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Collage Maker-14-Oct-2022-01

Naveen Patnaik Banks On Women’s Group To Wrest Dhamnagar Seat From BJP

The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) finally named Abanti Das to contest the Dhamnagar by-election to be held on November 3. Abanti Das, Mission Shakti specialist, is very actively involved with women Self Help Groups around Odisha. Political analysts say once again chief minister Naveen Patnaik has played his card well by focussing on women voters to win the prestigious seat left vacant with the untimely death of BJP MLA Bishnu Charan Sethi. BJD is positive of Abanti Das because she is a fresh face and that fits into BJD’s strategy of giving breaks to newcomers. Also, BJD did not want to repeat the mistake of fielding a candidate which would trigger internal fights and give advantage to BJP like it did in 2019. This explains why BJD did not opt for its former two MLA’s Rajendra Kumar Das and Muktakanta Mandal as they are constantly at loggerheads. But, Patnaik’s move has not gone well with the former BJD MLA Rajendra Das. He has defied BJD supremo by filing nomination as an independent candidate. Abanti Das is the chairperson of Tihidi block at Bhadrakh who has vast experience in Mission Shakti. BJD is counting on her vote mobilisation networking abilities to win the by-poll election. BJD sources say “winning this time is expected, since BJD has won all the by-polls conducted since 2019”.
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Cong Cribs As EC Doesn"t Declare Gujarat Poll Dates Along With Himachal

It was sort of deja vu. The Election Commission’s decision to put off announcing Gujarat poll schedule while declaring elections time-table for Himachal Pradesh has evoked predictable response from the Congress. While CEC Rajiv Kumar defended scheduling Himachal elections on November 12 and December 8 as result day, he said Gujarat poll dates would come later; he pointed to a 40 day gap of tenure of two assemblies (Himachal & Gujarat). Ideally, Congress should have cheered Himachal dates considering it has not even bothered to start its campaign in Gujarat and is largely relying on a proxy like AAP. The EC said it was scheduling an early poll in Himachal because of snowing in the upper reaches. In 2017 too the.EC had given separate dates for Gujarat and Himachal. At that time Gujarat poll dates were delayed to put off imposing the model code of conduct in the state as it was felt it would disrupt flood relief operations. Then CEC AK Jyoti had cited how in 2001 the law ministry and the EC had reached an understanding following that there would not be a gap of more than 21 days between the announcement of polls and the date of the notification of elections. That means the model code will be in place for 46 days. When elections to Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh were announced together in 2012, the model code remained enforced for 86 days.
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Avdhoot Tatkare Joins BJP, Jolts Sena (U) And NCP Simultaneously

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sunil Tatkare’s nephew Avdhoot Tatkare has joined the BJP, snapping his ties with the Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray.  A Sena MLA for 2014-19, Avdhoot is the son of Tatkare’s brother Anil. Avdhoot’s decision is considered politically crucial since his action to enter the BJP is looked at as a double blow, to the NCP and the Sena under Uddhav. NCP has recently appointed Sunil Tatkare as its national general secretary. His daughter Aditi is presently MLA and was a minister of state in the previous ministry led by Uddhav as chief minister. Sunil Tatkare himself is a confidant of NCP leader Sharad Pawar. In view of the stature of Sunil, the step taken by Avdhoot is considered significant against the backdrop of future electoral calculations. Avdhoot was welcomed by BJP state unit president Chandrakant Bawankule. After his formal entry, Avdhoot told the media that he had not joined the BJP for any post or with any precondition. However, it is felt that Avdhoot falling out with uncle Sunil happened since his claim was ignored in favour of Aditi. The BJP has been struggling to find a firm footing in the Konkan region of Maharashtra. Avdhoot is considered a prize catch by the BJP since he is considered capable to take on the heavyweight Tatkare in Konkan.
Suella Braverman

PM’s Proposed Air Dash To UK Called Off As Trade Deal Is A Dead Duck Already

The much-anticipated Indo-UK trade deal is a non-starter. A Diwali deadline had been put on its signing by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former British PM Boris Johnson. But the deal is on a back burner now despite Liz Truss wanting to move things along. In fact, it was suggested that PM Modi take a flying trip to the UK to meet Truss and speed up the deal, but that idea was shot down after Suella Braverman, Britain’s Home Secretary, swam into the picture to cloud up the waters with her gripe against Indians. An Indian-origin migrant born to Indian parents, Suella targeted Indians as the worst kind of visa over stayers in the UK. While statistically that may be true, there was little need for her to take off on a rant above Indian migrants at this juncture. The Indian foreign office is miffed with Suella’s tirade, which they see as a spoke in the wheel of the trade deal. Tending to the visa regime and laying down guidelines favouring India in visas was part of the deal. But the Tory government is on such shaky ground regarding the British economy and the mini-Budget that Kwarteng presented under Truss’ tutelage that the India trade deal has taken a back seat. The Diwali deadline is set to run out in 10 days from now.
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No Aadhaar, No Freebies Says Tamil Nadu Govt

