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Poll Strategist Prashant Kishor To Guide Separate Vidarbha Movement

Election strategist Prashant Kishor has accepted an assignment to revive the decades-old movement to demand a separate Vidarbha state. He will be visiting Nagpur at the end of the month to begin his homework. His teams have already started collating data useful for framing a forceful argument in support of the demand. Former Congress MLA Ashish Deshmukh has invited Prashant to give direction to the movement that began even before India gained independence. Over the years, the popularity of the protagonists went on waning, finally the movement going into oblivion. With the entry of Prashant, the movement organisers hope to infuse a new life into it. Vidarbha in general and Nagpur in particular are a point of political prestige since the headquarters of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is based in the second capital of Maharashtra. With the exception of the 1989 Lok Sabha election, the BJP was never able to win the Nagpur seat till Nitin Gadkari trounced his Congress opponent in 2014 with a huge margin and repeated his victory in 2019. The BJP was the first major political party to resolve the creation of a separate Vidarbha state. However, it kept the issue in cold storage as its then electoral partner, the Shiv Sena, was opposed to the demand, pressing for a united Maharashtra.
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Now A New Twist, Return Kohinoor To Lord Jagannath Demands Odisha Group

With Queen Elizabeth II passing away, the world’s largest cut diamond Kohinoor, and the controversies surrounding it, is once again making news. It began with a group in Odisha tweeting that Kohinoor be returned to India. Kohinoor is one of the largest cut diamonds in the world, weighing 105.6 carats. It is part of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. This demand gathered steam with Odisha’s Shree Jagannath Sena submitting a memorandum to the President Droupadi Murmu seeking her intervention to bring back the controversial prized jewel to Odisha and be placed as the crown of Lord Jagannath. Why Lord Jagannath? In their book, Kohinoor: The Story Of The World’s Most Infamous Diamond written by William Dalrymple and Anita Anand, the authors say that Maharaja Ranjeet Singh of Punjab had indeed willed to donate his Kohinoor crown to Lord Jagannath in consequence of his prayers amidst failing eyesight much before his death in 1839. But the British under Lord Dalhousie following Maharaja Ranjeet Singh’s demise annexed Punjab and shipped the diamond crown to Queen Victoria in 1849. Kohinoor seems like an intellectual, inconclusive, nationalism debate at best.  But the BJP government back in 2014 had buried the Kohinoor controversy to a close saying Kohinoor was gifted to the British crown by Maharaja Duleep Singh.
Collage Maker-16-Sep-2022-12

Uddhav Thackeray Dealt One More Blow, Sena Leaders From 8 States Back Eknath Shinde

Even as the Shiv Sena under Uddhav Thackeray is striving to regain its lost glory, it has been dealt one more blow as top Sena leaders from eight states are reported to have decided to support Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde. The two factions of the Sena have been fighting for legal supremacy since July and exploring all avenues to bolster their numerical strength in a bid to win recognition as ‘official’ Shiv Sena on that basis. The Shinde camp already has a majority of Sena MPs and MLAs on its side. To cap it all, powerful leaders from the states like Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Goa, Manipur and Chhattisgarh in their Mumbai meeting decided to team up with Shinde. On the other hand, the Uddhav faction has claimed that the leaders who attended the meeting are not the ‘nominated’ Sena leaders. “We are in possession of sworn affidavits of the leaders who were appointed by us in various states,” it has clarified. In the ongoing legal battle, every member is likely to prove decisive. The support by these leaders from outside the state can also come handy, according to Shinde faction’s calculation. The Supreme Court is presently hearing various petitions filed by both sides demanding recognition as ‘official’ Shiv Sena.
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L To R: Altone D’costa, Carlos Alvares Ferreira, Yuri Alemao

Pressure From Local Churches Helps Cong Retain 3 MLAs In Goa

If the Congress has three MLAs left in its fold in Goa, it is not because of any commitment towards the party. Apparently, pressure from priests of the local church had prevented Cuncolim MLA Yuri Alemo, Quepem MLA Altone D’Costa and Aldona MLA Carlose Alvares Ferreira from making the switch to the ruling BJP. Sources say that eight party legislators had crossed over to the ruling BJP largely due to the pressure from their constituencies. With the BJP returning to power for a third term in a row, a number of them felt compelled to meet demands of their voters. In July, when party managers like AICC in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao got first whiff of plans of Digambar Kamat and Michael Lobo to engineer a split in the CLP, Lobo was removed as CLP leader/Leader of the Opposition. Subsequently, Rao got busy with Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra in Karnataka. Goa PCC chief Amit Patkar was found to be a rookie. The Congress termed defection of eight out of its 11 MLAs in Goa as the “height of betrayal and shamelessness.” Prior to the February elections Congress candidates had taken an oath not to defect. So “how can someone defy God?” asks Alemao.  BJP Goa chief Sadanand Tanavade summed up extra support as “unconditional”. It also means securing both North and South Lok Sabha seats for 2024.
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Shinde, Fadnavis, Narayan Rane To Meet PM To Urge Repatriation Of Vedanta-Foxconn Project

Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde, deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union minister Narayan Rane are planning to call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to urge him to ensure that the multi-billion dollar Vedanta-Foxconn semiconductor manufacturing project remains in Maharashtra. The heat generated by the Vedanta Group to locate the ambitious project in Gujarat has shaken all political parties in Maharashtra, given its sheer size in terms of investment and employment generation potential. While the opposition Congress, the NCP and the Shiv Sena’s Uddhav faction are blaming the present Shinde-Fadnavis government for the project’s shift, the ruling combine has decided to make efforts afresh to keep the project in the state so that it can counter the sharp criticism effectively. According to government sources, all permissions including land allotment are in place in Maharashtra while suitable land is still being searched. Moreover, the tax rebate offered by Maharashtra is better than Gujarat. Considering Maharashtra’s readiness to launch the project at a short notice, the PM will be requested to use his good offices to persuade the investors to reconsider their decision about the location. While Fadnavis is to return from his Russia visit soon, Rane called on Shinde this morning to discuss the various factors of the matter. The two leaders then contemplated visiting the PM.
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Stalin Roars Back To Form With ‘This Is Not Hindia’

Having spent a few months quietly, attending to duties in Chennai and around the state, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister roared back to form in response to Amit Shah’s comment on Hindi being a friend of all languages. “This is India, not Hindia,” Stalin said, reminding the Home Minister that Hindi is not the national language and not even the sole official language of the country. His advice to the HM was to celebrate an “Indian languages Day” and not a national Hindi Day. Shah may need no reminding that his assiduous promotion of Hindi is not going to work in Tamil Nadu, which is a kind of last bastion against the language thanks to its history of anti-Hindi sentiment. In fact, it was the anti-Hindi wave that brought the Dravidian parties to power in 1967 with CN Annadurai, the Tamil writer from Kancheepuram, becoming the first non-Congress CM of the state. Since then, no national party has posed so much as a threat to the Dravidian duopoly in 55 years. Any central agency, including the airport and its security teams, have been at the receiving end of language chauvinism opposing their use of Hindi. Of course, Amit Shah makes the point that unless local languages coexist with Hindi, India cannot run the country in its own languages.
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BJP and Shiv Sena’s Shinde Faction Face Acid Test Over Andheri Assembly By-Election

