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Bonhomie In Parliament As Kharge Endorses BJP Tagline Of 400 Seats

For once Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge must be happy with the kind of impact his Rajya Sabha speech is making. For reasons best known to him, he used a BJP campaign tagline and got the ruling party to make it go viral. Kharge’s remarks that the BJP would be getting “abki paar, 400 paar” — video clip — was posted on BJP’s X handle. It was all the attention that he could ask for. Since he spoke in motion of thanks to the President’s address, PM Narendra Modi was present in the House. In his speech, Kharge was heard saying, “You have a majority, with 330-334 seats. This time it will be above 400,” evoking laughter from the PM and all senior ministers. Kharge’s remarks indicated that he had come a long way since the time he had complained about how I.N.D.I.A bloc CMs like Mamata Banerjee or Nitish Kumar before he joined the NDA were not taking his calls. The BJP could not have been more happy that Kharge, a Dalit leader of the Congress from Karnataka, had endorsed a big win for the party. The Congress leader’s clip with an imaginary header from PM Modi “I need new haters, the old ones have become my fans” was naturally on its social media post. Meanwhile, aiming to surpass its 2019 performance of 303 seats, the party recently launched its campaign theme song “Sapne Nahi Haqeeqat Bunte Hai, Tabhi Toh Sab Modi Ko Chunte Hain (we do not spin dreams, but weave reality, which is why people choose Modi)”.
Naveen Patnaik_008

With General Elections Few Months Away Political Temperature In Odisha Hots Up

With the general elections a few months away, the political temperature in Odisha seems to be rising. Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with senior BJP leaders will be visiting  Sambalpur on February 3. Political watchers interpret  Modi’s Sambalpur visit  to create “hawa and mahol” of election mood, apart from launching news projects worth Rs 69000-crore. Besides inaugurating IIM-Sambalpur, Modi is also endorsing Dharmendra Pradhan who will be contesting the Lok Sabha election from Sambalpur constituency. Even though PM Modi and Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik are good friends, yet Modi is leaving no stones unturned to ensure a big win for BJP. Energized by BJP’s recent win in Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh, the general thinking among BJP leaders in Odisha is, “If North East and Chattisgarh could be won by BJP, why not Odisha ”? Poll pundits say Biju Janata Dal’s (BJD) immense penetration at Panchayat and booth levels will ensure its eventual victory.  BJP does not have alternative programmes at the state level that can challenge BJD seriously. Surprisingly, BJP’s constant accusation of BJD’s corruption has neither dented Patnaik’s image nor decreased his party’s popularity. The general feeling among people of Odisha is that Naveen babu has delivered.
Ramadoss abumanu

PMK May Choose To Go With BJP In Lok Sabha Polls

While Tamil Nadu was agog with the excitement of Vijay stepping into politics to keep up a film star tradition, the older parties may be putting on their thinking caps to see what effect this will have on the polity. Of course, Vijay’s party will be a player only in the 2026 Assembly elections. TN parties are now busy pulling out their calculators for forging alliances. It is all but confirmed that the PMK — led by founder S Ramadoss and son Anbumani — one of the first as a caste party to gain prominence in the avowed “casteless’ Dravidian society, will go with the BJP’s offer of seven seats in the Lok Sabha polls. Having toyed with joining DMK, the Vanniyar party has few options but to go with BJP as it cannot mix with a front in which the VCK, another caste outfit, is an ally. It appears senior AIADMK leaders have told Eddapadi K Palanswami not to entertain the PMK. Besides the PMK, the BJP front might have the DMDK in its fold as Premalatha might throw in her lot with Modi’s party as her late husband Vijayakanth was a great fan of the Prime Minister and canvassed for him and his party from 2014 onwards. Tamil Maanila Congress, without a great vote share or presence, is yet to make its choice clear. The three-way battle will be on with the DMK-Congress-MDMK-VCK combine against the BJP- front while AIADMK will go in without any major allies.
Pratibha rohit pawar

Pratibha Pawar’s Rare Public Appearance To Support Grandson Rohit, Outside Ed Office

NCP president Sharad Pawar’s wife Pratibha appeared at the ED Mumbai office on February 1, surprising most of his supporters and the media, too. Married to the legendary leader over six decades ago, Pratibha rarely makes a public appearance. The only recent time she was seen in a crowd was when Pawar announced his resignation as party president last year. Before that, she was present when Pawar was felicitated at an all-party function after he turned 75. Daughter of a cricketer, Sadu Shinde, the lady has never dabbled in politics or public affairs. Hence, seeing her alighting from her car, NCP protestors started shouting anti-government slogans with renewed energy. They had gathered to condemn the ED’s summons to Pawar’s grandson, Rohit Pawar, a NCP MLA from Jamkhed in western Maharashtra. As Pawar himself was not present, Pratibha decided to lend moral support to Rohit, who is a successful businessman. She was accompanied by Revati Sule, Supriya Sule’s daughter. Rohit has emerged as the spokesman of the Pawar faction of the NCP. He is viewed as Pawar’s political heir for the state politics while Supriya continues to be the party face in the national affairs. Rohit has advised his followers to maintain calm since he feels the ED’s action is taken in view of the impending elections and hence will not transpire anything against him.
mamata rahul

Cong In A Bind As Mamata Won't Give A Free Run To Rahul Gandhi's Yatra

West Bengal CM and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee is clearly upset with Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra making its way into her state. She is so miffed with the Congress action that she feels the entire yatra is a bid to revive the Left Parties in the state — a battle she had fought hard to eliminate. She feels any softness on the yatra at this stage could allow the Left Parties to make a comeback in Bengal. It is felt that the idea of yatra in Bengal itself was something that CPI(M)boss Sitaram Yechury perhaps worked out with Rahul .That’s perhaps why Didi has given instructions up to the district level not to cooperate with Congress functionaries. Bengal Congress leaders are finding district officials so paranoid that they are finding it difficult to make even basic travel arrangements for Rahul Gandhi. This at a time when the yatra is about to re-enter the state for a second phase on January 31. Interestingly, in the first phase when Rahul Gandhi entered Bengal he was greeted with posters of “Didi for PM”. Mamata, who has announced she will go alone for 2024 is apparently determined to take on the BJP, win on her own at least 40 out of the 42 Lok Sabha seats. She also wants to vanquish Bengal Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Choudhury from his Berhampore Lok Sabha seat. The only concession for the Congress that she is willing to make is Malda Dakshin seat and that too for the sake of Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury, as he is a kin of  the late ABA Ghani Khan Choudhury, an old colleague.
Milind Deora_002

Milind Deora Tipped For Rajya Sabha From Maharashtra, Statistics Favourable For 3-Party Alliance

Former Union minister Milind Deora is emerging as a frontrunner for one of the Rajya Sabha seats which is among the six that are falling vacant from the state next month. According to the present statistics, all but one seat can be bagged by the three-party ruling alliance. The sixth seat can be won by the Congress party easily as it has the requisite vote quota, which is 42, to win the election. The Congress has 44 members in the lower house of Maharashtra. The Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray and the NCP led by Sharad Pawar have around 16 MLAs in their camps. Thus, even if they join hands for the election which is held in the open, they will have little chance of any victory. Moreover, the state assembly speaker, Rahul Narwekar, has ruled that the Shiv Sena led by chief minister Eknath Shinde is the real party. Hence, its whip will be binding on Uddhav’s supporter MLAs. Likewise, a hearing is going on about the disqualification or otherwise of the MLAs with Pawar. If the speaker’s ruling goes in favour of Ajit Pawar, the MLAs will have to obey the whip of the breakaway NCP. In that situation, the Congress will be the only opposition party left in the field. Deora has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Given his proximity with Shinde, the hopefuls in that camp will find it prudent to support the former South Mumbai MP.

