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Modi's 3.0 Temple Administration Run, Handover To Hindus

The results of the Lok Sabha elections have disappointed the rank and file in the BJP but, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already commenced his third term work to flesh out his 100-day plan for India, including flagship policy amendment for handing over administration of temples across India to the Hindu community. This strategy, even while Modi continues in election mode targeting forthcoming state assembly elections in five states of the Indian union. A closed-door meeting between expected incumbent PM Modi and erstwhile Union Home Minister Amit Shah decided to prioritise the first council of Union Ministers comprising public representatives from states facing imminent assembly polls. Maharashtra’s citizens will elect 288 Members to its state legislative assembly by November 2024 just like Haryana, Jharkhand and Jammu & Kashmir. Delhi and Bihar follow suit in 2025 while Tamil Nadu, Assam, Puducherry, Kerala, West Bengal state assemblies are scheduled in 2026. PM Modi’s 3.0 political regime will likely include Shivraj Singh Chauhan who relinquished Union Ministership to deliver Madhya Pradesh state assembly to BJP. Maharashtra’s Lok Sabha outcome has dampened and shocked everybody in the BJP coming in the wake of the double sympathy wave attracted by Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar. Pawar has silenced critics who foretold the end of his political career. There is going to be serious introspection and there may be reshuffle in Maharashtra according to sources. So, parliament ushers in the amendment allowing Hindus to administer their own temples (take it away from respective state governments) bringing the community on par with Muslim and Christian religious trusts.
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Ajit Pawar Breaks Silence, Defends His MLA Who Visited Police Station Immediately After Porsche Accident

Maharashtra’s deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar finally broke his near-silence over the Pune Porsche accident tragedy. His refusal to make any statement immediately after the horrific incident had provided his opponents enough fodder to attack him. Ajit Pawar, president of the Nationalist Congress Party on Saturday (June 1) supported his party MLA Sunil Tingre’s action of rushing to the Yerawada police station following calls from the accused minor’s father, Vishal Agrawal within minutes after the car hit that killed two techies. Defending the MLA, Ajit said it is common for elected representatives to visit after some major incident takes place in their constituency. However, he insisted that the police had done their duty by the book. Ajit listed the actions taken by the police, by the public health department against the two Sassoon Hospital doctors and by the state excise department after the mishap. He pointed out that the four members of the Agrawal family had been arrested. Hence, there was no question of shielding anyone, he thundered. Ajit has been facing criticism from various quarters, he being the guardian minister of Pune district in which the tragedy occurred on 19 May. Pune police commissioner Amitesh Kumar, too, has maintained that Tingre did come to the police station though the police had acted as per rules and regulations. Ajit has already accepted social activist Anjali Damania’s challenge to undergo a narco test in regard to the whole episode.
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Is Chhagan Bhujbal Deliberately Embarrassing His Party Leader Ajit Pawar?

Nationalist Congress Party (Ajit) is experiencing some unease at present over the perceived adverse line adopted by its senior leader Chhagan Bhujbal. The latest cause is Bhujbal’s defence of rival NCP (Sharad) leader Jitendera Awhad, who is facing flak for tearing a picture of Dr BR Ambedkar during a protest action. The BJP and NCP (Ajit) have held protest demonstrations to condemn his lapse. Rather than following the Mahayuti line, Bhujbal has supported Awhad by saying that the error happened when he was protesting against Manusmritii. “We will not allow backdoor entry of this retrograde social code,” Bhujbal declared, annoying his own party. When a huge hoarding collapsed in Ghatkopar, Mumbai a couple of weeks ago, Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray was attacked by some Mahayuti leaders in connection with the permission granted for erecting the massive billboard. At that time, too, Bhujbal had termed the criticism of Thackeray as wrong. Earlier Bhujbal had been refused the Lok Sabha Nashik candidacy, despite his efforts to obtain blessings from Delhi. During electioneering, he had stated that the response to the rallies of Sharad Pawar and Uddhav was overwhelming. Being a powerful OBC leader, it will be difficult for the NCP (Ajit) to touch Bhujbal. On the other hand, his choices to return to his earlier parties seem limited owing to his various caustic attacks against Sharad Pawar and Uddhav. The lid on the mystery will be lifted soon after the Lok Sabha results are out on 4 June, it is felt.
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Pulled Down By Allies, BJP Is Still Confident Of Its Numbers