The ruling alliance in Maharashtra between the BJP and the Shiv Sena’s Eknath Shinde faction, will face its first acid test over the Andheri assembly constituency by-election, due to be held after the monsoon.  The by-poll is caused due to the death of Shiv Sena’s Ramesh Latke, who was elected twice from this western suburb constituency. He died a few months ago. His wife Rujuta is desirous of contesting. She had called on Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray last week and is reported to have received a positive signal. While chief minister Eknath Shinde is yet to make any statement about the by-election, the BJP is likely to consider the candidature of its erstwhile corporator Murjibhai Patel, who had been trounced by Latke in 2019. At that time, the constituency was allotted to the unified Sena under the BJP-Sena seat sharing pact. Still, Patel had entered the fray as an independent. He was said to have BJP’s tacit blessings. As the petitions of the two Sena factions are embroiled in legal cases, the BJP wishes to claim this prestigious seat. On the other hand, Shinde wants to record his faction’s first grand electoral victory by snatching away the seat from Uddhav. Taking any decision either way is going to prove an acid test for the ruling alliance.
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CPI-M First Mocks Rahul Yatra With "Seat Jodo" Meme, Then Changes Tune

For a moment it seemed the ruling CPI-M in Kerala was more worried than the BJP by the Congress’s Bharat Jodo’s prolonged tour of Kerala. First the party’s official twitter handle came with a meme against Rahul Gandhi dubbing the yatra more as a Seat Jodo yatra. The Marxists felt it was odd that the Congress leader was going to spend “18 days in Kerala but only two days in Uttar Pradesh”. It also noted that this was a strange way to “fight the BJP-RSS.” However, within a day the party changed its line at least locally. CPI-M Kerala secretary MV Govindan said his party was not against the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ but will respond to any unfair criticism or unsavoury remarks against it. That is our stand”.  Like senior CPI-M leader Thomas Issac took on Jairam Ramesh for his ‘Mundu Modi’ remark which was an apparent jibe at Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan and asked why the yatra is avoiding Gujarat and UP. Senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala pointed out that the CPI-M was forced to change its line because of the overwhelming public response to Bharat Jodo Yatra. “The public response to Rahulji’s yatra in Kerala has been very positive and encouraging. This is what forced the CPI(M) to change its approach”. The yatra brought a sense of unity and purpose to the Congress in Kerala.
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Major Setback As Court Orders Dr Swamy To Vacate His Lutyens Bungalow

In a major setback to senior BJP leader and former MP Dr Subramanian Swamy, the Delhi High Court asked him to vacate his government residence which was allotted to him in January 2016. Swamy was allotted the bungalow even before he was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in April 2016. The Court ordered the BJP leader to hand over the possession of his government bungalow to the estate officer within six weeks. Notably, Dr Swamy was allotted a bungalow in Delhi by the Central government for five years in January 2016 after he cited threat perception towards him. As the BJP leader’s Rajya Sabha tenure also came to an end in April 2022, he approached the Delhi HC where he sought re-allotment of the bungalow in view of the continued security threat to him. However, the Centre opposed his plea arguing that the bungalow is required to house other ministers and MPs. Swamy had merged his Janata Party with BJP ahead of the 2014 general elections. It is said former BJP president Nitin Gadkari had a role in getting him back into the BJP. The RSS had backed the idea of having Swamy on its side for his sustained campaign on pro-Hindu issues such as preserving Ram Setu. For some reason, he has become a trenchant critic of the Modi government’s policy initiatives.
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Vedanta-Foxconn Project Goes To Gujarat, Generates Slugfest In Maharashtra

As Gujarat already has a policy on semiconductor industry, the Vedanta-Foxconn combine decided to invest Rs 154,000 crore to set up a massive industrial plant in Gujarat rather than in Maharashtra as it has no such policy. However, the conglomerate’s decision has led to a free for all with every political party blaming its opponent for the loss of the huge investment and employment opportunity. There is a growing feeling in certain quarters in Maharashtra that major projects which could come to the state are going to other states due to political shenanigans. The allegation gained credence when projects like the International Finance Centre proposed in Mumbai was shifted to Gujarat, followed by the National Marine Police Academy, originally planned in Dahanu to Dwarka. Already, an atmosphere of deep suspicion is seen in the political arena of Maharashtra. Incidents like Ajit Pawar’s leaving the NCP national council meet twice without making a speech provide impetus to the rumour mongering. Members of the legislature and municipal corporations change loyalties overnight, adding to the political bitterness. The Vedanta-Foxconn episode has provided a new twist as the previous and present rulers perceive this as a golden opportunity to humble each other. The crux of the matter, that of making a policy, is overlooked in the political slugfest. The slow pace of decision-making in Maharashtra has been highlighted once again, it is felt.
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Power Trips Senior DMK Minister’s Freebie Programme In His Own Constituency

DMk’s grand old man and Tamil Nadu’s water resources minister Durai Murugan had an embarrassing moment in his own constituency Katpadi, Vellore. At the government-run girl’s high school, the 84-year old Murugan was the chief guest to give away bicycles free to local girls when within a span of one hour there were two power cuts. The minister was powerless and speechless.  With no light in sight, he walked out in a huff. Immediately, two assistant engineers of TANGEDCO were shunted out to an obscure gulag presumably to show that the TNEB means business. When the minister landed at the next venue, the organisers ensured there were generators to ensure the programme went off smoothly.  Incidentally, the problems faced by the minister are what Tamil Nadu voters are facing for months together now. Ever since the new government headed by MK Stalin came to power the state has been witnessing frequent power cuts. So much so, most high rises that are proliferating at a profligate pace have generators as part of the deal.  Along with frequent power cuts the Chennaites also face bad roads. Practically every road in the city has been dug up. What Tamil Nadu voters are expecting from the government is basic necessities like power, water, navigable roads etc. Is this too much to ask?
Collage Maker-12-Sep-2022-12

Is The Tamil Nadu Govt Contemplating Getting Into Low Cost Airline Business?

Is the DMK government in Tamil Nadu planning to get into the low cost airline business? When many governments world over including private enterprises have pulled out of this business, this plan is hotly debated as kamikaze. How did this idea take wings? Apparently, TRB Raja, chief of DMK’s IT Wing tweeted that an airline named after the Dravidian Icon, Periyar (EV Ramaswamy Naicker) would soar high. He punned on the name Periyar and came up with Peri Air (not to be confused with global brand Perrier bottled water). Chief Minister MK Stalin, anchored in intense Dravidian ideology, is rumoured to have latched onto the airline enterprise with gusto. Raja buttressed his idea with a hard core business plan. As expected, the BJP and other parties are coming down heavily on this yet to be ratified venture as TN’s debt burden is a staggering Rs 650,000 crore. There is talk about cousin Marans encouragement. It may be recalled that Marans had sold their majority stake in SpiceJet to Ajay Singh. DMK may have inhouse expertise in Maran but headwinds or tailwinds running an airline is a risky business. Stalin’s government should focus on education, healthcare, unemployment and infrastructure issues not get into airline business.
Collage Maker-12-Sep-2022-12

BJP’s Electioneering Begins, Four Maharashtra Leaders To Play Major Role At The National Level

While Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo’ yatra is just taking off, the BJP has appointed campaign chiefs and co-chiefs in 15 states, with leaders from Maharashtra being entrusted with major responsibilities. According to an official announcement from the BJP headquarters, former Union minister Prakash Javadekar will be in-charge for Kerala. The state that has been on the BJP radar for many years. An accomplished organization veteran, Javadekar will face a formidable challenge, it is felt. BJP general secretary Vinod Tawde will begin mobilizing support in Bihar, the state that was under a coalition of the JD(U) and BJP till recently. Known for his strategy skills, Tawde will be assisted by party MP Harish Dwivedi. Former minister Pankaja Munde has been appointed co-chief for Madhya Pradesh, a state under prolonged BJP rule with a brief interruption. Another senior BJP leader, Vijaya Rahatkar, is made co-chief for Rajasthan. She was chairperson of the women’s commission in Maharashtra. Javadekar was regarded highly by the media as an ace spokesman when the BJP was out of power. A find of Pramod Mahajan, he has handled various portfolios at the Centre. Javadekar was dropped in the latest cabinet reshuffle. He has maintained a stoic silence since. Pankaja had been expressing her dissatisfaction time and again. The new responsibility is expected to keep her busy and away from Maharashtra.
Collage Maker-10-Sep-2022-10

Telangana Guv Protests Shoddy Treatment; KCR Fears Growing BJP Clout?

