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Anil Anthony

Onam Gift: Anil Anthony Appointed BJP Functionary

In a significant move, the BJP leadership appointed Anil Anthony as its national secretary as well as national spokesperson. It is significant that it chose to make the announcement on the traditional Kerala festival of Onam. Anil Anthony, son of senior Congress leader AK Anthony, had joined the BJP in April this year after quitting the Congress and criticising its stand on the controversial documentary film of the BBC on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He had termed BBC as “a state sponsored channel with a long history of prejudices” against India, after which, he said, he had received threats as well. “Despite large differences with BJP, I think those in India placing views of BBC, a UK state-sponsored channel with a long history of prejudices, and of Jack Straw, the brain behind the Iraq war, over Indian institutions is setting a dangerous precedent, will undermine our sovereignty,” Anthony had tweeted. Welcoming Antony to the BJP, Piyush Goyal described him as a “very grounded political worker”, who was convinced that the BJP cares for the country and shared the vision of sustainable growth.
Jayakumar Stalin

AIADMK Leader Jayakumar Slams Udhayanidhi Stalin Publicly

Ex-AIADMK minister D Jayakumar has many epithets…motormouth, loose cannon, party mouthpiece, King of repartee, master of comedy. While in power, the media was hilariously entertained by his innuendos, and funny swipes. Jayakumar knows how to give what he gets…in spades. After his telling success at Mayiladuthurai’s DMK Youth Wing meet where Udhayanidhi Stalin upped the swag quotient, he went a bit over in inciting the AIADMK citing instance of an AIADMK functionary lodging a police complaint about his missing wife, and mirth erupting as some smart alecks suggested that Jayakumar be questioned. A composed Jayakumar said, “This Udhayanidhi is a mere cub. Neither his baap nor his baap’s baap can neutralise our party. I am warning this cub, stick to politics, don’t stray into personal attacks. If you try, we can pepper social media with filth exposés that you won’t withstand “. He further added, they call our party “garbage” but… garbage at least can be turned into fertiliser compost. The DMK has gnawed into the state like termites, leaving everything wasted in its wake. TN is now an “addiction” state — alcohol, ganja, power, money, you name it. Even the police are beaten up by cadres.  DMK scraped through in 2021 assembly elections with a mere 3 % lead. After 2026, it will be buried, swag, money, power and all. Will Udhayanidhi, the SUN in waiting, be more politically gracious in his speech?

Chhagan Bhujbal Attacks Pawar, Nephew Ajit Silent

NCP chief Sharad Pawar is facing one attack after another from his long-time confidants, notably made in presence of his nephew Ajit Pawar, deputy chief minister of Maharashtra. Chhagan Bhujbal, the first Shiv Sena rebel is at the centre of the latest furore which has erupted due to his allegations that Pawar made him resign as then home minister owing to the multi-crore Telgi stamp paper scam on 23 December 2003. Bhujbal reminded Pawar at a Beed rally that he himself had arrested Telgi, and had asked the police to invoke MCOCA against him. But based on some allegations levelled against him, “you asked me to resign,” he lamented. On Bhujbal’s charges, Ajit told the media that though he was on the dais, he couldn’t hear fully what Bhujbal had said. “I have read some newspaper reports about it but not yet spoken with him,” Ajit said. Bhujbal had walked out of the Sena in 1991, dealing it a severe blow to join the Congress party. When Pawar quit Congress to set up NCP in 1999 Bhujbal joined him. It may be recalled that a few days back, Pawar’s one-time secretary Dilip Walse Patil had remarked that Pawar inspite of being the tallest leader of Maharashtra had never been able to form a government in the state on his own. This observation, too, was endorsed by Ajit.
Indian politician

How Politicians Keep Their Brand Alive

There are certain timeless topics (read issues) that make it easy for political parties/politicians to be in the news. There are at least five to six issues which are raked up at regular intervals — once in two-three years – which keep the politicians going. Take the case of Cauvery water dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka which has not been solved for decades. The issue has been deliberately kept on slow boil; once solved the politicians and their existence will be forgotten. Ditto the border issue between Maharashtra and Karnataka, or Naxalite menace. Here, the communal issue is a tool of the last resort. But, generally all politicians go in for low hanging fruits like corruption, bad roads or environment issues. Not surprisingly, the media will oblige with non-stop coverage.  Of course, the favourite whipping boy is the film industry. Sushant Singh Rajput’s death became almost a national issue. Likewise flags of revolt were raised over movies like Padmaavat or The Kashmir Files for misrepresenting history or showing religion in bad light. Then hijab issues keep surfacing from different corners of the country bringing the entire Muslim brotherhood together. The timing of the issues have also become predictable – it is either run-up to the elections or some serious issues rocking the government either at the Centre or State, and suddenly as part of the deflecting strategy these issues are raked up. Interestingly, all these issues die a quick death too.
Stalin onam

Stalin Paradox Of Onam Greetings

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin continues to present his festival paradox by wishing people on the occasion of Onam while he would not countenance doing that for Deepavali. In some strange Dravidian party ideology logic, their leader is not to wish people on Hindu festivals, but somewhere they seem to have lost the plot because Onam is very much a Hindu festival, marking as it does the good governance of a mythical Hindu king Mahabali. The date of the festival coincides with the day of the Thiruvonam star according to the Hindu Panchangam. While the celebration of festivals has an increasingly universal ring to them these days with people of all religions joining in to take in the grid times and the feasts that go with them, it does appear Stalin has to explain the paradox at least to himself that while he wishes the people of Kerala on a festival he would not do so for a more pan-Indian Hindu festival like Diwali. Of course, on the political front, Stalin has picked up courage to take on Prime Minister in a direct frontal attack saying Narendra Modi has no moral right to comment on corruption and how he plans to fight it while his own government has been pulled up on seven counts by the CAG.

Pawar Backtracks Within Hours, Contradicts Supriya About Ajit’s Leadership

NCP chief Sharad Pawar has retracted his remarks about his nephew and breakaway group leader Ajit Pawar within hours, contradicting his daughter Supriya Sule as well in the same breath. Pawar’s public statement that “Ajit is a leader of our party” was flashed by social media within moments after it was made. Nearly four hours later, Pawar said he had never made any such claim. Moreover, Supriya’s assertion that Ajit was the party leader was also rubbished by Pawar. To top it all, Pawar flatly refused that there was a split in the party. He said certain members of the party had taken a different stand but it could not be termed as a split. Pawar’s diametrically opposite statements have created a question mark for the proposed I.N.D.I.A meet to be held in Mumbai next week. Shiv Sena (Uddhav) leader Sanjay Raut maintained that Ajit’s desertion of the NCP was very much a split. The Ajit group had appointed Sunil Tatkare as its own Maharashtra president while Pawar had continued Jayant Patil in that post. If there are two presidents of the same unit, is it not a split, Raut posed a counter question. Ajit Pawar was quizzed by the media in Pune about his uncle’s and cousin’s confusing statements. He merely said, “No comment” and walked away, deepening the suspense over the possibility of bridging the NCP’s split.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister On The Offensive Against Centre, Governor

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin has decided to go all out to oppose the Centre on all issues while throwing his weight behind the I.N.D.I.A that has been cobbled to try and beat BJP in the 2024 polls. He has told his party to go flat out to expose the Governor RN Ravi’s activities in support of the Centre and in being a spanner in the works in the State. He also sought the help of the Congress to highlight the Governor’s activities on occasions on which the government cannot oppose him directly as in the case of the Governor seeking clarifications on the proposed appointment of the retired DGP Sylendra Babu as head of TNPSC. The CM is also prepared to let go of the good equation with the Prime Minister at a personal level if that would help the case of the Opposition bonding more. Any chance of DMK changing sides even in a post-poll scenario of an unclear majority in the Lok Sabha may have disappeared already with the CM deciding on this hard line against the PM and BJP. The State will also take up the reopening of cases against two of its ministers by the Madras High Court by approaching the Supreme Court. The gloves are truly off now that Stalin has decided to throw in his lot with I.N.D.I.A.