Ahead of the last day of polling for the 18th Lok Sabha across 57 seats including Varanasi from where PM Narendra Modi will be contesting for the third time, there is a quiet confidence in the ruling side about the number of seats the BJP will get. Yes there are some numbers to mull ahead of the Exit Poll. Top party bosses are apparently comfortable with reports that the BJP itself would be comfortably placed even as reports indicated that its allies in Maharashtra and Bihar are not able to deliver on candidates and perform just as well. It is being said the BJP is tipped to get 315 seats. Party sources said it may seem the BJP may have wasted its seats on the allies. BJP feels in Maharashtra the NCP (Ajit Pawar) faction does not seem keen on continuing in the NDA for the assembly polls. It is felt Ajit may merge his faction with his uncle Sharad Pawar for the assembly polls. Again, though PM Modi has gone all out backing the breakaway Shiv Sena group headed by Eknath Shinde, the ruling Sena may not come out in the top because of the choice of candidates. Performance of alliance partners could drag BJP in Bihar too.  RJD’s pitched campaign against JD(U) for Nitish Kumar’s flip-flop could hit some JD(U) candidates. Chirag Paswan’s skewed candidate selection has hit the NDA image in the state. It is for this reason that BJP leadership has begun to talk about doing very well in West Bengal and Odisha. Of course, PM Modi’s confidence to form the next government has not stopped the Congress leadership from staking claiming to form the government in Delhi. Meanwhile, in a copycat act of the TMC, the DMK also chose to stay away from the I.N.D.I.A bloc meet called on June 1.
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Pune Porsche Horror: Social Activist Anjali Damania Challenges Ajit Pawar For Narco Test

After roasting deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar with various grave allegations, social activist Anjali Damania has now blamed the entire Pawar family “for vitiating the politics of Maharashtra.” Rogue and mafia elements from various parties have joined the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), she has said without making any distinction in regard to its vertical split. Damania came into the limelight some years ago when she trained her guns against powerful OBC leader Chhagan Bhujbal. She turned her attention towards Ajit, the then DCM, around a decade ago. Ever since, Damania has been needling Ajit and the NCP on different counts. Only yesterday, she had demanded Ajit’s narco test in connection with his silence over the Pune car crash tragedy.  If the Pune police commissioner was saying that he had not spoken with Ajit but the latter was insisting that they had held a conversation, what was the reality, she had asked and demanded to know the truth.  Ajit accepted her challenge but issued an ultimatum of his own. “I am ready for a narco test. But Anjali should retire from public life if nothing comes out of the test.” Damania has accepted the challenge with a rider. She says she will frame the questions for the test. “If Ajit Pawar emerges unscathed, I guarantee that I shall not be seen on any public platform, as demanded by him,” she has dared him. In her attack against the NCP, she says, “If any one party needs to be finished, it is the NCP.”
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Uddhav Blames Shinde Govt For 37 IT Companies Shifting Out Of Maharashtra

Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray’s London visit has been embroiled in politics after one of his statements that 37 Information Technology (IT) companies have shifted outside Maharashtra has roiled the ruling three-party alliance in the state. Uddhav is known for going abroad, generally to Europe, during summers. He has been away in London this time, too. But his stinging indictment of the current regime over the Pune development has instigated BJP MLA Nitesh Rane. He has challenged Uddhav to repeat the charge by swearing in the name of his (Uddhav) two sons. Rane has hit back that the companies left Maharashtra during Uddhav’s tenure as chief minister. He has alleged that Uddhav had been indulging in falsehood. “Pack up those in London itself who are damaging the image of Maharashtra by sitting in London,” Rane has remarked. Chief minister Eknath Shinde, too, has used the opportunity to take pot shots at his predecessor. When Shinde was at his farm in Satara district, he was quizzed about Uddhav’s London sojourn. He said he preferred to return to his village rather than travelling abroad, without naming his former boss. Meanwhile, entrepreneurs in Pune have blamed the poor and deteriorating infrastructure in Hinjewadi, the IT hub in Pune, for the flight of several companies to other states over the past 10 years. They have demanded immediate attention of the state government to improve the situation.
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Even Before Lok Sabha Results Are Out, Seat-Sharing Talks In Maharashtra Gain Momentum For Assembly Polls