Frosty ties between the Telangana Governor Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government led by K Chandrasekhar Rao came to the fore with the Governor bitterly recalling how she was not allowed to hoist flag on the 75th Independence Day and earlier at the Republic Day. “The state will write history about how a woman Governor was discriminated against… Even now wherever I go protocol isn’t followed,” she said at a public function on completing three years in office. KCR’s daughter and TRS MLC K Kavitha charged the governor of turning her office into a “political stage” to “defame” the Telangana government adding that “BJP-driven smear campaigns” would not cut any ice with the people. Initially, KCR had kept the Governor in good humour and maintained a good relationship with the Centre. This equation turned adversarial after BJP’s steady gains in Telangana post 2019. Kavitha lost her Nizamabad Lok Sabha seat to the BJP. A year later in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) polls, the BJP emerged as the second-largest player on a turf where it was considered a negligible force. Out of 150-seats, BJP won 48, TRS 55 and AIMIM 44. With just 17 Lok Sabha seats, KCR knows Telangana may not count for much. That’s perhaps why he decided to team up with Nitish Kumar to raise opposition bulwark against the BJP.
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Cong Post On Khaki Shorts Afire: Is It A Signal To Attack BJP Workers?

A Congress post featuring a burning pair of Khaki shorts in an apparent dig at the RSS, triggered a war of words in the backdrop of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra. In its tweet, Congress wrote “To free the country from shackles of hate and undo the damage done by BJP-RSS. Step-by-step, we will reach our goal.” The image of the burning Khaki shorts was captioned: “145 days more to go.” The tweet did not name the RSS though it clearly pointed at the organisation’s trademark Khaki shorts. Incidentally, the RSS had given up its Khaki shorts for trousers in 2016. The Congress tweet evoked strong BJP and RSS reactions. While the BJP demanded that the tweet be taken down as it was a signal to violence against its workers in Kerala where they were subjected to violence. “They want to connect people to hatred. They’ve harboured hatred for us for a long time now. Their father and grandfather tried to stop the RSS but the RSS did not stop and kept growing as we continued to get support from people,” said Dr Manmohan Vaidya, an RSS leader. Bangalore South MP Tejasvi Surya said the tweet was typical of the Congress “ecosystem of violence”. BJP spokesperson Dr Sambit Patra described Rahul’s Bharat Jodo Yatra as Bharat Todo aur Aag Lago Yatra.
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Rahul Gandhi’s Fitness Not In Doubt As He Walks Fast On The Yatra

The one thing that Rahul Gandhi is unlikely to suffer from on his long walk is lack of fitness. He has serious claims to being the fittest politician among the lot who are prominent on the national scene. Apart from being a Black Belt in karate, Rahul is also credited with deep sea diving feats that might surprise the U.S. Marines who pride themselves on their fitness and endurance feats. Rahul is credited with being able to free-dive to depths that the fittest Marines would not find easy to match. So, Rahul’s endurance will probably not be on test so much in the course of his planned 3,570-km walk in about 150 days. The first complaint to be registered as the Bharat Jodo Yatra began was from his security detail who found it difficult to keep pace with his strong gait. It wasn’t so much the speed as the difficulty faced in being able to track any threats from different directions as Rahul raced on his feet on the first day. His feedback team seems to have done a good job as the problem was taken back to the former Congress President who immediately course-corrected by walking much slower from Day 2.
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Police Wives Demand Action Against Amravati MP Navneet Rana Over Love Jihad Allegation

Independent MP Navneet Rana now finds herself at the receiving end as the families of police personnel in Amaravati, Maharashtra, have demanded action against her in connection with Rana’s behaviour in a local police station over an alleged Love Jihad case. The anger against Rana turned into a barrage as the girl concerned in the so-called Love Jihad matter told the police that she was not abducted, but had gone away herself. The girl has charged that Rana has defamed her by making various statements about her absence from Amaravati. Spouses of the police personnel in Amaravati have said action must be initiated against Rana since she stormed into the police station, accompanied by a BJP functionary, argued with the police officials and generally created ruckus for over 20 minutes. “This behaviour of Rana amounts to creating obstructions in performing lawful duty by a public servant,” a policeman’s wife said. The tables turned against Rana as soon as the girl was traced and explained to the police that she had gone away on her own accord and that none had forced her. Rana has been in the news ever since she challenged then Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, daring to arrest her over reciting Hanuman Chalisa outside his residence, Matoshri. Her arrest had created a wave of protest against him.
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Sharad Pawar To Call For Opposition Unity At Sunday’s Conclave In Delhi

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The 8th All-India Convention of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) will be held in New Delhi on Sunday (Sep 11) with the BJP as the main target. Party founder-president Sharad Pawar is expected to give a call for opposition unity, whose one-point agenda will be to dethrone Prime Minister Narendra Modi.   Pawar has been meeting top opposition leaders in a bid to convince them to keep aside their regional priorities and join forces to contain the BJP’s campaign to win more states, especially West Bengal and Telangana. Similarly, the Gujarat assembly election next year will also figure in Pawar’s plans. The developments in Maharashtra in recent times have pushed the Congress and the NCP in a corner since the Shiv Sena faction under Uddhav Thackeray has kept its cards close to its chest about any possible tie-up for the coming civic elections.  In turn, the Congress and the Uddhav faction are wary of the NCP since their own MLAs have complained that during the Maha Vikas Aghadi tripartite regime, the NCP grabbed the largest share of government funding, depriving the two partners of developmental expenditure. Besides external issues, the Congress is shaken by its internal dissensions. As the NCP has only token presence in parliament, Pawar is trying to bring it back in the national mainstream. He will spell out his plan of action on Sunday, his supporters say.
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TN Media Asks Rahul: Not Ready To Be Cong Prez But On Yatra To Unite India?

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi created a flutter on Day Two of his Bharat Jodo Yatra when he suggested that he could possibly return as Congress party president. At the same time, he added, “I have decided what I have to do. There is no confusion”. Suggesting that everyone must wait till September 30 when nominations open for president’s post, Rahul said the matter of him becoming party president will be clearer when elections happen. What added to the buzz was the news of the party general secretary Mukul Wasnik being relieved of his Madhya Pradesh responsibilities. His was one of the names doing rounds for the party’s president post. Meanwhile, Rahul was responding to questions from local media in Pulliyakuruchi in Tamil Nadu that wanted to know why he was not accepting party responsibility but instead had embarked on a yatra to unite India. Fobbing off more prying questions, the Congress leader offered to even learn Tamil. He made it clear that he was only participating in the padyatra. “I am not leading this padyatra. You like to focus on me, that is a different issue.” Meanwhile, the BJP and Congress slugged it out in the social media over the high priced Burberry T-shirt that Rahul wore during the yatra launch. The Congress was also trolled for 60 luxury containers that were being used as transport vehicles for Bharat Jodo.
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Is BJP Leader Dilip Ghosh Defying Party Lines In West Bengal?