Onion Peppers Maharashtra Politics, Verbal Battles Ensue Between Pawar And Shinde

The Maharashtra onion crisis has triggered a fierce verbal battle in which top leader Sharad Pawar is the object of attacks by chief minister Eknath Shinde and deputy CM Ajit Pawar among others. The Centre has decided to purchase onion through NAFED at Rs 2,410 per quintal after the ruling alliance in Maharashtra pressed it for early decision in view of the glut in onion market and the resultant price crash. Opposition parties exploited the situation to corner the state government, which sent distress signals to Union home minister Amit Shah. Thereafter, Union commerce minister Piyush Goyal, who hails from Mumbai, has declared that the Centre will purchase two lakh tonnes of onion to start with and could buy more, if needed. Pawar has criticized the decision, saying that Rs 4,000 per quintal must be sanctioned by the Centre. He has been harpooned by Shinde, who recalled that Pawar had never taken such decisions in crisis situations during his 10 years as Union agriculture minister. Shinde has also reminded Pawar that the Centre has announced a Rs 10,000-crore package for the sugar industry, thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative. Shinde’s observations articulated in presence of Pawar’s nephew Ajit Pawar were reciprocated by the Deputy CM, who has asserted that the state would always stand by the farmers, did not name his uncle but left no doubt about the object of his spirited support of Shinde.
EPS madurai

EPS: The Man Who Aspires To Be Another MGR!

AIADMK chief Edappadi K Palanisami (EPS) organised a mega event in Madurai on August 20. To draw crowds from all over Tamil Nadu, money was poured like ghee on the havan khund. A few party cadres say they were given tickets for Jailer, costing Rs 4,000 and exhorted to make it to Madurai at any cost. According to local intelligence, lakhs of ADMK?????(OR AIADMK) cadres…. came for the meet, to evaluate EPS and his crowd pulling ability vis a vis MGR and JJ. EPS smiled all the way through the meet, accepted piles of garlands and anointed himself Purathchi Thamizhar (revolutionary Tamilian) as prefixes. But deep down, EPS is acutely aware of the serious threats to his status and leadership. The BJP is playing a wily game of seemingly promoting EPS, knowing full well that at the right time they could up the ante and demand more seats in an alliance. BJP leader K Annamalai’s job is to needle EPS regularly just in case he acts tough in their shotgun marriage. Meanwhile, the troika of Sasikala, OPS, and TTV are baying at his heels, raking up every scandal including the shooting at late JJ’s Kodanadu estate. The option of merging his outfit AIADMK with BJP may have been attractive …till a savvy political leader told him, he would totally lose that Dravidam brand and leave the DMK the full arena to skate. Sleeping with the enemy brings its own dangers.
Kharge rahul

Kharge Buries Ghost Of G-23 In CWC, Inducts Tharoor, Pilot & Tiwari

In a major reshuffle in the Congress Working Committee (CWC), party president Mallikarjun Kharge appointed Shashi Tharoor, Anand Sharma, Manish Tiwari and Sachin Pilot to the policy making body. Except for Pilot, whose inclusion is being seen as a sop ahead of Rajasthan assembly elections, inclusion of the other three leaders is significant as it finally buries the ghost of Group-23. These three leaders were among the many who in a letter to Sonia Gandhi last year had questioned non-transparent functioning in the Congress.  Only exception among the G-23 leaders who got left out is former Maharashtra CM Prithiviraj Chavan. It is surprising that Chavan was kept out of the CWC unless the Congress brass is planning some other assignment for him. Also important is the inclusion of Ajay Maken and Alka Lamba, leaders who have been vocal against Arvind Kejriwal. Party sources were equally surprised that Kharge’s team decided to keep out a close Rahul Gandhi aide Milind Deora out of the CWC. Party circles from Telangana blamed bias of Kharge’s team for packing the CWC with men from Andhra — 4 leaders and only 2 from Telangana that too at a time when assembly elections are going to be held in Telangana by end of this year. “It just seems we have lost the plot to win elections,” said a close Rahul aide from Telangana who got axed in the CWC rejig.
aditya thackeray_002

Yuva Sena candidates after filing nominations

Mumbai University Senate Poll Postponed, Aaditya And Amit Thackeray Condemn Decision

The Maharashtra government’s abrupt decision to postpone Mumbai University’s senate election from the graduate constituency has brought arch enemies Aaditya and Amit Thackeray on the same page, at least on one issue. The two cousins, who were bracing for a pitched battle between their youth wings to control the senate, have condemned the decision. Both have alleged that the ruling Shinde-Fadnavis alliance has put the election on hold ‘fearing the BJP’s rout.’ On the other hand, BJP leader Ashish Shelar has defended the decision, saying that the electoral rolls were defective as many names had been missing. A university official announced the postponement ‘till further orders’ without citing any reason. At present, the senate is controlled by Aaditya as all its 10 seats were won five years ago by the Yuva Sena. On the other hand, Raj Thackeray’s son Amit was to fight his first political battle by fielding the candidates on behalf of his Vidyarthi Yuva Sena. As a trial of strength, the election would have been a game changer in Mumbai and surrounding areas. Amidst this slugfest, Aaditya’s close confidant Praveen Patkar declared his decision to join the Shiv Sena led by chief minister Eknath Shinde. Yuva Sena’s past victories are credited to Patkar’s untiring efforts

Kharge Finally Asserts Himself, Effects Changes In Congress

It is going to be almost a year since he was elected Congress President, yet Mallikarjun Kharge has not constituted Congress Working Committee or the AICC. However in the last few days it seems he has begun effecting changes which speaks of his efforts to reshuffle responsibilities in the organisation. He deputed Randeep Singh Surjewala, AICC General Secretary who handled Karnataka, to election-going Madhya Pradesh, recalling old hand JP Agarwal. Congress leaders were surprised that Kharge should send Surjewala to MP just three-four months ahead of the assembly elections. While it is not clear if Surjewala was chosen because he delivered Karnataka but he also shot into limelight for his recent utterance while addressing a public meeting in Kaithal, Haryana. Chiding those who vote BJP, he said “…Those who vote for BJP and are BJP supporters are of ‘rakshas’ (demons) tendency. I curse from this land of Mahabharat…” Sending Surjewala to MP to oust the BJP where it has been in power for over two decades or more may not be much of a challenge to the veteran party manager. But then Surjewala hasn’t won any direct election in his home state for a decade now; he was elected to Rajya Sabha as an MP from Rajasthan angering his rival Bhupinder Hooda. Unlike Karnataka, MP is a Hindu-majority state. No wonder even Congress leaders like Kamal Nath are wooing Hindu voters with pravachans of Baageshwardham.
Mamata Rahul Sonia

I.N.D.I.A Meet: Will Congress Agree To Didi’s Seat-Sharing Formula?

In their third meeting in Mumbai, the main focus of the Opposition front I.N.D.I.A will be over seat sharing, based on the formula floated by Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee. Didi has stated that the party which is strongest will contest the state and the specific seats. According to Congress sources, in West Bengal the Congress High Command is counting on Didi to decide on the seat sharing of 42 Lok Sabha seats. Insiders have also mentioned that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have no objection to the proposal. Incidentally, in 2019 Lok Sabha Polls, Congress won only two seats in Bengal with Bengal Congress Chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury winning from Baharampur and veteran leader Abhu Hasem Khan Chowdhury from Maldaha Dakshin. Moreover, political analysts believe that the TMC supremo might think of restricting Congress in those two seats, but Congress insiders say that the High Command may seek for six more seats. Interestingly, Chowdhury seems to have softened his stand on TMC. He further stated that Congress will be maintaining its relationship with TMC and CPI(M) at the national and state levels respectively. Meanwhile, the third meeting of the Grand Alliance will be held in Mumbai on August 31 and September 1, besides seat sharing, discussions will also focus on EVMs. Two more alliance meetings are scheduled before Diwali.
Nawab Malik bail


Will Nawab Malik Be Let Off The Hook?