Freebies are the inventions of political parties to win elections. More often than not, the poll promises of political parties across the spectrum contain liberal freebies. Once in power, they are, however, faced with the reality of the financial situation: How do we fund the freebies? One is reminded of the proverb `robbing Peter to pay Paul’. This is not a sound strategy. Parties – especially the ruling ones – are discovering this. Well, the Tamil Nadu Government has now decided to mandate the use of Aadhaar identification service in Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation, which gives free power to hut-consumers and farmers. Select categories of power users are given free supply to a limited extent. These are funded by the government of Tamil Nadu, and involve expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of the State.  A government order issued by the Energy Department of Tamil Nadu Government on October 6 now makes it mandatory for all those using or desirous of using the freebies’ schemes to provide proof of the possession of Aadhaar numbers.  If they don’t, they have to undergo an Aadhaar identification process. Freebies are indeed a necessary tool to bring about social justice. But the state must know if they really reach the needy. Well, the Aadhaar linkage is inevitable to plug the holes in the power distribution system.
Collage Maker-13-Oct-2022-06

Is Nitish Kumar Under Pressure To Merge JDU With RJD?

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Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is under pressure to merge his party Janata Dal United (JDU) with his new coalition partner Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD). At its national executive meeting in Delhi early this week the RJD passed a resolution to change its name and symbol. The move is being seen as the RJD setting the stage for its likely merger with JDU, which would mean Tejashwi Yadav holding the reins in Bihar while Nitish moves on to play a role in national politics. Apparently resolution for change in the name of RJD or its electoral symbol ( hurricane lantern] and allied issues vested powers with national president Lalu Prasad Yadav or Tejashwi Yadav, was read out by Lalu’s trusted aide Bhola Yadav. Interestingly, the resolution was put in place before Lalu Prasad left for Singapore for kidney related treatment. The merger resolution caught RJD leaders by surprise as it was not on the agenda and came up suddenly. The RJD’s main argument for the merger is that Nitish will have support of a strong political base when he goes to Delhi. The Yadavs also feel it will be the best way to ensure that Nitish doesn’t go back to the NDA. So far JDU has not officially spoken about the merger talk. BJP leader Sushil Modi says “Nitish Kumar has no other option”. The RJD and JDU’s combined tally is 125 in the 243-member assembly.
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Happy Days Are Here Again For Kanimozhi!

Looks like Kanimozhi is the flavour of the season, not just in the DMK power camp but in the BJP’s net casting too. Just last month, she thanked home minister Amit Shah profusely for facilitating her mother’s trip to Germany for medical treatment. Then followed the significant reshuffling of Parliamentary Committees and appointment of new chairpersons by Narendra Modi. Kanimozhi was handpicked by the PM to head the Committee on Rural Affairs and Panchayat Raj. Not without rhyme or reason; it is well known that PM Modi imbues his decisions with ironclad logic and perceived future insurance. The DMK MP from Thoothukudi has worked hard in her constituency to make the Adopt A Village program noteworthy. Venkatesapuram, a village adopted by her, scored high in most development indices. This focused result-oriented work backed the PM’s choice for his Adarsh Gram Yojana outreach plan. The penny dropped at the just held DMK General Body Meet, Stalin was unanimously re-elected for a second term as party Chief, and he in a surprise move announced Kanimozhi as one of the five general secretaries. This was followed up with courtesy visits to her home by both Stalin and son Udhayanidhi. It may be recalled that the nephew Udhayanidhi had earlier ignored aunt Kanimozhi and now he was cosying up to her. Kanimozhi is a prized 5G asset now –a big contrast to the humiliation of the 2G days.
Collage Maker-10-Oct-2022-02