All is not well with the West Bengal BJP unit ever since Trinamool Congress came to power with a thumping majority for the third term. The divide in the state saffron unit was clear since Balurghat MP Sukanta Majumder became the state president replacing Dilip Ghosh. Ghosh, a diehard RSS man, was the state president between 2015 and 2020 and under him BJP won 18 Lok Sabha seats. Recently, Ghosh criticized the CBI stating that it has “done some setting in Bengal”, putting the BJP leadership in a spot. His criticism can be attributed to the RSS’s cold war with the BJP. This is reflected as a direct attack on PM Narendra Modi. Moreover, it is not the first time Ghosh has defied the gag order from the central leadership. Earlier in June, in an email communique, the former Bengal president was asked to refrain from making comments against his party colleagues. Even the party president JP Nadda spoke to him on this issue. However, repeated defiance by Ghosh makes a section in the BJP believe that he enjoys sanction from “powerful authorities”. It is learnt that RSS has a game plan to add around 700 more shakhas to its existing network of 1,900 shakhas in West Bengal by 2024. This syncs well with Ghosh’s defiance.
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Yakub Memon Shadows Maharashtra Politics 7 Years After He Was Hanged

Mumbai Bomb Blasts case accused Yakub Memon has generated a furore in Maharashtra politics seven years after he was hanged as the ruling and opposition parties have indulged in a blame game over the beautification of the 1993 blasts convict’s grave in south Mumbai. Police and civic authorities removed the marble slabs and decorative lighting as soon as the news was flashed, but not before the political storm had started sweeping the state. The revelation that terrorist Yakub’s grave in Bada Kabrastan at Marine Lines in Mumbai was beautified with white marble and decorated with LED lights dismayed the state. Within minutes, the ruling BJP came down heavily against the Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray. BJP leaders lamented that the Uddhav government could go to this extent in its appeasement bid. Even as the onslaught continued, Congress and NCP leaders accused the BJP of diverting the public attention from the burning issues of the day. Opposition leader Ajit Pawar said, “Numerous farmers are facing hardships throughout the state, but the BJP is engaged in a political blame game, ignoring their plight completely.” Expectedly, a thorough enquiry has been ordered to find out how the beautification was permitted and took place. Yakub’s brother, Tiger Memon, is among the main accused led by Dawood Ibrahim, absconding since 1993.
Collage Maker-08-Sep-2022-04

Lifetime Achievement Award To Odisha Chief Minister Burns Up BJP, Congress

Looks like both BJP and Congress have not been able to stomach this achievement of the Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. On September 4, Patnaik was conferred the Lifetime Achievement award by the Delhi-based Capital Foundation in recognition of his distinctive and outstanding leadership. The award was presented by former Chief Justice of India NV Ramana in New Delhi.  On his return, a crowd of 50,000 people thronged at Bhubaneswar airport to receive Patnaik and accompany him all the way to his residence, blowing conch shells, choking the lanes and bylanes. So instead of congratulating him both the parties started firing salvos using social media platforms. BJP called upon the Odisha Governor Prof Ganesh Lal to highlight the state’s law and order problems. BJP said “Women and children are not safe in Odisha.” Odisha Congress said “The award is an ordinary one. CM Naveen is doing a drama. People in 2024 will give a befitting reply.”  Reacting to BJP and Congress outbursts, BJD MP Sasmit Patra said “I will not politicise the matter. This award has been rightfully won by CM Naveen Patnaik giving the state 25 years of hard work”. Odisha State Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Pramilla Mallick dismissed it as “BJP’s stunt. They are just trying to prove their presence by doing such politics”.
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Is The Tamil Nadu Governor Taking A Crash Course In Tamil?

Of late, RN Ravi, the TN Governor is busy taking a crash course in spoken Tamil. He is now being tutored intensely to deliver speeches in Tamil. Why? Apparently, the Modi government is peeved that none of the people-friendly schemes that are initiated by the Centre have been conveyed effectively to the TN voters by the local BJP leaders. Recall the effort finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman put in while in Telangana about the PDS subsidies and how she ticked off the Collector in chaste Telugu. Similarly, home minister Amit Shah and other senior BJP leaders are intensely involved in spreading the pro people programmes of the Centre in the non-BJP states. TN Governor to his credit gives a decent discourse on “Sanathana Dharma“, a talent run-of-the -mill governors don’t possess. Once he masters colloquial Tamil he will perhaps use various fora to expound the generosity of the Centre to TN people. In that publicised meeting in the Raj Bhavan with superstar Rajinikanth, the Governor spoke in moving terms about his liking and admiration for the people of TN, in stark contrast to the prickly apprehension of the Tamilians about the imposition of Hindi. His tutors are sure going the whole hog to make him fluent in Tamil. Looks like BJP wants to take no chance in the run-up to 2024 Lok Sabha poll as its avowed mission is: “Telangana first, TN next”.
Collage Maker-07-Sep-2022-05

With Kartavya Path, Will Modi Change Rules Of Engagement With Lutyens?

A day ahead of unveiling its Central Vista project, the Modi Government shed one more colonial baggage by renaming Rajpath as Kartavya Path. Known as Kingsway in honour of King George V, the arterial road connecting Rashtrapathi Bhavan and India Gate was built in 1911. The name change was formalized at a special session of the New Delhi Municipal Council on September 7 and it came a day ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurating the entire stretch that has been renovated under the ambitious Central Vista redevelopment project. The renaming is in keeping with PM’s Independence Day speech this year when he called for abolishing symbols that reflect the colonial mindset. In this renaming there is also a message to the ruling class “that the era of rulers and subjects is over”. Modi has been working on changing the landscape of Lutyens’ Delhi ever since his first 2014 mandate. In 2015, Aurangzeb Road was renamed APJ Abdul Kalam Road. In 2017, Dalhousie Road was renamed Dara Shikoh Road. Also, Teen Murti Chowk was changed to Teen Murti Haifa Chowk in 2018. The revamped Central Vista Avenue along the Rajpath will have state-wise food stalls, red granite walkways with greenery all around, vending zones, parking lots and round-the-clock security. The moot point is with the kartavya path will Modi change rules of engagement with the Lutyens?
Collage Maker-06-Sep-2022-05

BJP Resolves To Wrest Baramati From Pawar Clan In 2024

If Amethi constituency was the focus of BJP’s 2019 Lok Sabha election campaign, the spotlight for the next LS election will be Baramati, the traditional stronghold of Sharad Pawar and family. “We will wrest Baramati from the Pawar clan,” declared Maharashtra BJP president Chandrashekhar Bawankule after visiting the prestigious constituency in Pune district. He said Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been entrusted with the responsibility and she will start touring the area soon to devise strategy to trounce sitting MP Supriya Sule, lone child of Pawar. Bawankule landed in Baramati immediately after Union home minister Amit Shah had addressed top BJP leaders in Mumbai on September 4 on how to plan for the coming elections in Mumbai and Maharashtra. Supriya will have to face a situation similar to what Rahul Gandhi had to encounter in Amethi. While Rahul lost very badly to Smriti Irani, taking on Supriya will be a formidable challenge for the BJP as the constituency has remained loyal to the Pawar family for decades. Pawar’s nephew Ajit has been elected to the legislative assembly from Baramati. The BJP’s strategy is to confine Pawar to Baramati so that he would hardly find time to campaign elsewhere in the state. Bawankule said, “We will win 200 out of 288 assembly seats and 45 out of 48 LS seats in 2024 in the state.”
Rahul Gandhi (1)

The 3570-Km Padayatra That Will Define Congress And Rahul Gandhi’s Future

The Indianisation of Rahul Gandhi begins on Wednesday (Sep 7). The real test for him as he takes up a padayatra in the fashion of many in India, from Mahatma Gandhi downwards, is whether he can sustain a 150-day walk covering 3,570 kms. The padayatra is his biggest attempt to revive a sinking party as he hits the ground that he has rarely done as a politician more prone to taking foreign breaks periodically. He is to begin this campaign with a visit to his father’s memorial in Sriperumbudur on September 7 morning and then to the starting point of the padayatra where Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin will give him a national flag to carry on his march. The walk is loaded with symbolism and if Rahul is serious enough in walking from one end of India to the other, he stands some chance of washing off the image of a person born with a silver spoon in a political dynasty. While he is still inclined not to worry about who becomes the Congress President, he will assume the mantle of campaign leader for the 2024 elections. If he can simply double the Congress 2019 tally of 52, he would be giving his party and the combined opposition half a chance to down the BJP. But first, he would have to be seen walking like an Indian on home soil.
Bharat Jodo Yatra