Reservation Storm Building Up Around Bhujbal, Asked To Observe Restraint

Senior minister Chhagan Bhujbal is becoming the central point in the whirlwind scenario that is building up in Maharashtra over the state government’s decision to grant reservations to the Maratha caste due to his aggressive stance for protecting the OBC reservations. Chief minister Eknath Shinde and his two DCMs, Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar have advised Bhujbal to ‘understand’ the government’s notification in this regard first before making any public statement. In retaliation for some Maratha leaders’ comments, Bhujbal has declared in front of his supporters that he will not hanker for a ministership if there is a choice between his post and his demand. In a bid to reinforce the BJP’s commitment towards the OBCs, Fadnavis has issued a veiled warning.  He said he would approach the party leadership if an eventuality to threaten the OBC reservations ever arose. When Fadnavis was asked about Bhujbal’s statements, he merely said that Bhujbal needs to maintain restraint. He can discuss the matter in detail after both meet. Ajit Pawar, likewise, said it would be necessary to know Bhujbal’s exact grievance and what the government had offered. Perhaps unsettled after several quarters have alerted the Maratha community about the difficulties in the way of securing the reservations, the agitation leader, Manoj Jarange Patil has reiterated his determination to fight out till it is achieved. Both camps are finalising their strategy and are unrelenting about their stands.
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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....
MS Subbulakshmi

From Tirupati to Ayodhya, Bharat Ratna MS's Golden Voice Resonates

At Tirupati, if it is rendering of Bharat Ratna MS Subbulakshmi’s Sri Venkatesa Suprabhatham that invokes Lord Venkatesa every morning, it is interesting that in Ayodhya too MS’s invocation to Sri Krishna made it to the playlist with the nadaswaram playing her Tamil song during the pran pratishtha ceremony. It was the rendition of her hugely popular Tamil devotional song Kurai ondrum illai — a song set in Carnatic music — in praise of Sri Krishna/ Lord Venkatesa that was written by veteran Congress freedom fighter and former governor general of India CR Rajagoplachari. Of course, there were many South connections and contributions to the making of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.  Most important of course is the beautiful idol of Ram Lalla sculpted by Arun Yogiraj from the unique Krishna Shila stone found in Mysuru. But the “mangal dhwani” that resonated during the consecration ceremony certainly makes for interesting details in its composition. Apparently over 50 exquisite instruments came from 18 different states for this auspicious occasion and resonated for nearly two hours. Asked to comment on the selection of MS’s song at the ceremony, Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai linked it with the coincidence of PM Modi listening to rendering of Carnatic music by Sikkil Gurucharan, who is supposed to be related to MS, sitting in Kambar Mandapam at Srirangam temple, near Trichy. It was a musical rendering of Kamba Ramayanam. The BJP leader also shared how his state had hugely contributed for the temple cause, including a single person donating as much Rs 25 cr by cheque.
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For Bihar CM ‘Ram Nam’ Spells Political Survival, Lucky CM Nitish Kumar Wins Yet Another Duel

Ninth-time lucky Bihar CM Nitish Kumar defied all political odds of survival commencing another stint as CM, after junking the Mahagatbandhan with RJD-Congress yet again. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge accused Kumar of practising the ‘Aaya Ram, Gaya Ram’ brand of political opportunism, others tagged the sobriquet of ‘Paltu Ram’. These commonly used phrases do harsh injustice to Lord Rama’s name, suffixed with negative connotations like transferred epithets. A BJP leader says, “Pejorative terminologies for Lord Rama, preached through conscious Leftist narratives, are deliberately being contextually misplaced. Regional political player Nitish Kumar (staved off the 2014 BJP wave to return as CM in 2015) is the Indian political chess board’s survival specialist. Nitsh, holding charge of home department in 2017, dissolved alliance with RJD-Congress first (after intelligence revealed imminent plans by Lalu Prasad Yadav to break bad and install son Tejaswi as CM) still completing full tenure. It is true that post 2020 state assemblies, Kumar with 43 MLAs (BJP elected 75 MLAs) had fought in alliance with BJP, was assured full tenure as CM but still broke our alliance.” CM Kumar’s helmsmanship plans for I.N.D.I.A. and national politics went awry thereafter and the Tejaswi threat loomed once again, probably forcing his hand for yet another political play for Bihar. Turn around another negatively used phrase, “Ram Bharose Hindu Hotel” positively to more accurately show Kumar seeking refuge in Lord Rama (saffron front) in his hour of political crisis to succeed and complete full tenure as CM yet again.
Manoj Jarange patil_003

It’s Advantage Shinde Post Maratha Agitation

The adept handling of the Manoj Jarange Patil-led Maratha agitation not only consolidates the position of chief minister Eknath Shinde but also marks the emergence of Shinde as the dark horse of Maharashtra politics. Shinde, who himself is a Maratha, could also benefit electorally from the politically strong Maratha vote bank, that has been the mainstay of the Pawars — both uncle Sharad and his nephew Ajit — as also the Congress. By successfully containing the agitation on the outskirts of Mumbai, the CM now finds himself one-up over his deputies, Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar, both of whom nurse ambitions to upstage him. And the backlash is already showing up. Fadnavis has already clarified that police cases will continue against arsonists who indulged in violence against policemen specifying that only courts were authorised to withdraw cases. Shinde had promised withdrawal of all police cases against Maratha activists. Fadnavis supporter advocate Gunaratne Sadavarte has also threatened to challenge the government reservation order in the courts. Chhagan Bhujbal from the Ajit Pawar faction of the NCP has also criticised the draft notification from Shinde government terming the reservation as an eyewash that will not stand up to legal scrutiny. The agitation has successfully helped divert attention from Shinde and his team of 39 legislators being called as ‘traitors’ by Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena that kept Shinde on the defensive and threatened his electoral stakes. The agitation also helped divert attention from the negative effect of breaking two popular political parties — Shiv Sena and NCP for the BJP.
SoniaGandhi 005

Is Sonia Gandhi Going To Take The Rajya Sabha Route To Parliament?

From all indications, it is becoming clear that Congress leader Sonia Gandhi will not be contesting the Lok Sabha elections from Rae Bareli — a seat that she has represented since 2004 for four terms. As such she has not visited her constituency or has been taking any interest in her voters. Perhaps this was one of the reasons that she did not attend the pran pratishtha ceremony. Congress sources say she would prefer to be a Rajya Sabha MP and is actually looking to get elected from Himachal when the vacancy rises early April. It will be a seat vacated by BJP chief JP Nadda. With daughter Priyanka Vadra having a house in Shimla, the Gandhi family feels Himachal is their second home. Sonia has been telling Congress leaders how Himachal has been close to Indira Gandhi. Though she is an outsider, Sonia will not be the first outsider MP for the state. Sources point out that post Emergency there was Mohinder Kaur (1978-84) — mother of now BJP leader and former Punjab CM, Capt Amarinder Singh — who had got elected as RS MP for one term. As for Rae Bareli — a seat once represented by Indira Gandhi and considered to be family turf — there is a buzz that it may go to the next generation. With the Samajwadi Party featuring Rae Bareli among the 11 seats where it is willing to back the Congress, looks like it could  soften the  electoral battle if either Priyanka Vadra or Rahul Gandhi wish to enter the fray from UP.
Nitish Kumar_003

Why Did BJP Take Back Nitish: Return Of Jungle Raj Under Tejashwi

It was the ninth time that Nitish Kumar was sworn in as Bihar CM on January 28 evening with the support of the BJP. He has been backed by the BJP six times as CM. It may be recalled that Nitish had walked out of the NDA Government in Bihar in August 2022 to form the Mahagatbandhan Government along with the RJD and the Congress. He had then charged the BJP of engineering a split in his party, Janata Dal (United). He had won the state assembly elections along with the BJP in 2020. Then what made the BJP accept him back? Why has the BJP with 79 MLAs acquiesced to backing Nitish on his terms? Only that he doesn’t get Sushil Modi as deputy CM. The BJP got two deputy CMs — an OBC and a forward caste leader. Before re-admitting Nitish, the BJP central leadership did hold wide consultations with its allies before taking a view on his return. BJP sources said it was the horror of the return of jungle raj with the elevation of Tejashwi Yadav as deputy CM. In fact Nitish himself was experiencing the rough side of the RJD; he was under pressure to hand over power to the RJD leader by Holi. “We did not want Bihar to slip into jungle raj like Bengal,” said a BJP leader. Nitish has seen what going alone in Lok Sabha elections had cost him. In 2014, Nitish got two seats and lost deposits in 36 seats. In 2019, when he fought along with the BJP, he got 16 seats. He used the opportunity of Bharat Ratna for his mentor Karpoori Thakur to get out of RJD stranglehold.