Patnaik Takes Wind Out Of The Opposition Sail By Launching Mission Millet

Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik is forever thinking of newer and newer ways to connect with his voters as he is keen to transform their lives. The latest programme unveiled by him is Odisha Millet Mission that will touch the lives of 95-lakh plus tribals in the state. Of course, these tribals will play a big role in the 2024 Assembly elections. Many in the opposition grudgingly admit that Mission Millet is a game changer.  Realizing its potential — nutritional advantage and as political currency — the Odisha government has already declared November 10 as Mandia Dibas. Political observers say, it is Patnaik’s masterstroke by focussing on a single big constituency comprising tribals it will yield big dividends.  Now, the state government is going all out to promote millet cultivation in a big way in both the tribal and non-tribal districts. It is learnt that the state government now plans to extend millet coverage to 142 blocks in 19 districts. Naveen babu who believes in his work speaking for him has constantly advised his ministers and party workers to “talk less, let the work speak for itself”. Looks like his mantra is working as the Odisha people are quite favourably listening to millet’s wellness advantage. So as of now it is Advantage BJD.
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Dharavi Redevelopment To Finally Take Off, At Over 3X Cost

The ambitious Dharavi Slum Redevelopment project looks like it is poised to take off as the pre-bid talks for the work have received excellent response. The project will now be undertaken at an estimated cost of Rs 23000 crore against the earlier Rs 7200 crore after it has been languishing for a long time due to political, administrative and global financial reasons. Mired in delays due to a variety of reasons, most notably the Covid-19 pandemic, the project was brought back on rails by the Shinde-Fadnavis government as soon as it assumed power. Launching the project will be crucial in view of the election to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, expected to take place later this year. The responding firms include several international undertakings. While eight firms have shown an interest in actual development, about a dozen are desirous to involve as consultants, according to Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority. The foreign firms are from Dubai and South Korea. The Dharavi redevelopment project, originally envisaged over a quarter century ago, was revised in 2004. It aims at resettling about 68000 families and a large number of commercial establishments already existing. The response to the pre-bid discussions has been heartening and the real picture will emerge after October 31 when actual quotations for redevelopment and for consultation are received.
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Setback For Uddhav: Uncertainty Envelops Andheri Assembly Bypoll, High Court To Hear Matter On Thursday

Uncertainty hangs over the potential rival candidates for the prestigious Andheri (East) assembly byelection on 3 November owing to procedural, legal and political issues involved in Uddhav Thackeray faction’s nominee Rutuja Latke’s eligibility to contest.  As the fate of Latke, an employee of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), is still uncertain and amidst reports that chief minister Eknath Shinde’s side is eager to enter the fray, the BJP’s perceived candidate Murji Patel’s name has not been declared officially by the party. The flip flop over clearing Latke’s resignation will be argued before the high court on Thursday. Meanwhile, political claims and counterclaims continue. Latke met BMC commissioner I S Chahal on Wednesday (Oct 12) afternoon to press for the acceptance of her resignation but came out without getting any firm assurance. According to former minister Anil Parab, a plea in all likelihood will be heard tomorrow. Parab said that his side has kept Plan-B ready in case Latke is prevented from contesting. Latke told reporters that she was firmly with Uddhav and discounted reports that she had met Shinde.  According to BMC, Latke’s first resignation letter was faulty since she had put some pre-conditions in the letter. An amended letter was submitted two days ago. However, given BMC’s procedure, it could take up to 30 days to process and decide. All these factors will be put before the high court on Thursday (Oct 13).
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Didi Quietly Reaches Out To Mukul Roy To Strengthen TMC In Rural Bengal

With panchayat elections scheduled to be held in the state in February 2023, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is already missing her close associate and party veteran Partha Chaterjee. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader was industry minister at the time of his arrest in the school recruitment scam in July this year. Partha’s absence is strongly being felt because of his knowledge of rural Bengal and network of party workers who reported to him. Partha as general secretary regularly kept in touch with party activists and gave regular feedback. Mamata is aware that her nephew Abhishek, party’s national general secretary and Howrah Lok Sabha  MP, is not very grounded about rural Bengal issues and doesn’t seem to network or care about grameen TMC workers. That is why to overcome these shortcomings in the party set-up, the TMC supremo has reached out to her old associate Mukul Roy who got elected as BJP MLA in 2021 West Bengal assembly elections but nevertheless rejoined the TMC. It must be pointed out Didi’s overtures to Mukul Roy are being done on sly, that is when the nephew is reportedly away in Dubai. It is said Roy didn’t get much work to do since his return to the TMC because Abhishek Banerjee was not in favour of giving any importance to the old guards.
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As Rahul Gandhi Sprints With Siddaramaiah, DK Shivkumar Comes With An Up Close Shot & Few Ditty Lines