Cong Pins Hope On Rahul's Padyatra, Says Will Take Break Only For Poll Campaign

As Rahul Gandhi embarks on his ambitious 3,570 km Bharat Jodo Yatra by foot from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu on September 7, the Congress touted it as a campaign to connect the party with people. AICC media in charge Jairam Ramesh described it as “a mass mobilisation campaign”. Unveiling theme song of the yatra of “Ek tera kadam, ek mera kadam, mil jaye, jud jaye, apna watan” Jairam admitted that the Congress had never attempted such a yatra though there have been smaller yatras by Congress leaders. He referred to Digvijaya Singh’s 3,000 km Narmada yatra as a “spiritual yatra, not a political yatra”. Incidentally, it was Digivijay who was incharge of putting together the Bharat Jodo Yatra. Jairam pointed out that Rahul’s yatra was the first political yatra in Indian political history.”Chandra Shekharji did a Bharat Jodo Yatra in 1983, but it was an individual yatra, this is the first time a political party has launched such a massive Bharat Yatra on foot. There will be 118 people accompanying Rahul completing this entire length”. Though the yatra is to last for 150 days, Rahul will be available for campaign in poll-bound states.  27% of the 118 volunteers are women, age-wise those selected to walk the entire 3,570 km stretch across 12 states are mostly in their late 30s. Rahul and AICC spokesperson Pawan Khera are in their early 50s.
Amit

@AmitShah

“Punish Uddhav’s Betrayal By Ousting His Sena From BMC,” Roars Amit Shah

“Punish Uddhav Thackeray for his betrayal by winning at least 150 seats in the coming BMC election,” Union home minister Amit Shah has exhorted BJP workers during his two-day visit to the financial capital. He has assured all the support to Mumbai BJP from the party headquarters for capturing the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. Shah told BJP workers on Monday that Uddhav had betrayed the BJP twice. In 2014, the Shiv Sena broke the alliance for a frivolous reason. In 2019, Uddhav joined hands with the Congress and the NCP. “This treachery can’t be tolerated.  Teach him a lesson he will never forget. Oust the Uddhav Sena from the BMC and reestablish the Hindutva imprint in Mumbai,“ Shah said. Taking Uddhav to task for the rampant corruption in the BMC, Shah said it was time to make a change. To bring it about, every worker, office bearer, corporator, MLA and MP will have to take to the streets and mobilise the public opinion, Shah declared. The BMC has 227 electoral wards, which were earlier restructured by the Uddhav government in a bid to increase their number to 236 and to make them easier for the then ruling coalition. However, chief minister Eknath Shinde’s government has restored the earlier status. The BJP’s strategy planning will accommodate the Shinde faction, too, according to party insiders.
Collage Maker-05-Sep-2022-11

Siblings As Rivals: Priyanka Gives Rahul's Rally A Miss

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s address at the “Halla Bol rally” against price rise on September 4 turned out to be a damp squib. Partymen found the speech tad boring as it dwelled more on Rahul’s insecurities. Like his troubles with the ED over doubtful transactions in the National Herald case involving Rs 5,000 crore scam. Instead of focusing on issues of people, Rahul talked about how he had been grilled by the ED for 55 hours. The big takeaway from the rally was that for the first time differences between Rahul and his sister Priyanka came out in the open. It was unimaginable that Priyanka skipped the rally, though some of her cut-outs were spotted at the venue. Amidst speculations whether Priyanka had returned to Delhi or not, there was a buzz how the sulking sibling had decided to finally speak her mind. It is being said in the midst of ongoing party polls, Priyanka who is in-charge of UP is keen to take over as Congress President. Both Rahul and Sonia want Priyanka to keep away. They are backing Ashok Gehlot as Congress President. Priyanka is being backed by leaders from south states that will go to assembly polls. Some of her backers like Acharya Pramod Kishan have openly batted for Priyanka as the only Congress leader who is capable of taking on PM Modi in 2024.
BJP JP Nadda

Is BJP Daydreaming Of Forming Govt In Odisha?

An eternal optimist, BJP never gives up. Odisha is the state they have been trying to make inroads for quite some time now. But to no avail because of Biju Janata Dal supremo Naveen Patnaik’s strong performance. Recently, the home minister Amit Shah visited Odisha and proclaimed to win 2024 Assembly elections in Odisha even though BJP has been decimated continuously by BJD in panchayat, corporations and assembly elections. But, they don’t give up. They keep rejigging their strategy in the hope it will rule Odisha one day. Recently, BJP recast its party leadership by appointing Sunil Bansal as its key election strategist for Odisha hoping he would replicate UP magic. It also appointed controversial firebrand BJP MLA Jayanarayan Mishra as leader of opposition (LoP) in the Assembly. Jayanarayan considers himself as BJP’s “hanuman” who is determined to lead BJP into power by exposing BJD’s misdeeds. When asked how they were hoping to defeat the BJD supremo who won election five times, a confident four-time MLA Jayanarayan says “Naveen’s style is bound to fail someday.” Political observers say, BJP is daydreaming to form the government in Odisha in 2024 given the fact Naveen babu has proved his mettle of having transformed the state and personally he is not corrupt. So why would people of Odisha vote against him? Makes sense!
Collage Maker-03-Sep-2022-01

Congress In Maharashtra Jolted, Some MLAs May Make Drastic Move

The Congress party in Maharashtra seems caught in a trap of its own making as the party’s two former chief ministers and seven MLAs are under fire for different reasons, all certain to weaken the party further. The ‘coincidental’ meeting between former CM Ashok Chavan and Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis a couple of days ago has caused acute embarrassment in the Congress camp. Chavan was missing at the time of Eknath Shinde government’s trial of strength on the floor of the legislative assembly. His absence at some other critical junctures is now remembered. Another Congress veteran, Prithviraj Chavan, has been facing flak since he called on Ghulam Nabi Azad after the latter left the Grand Old Party. A member of the G-23 Group, Prithviraj had advised the party leadership to pay attention to the issues raised by Azad. Following this, demands are being made to initiate disciplinary action against him. The unrest within the state Congress unit has resurfaced since the seven party MLAs who cross-voted during the recent legislative council election have been identified. It was owing to their breach of party diktat that the BJP was able to win one more seat in the upper house beyond its quota. The MLAs could take a drastic step fearing party reprisals, some leaders have warned.
Collage Maker-02-Sep-2022-03

Amit Shah To Launch ‘Mission BMC’ On Monday In Mumbai

Union home minister Amit Shah’s much awaited Mumbai visit will be marked with his directions to the BJP machinery on how to fight the coming election to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), likely to take place later this year. After arriving in Mumbai on Sunday night (Sep 4), Shah will begin his itinerary Monday morning (Sep 5) with darshan of Lalbaugcha Raja, his longtime practice but interrupted due to Covid for two years. Shah will also take darshan of the Lord at the residences of deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, chief minister Eknath Shinde and Mumbai BJP president Ashish Shelar. During the day, he will be confabulating with his party leaders about the strategy to be adopted for the crucial election. The principal object of the BJP is to dethrone the Shiv Sena under Uddhav Thackeray, which has been in power in the BMC since 1985. The Shinde-Fadnavis duo is tightening the screws against Uddhav by trying to isolate his faction. So far, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray has responded enthusiastically to the saffron overtures. Raj is expected to go an extra mile to form an electoral arrangement with the duo to minimize the chances of the Uddhav faction. The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party don’t have any strong presence in the BMC. Accordingly, they are yet to open their cards.
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EPS Is AIADMK Supremo Again After HC Division Bench Shoots Down Single Judge’s Status Quo Order