CPI (M) To Play Safe In West Bengal, May Contest Few Lok Sabha Seats In 2024

The CPI(M) which has been out of power for over a decade in West Bengal and reduced to zero seats in both the Lok Sabha and the Assembly, is contemplating contesting the 2024 Lok Sabha election only in constituencies where it feels confident of doing well. In other words, it will contest only from a few constituencies. According to CPI(M) sources, the Left party is keen on contesting from Murshidabad, Maldah North, Krishnanagar, and Raiganj. There were also talks that if the tripartite alliance with Congress and ISF works out it would give up seats like Diamond Harbour, Uluberia, and Sreerampore to ISF and the Basirhat seat to sole ISF MLA Naushad Siddiqui, if its partner CPI agrees. Interestingly, CPI(M) is optimistic about the Krishnanagar seat owing to its vote percentage in the 2021 State Assembly election and 2022 panchayat poll. The party’s vote percentage was more than 30% in several areas including Nakashipara, Palashipara, Tehatta and Krishnanagar, won by TMC’s Mahua Moitra in 2019. It may be noted that CPI(M)’s last representation in Lok Sabha was in 2014 where two seats of Raiganj and Murshidabad were won by Mohammad Salim and Badruddoza Khan respectively. But, in 2019, Congress refused to let go of these two seats thus helping TMC to gain Murshidabad seat and Raiganj to BJP.  However, Congress blamed CPI(M) for announcing the candidate list unilaterally which led to the calling of the alliance. However, the CPM state secretariat is still not sure what will be the final understanding with the Congress.
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Granting Maratha Reservations Would Not End The Scuffle In Maharashtra

The Maratha caste’s demand for reservations, although granted by the Maharashtra government, will continue to dominate the state political scene for more time as two major issues are still unresolved. Firstly, there is a Supreme Court petition concerning the demand. The last hearing took place on 24 January but the outcome is yet not known. Perhaps more hearings could be needed. The fate of the reservations would be clear only after the Apex Court declares its verdict. Secondly, agitation leader Manoj Jarange Patil has been firm on his demand that all cases filed by the police in connection with the protest actions must be withdrawn forthwith. Deputy chief minister Devendra Fadanvis has made it clear that it will not be possible due to legalities involved. Offences like setting houses afire with family members inside, mounting attacks against the police or torching public property can’t be withdrawn unless permitted by court. But Fadnavis clarified that all other cases will be dropped, as promised by chief minister Eknath Shinde to Jarange. Meanwhile, certain experts have started criticising the CM, suggesting that he has taken the agitators for a ride as the state government is not empowered to give such a reservation at all. To complicate the matter, Jarange has threatened to start another fast unto death if the reservations do not materialise. The ruling side’s insistence that the OBC reservations would not be touched to accommodate the Maratha caste will pose new problems for the government, it is felt.
nitish rane

Nitesh Rane: BJP's Young Turk Ratchets Up

The political age for young Turks is being reemphasized in Maharashtra again with pole positioning currently underway for suitable appointments to the state council of ministers once general elections conclude in April 2024. Union Minister for micro, small and medium enterprises Narayan Rane’s MLA son Nitesh Rane has consciously donned the saffron robes of Hindutva (over love and land jehad) while stridently ratcheting up his rhetoric by a few notches against the Thackeray Khandaan simultaneously. According to a BJP leader, “When Eknath Shinde was installed as CM, the BJP high command’s diktat was induction of new faces in the state council of ministers that was not done although 20 cabinet berths were filled up. The political debacle in Bihar back then saw the Modi-Shah leadership letting it slide rather than risk political instability in Maharashtra, however, repeatedly rebuffed subsequent attempts at cabinet expansion.” In 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi consciously grafted the old crop BJP leadership from Maharashtra into his Union cabinet of ministers, clearing the field for the young Turks in Maharashtra following which Devendra Fadnavis became CM. Vinod Tawde, Sudhir Mungantiwar also became ministers.” Post Lok Sabha elections, young Turks including Nitesh Rane, Gopichand Padalkar, Prasad Lad, Yogesh Sagar and others from the BJP hope to find a berth in the state cabinet of ministers in the run up to the state assemblies in November 2024, unless the BJP high command holds simultaneous polls.
prakash ambedkar

Congress Yet To Forgive Ambedkar For Its 2019 Rout

Prakash Ambedkar’s persistence for over a year may have finally got him space within the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance in Maharashtra but he continues to find himself out of the I.N.D.I.A front, thanks to cold-shouldering from the Congress. The Congress has not forgiven Prakash Ambedkar for his role in their rout in the 2019 Maharashtra Lok Sabha polls when it got reduced to just one seat here. Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) 14 % vote share contributed in a big way for the defeat of 11 Congress and NCP candidates including the likes of former chief ministers Ashok Chavan and Sushilkumar Shinde. Though VBA failed to win any seats in the state, it split the secular votes thereby helping the BJP and earning the tag of being the B team of the BJP. In the wake of this background, Ambedkar continues to be viewed with much scepticism within the MVA and it has taken much pushing from Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar to get him space on the seat-sharing table. Despite being known for his unpredictability and sharp tongue, he is being sought to avoid a split in the Dalit vote bank. No Dalit candidate won from Maharashtra in 2019 Lok Sabha polls, save for the sole seat reserved for the Scheduled Caste in Latur. At a stage when Maharashtra politics is witnessing peak mobilisation of the Maratha vote bank courtesy Manoj Jarange Patil’s agitation, Congress can least afford to let go a chunk of the 10% Dalit electorate from its alliance.
Sekhar Babu MK

After Image Hits, Lok Sabha Polls Will Be DMK’s Sternest Test

Just a few months ago the DMK was confident of delivering close to 39 seats for the I.N.D.I.A bloc. Such a haul would have represented the second biggest after the Congress. Now, months away from the Lok Sabha polls, DMK is not so sure. Its image has taken a deep hit after Cyclone Michaung dumped huge amounts of water on four districts around the capital Chennai and the monsoon pelted more places in the south. The 10 constituencies where the government seemed helpless in dealing with flooding may be a litmus test of the ruling party’s popularity. There was another major image hit in the Supreme Court rapping the TN government over handling of the Ram temple consecration, which a few temples wanted to share with their devotees by putting it on LED screens within their premises. Party insiders are squarely blaming the HR&CE minister Sekar Babu for misguiding the chief minister into trying to control the event through the police. They believe the event would have passed without much of an impact if the government had quietly allowed the devout to view the consecration. In his bid to please the master, the minister may have needlessly invited trouble and harsh words from the top court. Throw in the corruption drama around the first DMK minister being convicted and the overall image of the DMK is not what it may have been after three years in the saddle.
Vijay Thalapathy

Is Tamil Superstar Vijay Getting Ready To Take A Political Plunge?

On January 25, the 49-year old Tamil superstar Vijay who has been nursing political ambition secretly called about 150 party apparatchiks to his Paniyur party office in Chennai at 5.30 am. This early morning exercise was done to stave off media glare and also collect affidavit signatures to register his party with the Election Commission of India. Sources say, his loyal soldiers arrived quietly from districts the previous night, it was followed by brainstorming over possible party names.  The fans-cum-party cadres were treated to a rousing motivational speech by Vijay also known as Thalapathy.  Even with so much beehive activity, Vijay and his fans converted to party cadres ensured no info leaks to the media. So when asked for Kazhagam (party) name all that the media scouts got …”you have it….Kazhagam”. Ok the teaser trailer is out. Now for the main feature! Is Vijay yet another Tamil film actor wanting to cash in on his filmi star status?  Earlier, it was MGR, Jayalalithaa who became TN chief ministers. Is Vijay crowding the already crowded political scene or are his ground preparations and calculations aimed at making a real difference to the people of Tamil Nadu who have invested their faith in him? The cat will be out of the bag soon. Vijay is the highest paid actor who has played lead roles in 67 films and has significant fan following. In X it is nearly 5 million. POWERED BY: ICICI LOMBARD
maratha morcha