Generally, there is a tendency to keep at arm’s length from people who have served jail terms. More so, if the person has had alleged dealings with enemy of India Dawood Ibrahim. Maharashtra’s former minister and NCP leader Nawab Malik was arrested on February 23, 2022 by the Enforcement Directorate under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in a case allegedly linked to fugitive underworld don Dawood and his associates. After cooling his heels for nearly 18 months he got two months bail from the Supreme Court on August 14, 2023. But what’s surprising is that all NCP leaders were out in full force to meet him at his residence. They were:  Supriya Sule, Ajit Pawar, Dilip-Walse Patil, Hasan Mushrif, Praful Patel, Chhagan Bhujbul, AnilDeshmukh and Sunil Tatkare. And reportedly, Sharad Pawar telephonically spoke to Malik. Does this show of solidarity indicate that Malik may be let off the hook? After all, the NCP (Ajit faction) has aligned with the BJP and various agencies have dialled down where his cases are concerned. So too have agencies put on back burner cases on Shiv Sena leaders who quit Uddhav and joined Eknath Shinde camp. It does not require a genius to predict what will happen next going by the past record of politicians who crossed over to the BJP camp. But the general sentiment is that people are not happy; their lament is why are they compromising principles to win elections? Quite.


Is Jasprit Bumrah Ready For The Big Comeback?

India has won 49 one-day internationals when fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah spearheaded its bowling department. Precisely the reason Indian cricket is praying that he doesn’t break down again after his return to the ranks as captain for the short Twenty20 series in Ireland. In his absence (37 matches, 28 since July 2022) India has lost 23 matches. The numbers paint the importance of his presence at the ICC World Cup. He has sent down 633.5 overs in 72 innings, taking 121 wickets at 24.31 at a low economy rate of 4.64. Bumrah will be seen in action having recovered from a stress fracture of the lower back. He pulled out of the Indian team a few times last year because of his vulnerable back and hence another flare-up will be disastrous news for him and the Indian team. It’s in the Asia Cup and the three-match ODI series against Australia that he has to be put through the wringer to ascertain the condition of his spine. Bumrah would like to improve his results against Pakistan (4 wkts at 48.75), Australia (22 wkts at 37.36) and New Zealand (13 wkts at 36.85).  The Asia Cup and World Cup will give him the first opportunity to play a big part because India will start these two competitions against Pakistan at Pallekele and Australia in Chennai. Bumrah will be seen in action in blue against Ireland and the cricket world will get the first glimpses of the recovery he has made.
RNRavi_MKStalin flag

No Holds Barred Between Tamil Nadu Governor And Chief Minister

What Mantara and Shakuni wrought by diligently working on Kaikeyi and Duryodhana’s psyche in our epics is now quoted in Tamil Nadu. BJP leader K Annamalai’s faithfuls busy working overtime constantly citing the omissions and commissions of Governor RN Ravi. Even as the NEET bill assent is hanging in the balance of Raj Bhavan, the Governor hosted a tea meet to congratulate those who had passed the exam. The father of a student stood up to ask, “Sir, when are you signing this Bill?” Prompt came the response “If I had the authority, never.” On a recent tour of Thiruvannamalai, Governor Ravi went round the ultra holy Giri Valam path (lakhs circumambulate this hill on Poornimas) and said, non-veg food being served here must stop. Even as the Governor meets and greets the press, Annamalai has been quietly smouldering …there is talk that he has spoken about such matters to the top. Stories are doing the rounds that Annamalai is convinced that his walkathon has been seriously neutralised and marginalised by the Governor’s Raj Bhavan Durbar Hall. To add insult to injury, Stalin says let the Governor stay on till the Elections…he is our chief campaign mascot! An alternate Flag hoisting by Stalin at the Fort St, George, boycotting the Governor’s traditional ceremony clearly indicates that it is all out war in TN between the Governor and chief minister.

Will MVA Split As Congress Eyes Supriya Sule’s Baramati Constituency?

The Congress party in Maharashtra has started sending feelers that it could consider contesting the Baramati Lok Sabha constituency election with various possibilities as NCP chief Sharad Pawar — one of the architects of I.N.D.I.A — actions have left many questions unanswered. Former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, considered close to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, has been indicating that a tacit understanding between Pawar and the BJP has been reached. The Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray, too, has urged Pawar to make his position clear amidst various intriguing developments. Although Pawar has reiterated that he will not go with the BJP and asked his followers not to follow ‘misleading’ media reports, there are few who take him at face value. To open a front against Pawar in case such an eventuality occurs, his detractors are making preparations to challenge his daughter Supriya Sule in Baramati LS constituency which has remained steadfastly loyal to the Pawar family. His nephew Ajit Pawar also had been elected to the Lok Sabha from Baramati for a truncated term three decades ago. Supriya, who had adopted a low profile after the NCP split in early July, has become active again. Last week, she spiritedly attacked the Modi government while speaking on the non-confidence motion against the Modi government. Her presence to welcome controversial former minister Nawab Malik after his release on bail resulted in several raised eyebrows. She has sent signals that she will be more visible henceforth. Therefore, the Congress party’s move will be watched keenly.
Devendra Fadnavis Sharad pawar

Guessing Game Intensifies As Pawar & Fadnavis To Share Dais Once Again

NCP leader Sharad Pawar and Maharashtra’s deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis are scheduled to share dais on Sunday (Aug 13), once again giving rise to intense political speculation. Pawar’s latest proclamation that he will never align with the BJP is the reason for the guessing game as he is perceived to have acted differently than his public posture on many occasions. His fulsome praise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 1 when the PM received the prestigious Lokmanya Tilak Award and the warm gesture of Modi towards his ‘old friend’ attracted intense political attention. This was remembered when the NCP’s both factions – Pawar and nephew Ajit – did not issue any whip for last week’s voting in the Rajya Sabha. The Congress and the Shiv Sena (Uddhav) keep on expressing their anguish at Pawar’s decisions but have refrained from issuing any ultimatum in view of Pawar’s stewardship of the Opposition I.N.D.I.A front. Pawar and Fadnavis will be present at Sangola in Solapur district for unveiling the statue of former minister Ganpatrao Deshmukh, who represented the constituency for five decades with only one defeat. Deshmukh was a member of Pawar’s first cabinet in 1978. Meanwhile, rumour mills are once again buzzing over chief minister Eknath Shinde’s future. Hence the scheduled presence of Pawar along with Fadnavis is indeed raising eyebrows.
Adhir Ranjan chowdhury

With His Suspension Adhir Ranjan Has Earned A Life Line In Bengal Congress, Thanks To PM

West Bengal PCC chief and Congress Lok Sabha leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury enjoys the best of equations with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. That was evident. As soon as Chowdhury began speaking on a no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha, the PM walked into the House to listen to him according him full status of Leader of the Opposition. However all that changed the minute Adhir slipped into name calling the PM. This saw the treasury side pushing for his suspension for his bizarre utterances – equating the PM to fugitive fraudster Nirav Modi. Sources close to Chowdhury say he is now filled with remorse and regret as he looks at all the perks he now has to forego. He has been telling all his close party aides that he had no intention to disrespect or humiliate the PM. But was facing pressure from Congress leadership to prove his loyalty to the party. Incidentally, the Congress top brass has been thinking of easing him out of one of the two posts that he now holds – LoP in the Lok Sabha and Bengal PCC Chief. TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee has been gunning for Adhir’s exit from Bengal as he has been her severe critic. Against this backdrop, Modi-Shah action of suspending Adhir from Lok Sabha could prove to be a blessing in disguise. With Congress forced to battle for him in the Parliament, Gandhis may not be able to axe him from Bengal.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdray

Congress Upset Over Adhir’s Suspension From Lok Sabha, No Protests From TMC

At the debate in the Parliament over no-confidence motion, the Leader of the Opposition Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury faced some uncomfortable moments when both the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah taunted him in their speeches. They called the West Bengal Pradesh Congress chief, a hapless leader “ignored by Congress high command” and also took a jibe saying he was not on the list of speakers as the Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee called Gandhis to keep him away from it. There was more when Modi-Shah claimed this Congress MP is under ‘CPM’s torture’. Interestingly, Modi referred to several Opposition leaders who spearheaded No Confidence Motion against ruling governments such as Late Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1998, 2003 by Sharad Pawar and Sonia Gandhi), himself (2018 by Mallikarjun Kharge). However, Adhir Ranjan did speak on the third day ahead of PM, but was suspended for comparing Modi with Mahabharata’s blind king Dhritrashtra, fugitive businessman Nirav Modi and for his repeated misconduct. In Rajya Sabha, Kharge raised the issue over Adhir’s suspension and in Kolkata demonstrations were held. Sonia Gandhi also called for an emergency meeting to discuss Adhir’ suspension. Meanwhile senior TMC leadership remained tight-lipped on the development, despite party insiders saying that there was nothing wrong in Adhir’s statement. It may be noted that Adhir’s extreme opposition to Mamata made Didi ask her party leaders not to speak on the issue.  Adhir will remain suspended till the privileges committee takes a decision.
modi no confidence

PM Modi’s Smart Line Up Of Speakers Smashes Opposition, Rahul Walks Out As Scindia Begins To Speak

Details are now emerging as to how it was PM Narendra Modi who had decided on the  line up of speakers from the BJP side to participate in the three day No-Confidence Motion against his government. From picking Godda MP Nishikant Dubey as opening speaker who regaled the House with a one-liner about how Sonia Gandhi’s perpetual interest lay in “settling her son and gifting her son-in-law” to strategically fielding Jyotiraditya Scindia on the final day. Scindia, who had switched over to the BJP from the Congress in March 2020, belongs to poll-bound Madhya Pradesh. Apparently, when Scindia started to speak Rahul Gandhi chose to walk out. It is being said Rahul simply could not bear to hear Scindia speak from across the aisle. Another politically important speaker was Telangana leader Bandi Sanjay Kumar who exposed the alcoholism of the BRS top brass in Telugu. Modi also got Rajyavardhan Rathore, a Vasundhara Raje favourite from Rajasthan to speak. So even as the PM wasn’t inside the House, he was tracking every speech. He had also decided on the content of the attack on the Opposition. He had also spent a lot of time interacting with the media. Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi in a media interaction protested about the expunging of his remarks by Lok Sabha Speaker. He repeated all that he said inside the House. While he demanded Army action in Manipur, he simply ducked when asked about IAF strafing Mizoram in 1966 — a point raised by PM Modi.

BJP Raises Controversial Lord Jagannath Temple Audit Issue To Embarrass Patnaik Govt

Politics makes strange bedfellows. At the national level, the Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik is supporting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government but in his own state, his party BJD and BJP are locked in a bitter battle every day. With the news that Patnaik government may hold an Assembly election by December 2023 instead of 2024, the local BJP unit has gone on overdrive and raised the controversial Lord Jagannath’s ‘Ratna Bhandar’ issue. It is asking why no audit has been done since 1985? BJP’s senior BJP leader Sameer Mohanty has moved the Odisha High Court seeking information for updated inventory of Lord Jagannath’s ‘Ratna Bhandar’ and also make public the Judicial Commission report of 2018 which probed the disappearance of the 12th-century treasury key. It is learnt that Srimandir Managing Committee has submitted sketchy details of jewellery inside the vault but full audited details are missing. Interestingly, the Archaeological Survey Of India controlled by the Centre has seen a change of guard. And the new head is pushing the temple officials vis a vis the state government for various information. Patnaik government knows that with the Assembly elections scheduled this year, the Lord Jagannath issue could cause political damage. Perhaps this is the reason why it has sought time till July 2024 from both the ASI and High Court to furnish all information. Smart move as by this time both the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections will be over.
EPS Stalin

Do Smaller Political Parties In Tamil Nadu Have A Future?

Tamil Nadu’s minor parties are finding themselves without friends willing to take them into alliances and give them a fair number of seats. As the 2024 Lok Sabha polls are looming, there has been hectic political activity in the State dominated by the two Dravidian majors. But the caste party PMK and the last of the cinema hero centric party, DMDK, are finding negotiations are getting tough. While the VCK, another caste party, will not allow VCK into the DMK-alliance fold, DMDK reflects the virtual shadow of a man that its leader Vijayakanth has become. In an assertion of its perceived strength in a two-horse race, the AIADMK, under Palaniswami, is asserting itself, and is willing to offer only 10 (+ Puducherry where BJP ally Rangasami heads the government) seats to the BJP and is asking its national ally to accommodate smaller parties within that number. And it will not countenance the AMMK of TTV Dhinakaran nor his aunt Sasikala being in the alliance. Betting on its equations with the Delhi duo who control the party, AIADMK is unwilling to listen to Annamalai’s idea of a grand coalition including PMK, DMDK and AMMK. The DMK coalition is on a smoother wicket except that ally Congress is expecting half the 40 seats available in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry
Amit Shah speech

Amit Shah’s Well Researched Speech In Lok Sabha Ensures Smooth Sail For PM Modi On Thursday

If there was one thing Union Home Minister Amit Shah ensured with his stellar intervention in the no-confidence motion debate in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday it was to see that PM Modi has a smooth run on Thursday when he replies at the end of the 3-day debate. Shah spoke on Manipur towards the end of his 2 hour long intervention; he spent much of his time attacking the Opposition for trying to tie-up discussion on Manipur with a statement from PM Modi. Recalling how in the 90s when then north-eastern states had seen more entrenched and protracted violence between the Nagas and Kukis, Shah said neither then PM PV Narasimha Rao nor his Home Minister SB Chavan had made any statement. “It was left entirely to the then Minister of State Rajesh Pilot to speak on the issue.” Shah felt an entire narrative of neglect of the N-E was now being built against Modi as he had visited the “region over 50 times”. Even the no-trust move had been brought only to mislead the people. What hurt the Centre was the record of the last six years had been shattered. “We didn’t have to impose a curfew in Manipur until May 3. Insurgent violence was almost over. Then, neighbouring Myanmar saw a military leadership that had a Kuki Democratic Front party coming into power. Due to no fencing at the Myanmar border, the Kuki brothers started coming in. What we have with Myanmar is like the open border that we have with Nepal.”
smriti raga

Rahul’s ‘Flying Kiss’ Gesture In Parliament Irks Women MPs

After much flip-flop over initiating debate on the no-confidence motion against the Modi government which his party had initiated, Rahul Gandhi did speak in the Lok Sabha on the second day of the discussion. However, his speech did not match expectations. The Congress leader did not seem to be firing on all cylinders. After all, he was the one who had made the spot visit to Manipur; he should have surely had “enough material” to put the Centre on the mat. What he lacked in substance, he made up with some outright abusive slogans against PM Modi. He even declared PM Modi was a “traitor” and not a “nationalist” as he “murdered India” in Manipur. If Rahul’s aggressive sloganeering was aimed at catching headlines, it did not receive much attention. Whatever the reason it wasn’t his speech that made headlines but his one mindless gesture of a flying kiss. The controversy over the flying kiss had got all 21 women MPs and several BJP ministers worked up. But for their protest over   Rahul’s unbecoming conduct in a letter to the Lok Sabha Speaker, the Wayanad MP’s first speech after his membership was restored would not have been noticed. Yes, Rahul’s speech would have been lost in the din. As Union Minister Smriti Irani, who spoke after Rahul, observed “Only a misogynist man can blow a flying kiss to parliament that seats women MPs”.