There have been more twists and turns than in an India-Pakistan cricket match in the legal battle for the AIADMK party control. Now, after a division bench of the Madras High Court gave its verdict, Edappadi K Palaniswami is restored as the (interim) General Secretary of the party. The legality of the July 11 meeting that EPS had convened and in which he became the party supremo has been restored. There are still many “overs” to be played in this match as the matter is certain to go to the Supreme Court. But, given the speed at which the top court disposes of cases, it can be safely assumed that EPS will be heading the party for a while from here. The division-bench shot down most of the assumptions in a single judge order that had taken the status quo to before the first meeting held on June 23 in which the question of who will head the party if its cadre wishes to have a single leader surfaced. EPS had proved that he had the majority of the party behind him then.  The idea of a unified party with EPS, OPS, V Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dhinakaran, appears even more unattainable now after the one-man commission to probe Jayalalithaa’s death recommended that Sasikala be investigated for her role in the time that treatment was being given to the former CM in the Apollo Hospital.
Collage Maker-30-Aug-2022-12

Shame! India’s Financial Capital Continues To Retain The Tag Of Slumbai

The tag of Slumbai for India’s financial capital seems difficult to shrug off as slums continue to occupy over 8000 acres of the city. While responding to questions raised at the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly recently, deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis informed that 8333 acres of Mumbai was occupied by slums. This included 3620 acres of private land, 2140 acres of state government’s land, 856 acres of land belonging to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), 272 acres of land belonging to the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) and about 673 acres of Union government land. With the BJP, back in the saddle in Maharashtra, Fadnavis has promised to help get Centre’s clearances to rehabilitate the slum dwellers. About 48.35% of Mumbaikars continue to live in slums occupying 24% of the total Mumbai’s habitable area of 34,000 acres, according to the Slum Redevelopment Authority, which was set up in 1995 and tasked with making Mumbai slum-free. Far from wiping slums off Mumbai, the SRA scheme led to the slummification of Mumbai thanks to its builder-centric approach of bundling and warehousing people into 25-30 storied, highly congested buildings (6500 people per hectare in 1300 tenements) without proper amenities like open space, light, air and privacy say claim urban planners like PK Das.
Sharad Pawarr

@PawarSpeaks

Not In PM Race But Shall Unite Opposition, Vows Sharad Pawar

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has every intention of uniting the non-BJP opposition though he is not prepared to become India’s Prime Minister. Pawar told the media that given his age, he was not ready to accept any governmental position now. “Morarji Desai became PM at the age of 82. I don’t want to emulate his example,” Pawar said in reply to questions. However, he asserted that he would continue to highlight people’s grievances, in the state and at the Centre. Pawar launched a broadside against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He charged that Modi had not fulfilled any of his promises.  In such a situation, it was necessary that all forces opposed to the BJP should come together to present a united front for the coming elections. “My effort will remain in this direction,” the 82-year-old said. Pawar has been combing Maharashtra in a bid to mobilise public opinion against the change of power ever since the Maha Vikas Aghadi formed under his stewardship collapsed due to the rebellion of present chief minister Eknath Shinde. As a first step, his effort is to make all three MVA partners contest the coming civic elections in the state jointly. So far, the response of the Congress and the Shiv Sena under Uddhav Thackeray has remained tepid. But Pawar is going ahead with his efforts.
Sasikala-and-Jayalalithaa

Jayalalithaa Death Probe Report: Will Stalin’s Govt Take Any Action?

To do nothing with the Jayalalithaa death probe report submitted by the Justice (Retired) A Arumugasamy commission is probably the best course of action that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin may have decided upon. The very decision to first place the report in front of the Assembly, which is not due to meet till December 2022, is a clear indicator that the government does not wish to take any of the recommendations too seriously. Primarily, it has to do with a death that occurred in December 2016. And Stalin would be the last one to wish to interfere in the Opposition Party matters. The AIADMK is already doing enough to damage itself as the principal opposition. It needs no action from the ruling party to call for a probe into Jaya’s aide and confidante V Sasikala, who anyway met her Waterloo in the Disproportionate Asset case and spent four years in jail while also being ineligible to contest any election for another six years.  Also, it suits the DMK to watch on as the AIADMK implodes with the EPS versus OPS fighting for the spoils and the not inconsiderable Rs 3,000 crore party kitty that lies in two trust accounts. At worst, the government may call for action on the people named in the report without pushing the police seriously to probe them.
Raj

Political Focus Back On Raj Thackeray, Wooed By BJP Leaders

Focus in Maharashtra politics is back on Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader Raj Thackeray, who is wooed by one top BJP leader after another. However, the issue of any alliance with Raj is still kept open by the BJP, apparently as a precaution. Maharashtra BJP’s newly-appointed president Chandrashekhar Bawankule called on Raj at the latter’s Shivaji Park residence on August 30. Bawankule said it was a goodwill visit. “I regard Raj as an elder brother and am impressed by his solid support of Hindutva,” he added. Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had received Raj at his official residence ‘Sagar’ on August 29 morning. In the evening, BJP’s all-India general secretary Vinod Tawde was closeted with Raj. Both are old friends. As Tawde is now burdened with various responsibilities, the visit has assumed importance. Union home minister Amit Shah is slated to visit Mumbai next week. He will bow before Lalbaug cha Raja, as has been his practice for many years. The visits were interrupted for two years due to the Covid outbreak. Shah will also perform Ganesh pooja at the residence of Fadnavis and meet chief minister Eknath Shinde.  BJP president JP Nadda will be visiting Mumbai in September. Bawankule said any decision about taking Raj along for fighting various civic elections in the state will be taken in Delhi by the party leadership. ‘Mine is just a friendly visit,’ he quipped.
Collage Maker-26-Aug-2022-06

Post Partha-Anubrata Fiasco Didi-Nephew Go All Out To Restructure Trinamool Congress

With two of the senior party leaders in jail over corruption charges the debate of the era of young rule has once again surfaced in Trinamool Congress (TMC). Recently an explicit banner in support of Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee who is also the party’s national general secretary was put up near Didi’s home turf of Kalighat. The banner read “In the next 6 months, TMC will come up in a new avatar. Just like the one desired by the people”. Within 48 hours, a counter banner was put up in the same area stating “Old is base, new is the future”. The poster also read, “Under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee and under the command of Abhishek Banerjee, Trinamool has been and will remain”. Post the Partha-Anubrata fiasco, the ruling party is undergoing an organizational overhaul across all the units including the youth wing, women’s wing, and students’ wing besides the mother unit. The whole process is being overseen by Abhishek. Once restructuring is complete then Didi along with Abhishek and others in the top-tier leadership are likely to meet all the office-bearers right down to the grassroots. According to insiders, Didi will be laying out the road map for the rank and file, which will be diligently followed after the Puja season. It will essentially be the run-up to the panchayat elections next year.
Nitin Gadkari

Nitin Gadkari Scotches Rumours Of His Retirement, Declares Resolve To Fight 2024 Lok Sabha Election