Maratha Morcha Approaching Mumbai, Acid Test For Government

Countdown has begun to handle the situation arising in Mumbai with regard to the massive morcha which is entering the commercial capital of India to demand reservations for the influential Maratha caste. Lakhs of supporters under the leadership of Manoj Jarange Patil have expressed determination to secure reservation. On the other hand, Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde has once again appealed to the morcha organisers to wait for a Maratha caste census report that is being prepared now. After receiving the findings, the matter will be discussed in the state legislature in February to fulfil the assurance to grant the reservation, he has reiterated. While the morcha has been peaceful, the unprecedented response it has been receiving along the way is astounding. Thousands of bhakris and tonnes of rice and vegetables are prepared by many families voluntarily to feed the marchers. On the outskirts of Mumbai, the Agriculture Produce Market Committee has reserved its sprawling premises in Navi Mumbai by keeping its operations closed for Thursday and Friday to accommodate the gathering. Huge police deployments along the route and in Mumbai have been posted to handle the large crowds. The Republic Day celebrations all over will be taking place below the shadow of the morcha. Alarmed by the prospect of taking a slice out of its reservation quota, the OBC community has started gathering its forces to counter the Maratha show of strength. Their next move is awaited.
modi maratha

PM Modi’s Western Maha Poll Play, Exploiting Maratha Strongman Vijaysinh Mohite Patil

BJP is a worried party in Bharat today with the I.N.D.I.A. alliance, compounded with on-the-boil Maratha agitations, threatening poll prospects to better BJP’s 303 Lok Sabha tally of MPs. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Solapur visit recently, ostensibly to handover 15,000 homes to bidi workers rallying under former Solapur city’s CPI MLA Narsaiah Adam Master, has deeper political purpose for Western Maharashtra. A source familiar with goings on told, “Maratha reservations issue is backed by every common Maratha Manoos. A Maratha DCM (Ajit Pawar) was strapped on to expand chief minister Eknath Shinde’s political reach to woo the Western Maharashtra belt that Maha Chanakya Sharad Pawar lords over.” Modi’s Solapur visit quietly endorsed his blessings for the Krishna-Bheema rivers interlinking project. The brainchild of Pawar senior’s former Maratha DCM Vijaysinh Mohite Patil was launched in 2003 to alleviate water scarcity in six districts and 31 talukas of Western Maharashtra. BJP’s Chanakya, DCM Devendra Fadnavis relaunched the flagship project a fortnight back in earnest (for completion) although (temporarily) rebranding it as the Sangli flood water stabilization (diversion) project due to ongoing legal disputes with Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh over river water utilization. Before 2019 Lok Sabha elections Modi similarly visited Malshiras in Solapur soliciting the Vijaysinh Mohite Patil family’s sway over the Baramati, Solapur, Mhada, Pandharpur Lok Sabha seats (built through blood, political relations over three generations) in Sharad Pawar’s stronghold. PM Modi’s current outreach seeks to blunt the sympathy wave for MVA, negative fallout over Maratha reservations in the ensuing general elections.
modi ram

Is DMK Rattled By PM Modi's Two Day Visit To Tamil Nadu?

Has PM Narendra Modi’s two-day visit to Tamil Nadu ahead of the consecration of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya rattled the ruling DMK? Though his official visit was to inaugurate the Khelo India event in Chennai, PM’s continued presence in the state and his visit to Ram temples retracing Bhagwan Sri Ram’s steps in Ramayana has generated a lot of public interest and political buzz. His interaction with potential allies and instructions to state BJP head K Annamalai to prepare for a booth-level meeting at the earliest as a follow-up of his visit have revealed that the BJP is seriously planning  for 2024. His brief roadshows in Chennai and Srirangam generated a lot of interest. PM Modi visited Rameshwaram – where Sri Ram and Sita worshipped Lord Shiva in the form of jyotirling. He also visited Kothandaramaswamy Temple in Dhanushkodi. TN BJP leaders feel it is the success of Modi’s two day visit that has got the state government to ban watching live telecasts of Ayodhya Ram Mandir programme. FM Nirmala Sitharaman who is attending a Kamba Ramayana function at Kanchipuram protested attempts to stop temples from organising events to mark Ayodhya event. A BJP spokesperson said “We were told by the police not to organise any programme in the temple in Ambathurai (near Dindigal) village because of Christians living there. Can you believe this?” Meanwhile, the Kanchi Shankaracharya has already reached Ayodhya endorsing the Ram Mandir consecration.

Didi’s Solidarity Rally On Ram Mandir Inauguration Day

Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee leaves no stone unturned to play the secular card. On January 22 — the Ram Mandir inauguration day — Didi has organised Sarba Dharm Yatra which will show her visiting Mandir, Masjid, Girja in Kolkata to establish her secular identity. Didi’s whose residence is near one of the renowned Kali Temple of Kalighat will be offering her prayers and then join the procession to convey the message of all-religion harmony. Her next stop will be at a mosque in Ballygunge, where she will be offering “chadar”. Following which Didi will light candles at a Church in Park Circus where a stage will be set up for the Peace and Harmony rally. According to Trinamool sources, no politician will be on that stage, instead representatives of all religions including Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis and Muslims will be present. Besides them only Mamata will be addressing the crowd on that day. It may be noted that the Bengal CM was invited by Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust for the inaugural function, which she declined citing that it to be a political gimmick by the BJP ahead of Lok Sabha Election 2024. Incidentally, Opposition leader Suvendu Adhikari moved the court to stop Mamata’s solidarity march, but was declined by Calcutta High Court.
maratha march

Maratha Reservation Demand Catches Shinde Govt In A Cleft Stick, May Snowball Into Law & Order Problem

The Maratha reservation demand is likely to snowball into a major law and order issue for the Maharashtra government since lakhs of supporters of the agitation leader, Manoj Jarange Patil, have been asked to reach Mumbai in a walking march which is to begin from Saturday, 20 January. Patil has declared that an indefinite fast will start from 26 January if the demand is not met by then. Chief minister Eknath Shinde’s appeal to Patil in particular and the Maratha community in general not to agitate has not evoked much response so far. While Patil is firm on staging the protest march and fasting, the government has continued its efforts to avert any alarming situation in Mumbai or anywhere else in the state. Shinde has repeatedly assured Patil that the government is positive towards the demand and would adopt an enactment accordingly in February in the legislature. He has reiterated his promise that the reservations for other sections of society would not be affected while granting a reservation for the Maratha caste, the most influential group in Maharashtra’s politics. In response, Patil has challenged the government to present the data about delivering the caste certificates to the Marathas as belonging to the Kunbi community. If the government claims that 54 lakh such entries have been found, let it come with the statistics of actual grant of certification, he has challenged.
Mohammed Salim

CPI (M) Keen To Forge Alliance With Cong In Bengal, But Is GoP Ready?

The CPI(M) in West Bengal has largely voted in favour of an alliance with the Congress but with a rider. The heavyweights at Bengal headquarters in Alimuddin Street have made it categorical that the Congress will have to make its position clear on alliance for 2024 general election since the Congress high command seems to be in favour of alliance with Trinamool Congress. According to sources, CPI(M) state secretary Mohammad Salim has explained to the party’s rank and file that it will keep fighting BJP and Trinamool in the state. Significantly, Salim has also made it categorical that if Congress manages an alliance with the Trinamool and at the same time look for holding hands with CPI(M), the Left will come out of such a tripartite alliance. The state secretary of CPI(M) has made it clear that there will be no ‘reconciliation’ with the Trinamool. According to political analysts, CPI(M) decision of going alone in Bengal is mainly because of the results of panchayat elections and last year’s civic polls which shows that the combined vote share of the Left, the Congress and the Indian Secular Front – which stood at a meagre 10% in the 2021 assembly election – has crossed the 20% mark in the panchayat election. Interestingly, CPI(M)’s share of vote percentage has gone up from 6% to 14% in comparison to 2018’s panchayat elections.
modi TN