Cracks In I.N.D.I.A In West Bengal As CPI(M) Backs Off

Ahead of the third meeting of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (I.N.D.I.A) in Mumbai later this month, CPI(M) State Committee had made it clear to the Central Committee that the party will not allow the formula in Bengal, refusing to join alongside Trinamool Congress Supremo Mamata Banerjee. Despite being one of the principal members of I.N.D.I.A, the State Committee stated that it will field candidates against the TMC in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, even at a time when both the parties view BJP as a ‘common enemy’. During the recent three-day central committee meeting, strong interventions from Bengal leaders against an alliance with the TMC citing atrocities unleashed by the ruling party workers against Marxist cadres. A central committee member from Bengal has also pointed out that the Bengal unit has put forth that party general secretary Sitaram Yechury’s recent stage sharing with Didi and exchanging pleasantries with her made bad optics and demoralised party cadres in Bengal. Party insiders claimed that Yechury acceded to the wishes of the Bengal leaders and said that Bengal unit will be free to field candidates against the TMC in all constituencies. Sources said, State Committee Secretary Mohammad Salim has categorically mentioned that the CPI(M) has made its stand clear and now it is the Congress that will decide on Bengal. However, the communist party is still open to continuing with its alliance with Congress.
N Srinivasan

BCG Advises India Cements To Slash Production Cost By Rs 200/Tonne

Legacy issues seem to bother this one very much. Ageing plants are a constraint for it. In a cost-push kind of situation, this is not a happy position to be in. A combination of escalating input costs and age-induced restrictions in the efficiency of plants has hit India Cements hard. This has proved a huge disadvantage for this cement maker to boost production. Caught in a pincer-like situation, this Chennai-based cement major headed by N Srinivasan is trying hard to return to normal.  Making a detailed presentation, Boston Consulting Group has indicated that it is possible for India Cements to pare cost by Rs 200 a tonne. India Cements has already engaged FLSmidth and Krupp Polysius to suggest ways and means to refurbish its old plants. All these of course need funds. At the end of June 2023, it had a debt of Rs 2940 crore. At least Rs 400 crore is required for working capital needs and CapEx programme. Well, India Cements is looking to raise at least Rs 100 crore in the next couple of weeks. No doubt, it has a huge land bank. That is like a back-up cheque. The road ahead is long. Yet, there is a sense of optimism.

Speculation Afresh About Uddhav And Raj Meeting, Who Will Move First?

Thackeray brothers, Uddhav and Raj, could interact with each other in the near future if the feelers flying back and forth materialize in some actual contact between the estranged leaders. Uddhav is reported to have said that he could call Raj for some audio clips of Balasaheb Thackeray’s speeches which are in possession of the MNS founder. But Uddhav added a rider by saying, “Provided that Raj accepts my call.” The statement was in reference to a collection Uddhav is building up of Balasaheb’s audio and video clips. It was Raj who had published a beautiful photo-biography of Balasaheb Thackeray when he was alive and Raj was in the parent party. The gala function was graced by BJP stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee. While gathering material for the book, Raj could obtain several audios of Balasaheb’s speeches between the years 1966 and 1990. Raj broke away from the main party and was rarely seen with Uddhav, once when the latter was hospitalized for a surgery and on another occasion when Sharad Pawar’s platinum jubilee was celebrated in an all-party function. Nonetheless, their acolytes have been lampooning each other. The same happened due to Uddhav’s remark as Raj’s close associate Sandip Deshpande hit back, “Raj Thackeray accepts anyone’s calls. Hence, Uddhav should not have any misgivings on this count. Why is this a matter of ego while saluting Balasaheb’s memory?” The outcome now will depend upon who makes the first move.
Annamalai padyatra

DMK Mocks Annamalai’s Padyatra After He Rushes To Delhi Midway

Just nine days into his much hyped Tamil Nadu padayatra from Rameswaram, BJP leader K Annamalai was summoned urgently to Delhi by party president JP Nadda. The DMK has been watching Annamalai’s yatra with some apprehension as the crowds buzzing around were significant. Old women hugged him, kids brought for show time, women complaining of inflation, gas cylinder prices and tomatoes squelching home budgets. From Gandhi’s Dandi March to Annamalai’s ‘En Mann, En Makkal’, such yatras have unfailingly drawn crowds for that curiosity factor. Any wonder that DMK chortled, “Pada Yatra is now Padi Yatra“(a half yatra in Tamil) as the protagonist had to rush to hear his master’s voice. BJP cadres are offering any number of reasons for the sudden summons from Delhi. Meanwhile, BJP’s alliance partner AIADMK’s Edapaddi K Palaniswami (EPS) has suddenly found his lost self-confidence after Modi gave him spotlight importance in Delhi. This has emboldened him to announce a protest march challenging DMK about the denial of Cauvery waters to save TN delta kuruvai crops. This may put Stalin on the back foot. What if EPS walks away with the kudos and bargaining power? It’s well known that Annamalai has a prickly equation with EPS. Maybe the BJP top brass want him to mend fences with EPS?
Sharad Pawar_ajit pawar

Sharad And Ajit Pawar Fox Polity, Spare Each Other

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar has once more foxed all political observers by denying before the Election Commission that his party has split. Moreover, he refused to issue a whip for his party’s Rajya Sabha members to oppose the Delhi Services Bill which was adopted by the Upper House late Monday night. Pawar’s nephew and breakaway group leader Ajit, in a reciprocal move, also did not issue any whip for the bill. On top of it, Ajit’s staunch supporter Praful Patel remained absent when voting took place on the bill. All this happened within a few days when Pawar heaped praise on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Pune. As far as the Rajya Sabha suspense is concerned, had either group issued a whip, anti-defection law provisions could have been invoked. Union home minister Amit Shah’s welcome of Ajit in the Shinde-Fadnavis government again raised Shiv Sena (Uddhav) faction’s hackles. This, too, happened in Pune. Pawar’s next move will, therefore, be watched with considerable interest by both sides. Another interesting sidelight of this unfolding drama is the role played by Praful Patel. He is the only leader to have attended the first INDIA meeting of various Opposition parties as a Pawar emissary and the ruling NDA’s golden jubilee celebrations as Ajit’s advisor. It has been noted by political observers that both NCP factions have refrained from attacking each other publicly.

With Rahul's Return, Will The Parliament Logjam End?

Even after the Supreme Court reprieve in the defamation case against Rahul Gandhi, the Congress is still all worked up and worried whether his membership of Waynad Lok Sabha would be automatically restored. If so, it would happen before the House takes up No-Confidence motion against the Modi Government next week — on August 8. Congress Lok Sabha Leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury made it clear that the party wanted Rahul to initiate discussion on the trust vote. He said he had rushed to meet with Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla as soon as the SC gave its order on Rahul’s conviction. The Speaker apparently asked him to provide a copy of the SC order. Rahul’s senior legal counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi pointed out that he’s not surprised not by the way the Speaker had responded. Recalling how he had to approach the SC on behalf of Lakshadweep MP Mohammed Faizal, whose conviction was vacated by the Kerala HC way back in January this year. “We had waited for two months. Only when we moved the SC, the government approached us and Faisal’s membership of the LokSabha was restored,” says Singhvi. Congress sources admit that the party has been disrupting parliamentary proceedings during the Monsoon Session only to protest what happened to Rahul. Both Manipur and the no-trust vote were a bahana. With Rahul’s return will the Parliament logjam end? Not quite.

SC Gives Big Relief To Rahul Gandhi, But Are Alliance Partners Happy?