Union highways and transport minister Nitin Gadkari has declared his resolve to contest the next Lok Sabha election, setting to rest all speculation about his probable retirement from active politics. Addressing a convocation ceremony at the All India Local Self Government Institute at Andheri in Mumbai, Gadkari said he has always believed that people respect good work and performance. “I have decided to ask for votes in the next election on the basis of what I have done for the nation. I will not offer even a cup of tea to anyone for supporting me. Let people see my work and decide,” he declared amidst huge applause. Without referring to the praise that had been showered upon him by Institute director-general Jairaj Phatak and other speakers, Gadkari said he had been working every waking moment to create new infrastructure of international standards in India. He outlined his vision for the future, expressing confidence that adopting proper technology and methods would catapult India to the top. Gadkari was in the news after the recent restructuring of the BJP supreme body, the Central Election Committee since he had been replaced by Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. Soon, there was talk of his saying goodbye to active politics. A couple of days ago, Gadkari had threatened to take legal action against all those elements spreading such canards.
Collage Maker-26-Aug-2022-05

Uddhav Teams Up With Sambhaji Brigade, Eyebrows Raised

The Shiv Sena faction under Uddhav Thackeray has joined hands with Sambhaji Brigade to form a new equation in Maharashtra politics. The Brigade has been a controversial outfit which once upon a time had warned Uddhav to remove his father Balasaheb’s picture from the frontage of Shiv Sena Bhavan since it was above the portrait of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Various BJP leaders have said that the alliance will not benefit Uddhav at all. Uddhav and Brigade president Manoj Akhare made the announcement of their alliance on Friday (Aug 26), signaling a major shift in the state politics in the near future. The Uddhav faction is already battered because of the rebellion by chief minister Eknath Shinde and his loyal band of 50 MLAs. His decision to go along with the Brigade will prove an acid test since his other two partners, the Congress and the NCP, had kept the Brigade scrupulously away all these years. Akhare said the Brigade and the Sena will contest coming elections jointly. Uddhav’s decision to take the Brigade along has been viewed by some as an attempt to play the ‘Maratha Card’ from now on. The powerful caste had been backing BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis for his strong advocacy for reservations for the Marathas. Uddhav will try to wean away this factor, it is felt.
Collage Maker-26-Aug-2022-05

Congress Presidential Elections: Whom Are The Bookies Betting On?

The Congress is in turmoil over electing its President. It won’t be Rahul Gandhi if he has his way. Since owning up to the 2019 defeat, he has been steadfast in not only staying away from heading it but also insisting on someone from outside the Rajiv Gandhi family to take the mantle. While those like Ghulam Nabi Azad who are dissatisfied with his way of wanting power without responsibility are quitting, the field is narrowing. Azad, only a long shot for the job – bookies had him at 100-1 as he is one of the G-23 rebels – is out of the race now. Among the non-Gandhi family members likely to head the party, if Sonia Gandhi and both her children do give the green signal for it are: P Chidambaram, who the bookies place at 3-1, on par with Jairam Ramesh who has gained traction since being a sober and disciplined soldier of the party and family as the chief spokesperson. But the overwhelming favourite among bookmakers is Ashok Gehlot at evens since rumours are that he has already been offered the job by Sonia. At 10-1 beyond the favourites is the debonair Shashi Tharoor who might even be a bright face for the party provided Sonia is okay with him being in the contest.
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Fotocorp

Finally Ghulam Nabi Azad Quits Cong; Gehlot, Jairam Troll Him For Questioning Rahul

In a major setback to the Congress, party veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad quit as its primary member; he announced he would launch his own party in J&K. Short Post broke the story on August 18. In a 5-page letter to party president Sonia Gandhi, Azad made it clear that the situation in the Congress had reached a point of ‘no return’. In a parting shot, Azad bitterly criticised Rahul Gandhi as a “non-serious person “for conceding  political space at the national level and at state levels to the BJP and regional parties. “Post 2019 elections after Rahul Gandhi stepped down in a huff and not before insulting all the senior party functionaries who have given their lives to the party. The remote-control model that destroyed the UPA got applied to Congress,” said Azad. “While you are just a nominal figurehead, all important decisions were being taken by Rahul Gandhi or rather worse his security guards and PAs,” he said. Congress leaders attacked Azad for writing a letter when Sonia was abroad with her son Rahul for a medical check-up and claimed it was aimed at demoralising party workers gearing up for September 7 Bharat Jodo Yatra.  Top party leaders from Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot to AICC media-in-charge Jairam Ramesh to Tamil Nadu MP Jothimani trolled Azad. Gehlot said: ”For 42 years, Congress had given Azadji important responsibilities. No one expected such a letter from him “.
Raj-Thackeray

Raj Thackeray’s New Slogan Embraces Hindutva And Marathi Manoos

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray has relaunched his duel campaign by coining a brand new slogan that appeals to Hindutva and Marathi Manoos at the same time. The new slogan is designed for mobilising response to the MNS enrolment campaign. Raj made this announcement in Pune on August 25 while presenting the slogan. Just two days ago, he had supported controversial BJP former spokesperson Nupur Sharma in a rally of MNS. At that meeting, he had announced his plans to tour the state to spread his message. The new MNS slogan is, “Mee Hindavi Rakshak, Mee Maharashtra Sevak” (I am a protector of Hindutva, I am a servant of Maharashtra.) It was made public after Raj inaugurated the enrollment drive. Banners displaying this slogan have come up at prominent locations in Mumbai and elsewhere. Raj’s return to the Hindutva plank is considered important since the Shiv Sena under Uddhav Thackeray has been finding it difficult to make earlier claims of being the sole representative of Hindutva or Marathi Manoos after Uddhav joined hands with the Congress and the NCP. As a result, there is a vacuum which Raj is planning to fill up. Since his bold assertion over Hindutva in Mumbai a couple of days ago, Raj has been receiving increasing response. In Pune, he enjoyed a hearty welcome. Soon, he will be visiting Nasik and Aurangabad.
FZzHZuXUEAAGBT4

After Uddhav’s Right Hand In Custody, Left To Join Soon : Kirit Somaiya

Former BJP MP Kirit Somaiya has kicked up a fresh political storm by declaring that “The right hand of Uddhav Thackeray is already in custody, very soon the left hand will join him there.” Somaiya has been relentless against the Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray over the past two years by making one serious allegation after another. Although Somaiya has not mentioned any name, it is believed that he has trained his guns against former minister Anil Parab, whose sea-side resort at Dapoli in the Konkan is now on Somaiya’s radar for some illegal construction in the property. Parab has denied any connection with it. By right hand, Somaiya is believed to be referring to Sena MP Sanjay Raut, who is in ED custody. BJP activist Mohit Kamboj has been similarly tweeting over the past few days to warn that ‘some big fish’ from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) would soon be caught in the net. Kamboj says the list has 10 names but hasn’t disclosed any of them. Incidentally, only the Congress party is not targeted by any BJP functionaries. Somaiya poured out his chagrin against Uddhav by describing how his wife Medha, son Neel and he himself were hounded by the previous government. A retired naval officer was beaten up while a family was publicly shaved for talking against the then government, he recalled.
PTR PT

Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai?