PM Modi's Southern Sojourn: Focus On 4 States Ahead Of 2024

It’s only the third week of January, yet PM Narendra Modi has already visited South three times — with one visit to Kerala, Andhra and Karnataka thrown in, and twice over to Tamil Nadu, including this time to inaugurate the Khelo India on January 19. His visit to Chennai was quite packed with political buzz. No, it isn’t just the idea of the PM’s brief road show in Chennai that is being talked about. It is the rush among   leaders of regional parties to have an audience   with him, in view of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Everyone wants to make the best use of the couple of hours that the PM will be spending at the Raj Bhawan. He is going to be spending the night there, before he leaves for Trichy to visit the holy city of Srirangam as part of his 11-day anushthan before consecration of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya. At least 3 leaders– Premalatha Vijayakanth, widow and heir apparent of late actor Vijayakanth, who is heading the DMDK will be meeting him. TTV Dinakaran of Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam and nephew of VK Sasikala, and former CM O Paneerselvam have also sought time. Meanwhile, it is learnt that former CM and AIADMK leader Edappadi K Palaniswami has made it clear that he may not be attending the mandir consecration because of “pain” in his leg.
milind deora

Milind Deora's Exit Forces Cong To Go On Damage Control Mode

So what is driving out leaders like Milind Deora out of the Congress in Maharashtra? Lack of popular mandate? Or short shrift from Rahul Gandhi and his team? Possibly loss of access to Rahul Gandhi. In fact many of Rahul’s close aides were surprised that when Deora exited there were reports that he had no access to Rahul and was actually seeking to reach him through an appointment via Jairam Ramesh. But then, Milind is not alone. It is being said senior Maharashtra leaders like former Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, former CM  Prithviraj Chavan have also been getting a raw deal from the former Congress President. Neither Shinde nor Chavan have been able to meet Rahul in the past few years. Reportedly, BJP had reached out to Shinde to switch sides and are also tapping his daughter Praniti Shinde, Maharashtra PCC working president.  When the Congress came to know of the BJP’s overtures to the father-daughter duo, it got into damage control mode. While efforts were made to molly-coddle senior Shinde, the AICC ensured Praniti was aboard the special aircraft that carried leaders from Delhi to Imphal to launch Nyay Yatra. Though BJP leaders have denied reaching out to Shinde, Congress sources feel Praniti is being eyed as a fresh face for   Solapur Lok Sabha seat. If Shinde joins BJP it would bring closure to controversy over his remarks on Hindu terror that he had made at Congress’ Chintan Shivir in Jaipur in 2013 that RSS and BJP were running terror camps.
Rahul MKStalin

TN Poll Alliances Still Not Firmed Up

The poll alliances in Tamil Nadu seem far from settled. Asked about the sealing of seat-sharing arrangements in the I.N.D.I.A bloc, all that the senior DMK minister Duraimurugan would say was that things were moving smoothly. But there are tugs and pulls, with at least one major party in AIADMK trying to change the scenario by offering more seats (12) to the Congress than the DMK (6 or 7) is ready to offer. Also, voices are being heard in I.N.D.I.A bloc from the likes of the AAP that the bloc may be better off without the DMK as the party’s stand on Sanatana Dharma has spoilt the Hindu vote bank for the alliance. But given MK Stalin’s loyalty to members of the Congress first family, it is unlikely that the matter of a few seats would see the alliance come unhinged. Stalin might convince the DMK to allot nine seats to the Congress to keep the front intact. His son has also been told to tone down the anti-Hindu rhetoric till the elections and not to sully the pitch to the electorate, which already has reason to ditch the DMK because of the corruption clouds that are gathering over a few major figures. The Muslim also have reasons to feel cut up as they see the DNK as not having done enough for them, including in the non-release of prisoners.

Modi To Visit Solapur On CPM Leader’s Invite

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s slated visit to Solapur in south Maharashtra will be significant for two reasons. Firstly, he will be arriving at the invitation of a CPM leader. Secondly, it will be his second state tour within a week’s time. As Maharashtra is the second largest state which has 48 Lok Sabha seats, Modi’s focus on it is being interpreted as a strategy to propagate his bid for the third consecutive term to rule the country. CPM firebrand leader Narasayya Adam has invited Modi to inaugurate a huge housing scheme the former MLA conceived for the unorganised working class. Modi had performed the bhoomi poojan of the scheme in 2019 and had promised to inaugurate it while responding to Adam’s appeal at that event. Adam was criticised at the time by several Opposition leaders for this gesture but had remained firm and has now extended the invite to the PM. During the visit, Modi is expected to green flag several infrastructure projects for that region, situated along the border with Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. A traditional Congress bastion which had elected veteran leader Sushilkumar Shinde repeatedly, the Solapur LS seat has been won by the BJP in 2014 and 2019. Given the various political permutations and combinations, the BJP is keen on retaining it this time, too. Modi was in Nasik and Mumbai on 12 January. Hence, his Solapur visit is viewed as a shot in the arm for the state’s Mahayuti ruling alliance.
mk udhaya

Udhayanidhi Upset With Dad Stalin For Delaying Elevation?

Udhayanidhi Stalin is upset with his father? Perhaps, yes! Udhayanidhi who was expected to be elevated as Deputy CM did not turn up at the residence of his father to take his blessings on Pongal on January 15. Because his father, DMK President and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister on January 13 dismissed ‘rumours,’ speculations that his son is being made deputy CM. Stalin also asserted he is healthy. Such rumours were being spread by those opposed to the January 21 DMK Youth Wing Conference in Salem, to be held under its chief Udhayanidhi, Stalin said. At a time when youth across the state were getting ready for the Salem conference, those engaged in rumour-mongering “spread false information about my health,” he said in a Pongal greetings message. “I am healthy and cheerful. I am working, working, working,” the 70-year-old leader added. Interestingly, the news of the elevation of Udhayanidhi was apparently leaked to the media from quarters close to Stalin’s family. But other power centres in Stalin’s family apparently told him to delay his elevation — because it won’t go down well before voters ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. Also it will give a handle to the opposition, particularly the BJP, to reiterate that the DMK, like the Congress, is plagued by dynastic politics. So Stalin decided to put it off till the Lok Sabha elections? Perhaps, say insiders. As a preparatory step before his elevation, Udhayanidhi even met Modi on January 4 to ostensibly invite him to Chennai for the Khelo India Games in what he described as a “courtesy call.”

Odisha Govt’s Nabin Health Card Scheme’s Technical Glitches Frustrate People

With BJP making every effort to topple his government, the Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik, like a grandmaster, is always several moves ahead. But, unfortunately for him, his health care plan — considered a masterstroke — may not give him the expected political mileage, if the registration deadline of January 16, 2024 is not extended. An average Odia is not too familiar with online registration to avail of cashless free treatment for critical ailments at the private hospitals. The healthcare scheme branded as BSKY Nabin Card is facing too many technical glitches as a result people have to literally go from pillar to post to fill in their forms. Sometimes the ‘Add Family member’ button stops working, and the interface ‘freezes’ after adding two members. Sources say there is a gap in the awareness drive and competency level to address glitches both at schools, panchayats, SHG and social media level. Fed up with repeated technical glitches and short deadlines many people in sheer frustration have given up on BSKY Nabin cards. There is a chorus to extend the registration deadline date. Is the Patnaik government listening?
Arvind Mallika

Cong-AAP Alliance Unlikely To Take Off

Guess it is in the nature of I.N.D.I.A. front, you could be a member of the group and still not belong to it. Well that is what is happening to at least two main stakeholders in the I.N.D.I.A. bloc — the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Leaders of both the parties met for the first time early this week to discuss seat sharing arrangements for the Lok Sabha elections in Delhi, with the Congress expressing the desire to contest four of the seven Lok Sabha seats, and the latter seeking to expand the scope of the discussion to include an alliance in Gujarat, Goa, and Haryana. The Congress leaders, however, told AAP representatives that their current mandate was limited to discussing seat sharing in Delhi. Interestingly, the Congress leaders did not even mention Punjab. Congress sources pointed out that the AAP was mainly interested in increasing its footprint across India and was keen to fall back on the Congress apparatus to grow. Delhi Congress leaders are not too comfortable working with Arvind Kejriwal. With ED noose tightening on Kejriwal, political analysts point to the way even an obliging Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann — who has been relentlessly flying Kejriwal around in state aircraft – had decided to make himself scarce for once and pushed off for a 4-day vipassana break in Andhra. “Our Punjab unit is determined to fight the Lok Sabha polls on their own. But for the electricity subsidy, the AAP Government has done nothing here,” says a Congress MP from Punjab.
modi ram bhakti

Focus on Ram Bhakti Says PM Modi In An Audio Appeal

Ahead of the inauguration ceremony of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya on January 22, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an audio message posted about the 11-day ‘anusthan’ (special ritual) that he will follow from January 12 as prescribed in the scriptures, which have to be followed before consecration. For the first time the audio connect did not dwell on temporal matters; it was entirely his way of telling the nation to focus on Ram bhakti and get away from the political distraction of boycotts of the consecration. The audio message posted on his official YouTube channel, he explained he was going to Ayodhya “only to represent people of India during the consecration”. With this, Modi ably silenced some cynical shankaracharyas who were questioning his spiritual competence to participate in the consecration ceremony. He also sent a message across to the political class in India not experiencing the reality of Ram Mandir. Modi also spoke about starting his ritual from Nashik Dham-Panchavati, a sacred land where Bhagwan Shri Ram spent a lot of time. Though Modi did not specify what the ritual is going to be,it is likely that he may undertake a fast. Abstaining from food is not unusual for him. During the navratras, he is known to abstain from food.