The Supreme Court, in major relief for Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, has stayed his conviction in Modi surname defamation case saying that the trial court has not given reason for imposing a maximum sentence of two years that led to his disqualification from the Parliament. It is the second good news for the Congress party in recent times. It may be recalled that NCP supremo Sharad Pawar one of the architect of I.N.D.I.A suffered a big jolt after a split in his party. So too did Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. He faced rumblings within his own party the JD(U) over alliance with the RJD. With both Pawar and Kumar focusing on their backyard, the responsibility to lead the Opposition meet in Bengaluru fell on Congress party vis a vis Sonia Gandhi. In recent times Rahul was also a bit subdued over a political development; perhaps he was waiting for the Supreme Court order which has given him a new lease of life. Surely, he is bound to throw the hat in the ring and it could cause disgruntlement with alliance partners. Didi, going by her past remarks, will definitely not agree for Rahul to be PM’s face. Ditto: Nitish Kumar and Sharad Pawar. So the whole game changes and so in light of this will I.N.D.I.A. survive?
Sambhaji Protest

Sambhaji Bhide’s Statement Against Gandhi And Nehru Stokes Passions In Maharashtra

Staunch Hindutva votary Sambhaji Bhide has become the focal point of Maharashtra politics over the past few days because of his certain controversial statements regarding Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Nehru. While Opposition parties in the state legislature have been demanding immediate arrest of the founder of the Shri Shiv Pratishthan Hindusthan Sanghatana, deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has maintained that any action against Bhide will be in accordance with law. At the same time, Fadnavis has lashed out at the various statements derogatory of freedom fighters like Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. Bhide had made a shocking statement about the parentage of Gandhiji. Ever since, demonstrations against and in favour of him have been taking place in various parts of Maharashtra. The matter assumed gravity when Maharashtra’s former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and former minister Yashomati Thakur complained that they had received death threats after they spoke out against Bhide’s tirade. While announcing in the legislative assembly Fadanvis asserted that Bhide was not a member of the BJP and would not be spared if found guilty of any offence. The Opposition wanted the government to round up Bhide forthwith but failed to elicit any concrete assurance from the treasury benches and then walked out shouting slogans. Meanwhile, Bhide has said that he stands by his statements.

Rahul Disappoints Karnataka MLAs; Siddaramaiah Happy After Meeting Modi

Karnataka Congress MLAs, who were as unhappy with the way ministers in Siddaramaiah government were functioning, were reportedly disappointed with the way their August 2 interaction with Rahul Gandhi went. He was more focused about his own goals of winning more Lok Sabha seats — it was as if he was going to be PM in 2024. The interaction which was primarily arranged to focus on grievances of some 11 MLAs who had written a letter about the functioning of some ministers in the two-month-old Congress government in Karnataka became an opportunity to discuss preparation for 2024 Lok Sabha. Rahul was more keen to tell ministers and the MLAs that the focus of the Congress must be about winning more Lok Sabha seats — he had set a target of achieving BJP’s record of 26 seats from Karnataka. Later Deputy CM DK Shivkumar said the Congress would aim to win 20 seats. In some sort of gag order, Rahul advised MLAs not to write letters but to take up their issues with the CM, AICC in charge Randeep Surjewala, KC Venugopal or Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge. Rahul also warned state ministers not to get embroiled in any controversy as the party had got a mandate against corruption of the BJP. Meanwhile, party sources said only CM Siddaramaiah seemed a happy man after his Delhi visit. That too after his first official interaction with PM Modi!
modi patnaik

Modi Govt Gets Backing Of BJD On Crucial Bill & How!

After days of disruption over Manipur, the Opposition finally allowed some government business. The introduction of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023, a bill to replace the ordinance that the Centre had issued for appointment and control of executives of the Delhi government was introduced. The I.N.D.I.A. parties were seen opposing the bill at the introduction stage. It was against this bill that Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had mobilised support of Opposition parties. The Congress, DMK and TMC did come out in support of Kejriwal. However the most crucial and effective support for the Modi government came from the Biju Janata Dal. BJD MP and senior advocate Pinaki Mishra wondered how MPs could question “the legislative competence” of the government to bring such a law. In a boost to the Modi government, he pointed out that the Supreme Court in its order on a plea filed by the State of Delhi against Union of India had said “if Parliament enacts a law granting executive power on any subject which is within the domain of NCTD, the executive power of the LG shall be modified to the extent as provided in that law”. “The Government has brought out a law now pursuant to the Supreme Court empowering it. So, how can you challenge legislative competence? I can understand you voting against it,” Mishra was heard saying, reading relevant paras of the SC order. Apparently, support of BJD and the YSRCP are enough to ensure that the bill will sail through Rajya Sabha. 
Indo_uk health

L to R : Alex Ellis, Dr Sanjay Jaiswal, Sir Prof Steve Powis, Prof Geeta Menon, Prof Simon Gregory, Prof-Dr Parag-Singhal

High Powered Delegation To Visit India To Forge Indo-UK Healthcare Alliance

Three times BJP MP from Bihar Dr Sanjay Jaiswal has been for quite some time convincing his party colleague Mansukh L Mandaviya, minister for health and family welfare to forge a strong Indo-UK health alliance. That’s yielding results. Now, it is learnt that a high-powered delegation from the UK’s Health sector comprising Prof Sir Stephen Powis, National Medical Director of NHS England, Prof Simon Gregory medical leader for healthcare education across the Midlands and East of England for HEE among others will be visiting India on August 4 to meet with their Indian counterparts from the health ministry. Health minister Mandaviya, Dr Jaiswal, a few MPs, and senior bureaucrats will meet at the residence of Alex Ellis, British High Commissioner in New Delhi to officially announce the Indo-UK HealthCare Alliance. According to London-based Dr Prof Parag Singhal, “The chief objective of the India UK Healthcare Alliance is to promote excellence in the Healthcare sector, and provide a platform for the healthcare institutions in two countries to create synergistic partnerships aimed at improving health outcomes.” The visiting delegation will also highlight the new interventions that are being designed by the BAPIO Training Academy UK.

Why Is Odisha Chief Minister Betting Big On Semiconductor Industry

The Odisha government headed by Naveen Patnaik is now focusing on investments beyond steel, aluminium and mining sector. Being an election year, Patnaik is going all out to give a big push to the semiconductor chip business that represents the heartbeat of modern digital economy. Towards this Patnaik’s government has formulated a new policy to ensure that at least one semiconductor manufacturing unit and 100 fabless design companies will land in the state. This initiative is expected to create around 5,000 direct job opportunities and 20,000 indirect employment over a period of seven years. Government sources confirm that Odisha chief minister has already got on board the London-based SRAM & MRA Group to set up the semiconductor unit in Ganjam district with an investment outlay of Rs30,000 crore in Phase 1. The US-based Silicon Power Corporation has also agreed to invest Rs 1,000 crore over next 18-24 months. Meanwhile Odisha’s IT minister with his entourage are camping in the US to woo more investors into the state. Political observers say “with state elections round the corner Patnaik is moving the political needle in the right direction bringing in investment, employment and revenue”.  Looks like Patnaik is already in election mode.
MKStalin speech


Stalin Woos 30,000 DMK Cadres With 6000 Kg Mutton Biryani

It was a veritable gastronomic extravaganza where 30,000 DMK cadres gorged on mutton biryani and chicken served up in the training camp in Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu. Evidently the BJP‘s meticulous training and planning for elections served as the template for Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin’s motivational thunder and lavish hospitality at this election stump. The alchemy of super delicious biryani and powerful oration was meant to galvanise the booth committee overseers of 15 constituencies. Being the birthplace of the party founder Kalaignar, the stump speech was generously peppered with claims and confidence to catch boosters like “naarpadhum namade, naadum namadhe” (40 seats are ours, the land is ours). He did not miss out on hitting out at the AIADMK for a “sell out of our land to the BJP”. Stalin seems to have imbibed a new josh from his self-perceived status as the originator of the Opposition unity, and is doing everything to rabble rouse and rake in the electorate’s trust. TN Minister KN Nehru said “You must all feel proud that our leader is motivating the entire Opposition to unseat the BJP.” Surely the DMK’s omnibus passenger, the Congress could feel challenged. Stalin has inherited his father’s fluency of wrapping up Dravidam in chaste Tamil oratory. The 2024 general election promises no holds barred fight to oust the north Hindi domination of the BJP with a frontal south emotional Dravidam clarion call.
Naveen Patnaik_010

Is Odisha Chief Minister Planning To Dissolve Assembly And Hold Early Elections This Year?