Even before the 2024 Lok Sabha results are out, the momentum for the 288-legislature strong Maharashtra state elections, scheduled around October, has already started building up. Chhagan Bhujbal has already sounded the bugle by declaring that his Ajit Pawar faction of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) should not settle for anything less than 80-90 seats. He feels Ajit Pawar’s party got a raw deal during the Lok Sabha seat-sharing rounds. Bhujbal himself was forced to back out in the Nashik constituency to make way for Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena candidate Hemant Godse. Many parties like Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, Bacchu Kadu’s Prahar Janshakti Party, Samajwadi Party, the Peasants and Workers Party of India had not put up candidates in the current Lok Sabha polls lured by better deals in state polls.  Besides, a large number of rebel aspirants across the parties during LS elections were also mollycoddled into backing off with promises of their aspirations being adjusted during the state elections. Prominent political scions like Rohini Khadse (daughter of Eknath Khadse), Siddhesh Kadam (son of Ramdas Kadam), Abhijeet Adsul (Son of Anantrao Adsul), Kiran Samant (brother of Uday Samant), who were all denied LS seats, are likely to swing back into action mode. It will also be the real testing ground for leaders like Sharad Pawar, Uddhav Thackeray, Raj Thackeray, who have more at stake here in Maharashtra than at the national level. Besides the local state elections promises to activate and sharpen the divide among various lobbies and factions within the un-split parties. Each of these groups are gearing up to extract maximum seats at the seat-sharing bargaining table.
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Modi Outwits The Opposition By His Spiritual Silence

Global and local media did not need a GPS to descend en masse on Kanniyakumari, Indian peninsula’s land’s end, to the majestic Vivekananda Rock, a standing sentinel, guarding this spiritual and ancient civilisation. The Opposition cried hoarse over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 45-hour meditation. The numerous panel debates could as well mean it was “deceitful, surreptitious, covert, duplicitous, artful, guileful.” Modi planned like Chanakya, some say better, to decimate his detractors by undertaking this high voltage event in saffron garb. No one could have replicated the powerful message…a PM praying for his country and people.  With leaders like Rishi Sunak, Joe Biden, Justin Trudeau, Benjamin Netanyahu lurching from crisis to crisis to hold on to their perch, Modi brings back an ancient Hindu spiritual state to keep a strong hold over his party, country and ideology. Many questions have been raised, even asking EC to stop this “drama“. Dushyant Sridhar, once a powerful corporate and now at the height of popularity for his spiritual discourses says “Why object to Modi’s choice of the Vivekananda Rock for meditation? Who prevented Rahul and others from picking on their own modes for reaching their electorates? There are those who are literally having heartburn that a PM is “campaigning” at State expense. Tamil Nadu police, tasked with the PM’s security are said to have deployed a 2000 strong contingent for his protection, including a team of professional divers.  A Teflon coated PM seems totally inured to all this mud-slinging. Modi’s meditation could well pan out to be one the greatest spiritual impact events in the world.
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Pune Porsche Car Tragedy Haunts NCP Chief Ajit Pawar