CM Shinde’s Followers On Offensive, Threaten Action Against Aaditya, Sanjay Raut

Even as sparring over the verdict of Maharashtra legislative assembly speaker Rahul Narvekar is raging, the Shiv Sena faction led by chief minister Eknath Shinde has gone on the offensive against the bloc led by Uddhav Thackeray. An immediate fallout could be a threat to start breach of privileges action against rival Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray and MP Sanjay Raut for their utterances against the speaker and the state legislature. In fact, Raut was the object of an inquiry for similar reasons in March 2023, too. This was after members from the ruling BJP and Sena had objected to his alleged comments wherein he had described the state legislature as “chor mandal”. Raut repeated the remarks on 10 January, immediately after Narvekar had pronounced his findings whereby MLAs from both Sena factions were spared of disqualification. Likewise, Aaditya could face action for calling Narvekar ‘shameless’ (Nirlajja) in front of channel cameras. Besides the privilege proceedings, the Shinde camp has started maintaining that as the rival faction MLAs will continue as members of the house, they will have to honour the party’s whip on the floor of the legislature. In a sharp retort, the Uddhav faction has claimed that it has been recognised as a different political party by the speaker so the whip compliance does not arise. Both sides have taken a combative stand, giving ample indications that the battle will go on in court of law as well as on the street.
chalo thrissur

For BJP It Is Chalo Thrissur

The BJP, which is yet to open its account in Kerala, is eyeing the state’s cultural capital, Thrissur to deliver its first Member of Parliament. The electorate of Kerala’s cultural capital, Thrissur, which has amidst it the Vadakkuumnathan Shiva Temple and the World famous Guruvayur Krishna Temple, is being wooed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, himself. After holding an impressive road show at Thrissur on January 3, 2024, Modi is returning to Thrissur on January 16, this time in the garb of attending the marriage of film star – Suresh Gopi’s daughter at Guruvayur Temple. Gopi, a former Rajya Sabha member, was the BJP candidate from Thrissur in the 2019 elections where he came third behind the UDF and LDF. The only silver-lining in the election was the BJP vote share increasing from 11.5 % in 2014 to 28.2 % in 2019. The increased vote share plus the constituency’s demographics — 58% Hindus, 24 % Christians and 17 % Muslims — has made the Thrissur seat BJP’s best bet. Also, BJP’s Christian outreach programme which seems to have received a favourable response in Kerala despite the issues in Manipur, has spurred BJP and Modi to have a second road show in neighbouring Kochi, the commercial capital of Kerala on January 17.  After assembly election losses in Karnataka, Telangana and losing their Tamil Nadu partner, AIADMK, BJP is pulling out all the stops to woo the South Indian electorate.
Rudi Papiya

BJP Emulates TMC & CPI (M), Turns To Tollywood To Spread Party’s Vision Ahead Of Lok Sabha Polls

Walking the same path of the CPI(M) and Trinamool Congress (TMC), Bengal BJP, has created a new cell, ‘Cultural Promotion’ within the Election Management Committee to promote its ideologies and visions. It may be noted that CPI(M)’s Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA), the cultural wing, has always been used in election campaigns. Ditto TMC. Incidentally, BJP’s Cultural Promotional Wing will be having two divisions namely ‘Loksanskrit Dal’ and ‘Path Natak’ to be handled by actors Papiya Adhikary and Rudranil Ghosh respectively. Papiya’s association with films and commercial theatres (jatras) will be catering to BJP’s needs. Moreover her dance group ‘Mukti’ mainly stages programmes which will help BJP to spread its political messages. However, Papiya refused to give any details about the arrangement but admitted to having been present during the recent BJP’s election management committee meeting. Even Rudranil unwilling to speak about the development, but is learnt that he directed the theme song that the state BJP made ahead of Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s meeting in Kolkata. BJP sources said that this time, the BJP wants him to set up small street drama groups all over the state and stage dramas as part of Lok Sabha election campaign. It may be recalled that both Papiya and Rudranil joined the BJP before the last assembly elections where Papiya contested from Uluberia South in Howrah and Rudranil from Bhabanipur constituency in Kolkata, which neither could win.
EPS amit shah_002

Secret Pact Between BJP And AIADMK Is Out

AIADMK staying away from the BJP for the Lok Sabha polls is part of a master strategy worked out by the party’s head honcho Edappadi K Palaniswami and Amit Shah. The secret pact, arrived at as a Tamil-English interpreter from Karnataka was the only other person present at the one-on-one meet, was to enable the taking away of minority votes from the DMK by presenting an alternative in an independent AIADMK that is back to where J Jayalalithaa had kept it. There is no doubt that the DMK has suffered quite a few image hits recently, with the first conviction of a minister for graft and another sitting in jail as a minister without portfolio. The heavy rains of the monsoon in 9 districts around Chennai and the extreme south also led to undermining of the ruling party’s dominant political stature. So much so, there is an opinion shared by some Congressmen that it is time the party broke its DMK ties and accepted more seats that the AIADMK would offer it. One of those who is leading this campaign is currently being disciplined for suggesting PM Modi is more popular than the party’s scion Rahul Gandhi. DMK is planning on cutting the Congress seats down to just six to give itself a better chance to get the number of seats that would give it much bargaining power in any post-poll scenario.
modi patnaik

Why Is PM Modi Visiting Odisha

Speculations are rife that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting Odisha possibly in the third week of January, just before the Ram Lala consecration ceremony. BJP sources say senior leaders like JP Nadda and Amit Shah will be accompanying the PM. However, the PMO is yet to make a formal announcement of the PM’s scheduled visit. Modi visited Odisha last year to take stock of the worst train accident in Balasore. This time speculation is, Modi is visiting Berhampur as part of election agenda. He may address gatherings at Gopalpur, sources say. Why is the PM visiting Odisha? Sources say Modi is determined to correct the bonhomie image of him and chief minister Naveen Patnaik. He is keen that BJP make inroads in Odisha and its possible only if he takes Patnaik head on at his home turf Ganjam. Also, it has been proved that the BJP’s state unit on its own is not in a position to give tough fight to well entrenched BJD juggernaut. Opposition BJP chief whip Pavan Majhi in the Odisha Assembly said “Our focus is on increasing the party’s strength and forming the government in Odisha.” For BJP ruling Odisha has been a pipe dream, except western Odisha they have little penetration elsewhere. The state’s five time CM Patnaik remains confident that he will continue to remain in the driver’s seat.
modi _Gate

Modi’s Friday Visit To Maharashtra Awaited By Ruling And Opposition Parties

The storm created by Maharashtra legislative assembly speaker Rahul Narvekar’s judgment, which has rejected demands from both sides to disqualify certain MLAs from either side, will continue in judicial forums and on ground, too. The Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray has summarily rejected the verdict, announcing that it will knock on the Supreme Court’s doors. The Congress and the NCP have supported Uddhav’s criticism. This situation is expected to cement the I.N.D.I.A front in the state further, accelerating the on-going talks about seat sharing for the Lok Sabha election. On the other hand, the ruling three-party alliance is feeling exhilarated as it appears certain that chief minister Eknath Shinde will continue in office till the Apex Court takes cognizance of the matter. The million dollar question is: when will it happen. Considering the functioning of the Apex Court, it will be too optimistic to expect it to take up and dispose of in a short while. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scheduled visit to Maharashtra on Friday, 12 January, to inaugurate the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link project is likely to prove a game changer. The PM is likely to make some major announcement for the state, especially owing to its contribution in the celebrations planned for 22 January in Ayodhya. His comments about the present political development, hence, are awaited with baited breath by both sides.
Kalaram temple