Healthy competition between two leading lights of Karnataka Congress even as Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra is traversing through the state is simply overwhelming. The race between the two CM aspirants — CLP leader Siddaramaiah and KPCC chief  DK Shivkumar — is getting ever so keen  and obvious that it is irrepressible and also spills over into social media as it happened last week. When Shivkumar was away in Delhi answering ED summons, Rahul took Siddaramaiah’s hand and insisted that he join him in a spirited run. The 75-year-old former Karnataka CM quietly gave in and happily sprinted with the Gandhi scion. This display of close rapport between Rahul and Siddaramaiah naturally worried 60-year old Shivkumar with Karnataka assembly polls scheduled early next year. So the big man with deep pockets reportedly picking tabs of the Bharat Jodo Yatra decided to do some damage control. On his return from Delhi, Shivkumar rejoined the yatra for an upclose shot with his leader .The picture/ video is now a pinned tweet on his handle as a counter to his rival. With these ditty lines “Somedays you walk, somedays you sprint! Chasing a dream requires you to do both!
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NCP, BJP And Uddhav Sena Keep Politics Away, Shake Hands To Capture Mumbai Cricket Association

Even as a political battle is raging in Maharashtra, antagonists from the two sides have teamed up to capture the prestigious Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA). NCP boss Sharad Pawar has fielded Mumbai BJP chief Ashish Shelar for the post of MCA president. The MCA apex committee, too, has Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray’s right hand Milind Narvekar and Pawar’s confidant Jitendra Awhad, among others. Former cricketer Sandip Patil suddenly found himself sidelined when Pawar decided to switch his support to Shelar, following a meeting between the two leaders. Till then, Patil was projected as a Pawar nominee. The announcement of the names of Shelar and others in the panel has been made in writing on behalf of “Sharad Pawar—Ashish Shelar Group.” A top BJP leader’s close follower, Amol Kale, will contest the October 20 election for the post of vice president. MCA is the richest sports body in India and has been politically controlled over the years. Then Lok Sabha speaker Manohar Joshi of the Shiv Sena and Pawar himself have headed it for a long time. MCA has invariably favoured politicians over cricketers and the defeated players so far include giants like Madhav Mantri, Ajit Wadekar and Dilip Vengasarkar.
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Archana Nag and Jagabandhu Chand

Sex Scandal Cutting Across Parties Rocks Odisha

The casting couch allegations made against Odisha’s NRI film producer Akshay Parija by an aspiring 23 year old actress has now turned into a nightmare for high profile politicians, businessmen and celebrities. Akshay Parija filed a retaliatory police complaint accusing the 27-year old Archana Nag as the mastermind stating he was “honey trapped”. When the police raided Archana’s luxury apartment in the heart of Bhubaneshwar from where she and her husband Jagabandhu Chand  ran a high profile prostitution racket, they stumbled upon photos of top BJD, BJP and Congress leaders in compromising position. The sex racket has opened a Pandora’s box. Congress leader Suresh Rautray has urged the chief minister to take stringent action against Archana and her husband for blackmailing and extorting money from several prominent personalities including political biggies of Odisha. Police have stumbled upon as many as 64 photos of influential people from Archana’s laptop and this includes two from erstwhile royal families, who are veteran political leaders. Nag who had hired around 20 high-profile sex workers instructed them to always click photographs of prominent personalities in compromising position. Archana has been arrested while her husband is absconding.  “I do not know when, how and who clicked my photo, ” said Law Minister Jagannath Saraka. Similarly, BJP Lok Sabha MP Jual Oram dismissed his link with Archana saying “I do not know the women. As politicians we meet many people where they click selfies and photos. She might have clicked a photo at a public event.”
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@narendramodi