The Pune car crash tragedy is haunting Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar with a demand for his narco test and examination of his mobile phone. The demand made by social activist Anjali Damania has rattled his Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), prompting its spokesman to remark that Damania operates on ‘recharge,’ thereby meaning that she repeats the allegations made by someone else. Suraj Chavan, a NCP spokesman, has asked for her narco test, in retaliation. The silence of Ajit after the Pune tragedy of 19 May had generated much speculation. Though he is guardian minister of Pune district, Ajit has kept himself away from the case lest some allegations could follow. State Congress president Nana Patole has added another twist by indicating that one of the four occupants of the ill-fated Porsche car was the son of a MLA. Though he has not disclosed any name or produced any evidence, the gravity of the charge has made the picture murkier. The latest angle in this sordid chain has been added by Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sushama Andhare. “Ensure safety of Dr Ajay Taware’s life,” she has said, in reference to his threat that he will spill the beans and not spare anyone. Dr Taware and his colleague Dr Shrihari Halnor are under arrest for switching the blood sample of the accused minor. If the blood sample can be faked, anything can happen, she has cautioned. She, too, has not pointed a finger at any individual. But her apprehensions have been ridiculed by Sena (Shinde) spokesman Sanjay Shirsat.
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This Poll Season PM Modi Has Been Generous To A Fault With The Media!

At PM Modi’s rally in Mayurbhanj, Odisha while his speech was underway, a journalist fainted. Known for his eye for detail, PM Modi saw him fainting from the stage. He stopped his speech and asked his medical team to attend to him at the earliest. It was ensured that the journo got prompt medical attention and was subsequently shifted to the district hospital. PM Modi who has been speaking to TV journalists from Delhi while campaigning in Varanasi and Kolkata has apparently had a record interaction with a variety of journalists across platforms from all over the country since the Lok Sabha elections were announced. While BJP spokesperson Amit Malviya acknowledges that PM Modi had spoken to “71 different sets of journalists, from editors to beat reporters”, party sources say media interactions could be a record of sorts. Something like upwards of 125. Sources say Modi has been liberal with media interactions this election season. He had even sought out beat journos from media groups who he was familiar with, raising quite a few eyebrows in media houses, like seeking out one or two senior editors he had known. At the same time, Modi has been wary of owners doubling up as editors that he refused to share space with them at the roundtable space along with the beat journos. It is another matter he did  generously pose for post-interview pictures with them. On the other hand, Rahul Gandhi, opposition’s Prime Ministerial candidate, didn’t give a single media interview this election. The Congress leader has maintained that the media is biased against him.
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Photo: X

Sharad Pawar’s Confidant Quits Party, Blames Supriya

Nationalist Congress Party founder Sharad Pawar’s trusted lieutenant Sonia Duhan has decided to walk out of the party. Known for her daredevil acts when the party was facing crises, Sonia has blamed her mentor’s daughter Supriya Sule, for the decision which is bound to wound the already depleting party. Sonia hit the headlines last year when she brought back four NCP MLAs to Pawar from Ajit Pawar camp, who had parted ways with his uncle. Sonia’s role during the Shiv Sena split was noticed as well. Hailing from Hisar in Haryana, Sonia was then publicly lauded and her proximity with the veteran was discussed. However, the honeymoon seems to be over. Sonia and Dheeraj Sharma, two leading north Indian soldiers of Pawar, will cease their association with the NCP, which Sonia had joined in 2021. While announcing her decision, she said none from the NCP (Sharad) had approached her nor asked for the reason for her resignation. Sonia is extremely bitter about Supriya. She said, “Supriya called me up on 23 May and used such language that has forced me to quit.” Sonia has no immediate plans to join any other party, especially not the NCP under Ajit Pawar. She commented that a political party can’t run on social media. Sonia said the party affairs were well till Sharad Pawar headed it. But when Supriya took over, things began going wrong. “Supriya is the party president but not a party leader,” Sonia retorted.
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Modi’s 3.0 Avatar, Judicial And Electoral Reformer