Thackeray’s Politico-Religious Masterstroke, Emulates Social Crusaders Over Kalaram Temple

Erstwhile Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray will emulate his social crusader grandfather Prabhodankar Thackeray, social reformer Sane Guruji and Indian constitution’s architect Dr BR Ambedkar, come January 22. He will seek blessings from Lord ‘Kala Ram’ coinciding with Bharatiya Janata Party’s installation of ‘Ram Lalla’ at Ayodhya. Thackeray received no invite to attend the Ram Mandir ceremony over severed ties with BJP but, through this political masterstroke, intends to hold sway over the 48 parliamentary constituencies in Maharashtra. Thackeray’s party smartly tied up with Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) over a seat sharing formula being worked out currently and hopes to attract Dalit votes in addition to his party’s traditional vote bank. Angry Shiv Sainiks anxiously await general elections to vent their rage over alleged political betrayal by former compatriots now under CM Eknath Shinde who rebelled against the heir of the late Sena supremo even as Uddhav has smartly tapped into the Dalit vote bank. In the early 1900s Maharashtra’s social crusader Sane Guruji and subsequently, Dr Ambedkar launched crusades to allow Dalits prayer rights at the KalaRam temple. Thackeray is certain his traditional vote bank will be bolstered by the Dalit community that had even given his party (under late Balasaheb) a run for its money in its own backyard of Mumbai city in the late 1970s. Thackeray has also put the Congress and NCP allies on guard by deputing colleagues to attend I.N.D.I.A’s seat sharing meet while locally insisting on the tiger’s share in Maharashtra.
Sharad Pawar_009

Sharad Pawar Resolves To Retire After Current Rajya Sabha Term

NCP president Sharad Pawar has declared that he would not contest any election after his present Rajya Sabha term ends two and a half years later. Pawar has been at the receiving end over his age since his nephew Ajit Pawar has time and again advised him to take rest ‘at this stage of his life.’ Hitting out at him, Pawar has said that he entered politics in 1959 and has never taken a holiday. Moreover, when Morarji Desai became the Prime Minister, he was 83. Pawar quipped that he was elected by people to the parliament and hence needed to complete his term in the upper house. Pawar heads a myriad of organisations and is quite active in participating in their activities. He hates any talk of retirement. Ajit, therefore, has been harping on his age at every given opportunity. Irked by his constant needling, Ajit’s cousin and Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule, MP, has remarked that Ajit has turned 65 and is now a senior citizen. Her implied message was that he, too, should consider retiring. This has once again highlighted the bitterness between the uncle and nephew as Pawar has reiterated that the doors of his party are permanently closed for Ajit and his supporters who walked out of the NCP in July 2023.
Shivsena ES

Maharashtra Govt’s Fate To Be Decided On Wednesday, Suspense Builds Up

Wednesday, 10 January 2024, will be perhaps one of the most important days in Maharashtra’s history as state legislative assembly speaker Rahul Narvekar is scheduled to deliver his verdict on the disqualification petitions against chief minister Eknath Shinde and his several supporters. Narvekar has indicated that only highlights of the 500-page judgement will be read out tomorrow at 4 pm in Vidhan Bhavan and the detailed verdict will be available later. Even as suspense is building up about the fate of the three-party government in the state, Shinde and deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis have expressed confidence that the petitions will be rejected by the speaker. Shinde said he had the majority, which was the main test in a democracy. Moreover, the Election Commission had recognised his side as the ‘real’ Shiv Sena and hence he was hopeful that justice will prevail. On the other hand, Sena’s rival faction chief Uddhav Thackeray and NCP president Sharad Pawar have taken grave objections for two meetings Narvekar had with Shinde at the latter’s official residence over the past week. “It is highly suspicious that the judge is calling on the accused,” Uddhav told the media on Tuesday while Pawar felt that it would have been better if Narvekar had not met the CM in this situation. While 34 petitions have been filed in the matter, over three lakh pages of various documents had to be perused, Narvekar has revealed.

Udhayanidhi To Be Appointed Dy Chief Minister Before Stalin Goes Overseas?

The talking heads and wise seers of the DMK are busy communicating on the Jungle drums. Speculations, strategy analysis and data mining are in feverish mode. Naturally. It seems TN chief minister MK Stalin wants to be poll ready in all respects before being poll bound. Of late, Stalin has had niggling health issues exacerbated by a punishing schedule. The 72-year old has been advised an overseas health tuning check-up which was long overdue. With two big high profile events — the Global Investors Meet on January 7-8 carrying heavy payloads and DMK Youth Wing meet on January 17 when Udhayanidhi is all set to play the stellar role in the succession plan as chief of the Youth Wing. Stalin, according to sources, will soon appoint his son as the Deputy CM, so that pecking orders are clearly demarcated in his absence. Another factor that may be a source for concern is from half-sister Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, a possible challenger to the succession plan, Kanimozhi who celebrated her birthday on January 5, was seen working noticeably for flood relief in Thoothukudi, then flying to Chennai to pay homage at her father’s and Arignar Anna’s memorials, then rushing to get Stalin’s blessings, and getting a call from superstar Vijay wishing her. All these optics were significant indicating that she is no push over.  It is being speculated that Stalin may announce Udhayanidhi’s elevation soon before going for overseas check-up.

Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi In Jitters As Cong May Contest All 48 Lok Sabha Seats

The Congress high command’s fiat to the Maharashtra unit to send in recommendations for all 48 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state has expectedly created a question mark about the seat-sharing formula that is yet to be worked out. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge held a meeting with state Congress chief Nana Patole and senior leader Balasaheb Thorat, among others, to assess the party’s prospects in Maharashtra. Congress general secretary Mukul Wasnik, too, was involved in the exercise. Patole has been asked to submit recommended names to the party headquarters by 10 January. This unilateral decision has confused the Shiv Sena (Uddhav) and the NCP’s Sharad Pawar faction since each is desirous of claiming the largest slice. Republican leader Prakash Ambedkar, too, has added to the suspense by demanding a fair share of seats from the Maha Vikas Aghadi, failing which he has threatened to field candidates in every LS constituency. Sena MP Sanjay Raut had earlier created a sensation by announcing a tentative seat sharing formula but the party had to backtrack when the two other partners strongly objected to any such arrangement. Raut had enraged the Congress party by advising it to ‘start from a scratch’ since its only one candidate was successful in the 2019 election to the parliament. Amidst all these developments, the Congress party’s directive to the state unit has become viral, adding to the riddle. 
sharmila reddy

Cong Picks Sister To Take On Jagan, Will Deviousness Deliver Andhra?