For the last few months the rumours have been flying thick and fast that the Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik may dissolve the state Assembly and go in for an early polls by end of this year instead of 2024. In fact, BJP minister and CM contender Dharmendra Pradhan seems to have got the whiff of it a few months back as he too was talking about it. Now, Patnaik’s party the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) seems to have confirmed it. “There may be an early Assembly polls in Odisha alongside other states,” said BJD’s vice president Devi Prasad Mishra. This explains why recently the Finance Department of Odisha has written a letter to all ministries to submit their budget by end July 2023 so as to be ready for an early election. Political watchers say, Naveen babu knows how to take the wind out of the Opposition sail from time to time. He is the master of the game and both Congress and BJP are nowhere near him at least in Odisha. Patnaik’s transformational drive has impressed and endeared himself to 4.8 crore people of Odisha. It is learnt that only deserving MLAs will be given tickets so as to arrest anti-incumbency factor. The moot point is will BJP be able to make inroads in Odisha this time?

Modi, Pawar And Shinde To Share Dais In Pune On August 1

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Pune visit on August 1 will prove a game changer as Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar will be the chief guest for honouring his ‘old friend’ with the prestigious Lokmanya Tilak National Award. The PMO and Sharad Pawar have accepted the invitation, confirmed Rohit Tilak, the great-grandson of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak and vice president of Tilak Smarak Mandir Trust. Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde, both Dy CMs – Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar – as well as senior Congress leader Sushil Kumar Shinde will be among those present on the occasion. Shinde has been a member of the Trust for a long time. Faint murmurs of protests were heard from the Congress party in Pune for a couple of days after the award announcement. However, now there is total silence. The occasion will be significant for several reasons. Firstly, Sharad Pawar’s presence will raise eyebrows since he is a key figure in the opposition INDIA formation. Secondly, Pawar and his nephew Ajit will come face to face for the first time after the NCP split a few weeks ago. Thirdly, the Tilak family is stated to be unhappy as it was ignored by the Congress and the BJP while selecting candidates for the recent assembly byelection from Pune. Equally important is the perception that Modi has been visiting Pune often, considering its political clout in Maharashtra.

Will The PM Choose To Stand From Rameswaram In 2024?

A rumour, or is it a news tip, refuses to go away. This has to do with Prime Minister Narendra Modi being close to fixing Rameswaram as the constituency from which he will stand for the Lok Sabha in the 2024 election. The BJP is paying a lot of attention to the district in south Tamil Nadu of which Rameswaram, a famous abode of Lord Shiva, is host to a temple that draws devotees in their millions. Rameswaram is also where PM Modi is to host a big meeting on August 18 with Tamil Nadu fishermen to apprise them of steps being taken by the government of India to ensure their safety and better treatment at the hands of the Sri Lankan Navy if ever they stray past Indian territorial waters in search of better catch in more southern waters. The district is also from where the TN BJP chief K Annamalai will begin his padayatra after taking the blessings of BJP biggie Amit Shah on July 28. The party is laying much store by the padayatra its chief is planning during which he will also be releasing more of the DMK Files of the kind that shook up the ruling party in TN when it exposed audio clipping featuring the then Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan (PTR). Maybe, there is some heft to the news of Modi toying with the idea of moving south from Varanasi to another holy city.
Adhir Ranjan chowdhury

Will Cong Replace Its West Bengal Chief To Placate Didi?

With Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee carefully evading any mention of Congress during her party’s Shahid Diwas Rally last week, speculations are rife whether Congress high command will be replacing the present Pradesh Congress Chief and Baharampur MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. Chowdhury has been extremely vocal about Didi and alleged atrocities by her party. He not only spearheaded the alliance with the CPI(M) during the last State Assembly Election 2021, but also maintained it even during this recently concluded Panchayat Election. Incidentally, Adhir had also written to Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge requesting them to look into senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi’s representation of TMC in Supreme Court matters. It has been learnt that Congress leadership is not keen to upset Mamata, which might jeopardise its chances of bargaining for two existing Lok Sabha seats of Baharampur and Maldaha Dakshin. A section of the state committee said that outgoing Rajya Sabha Congress MP Pradip Bhattacharjee’s name is doing the rounds; he had the support of TMC during his nomination in 2017. Interestingly, Adhir joined the protest programme at Parliament — on Manipur Issue along with TMC and other parties.  Adhir enjoys the confidence of Gandhis, hence it will be interesting to see whether they will replace him.
Ajit pawar_modi

Intense Speculation, Vehement Denials Over Ajit Pawar Elevation As Maharashtra CM

A plethora of forecasts about installing NCP’s rebel leader Ajit Pawar as Maharashtra chief minister has stirred the state politics, more so because former CM Prithviraj Chavan has even announced the tentative date of the changeover. Ever since Ajit Pawar left the party founded by his uncle Sharad Pawar and joined the Shinde-Fadnavis government, his supporters have launched a campaign to project him as the next CM. Whereas the Shiv Sena (Uddhav) has been harping from day one that making Ajit a DCM is the gameplan of the BJP which will soon replace present incumbent Eknath Shinde, the statement by Prithviraj has surprised many. Prithviraj once belonged to the Group 23. Though not a mass leader, his equation with Sonia Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge has been quite good. Prithviraj said he had received the indication about the replacement of Shinde from Delhi but declined to divulge more details. He said the change can occur around August 10. The speculation about Shinde’s future has renewed after he called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week along with his family. This was described as a farewell call by some Opposition leaders. Shinde himself has maintained silence about the developments but Dy CM Devendra Fadnavis has declared in no uncertain terms that Shinde will continue to remain the CM. “This is made clear to Ajit,” he said.

As ED Raids Another Tamil Nadu Minister, Is CM Shaken?

After Tamil Nadu minister V Senthil Balaji, the Enforcement Directorate trained its guns on DMK education minister K Ponmudi.  Raids on his residence and business locations have yielded a number of clues to financial irregularities including recovery of over Rs 80 lakh haul of British currency. This raid too was related to a 2012 case of illegal sand mining from quarries in TN amounting to Rs 28 crores loss to the State. His son Gautham Sigamani is alleged to have invested such earnings in UAE’s Universal Business Ventures. Earnings of Rs 7 crore were not declared. Besides, significant earnings of Rs 100 crore from share transactions in Indonesia in 2022 have been unearthed by ED leaving Ponmudi red faced. Reportedly, he cried on MK Stalin’s shoulder saying, “At 72 how can I withstand such raids? My sons are managing all affairs “. Tamil media sources claim that a Jakarta-based Tamilian business tycoon is the go to man for Ponmudi’s sons, and now the ED is busy digging up this shadow compatriot’s TN based businesses to trace the origins of the money trail . Obviously, the advantages of having investigating agencies like the ED are heightened in an election year. A so-called list of 9 “culpable probables”and mug shots are doing the rounds of the media!
Modi NDA meet

PM’s One-On-One Meet Boosts Morale Of NDA Leaders

The Opposition parties haven’t simply got over the fact that the BJP managed to convene a meeting of NDA parties in New Delhi on the same day, (July 18) when they had met in Bengaluru for a second time to pick a name for their alliance and even managed to dominate the media. It was just that the NDA seemed more organised. Even as there was not much agreement over I.N.D.I.A — the repackaged UPA 3, PM Modi went all gun-blazing at the Opposition. He had made it a point to connect with every one of the leaders of the 38 parties who attended the NDA meeting on a one-to-one basis even if it was for a few minutes. Party sources said at the dinner meeting where most leaders were seated across 12 tables, PM Modi made it a point to move from table to table to engage with the guests. Almost all leaders sort of got personal attention from Modi and managed to have a private word with him. Maharashtra contingent of leaders – CM Eknath Shinde, Dy CM Ajit Pawar and Praful Patel — had a special equation with Modi as the PM spoke to them in Marathi. Edappadi K Palaniswami  also got to  hear very encouraging words from PM Modi as he told the former TN CM that he was “leader of the NDA” in the state.
Mamata India