PM Modi Will Certainly Miss Mulayam, His One Well-Wisher Across The Aisle

In the passing away of socialist veteran Mulayam Singh Yadav (82), Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have lost his one well-wisher across the aisle. Recalling an incident in the 16th Lok Sabha, Modi pointed out how he treasures to this day Mulayam’s words as a blessing; words that had stunned the entire Opposition. Modi said it was just ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Mulayam had predicted that he would return as PM. “Mulayamji had said he wanted to congratulate the PM for trying to move forward by taking everyone along. I hope you (Narendra Modi) will become the Prime Minister again. It was ahead of 2019 general elections when the opposition was planning to form a mahagathbandhan to take on Modi’s BJP. His statement had stirred the hornet’s nest, shocking his son Akhilesh Yadav too,” recalled Modi speaking at a rally in Gujarat. It is this penchant to throw surprises that has marked many upheavals in the long career of Samajwadi Party patriarch. Be it joining hands with BSP supremo Mayawati in 1993 to form a short-lived coalition government in UP or refusing  to extend support to Congress President Sonia Gandhi to become PM  after the fall of Vajpayee Government by one vote in 1999.  Mulayam could have become PM in 1996 but his chances were scuttled by Lalu Prasad and Sharad Yadav — ironically, his kinsmen. Now, Lalu Prasad proudly talks of “Netaji” as a close relative since his daughter is married into Mulayam’s family.
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@PawarSpeaks

Pawar’s Remark On Muslim Contribution In Bollywood To Become A Political Tool

Nationalist Congress party chief Sharad Pawar’s statement that the minority Muslim community has contributed the most to Bollywood has generated intense political heat, leading to indications that this remark can become a political tool in the coming Andheri assembly constituency by-election, to be held on November 3. At a function organised by Vidarbha Muslim Bauddhik Manch at Nagpur, Pawar said the highest contribution has come from the minorities, whether it is art, literature or cinema. Pawar felt that the community is not getting its due share though being a large part of the population. In the past, Pawar’s various statements have generated sharp reactions. His remarks about the Brahmin community is a case in point. Following the turmoil, Pawar interacted with a delegation of the community in Pune in a bid to assuage the feeling of hurt expressed by its members. About the latest statement, BJP spokesman Shehzad Poonawala has asked, “What about the contribution of Dadasaheb Phalke, Lata Mangeshkar, Kishor Kumar, Madhuri Dixit and such luminaries?” BJP MLA Ram Kadam said the statement was made with an eye on the vote bank. Producer Vivek Agnihotri tweeted, “When I came to Mumbai, SP ji was the king. Like any king, his party collected taxes. Many Bollywoodiyas contributed generously. In return, they were allowed to create their own kingdoms. I always wondered who were those people. This from Pawar has cleared all my doubts.”
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Can BJD Wrest Odisha’s Prestigious Dhamnagar Assembly Seat From BJP?

Ahead of 2024 election preparation, BJD and BJP in Odisha are all set for high voltage by-election drama to contest Dhamnagar assembly seat on November 3.This decision was necessitated after the recent death of two-time sitting BJP MLA Bishnu Charan Sethi. This win or loss at Dhamnagar by election which as of today is BJP’s citadel, will set the pace for 2024 Lok Sabha elections. BJP is likely to field a member of the Sethi family as it is hopeful that voters will give BJP another chance to fulfill the unfinished task of Sethi who was known as a prolific writer, poet and thinker. However this time, the task for BJP is cut out, given that in 2019 election, BJP’s Sethi had won by thin margin 48% visa-vis BJD 45% votes, while Congress garnered only 4% votes. Interestingly, if one looks at by-election results held in Bijepur, Tirtol, Pipili, Brajrajnagar, Balasore Sadar between between 2019 and 2020 then all seats have been won by the ruling Biju Janata Dal. Leader of opposition Jaya Narayan Mishra representing BJP is hopeful that Sethi’s good reputation will ensure victory at Dhamnagar by-election and BJP will treat this as a practice match ahead of the final match in 2024.
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Rahul Gandhi Rephrases His Views On Business After BJP Mocks Him With A Photo Of Adani-Gehlot

Looks like this whole Bharat Jodo Yatra is all a bid to change perception about Rahul Gandhi. That is why a day after Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot was attacked  for praising industrialist Gautam Adani at the State Investor Summit even as his party leader is known to target Adani-Ambani, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi came forward to clarify his stand. Overruling Jairam Ramesh at a Bharat Jodo presser, Rahul volunteered to speak up on Adani-Gehlot cosying up by saying that “Adani has committed ₹65,000 crore to Rajasthan. No chief minister can refuse such an offer. In fact, it wouldn’t be correct for a CM to refuse such an offer.” Tweeting a pic of Adani with Gehlot, BJP spokesperson Amit Malviya dubbed it as another sign of revolt and brewing discontent against the Gandhis. “Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot invites Gautam Adani for the investor summit. He is given a seat right next to the CM. This is an open message to Rahul Gandhi, who doesn’t tire berating Adani-Ambani, to back off.” It was to answer such jibes that Rahul said, “My opposition is to 2 or 3 or 4 large businesses being helped politically to monopolise every single business in this country. That is where my opposition is.” High on media hype, Gehlot declared will welcome all investments from “Gautam Adani, Mukesh Ambani to Jay Shah.”
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Tamil Nadu Govt Bites The Bullet, Bans Online Gambling

The Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Ordinance that totally bans all games of chance with money or other stakes goes further than most states in curbing what is an uncontrolled menace in the country. The ordinance says online gambling is addictive, causes suicides due to unsustainable debts and leads to financial distress and ruined families. It’s not certain how the ban will apply online as net trawlers may know how to get around outright bans. But features like geo-tagging may make it tougher for the ordinary web user to get on to gambling sites from Tamil Nadu. Based on the recommendations of the 5-member committee headed by Justice (Retd) K Chandru, the ordinance was brought in with the clinching evidence from a survey of 2 lakh school teachers revealing that concentration in children was impacted, eye defects were detected, intelligence quotient decreased, writing skills and creativity affected, self-esteem lowered and anger and indiscipline increased. The ordinance provides for setting up a ‘Tamil Nadu Online Gaming Authority’ to exercise powers and regulate the gaming industry and prohibits banks, financial institutions and payment gateway providers from extending any financial services to the gaming industry.  Only 27 people out of 10,735 who sent mails expressing their opinion on online gambling and games, did not want a ban.
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Raj Thackeray’s Party Poses Against Eknath Shinde And BJP, Surprises Many

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Eknath Shinde’s admirer Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s latest statements have suddenly sprung a surprise for many since MNS had stood steadfastly with both leaders till recently. The change has happened after the Dussehra rallies of the Shiv Sena’s two factions. The first surprise was MNS leader Akhil Chitre’s criticism of the rally’s management by the supporters of chief minister Eknath Shinde. In a tweet, Chitre expressed displeasure that the Mumbai University Kalina campus was used for parking the buses which had transported Shinde supporters from various districts of the state. He was particularly sore about the mounds of empty liquor bottles spotted where the visitors had camped. The second chiding came from MNS leader Amey Khopkar, who opposed BJP MLA Ram Kadam’s demand to ban the movie ‘Adipurush’ forthwith. Kadam had said that the movie demonized Hindu deities and hence would not be allowed to screen in Maharashtra. Khopkar said that it was wrong to criticize a movie without first watching out. No ban was called for, he felt, adding that this could be Kadam’s personal stand. Raj Thackeray had recently praised Modi and Amit Shah. His meetings with CM Shinde had generated speculation about his plans in regard to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) election later this year.
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Uddhav Under Attack For A Remark About Eknath Shinde’s Grandson, BJP Joins In

Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray is under concerted attack from the rival Sena faction as well as the BJP due to a remark he made about the grandson of chief minister Eknath Shinde in his Dussehra rally speech at Shivaji Park. In a sharp response, deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has demanded a public apology from Uddhav. He told the media that he resented the unsavoury remark, which should not have been made in the first place. Fadnavis said Uddhav must withdraw his words. Rattled by the onslaught, Uddhav faction spokesman Ambadas Danve has tried to mollify the opposition.  According to him, Uddhav’s statement was political in nature and should not be interpreted otherwise. Attacking the chief minister, Uddhav in his speech had said that Shinde’s son was a member of parliament and now even his grandson would be in line, eyeing some municipal corporator post. Within hours, Uddhav began getting flak from various quarters. The Uddhav camp has taken the precautionary step to explain away the remark in view of the Andheri assembly by-election scheduled to take place on 3 November. If no damage control measures were in place, the opposition would exploit the remark to rouse anger, Shiv Sena strategists felt. “When my grandson Rudransh was born, your downfall began,” the CM retorted.
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Amit Shah Draws Big Crowds In J&K, Says No Truck With Local Parties

Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s second visit to Jammu & Kashmir early this week has been remarkable. He addressed well-attended public rallies in Rajouri( Jammu) and Baramulla(Kashmir) that showcased popular mood in the Union Territory .”Earlier delimitation was for the benefit of only three families, for the first time after independence, now there has been a real delimitation in Jammu and Kashmir, due to which people of the hilly region have got their rights,” he said. Shah made it clear that BJP would not align with any local player — either the National Conference or the PDP, or even Ghulam Nabi Azad’s Democratic Azad Party; elections are to be held next year. Making it clear that the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019 had paved the way for extending reservation benefits to deprived sections of the society at a public rally in Rajouri, Shah assured reservations to the Pahari community. Recently, the Modi Government had nominated Ghulam Ali, a member of Gujjar tribe, to the Rajya Sabha. Shah began his visit by offering prayers at Vaishnodevi Temple. Significantly, he struck a positive note when he removed the bullet proof shield and paused his speech at the time of azaan in Baramulla. As a goodwill gesture to the family of Mudasir Sheikh, the policeman who laid down his life fighting terrorists in May he visited his grave in Uri.
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Ponniyin Selvan Kicks Off Hindutva Debate, Also Rakes in Record Rs 300 Crore In Six Days

Every TV news channel had a noisy field time discussing thread bare, was Raja Raja Chozhan, the Chola Emperor who built the immortal Tanjore Temple, a Hindu? Why this sudden mushroom cloud about an Emperor’s religious leanings, that too extrapolating from a film that has made history in more ways than just cinematic? Kalki’s immortal 5-part compendium Tamil novel Ponniyin Selvan, written over 70 years ago, with few attempts at filming it, has remained a seminal magnum opus literary work. Even Kamal Haasan is said to have toyed with the idea of a film based on it. After the unalloyed success of his Vikram, box office collection of Rs 600 crore, Kamal’s cinematic ego and artistic aura may have been bruised  by Ponniyin Selvan-Part 1  collecting Rs 300 crore in just six days of release. The legendary filmmaker Mani Ratnam has succeeded beyond expectations. With his cinematic craft, and perhaps the only one who could bring Kalki’s classic to the screen…on a breath-taking scale of the art and architecture of the Golden Era of the Cholas, of beauteous women who powered exquisite palace intrigues, an era that still stands tall and unmatched, etched in stone in temples, an era when Hinduism showcased its finest traditions of Shaivite and Vaishnavite worship. Ponniyin Selvan will remain a spectacular pan Indian film, and a feat hard to match.
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BCCI

Mohammed Shami Or Deepak Chahar, The Hitchcockian Suspense Continues

Jasprit Bumrah’s back flared up and it straightaway pushed India back to the wall in gearing up for the ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup in Australia. It would be a big shoe to fill for anyone as an eleventh hour replacement for him, even if it is a seasoned campaigner like Mohammed Shami or Deepak Chahar,  who is trying to find his feet into the world of international cricket competitions. Twenty20 format is cut out for those who have the stomach for a fight in each of the 120 balls. That’s why the name of Shami — with many matches under his belt — is being bandied about, though he has not sent down a single ball in a Twenty20 international for a year.  Recently Shami was laid low by Covid-19 and the decision makers are monitoring his recovery speed and trying to find out if his body will be able to withstand the strain and pressure the multi-nation competition will demand in Australia. The first challenge will be to deal with Pakistan’s successful opening pair in Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam on October 23 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. India needs someone to start with the Kookaburra ball along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and the two Sharma’s– Chetan (Chairman, Selection Committee) and Rohit (Captain) – along with team’s Dronacharya, Rahul Dravid will pick Bumrah’s replacement soon.
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Kodak Moment As Sonia Joins Son Rahul On Bharat Jodo Yatra In Mandya

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Popular Front of India (PFI) was a ‘silent killer,’ according to Maharashtra deputy chief Devendra Fadnavis while chief minister Eknath Shinde has warned that no anti-national activities would be permitted to take place in the state. The ban is welcomed across the state. Also holding the home affairs portfolio, Fadnavis has disclosed that the PFI had kept many prominent people on its hit list. It was planning to engineer unrest. PFI had created a huge financial network. Its modus operandi was something like this: open a large number of bank accounts and deposit small amounts so that no suspicion would arise. Fadnavis said very soon, action would be initiated against PFI and six other organisations under the Centre’s direction. If any evidence was found, more people and organisations would come under the radar, he indicated. Supporting the ban, Shinde said the elements which shouted pro-Pakistan slogans were dangerous for the country and needed to be dealt with ruthlessly. In fact, people subscribing to such ideology had no right to live in India. He said the state home department and the police would ensure that no such activities recurred in Maharashtra. Workers of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) have welcomed the ban on PFI. In Pune, the ban was celebrated by MNS by distributing sweets. Its leader Sainath Babar said MNS chief Raj Thackeray was the first to demand banning PFI.
Collage Maker-28-Sep-2022-03

Will The Five-Year Ban Reduce PFI’s Pro-Terror Activities Across India?