Buoyed by its electoral successes in Karnataka and Telangana, the Congress is looking to resurrect itself in Andhra Pradesh, where it was decimated following the bifurcation of the state in 2014.  Towards this end, the Congress has inducted Sharmila Reddy, sister of Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy. The party hopes that Sharmila will take on her brother. Sharmila has been promised a Rajya Sabha berth from Karnataka and a suitable AICC position to deliver Andhra — elections to the state assembly will be held along with Lok Sabha. This devious strategy of the Gandhis to play the sister against the brother in Andhra has stunned many Congress leaders. Party sources recall that CBI and ED cases against Jagan were filed while UPA was in power. In this backdrop it is not clear how Sharmila’s move to invoke legacy of her late father and Andhra chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy (YSR), who died in 2009, work in Andhra and for the Congress. It is being said Jagan did reach out to convince Sharmila via an uncle from joining the Congress. But then Sharmila has been in touch with Karnataka Deputy CM DK Shivakumar ever after the Congress won Telangana– a state where Sharmila feels she did her bit to help the Congress by keeping her party (YSRTP) out of the fray. It is another matter that Telangana CM Revanth Reddy did not want any role for Sharmila in his state as she hailed from Andhra. With a track record of working as national convener of YSRCP, Sharmila has resented Jagan for not recognising her contribution when he swept to power in 2019. Some sibling rivalry this!
Eknath shinde_002

Opposition Attacks Shinde Govt As 17 Project Shifts From Maharashtra To Gujarat

As more and more businesses, government offices and projects move to Gujarat from Maharashtra, the ruling BJP-led Eknath Shinde’s government faces much flak from the Opposition. The backlash started after the shift of the Vedanta-Foxconn project from Maharashtra in September 2022. Since then there has been much criticism of over 17 projects that have favoured Gujarat over Maharashtra. This includes Mahanand, the state government co-operatives milk brand being brought under the National Dairy Development Board, which operates from Anand, the home base of the Amul brand. This attracted criticism that unlike the governments in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka that came out strongly in support of their own local state milk brands namely Aavin and Nandini over the expansionary tactics of Amul, the Maharashtra government’s milk brand tamely let Mahanand play second fiddle to Amul. The shifting of the diamond market from Mumbai to Surat that was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too has caused much concern in Maharashtra over loss of employment, business opportunities and overall downsizing of Maharashtra’s financial significance. The latest grouse is the shift of India’s first submarine tourist project from Maharashtra’s Sindhudurg to Gujarat’s Dwarka. The increasing dominance of Gujarat in many aspects of Maharashtra evokes strong public sentiments here, has now emerged as a strong political issue that the Opposition parties are wasting no opportunity to capitalise on in this election year.
modi MK

Has PM Modi’s TN Visit Left Stalin Speechless?

The Tiruchirappalli state visit of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the airport inaugural did not go well for Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin, who came back to Chennai with eye watering and irritation. His planned opening of the very popular annual Chennai Book Fair was cancelled, even as Udhayanidhi Stalin and minister for education Anbil Mahesh were deputed to take his place. Stalin was headed straight to a well-known Vision Institute for an eye check-up. But this eye problem seemed much less severe to the CM when compared to his mood that had turned visibly irritated at the PM’s event. Just when Stalin started his welcome speech, an excited Mexican Wave with “Modi, Modi” rented the air and Stalin was literally speechless. The PM had to signal for quiet during Stalin’s speech…naturally, the turn of events irritated him. But this kind of rally call is not new to him; just in April, when Modi had come to Chennai with Union minister L Murugan, the DMK cadres meted out the same crowd call….”Stalin, Stalin”, and minister Murugan could not continue his address. Had Modi finally dented the seemingly unconquerable Dravidian Aura? A survey by the DMK top guns revealed that a large section of the front rows were filled with BJP followers who reached the venue by 7 am while DMK cadres trooped in by 8.30 am. This after DMK senior minister KN Nehru and others were tasked with collecting big crowds. Looks like BJP paid DMK with the same coin.
Aditya Thackeray_003

Aaditya’s Pole Positioning Before Maha Poll, Dares CM Shinde To Roll Back Rs 250 MTHL Toll

Shiv Sena scion Aaditya Thackeray threw the gauntlet at Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde over the Rs 250 tariff to traverse the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link by demanding a roll back, free ride instead. The day before Thackeray @33 years young tweeted development works started utilizing his MLA funds in Worli. Indications are clear of Aaditya assuming leadership (Maha CM) positioning for forthcoming state assemblies. A BJP leader tells, “Sena (UBT) Chief Uddhav Thackeray consciously pushed his son to hold pole position on the political racetrack even during the 2014 alliance with BJP. To Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s consternation, Aaditya turned up for meetings scheduled with his father in New Delhi. After Maharashtra’s 2019 assembly elections Thackeray senior formed the MVA alliance with NCP, Congress though Devendra Fadnavis’ promised that Aaditya as DCM would be groomed over five years to become CM of Maharashtra in 2024.” Another source revealed, “Even parleys to seal the deal with NCP for the MVA alliance nearly broke down after Uddhav proposed Aaditya’s name for CM. NCP Chief Sharad Pawar baulked, threw sheaf of papers he held in the air and then, convinced the undivided Shiv Sena Chief to take up the mantle of government.” In 2004 Balasaheb Thackeray prematurely announced free electricity for agriculturists if Shiv Sena was elected to power. Then Congress CM Sushilkumar Shinde hijacked the plan before the code of conduct was enforced and returned his party to power. Eknath Shinde may not, however, bite the bait or, will he?

Pleasant Surprise For Motorists, Mumbai Trans Harbour Link Toll Will Be Rs 250

The Maharashtra government has come out with a pleasant surprise for motorists as it has announced that the toll tax for cars using the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) will be Rs 250 for a single trip. It was expected that the toll amount of Rs 500, as recommended by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), would be endorsed by the state government. The Centre’s conditionalities, too, stipulate the toll charge of Rs 500. However, at the cabinet meet on January 4, the state has decided to charge Rs 250 for a one-way journey that would take merely 20 minutes against the present duration of hours needed to travel the distance. Named ‘Atal Setu,’ the fuel required to cross the link will be just a litre against the present requirement of around seven litres to travel by the existing road. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will dedicate the 22-km link to the nation on 12 January in a grand function, to be held at the location of the upcoming Navi Mumbai international airport. The time and cost overrun have affected the project which was scheduled to be ready in 2022 at a cost of about Rs 18,000 crore. Now, it is estimated to cost over Rs 21000 crore.  Modi, too, is expected to make some major announcement at the inaugural in view of the impending Lok Sabha election later this year.

Bhujbal Garlands Savitribai Phule, Opponents ‘Purify’ Statue

Politicians of all shades always talk of secularism, social equality and fraternity but when something contrary to their policies occurs, they forget all lofty principles and do exactly what they charge their opponents for. This was seen recently when senior Maharashtra minister Chhagan Bhujbal paid tributes to Savitribai Phule, hailed as founder of girls’ education in India. The event, Savitribai Phule’s birth anniversary was celebrated in Naaygaav in Satara district. Bhujbal garlanded her statue and gave a brief speech. Soon after he left, workers ostensibly belonging to the NCP (Sharad Pawar faction) bathed the statue with milk and performed what is popularly known as purification ceremony to undo what the OBC leader had propitiated. In recent months, Bhujbal is the object of hate for the protagonists of the Maratha caste’s reservation demand. Bhujbal has been opposing this and holding public rallies to mobilise resistance to the demand. The irony is that several top NCP leaders have made controversial statements in connection with certain castes and faiths although they insist that they are rationalists and take oath of office ‘solemnly’ instead of ‘in the name of God.’ Incidentally, purification is a Hindu ritual practised by most of its followers but not by the so-called seculars. Tension prevailed in the area when the statues of Savitribai and Jyotiba, her husband and a social reformer, were cleansed with milk though no untoward incident took place.
uddhav raju

Adani’s Foes Uddhav Thackeray And Raju Shetti Shake Hands

How politics brings strange bedfellows together has been endorsed once again after a meeting between farmers’ leader Raju Shetti and Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray in Mumbai. A former MP and BJP’s sympathiser, Shetti had walked out of the arrangement after he lost the 2019 Lok Sabha election. Meanwhile, Uddhav has teamed up with the Congress and the NCP’s Sharad Pawar faction. Shetti was a sworn foe of Congress parties over farmers’ demands. In the changed atmosphere, Shetti has shaken hands with Uddhav as both are opposing the Adani group’s projects in Maharashtra. While Uddhav has declared war against Adani over the Dharavi slum redevelopment plan, Shetti has alleged that the Adani group is making preparations to divert the Patgaon dam’s water from Kolhapur to neighbouring Sindhudurg district for electricity generation in its power plant there. Shetti has reiterated that the Union government has favoured Adani by slashing duty on soybean oil, hitting domestic growers of the oilseed. Shetti’s outburst against Adani and his talks with Uddhav have led to guessing new combinations in political circles. Shetti had invited the ire of top leader Sharad Pawar over the sugarcane growers’ agitation but patched up later with him. It was said at the time that he had switched sides to get nominated to the state legislative council. Now, his adversaries have charged that Shetti is mending fences with Uddhav for the next Lok Sabha election.


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.