The ‘Prime Time’ of PTR Palanivel Thiagarajan, Tamil Nadu’s finance Minister, has been all the rage for a while now as he dared to take on the Prime Minister and his plenipotentiaries questioning their pronouncements over freebies. The PM had opened up a big debate after comparing freebies to the coarse sweet ‘Revdi’ and Opposition states took it up big time. PTR was on the warpath everywhere, including in an Oxford debate, in which he compared the Modi regime to British rule. He questioned whether the Centre had performed so well on the economy front that everyone had to follow its dictates. Not to be outdone by someone who took on the highest in the land, the BJP’s mouthpieces began digging into the Tamil Nadu economy to point out that its finance minister was just bragging about a Dravidian model while he was sustaining government expenditure by simply borrowing – as much as Rs 72,500 crore in 2021-22, to be scaled up to Rs. 90,000 crore in 2022-23. After PTR took over, the State’s debt ballooned to Rs 3.02 lakh per family from Rs 2.63 lakh per family. The percentage of debt to GSDP is also on an upward curve even as the Dravidian state leans on liquor sales to sustain its expenditure, boosted of course by freebies like free electricity for farmers and others.
Raj

Raj Thackeray addressing party workers in Mumbai

Uddhav Faces Political Onslaught, From BJP And Raj Thackeray

The political focus in Maharashtra once again turned against Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray when he was challenged by the BJP and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader Raj Thackeray in the course of the day. BJP MLA Atul Bhatkhalkar referred to Thackeray’s past announcement of resigning his legislative council membership and asked, “Where is that resignation?” Uddhav had made the announcement the night he quit the chief ministership following the rebellion in the Sena led by Eknath Shinde. In that connection, Bhatkhalkar ridiculed Uddhav and taunted, “You are telling your followers to come to the streets to fight for people’s problems. But what about you? Why can’t you come to the legislature and highlight them? Bhatkhalkar alleged that many crucial decisions under Uddhav’ government were taken at the behest of Aaditya Thackeray. He said these arbitrary decisions had cost Mumbai billions of rupees. Bhatkhalkar demanded a thorough enquiry of all such matters. Raj Thackeray, while addressing his party workers, challenged cousin Uddhav on many counts. He said, ”PM Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah had announced from public platforms in 2019 that Maharashtra’s next chief minister would be Devendra Fadnavis. Some of the announcements were made when you were on the same dais. Why did you remain silent then?” Raj announced his plans to tour Maharashtra after the 10-day Ganesh festival is over.
Untitled design (3)

SPG Inducts Karnataka's Mudhol Hounds For PM's Security

For PM Narendra Modi atmanirbhar is just not a slogan for his countrymen, it is also meant for his proximate security — Special Protection Group (SPG). Recently, he had talked about Karnataka’s Mudhol hound breed of canines, which have an international reputation for their predatory skills as well as looks. Mudhol hound dogs have been used by predators since the times of kings. The PM had stated that if this breed is encouraged, then other Indian breeds too would get a boost. Taking a cue, SPG which usually prefers Labradors and German Shepherds decided to induct the ‘sharp-sighted, agile and indigenous hounds’. The PM`s security team chose Mudhol hounds after considering the Rajapalayam dog breed from Tamil Nadu and Rampur Greyhound from Uttar Pradesh. The dogs already serve with the Indian armed forces and some paramilitary forces. Now, they could become the first indigenous breed to be part of the SPG.  In April, SPG officials visited the Canine Research & Information Center (Mudhol Hound) at Thimmapur in Karnataka’s Bagalkot district and took two male puppies. They will first undergo four months of training and later rigorous coaching. Lean and tall structured and tiny heads are the special characteristics of this breed. Predators prefer this breed for its capacity to run long distances without getting tired and special sniffing abilities. These dogs weigh between 20-22 kg and grow up to 72 centimeters.
Odisha

Odisha’s Chief Secretary Suresh Mohapatra Likely To Get Second Service Extension

Post his six-month extension, Chief Secretary of the Odisha government Suresh Chandra Mohapatra is due to retire at the end of August 2022. Sources say he may get another service extension. Retaining Mohapatra is a distinct possibility because the Odisha government could not finalise candidates for the top job, though several names were doing rounds including that of Pradeep Kumar Jena, Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Sources say the Odisha government has sent a request letter to the Department of Personnel and Training seeking extension of services of Mohapatra, a 1986 batch IAS Officer. In all probability the Centre would accede to Odisha Government’s request. It is not unusual for capable IAS officers to get a couple of service extensions and there has been past precedence. For instance, RN Das who was Chief Secretary of Odisha between 1992 and 1995 got 3 extensions of six months each when Biju Patnaik was the Chief Minister.  Mohapatra, one of the three candidates whose names was short-listed to be appointed as the Chairman of OERC, may be out of the fray, once he gets another six months extension. This means the Odisha government will have to decide between the other two short-listed candidates, Arun Panda (retired former secretary in the Ministry of MSME) and Union Territory cadre retired IAS officer Manoj Parida.
Sanjay Raut

Jailed Sena MP Sanjay Raut To Write A Book On Patra Chawl Deal, To Uncover Truth

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut has announced that he is writing a book that will uncover the truth about the controversial Patra Chawl housing redevelopment matter, which has landed him in judicial custody. Raut’s had been a daily TV appearance till his arrest by ED on August 1. He was held in connection with the mega deal which would run in a thousand crore rupees at the most conservative estimates. For over two years, Raut used to castigate every person and party against the Sena under Uddhav Thackeray. He would appear on the small screen many times every day and dare the government to arrest him. Even after extension of his ED custody today, Raut showed that he has maintained his aggressive posture. The special PMLA court has extended his custody till 5 September. Over the past two days, ED has dug out some more information which can damage Raut’s case if proved correct. According to tax authorities, two cars with Raut belong to a real estate firm. Earlier, it was alleged that he had purchased property near Alibaug from the proceeds he received from some builder. Raut said he is working on a tome that will throw light on the Patra Chawl matter. He reiterated that he was not connected with it in any manner. The case against him is ‘false,’ he said.
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BJP Fires First Salvo For BMC Election, Attacks Uddhav Thackeray

Maharashtra BJP has fired the first salvo in the upcoming battle for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) by squarely blaming the Shiv Sena under Uddhav Thackeray for the neglect and deterioration of Mumbai. The BMC has remained the Sena’s backbone and losing it would dent its main support base.  “We will make Mumbai free of corruption. Be sure that a mayor belonging to us and the Sena of chief minister Eknath Shinde is going to be installed,” declared deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis amidst huge applause at a rally today organised to felicitate newly appointed Mumbai BJP president Ashish Shelar. All BJP bigwigs, including its city MPs and MLAs, were present to show solidarity.  Fadnavis recalled that when Shelar was heading Mumbai BJP earlier, the party had registered a handsome win in BMC elections. “Even at that time, we would have been able to install our mayor. However, as responsible alliance partner, we allowed the Sena under Thackeray to occupy the mayoralty,” Fadnavis claimed. The BJP and the Sena under Shinde have made it a strategy to corner and attack the Sena under Uddhav at every possible opportunity. He is yet to venture outside Mumbai. But Sena workers feel that Uddhav himself needs to be at the forefront of the assault. He is expected to announce his plans shortly.
CBI

Mallya Effect On CBI: Prez's Nod Secured Before Filing FIR Against Sisodia

Looks like Prime Minister Narendra Modi has got the CBI to do a thorough job before proceeding against Delhi’s Deputy CM Manish Sisodia. Reportedly, the central agency secured prior mandatory approval of the President of India before filing a corruption case against Sisodia in connection with alleged irregularities in Delhi government’s excise policy 2021-22. Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act requires Presidential assent to investigate a legislator in Union Territories. For excise officers, the Lieutenant Governor is the permitting authority. An FIR was filed against Sisodia on August 17 only after receiving the 17A sanction from the President’s office. Once the FIR was registered, the LoCs (look out circulars) were issued against all named 13 individuals, including Sisodia, so that immigration authorities are alerted in case anyone travels out of India. The CBI is taking precautionary steps because it doesn’t want a repeat of the March 2016 slip-up when former liquor baron Vijay Mallya fled the country for the UK. Since then the agency has started issuing LoCs against accused persons in almost all cases “as a precaution”. Meanwhile, the Congress seems to be the pumpkin in the CBI raid episode with party spokespersons speaking /acting differently. While on Day One Pawan Khera was questioning the CBI raid, next day Delhi Congress leaders were marching to AAP offices sensing mood in NCR against AAP over its liquor policy.

TRENDS & VIEWS

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

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