At TMC’s Martyr's Day Rally, Didi Vows To Oust BJP In 2024

At the Trinamool Congress Martyr’s Day Rally, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee said that the newly formed alliance of the 26 Opposition parties – I.N.D.I.A — will oust the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government in the 2024 General Elections. Didi said that the BJP which coined ‘Beti Bachao’ slogan will be shown the doors by “Durgas” — women of the country. Didi attacked the BJP on women’s issues — ongoing violence in Manipur, Bilkis Bano and wrestlers’ sexual harassment cases. Interestingly, Didi avoided mentioning Congress during her 42-minute speech at the annual event of her party. Besides, she was careful in her address of the Left parties; she addressed them as “CPI(M) er Bandhura” (CPIM friends), over their constant allegations of rampant violence and vote loot by her party in the recently concluded panchayat polls. Voicing the slogan “Jeetaga Bharat”, Didi told the party cadres that they would be informed about the protest programmes against the Centre to be taken out under the banner of the Opposition alliance. Interestingly, after Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar making it clear that they have no interest in the Prime Minister’s seat, Didi too did likewise, saying that she has no ambition for any chair but is just keen to dethrone BJP from the centre.
Sharad pawar _Rahul

Did Ajit Pawar Fail To Convince Uncle Sharad Pawar To Attend NDA Meet?

Allegations that the real purpose of the breakaway NCP group meeting Sharad Pawar twice in two days was to persuade him to attend the NDA meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi have been creating ripples in Maharashtra. Pawar attended the INDIA meet of 26 Opposition parties despite such efforts, the faction loyal to him has maintained. Breakaway group MLAs, led by deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, have remained silent while the BJP, too, has not reacted to the insinuations. Before the NDA meet, Ajit Pawar and Praful Patel called on Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah. For the meeting, BJP president JP Nadda and Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde were selected to welcome Modi. Shinde’s and Ajit Pawar’s presence on the dais was conspicuous. Even as doubts about Sharad Pawar’s exact gameplan keep on surfacing, his supporters have disclosed that the breakaway group had reached Pawar’s south Mumbai office complex without any prior intimation and called on him after his arrival. But Pawar’s detractors point out that Pawar could be caught unawares once, not twice and not the very next day. The Congress party in Maharashtra is already upset due to the two meetings and has questioned the true intent of this. However, the party high command decided to ignore this discontent and Pawar was invited for the INDIA meet.
Opposition meet bengaluru

Opposition Unity Gets A Name, I.N.D.I.A

On the second day of the Opposition meeting in Bengaluru, the challengers revealed the new name for their alliance — Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), to take on the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge said that an 11-member coordination panel will be formed which will meet in Mumbai and decide the next date of meeting too. The alliance will have a secretariat that will function from Delhi. Clearly, the two-day meeting in Bengaluru was far more productive than the Patna meet. As Rahul Gandhi who addressed the media put it, “The discussions we had today were very productive and took place smoothly.” A number of leaders were significantly found missing from media interaction. Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad and Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin. Veteran NCP leader Sharad Pawar was present but did not speak. Incidentally, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and  CPI top leader D Raja were present but also did not interact. “People are coming forward against dictatorship…Hum hai na“, said Uddhav Thackeray. “The character of our republic is being severely assaulted in a systematic manner by the BJP. We are at a most crucial juncture in our nation’s history,” the Opposition alliance said in a collective pledge. Mamata Banerjee dared the NDA asking “Can you challenge I. N. D.I.A?”. Incidentally, she addressed the Left leaders by their first names for the first time. Curious why is the TMC going soft on the Left?

Dada Meeting Saheb Twice In Two Days Rattles Cong And Uddhav Sena

Nationalist Congress party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar’s decision to receive two delegations of the breakaway group led by nephew Ajit ‘Dada’ Pawar over the past two days has once again rattled the Congress party in Maharashtra. However, the NCP’s both factions have adopted an aggressive attitude, claiming that it is a matter within the family. Pawar first met the nine ministers who took oath just a week ago under the leadership of Ajit Pawar. On July 17, Saheb met various NCP MLAs who had walked out with Ajit. While spokesmen from both sides have maintained that Pawar gave them a patient hearing but did not make any remark, the explanation has raised fresh misgivings. The Congress was in an upbeat mood after the NCP’s split, followed by the Shiv Sena’s division last year, since their decimation had created the possibility of going to the Leader of Opposition post in both houses to the Congress. Worried by the prospects of a patch-up within the NCP, several Congress leaders have questioned Pawar’s consent to meet the defectors. The disquiet was accentuated as the MLAs loyal to Pawar remained away from a collective protest demonstration held by the legislators belonging to the Congress and the Shiv Sena under Uddhav Thackeray. The close friendship between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pawar has remained an enigma for a long time. It is in discussion again.
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Can BJP Sway Dravidian Voters In TN With Annamalai’s Yatra?

In just three years, the stormy petrel of the BJP, K Annamalai has talked incessantly against Tamil Nadu Dravidian parties, in particular the DMK and what he consistently claims are its dark underbelly and unbridled corruption. This has brought him to the forefront of the BJP’s frontal attempt to carve itself a perch as a third alternative to the two parties that have held TN in their vice-like grip for over 60years. Annamalai now plans to walk the length and breadth of TN. His padayatra, to be flagged off by Amit Shah, will start on July 28 from Ramanathapuram which is already in the news that PM may contest 2024 Lok Sabha election from this revered pilgrim centre. Annamalai’s Yatra is to extend over 168 days, covering over 225 stops in all the TN constituencies, culminating on January 11 in Chennai with talk about the PM participating in this event in Chennai. Despite Annamalai’s penchant for taking on foes, fringe elements and even friends (he has had a few spats with Governor RN Ravi, BJP’s Vanathi Srinivasan, and local BJP functionaries) analysts are amazed at how his stocks have risen with the top brass. Reportedly, he may be nominated to Rajya Sabha. But, the litmus test of his relevance and political acumen — how many seats BJP will win in TN — will be known in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.  

At 72, Can Thalaiva Set The Silver Screen On Fire?

Diehard fans of Thalaiva can’t wait for August 10 – the release date of Jailer. Every time Rajinikanth’s big budget film is released, claims of it being Superstar’s swan song whet the voracious appetite of his fans to storm the cinema halls to rejoice and drumbeat for the one and only Rajini. At 72, will he be able to set the screen on fire? Politicians and film stars seem loath to retire, and ride off into the sunset. Why would they, when our country of over a billion are raring to dance to these pipers? As long as the audience and political party ATM’s jingle, big boss heroes are ready to canter through unreal capers.  After the tepid response to his last two films, Darbar and Annathe, Rajini, his director Nelson Dilipkumar, music composer Anirudh and bank rolling Sun Pictures have pulled out all stops to ensure Jailer locks up the audience for repeat views. The song, Kaavaalaa belted out by Shilpa Rao with Tamannaah Bhatia gyrating tantalisingly, is already a hit. To add more oomph, Kaavaalaa promos made with AI starring Samantha, Katrina Kaif, Kiara Advani and other marquee names have set the net on fire. The promo, featuring Superstar’s dialogue in his trademark gravel tone, is bound to click with the audience. “I am the King, what I set is law, my whims can change the rules.  Anyone dare? You shall be cut to pieces. This is my Hukam“.


Technology Cannot Disrupt Original Content Provider: Short Post Editor

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

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

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