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

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

Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) is making a curious gambit. He is to announce the founding of his national party BRS (Bharatiya Rashtra Samiti) with regional TRS to merge with it on Dussehra day (Oct. 5). The new party will retain the TRS flag, its car symbol as well as the party colour pink. TRS, which came into prominence during the emotional agitation for a separate Telangana, will soon be consigned to history. Will the KCR gambit work is the question as long time Andhra-Telangana observers see a huge wave of anti-incumbency sentiment against KCR. While it is possible that KCR is doing away with the name TRS on the advice of soothsayers, it is his national foray into 150 seats that is loaded with risk. Those trying to unite the Opposition for 2024 are convinced that a single entity to take on the BJP will work better, as it may have been proved in the recent Italian elections where the Right coalition fielded a united single candidate in most seats. KCR’s national opposition unity moves, which he began in flashy meetings with Arvind Kejriwal, Nitish Kumar and HD Kumaraswami are also being met with scepticism by the likes of Mamata and Sonia Gandhi’s Congress. The BRS will dictate who will be PM in 2024, the new party’s intending founder KCR has been heard saying.
Collage Maker-27-Sep-2022-02

In Kerala, PFI Raids Were Conducted By NIA’s Central Team With Local Police In The Dark

Two days before the simultaneous raid by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Popular Front of India (PFI) premises on September 22, 10 companies of CRPF numbering 750 were flown from Ranchi to Kerala. In other states the raid was conducted by NIA officials of the respective states. But in Kerala it was led by the central team. Even Kerala Police were in the dark barring the State DGP. The raids on the PFI top leader’s residences and various offices across Kerala started around 3 am. The arrest, confiscation of computers/laptops, documents, vouchers etc were completed by 6 am. Before the PFI workers got wind of the raid, top leaders like chairman OMA Salam, president CP Mohammed Basheer and 17 others were already on a flight to Delhi’s NIA court.The raids were successful because 20-odd NIA personnel were camping in Kerala for two months disguised as shop workers monitoring PFI’s activities. Taken by surprise the PFI vented their frustration by calling for hartal and destroying public properties. The Enforcement Directorate revealed that a Malayalam newspaper Thejas was not only PFI’s mouthpiece both in India and Gulf but also a conduit for hawala funds. It seems Darbar Restaurant in Abu Dhabi was the hub through which all hawala transactions were made. Also unraveled were acquisitions of hotels/ villa projects in Munnar and a flourishing spices trade, all part of PFI’s funding.
Collage Maker-26-Sep-2022-05

With Gehlot Plotting Revolt, Will Gandhis Take Action Against Him?

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

Gujarati Dandiya To Don Marathi Attire With Eye On BMC Polls

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

TRENDS & VIEWS

Editor’s Note: Big Punch In Small Pack

It is the Third Anniversary of Short Post and as a news media startup launched during the Covid-19 pandemic it certainly feels better than good to find ourselves where we are today. Here, I must cite the unstinted support of our seasoned contributors, all senior editors in the country, who brought a great degree of maturity and sagacity to the Short Post newsroom. But for them, our tagline “Authentic Gossip”, an Oxymoron, would not have matured viably. Our user numbers may be small but our stories have created the desired impact among people who matter — decision makers and influencers. We offer a big punch in a small pack and Short Post with its 225-word stories has been punching above its weight category. Having posted close to 3,000 stories in the last 36 months, Short Post, I feel, is an idea whose time has come.
And this is vindicated by our two marquee advertisers – IDFC FIRST Bank and ICICI Lombard. Both believed in our story and have supported us from Day one. A big thank you to both.
If you look at the media landscape – print, TV and digital — it is a mixed bag. There are job losses as some outfits have closed down while a lucky few were bailed out by large corporate houses. Yes, there is a lot of action in the digital space. However, the entry of corporate houses has raised the question of independence of news media outfits. Sadly, there are just a handful of independent media outfits in the country that are highly respected for their neutrality. At Short Post, our credo is not to take sides, prejudge issues or be biased but, informing readers of behind-the-scenes happenings. In essence, Short Post strives to be a neutral editorial platform — neither anti-establishment nor pro-establishment.
As I said last year, disruptions in the media world are moving at a fast and furious pace. Technology is playing a very big role in how content is generated and consumed. But, we are neither alarmed nor perturbed as it is all a part of the evolution process. What gives us comfort is that AI is unable to create original gossipy content. And that is the news arena where we have achieved a distinction.