Goa on October 28 may not quite happen. That is because she is not able to get the right kind of line-up of leaders — from the Congress and other smaller parties — to join her Trinamool Congress (TMC). Her key advisor strategist Prashant Kishor (PK) has been working on it for weeks. Yet he has not been able to make much headway. Initially, PK was lucky in persuading former CM Luizinho Faleiro, ex- Goa Pradesh Congress Committee chief, to join the TMC. Faleiro had helped the Congress clinch a big win in 2017 by picking up 17 of the 40 seats — the BJP won only 13 seats and yet managed to form the government with the support of smaller parties. Faleiro is expected to draw the right mix of leaders to the TMC Goa but there has not been much headway. Of Goa’s 40 seats, 21 are from the largely Hindu North and 19 seats from the mainly Catholic South. Mamata is keen on getting Goa Forward Party leader Vijai Sardesi (who is seen tilting towards Congress’ working president Alexio Sequeira) and his two MLAs. Mamata even got a high profile TV anchor who flaunts his Goa connection and common surname to boot to call up Vijai Sardesai.
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Photo : Twitter

Tamil Nadu’s New Governor Ravi Keeps DMK On Tenterhooks

While in Delhi, the newly appointed Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi prefers to stay in his MS Flats at RK Puram than in the Governor’s suite in Tamil Nadu Bhavan in Chanakyapuri — which is part of the diplomatic enclave in the national capital. He had been staying in this flat during his long service in IB and retained it when he was the Governor of Nagaland till he was sent to Chennai. His visit to Delhi a month after taking charge has the ruling DMK worried. This is because he held a lengthy meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah and then called on PM Narendra Modi. DMK leaders wonder what may be cooking. Apparently, Chief Minister MK Stalin doesn’t want any confrontation with the Governor nor with PM Modi. Finance Minister Dr P Thiaga Rajan (PTR) too has piped down his confrontation with the Centre. It may be noted that Governor Ravi’s daughter Prof Shamika Ravi was a member of PM’s Economic Advisory Council.

Photo : Twitter

NCB’s Sameer Wankhede In The Dock Over Caste Certificate?

Narcotics Control Bureau’s zonal director Sameer Wankhede, who is handling drugs cases involving high profile celebrities, may soon face inquiry into his caste certificate. There are allegations that Wankhede has not got a certificate from the caste scrutiny committee and therefore the certificate that he had produced at the time of his IRS exam – and after that – may be scrutinized. If the caste scrutiny committee takes objection, then the onus will be on Wankhede to prove his caste by producing necessary papers to substantiate his claim or face a punitive action. Few independent lawyers have already compiled details about Wankhede’s caste certificate. The scrutiny by a caste scrutiny committee is mandatory for a candidate contesting various elections and also for examinations and jobs. NCP minister Nawab Malik is firing salvos, day in and day out, against Wankhede, who must now not only counter the allegations, and combat drug cartels but also prove that his caste certificate papers are in order. Clearly, there are too many forces giving Wankhede a tough time.
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Photo : Twitter

Is Devendra Fadnavis Being Groomed For Delhi?

Like corporate India, BJP too invests in future leaders. The latest news wafting from party HQ is that the Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra state assembly, Devendra Fadnavis, is being groomed to move to the Centre. He is expected to fight the 2024 Lok Sabha polls from Pune which is currently represented by veteran BJP leader Girish Bapat. Fadnavis, who is currently a legislator from Nagpur south west constituency, recently bought a house in Pune. Pune is a safe bet as it is a Brahmin dominated constituency with a sizeable presence of RSS Parivar. Fadnavis has been recently told by the Central leadership to focus on Pune by increasing his visibility there. BJP has launched Samarth Booth Abhiyan with a resolve to retain power in the upcoming elections to the Pune Municipal Corporation. It is the party’s conscious decision to send Fadnavis to Pune to avoid any rumblings as Nagpur, which houses the RSS headquarters, is represented by veteran party leader Nitin Gadkari who will be the party’s nominee for the third successive term. Recently, BJP through a reputed organization conducted a survey for PMC elections in which it was revealed that the party’s popularity index was 54% in outer Pune which is growing exponentially.


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.