PM Narendra Modi’s 3.0 avatar will prioritize judicial, electoral reforms, bolstered in large measure by Amit Shah’s twin criminal laws kicking in come July 1, 2024. Recent judicial trends, including a temporary bail gift to Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal for indulgence in unfettered propaganda, criminal indulgence against his party’s youngest woman MP, has irked Modi. The proverbial last straw was the Supreme Court mandating 48-hours for full disclosure of voting percentiles pan India. “The ECI will submit to court the minimum 96 hours requirement for professional, fool proofed disclosure of pan India voting percentages considering manual processes involved for collation,” BJP’s senior leader told shortpost.in. Teachers, civic staffers drafted by ECI, for the election process are trained in the run up to polls. These personnel, up by 3 am, reach Lok Sabha polling booths (1500 to 1800 booths per constituency) by 5 am to precede the 7 am public voting. EOD time of last vote (between 8 pm and 10 pm) depending on voters at booths before timely deadline follows voter count data manually maintained by personnel collated like a police panchnama, even as EVMs get transferred to strong rooms. EVM machines at rural centres take longer (3-4 hours). Missing names in voter rosters, recurring concern every general elections, to be resolved through AADHAR synchronization in 3.0, long standing BJP requisition put off by judiciary in India backed by ‘privacy concerns’ prevalent in Western nations. The Collegium system is also set to go, according to those in the know.
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Pune Porsche Horror: Local MLA Alleges Police & Excise Dept Were Paid Rs 78 Lakhs Per Month ‘Hafta’

The Pune Police force and the State Excise Department personnel are now facing the focus following allegations that their monthly graft collection is of Rs78 lakh. Pune’s Congress MLA Ravindra Dhangekar has distributed a list of the bars and liquor shops which allegedly pass on a monthly ‘hafta’ to the two departments. He has charged that in the last two years, Rs 2.5 crore has been extorted by these authorities while issuing licenses for new pubs, bars and liquor shops. The list gives details about the establishments with their addresses and the monthly amount paid by them. Dangekar also disclosed the names of the ‘collectors’ who do the job of visiting these places and collecting cash amounts. He has claimed that this information has been supplied to him by the harassed staff members in the two departments. Dhangekar and Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sushama Andhare stormed the Excise office in Pune on Monday (May 27) and took the officials there to task. When they were not satisfied with the official explanation about the action taken, the duo challenged the authorities to take them around to show the pubs and bars operating in and around Pune. The locations under their scanner include Viman Nagar, Koregaon Park, Kalyani Nagar, Bhugaon, Baner, Hinjewadi, Pimpri Chinchwad and the hill station of Lonawala. Dhangekar also raised questions about the closure action against various pubs and bars taken by the various Pune authorities, including the municipal corporation. “If these were illegal, how were they operating all this time?” he asked, warning that his agitation will intensify.
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Pune Porsche Horror: Two Sassoon Hospital Doctors Accepted Rs 3 Lakh To Replace Minor's Blood Sample

The embattled Pune police have heaved a sigh of relief after arresting two doctors from the government-run Sassoon Hospital on charges of replacing the blood sample of the main accused minor, who is charged with crushing two techies to death on Sunday last. The doctors, Ajay Tawre and Shrihari Halnor, were apprehended on Monday (May 27) morning for arranging to accept the graft amount of Rs 3 lakh and for sending bogus blood samples to the laboratory of the minor. The police were under fire since no blood report of the accused was forthcoming even after four days. Pune Police Commissioner Amitesh Kumar has explained that when the first blood report was sent to them, it said there was no trace of alcohol. This blatant ploy raised their suspicion and investigation took another turn. The second testing proved that the sample did not belong to the accused. It has now transpired that the accused’s father Vishal Agrarwal had contacted Dr Tawre and then it was decided to replace the blood sample in return for money. An attendant in the hospital’s post mortem section brought the graft amount in a Swift car, the commissioner has disclosed. The arrest of the two doctors has started another controversy since Dr Tawre has been with the hospital for 15 years though government stipulations say that normally, an officer should be transferred every three years. Reportedly, Dr Taware, who had been medical superintendent for approximately eight years, was instructed by the DMER to step down from his post in 2022 following alleged malpractice in the kidney transplant procedure. The regional organ transplant authorisation committee was then temporarily suspended. But in 2023, NCP (Ajit faction) MLA Sunil Tingre had written a letter to Health Minister Hasan Mushrif to reinstate Dr Taware and the same was done.
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Photo : punekarnews.in

Pune Porsche Accident: Three Generations Of The Same Family In Police Custody

It is not just rarest of the rare, it is perhaps unique. Three generations of the same family find themselves in custody in connection with the same incident. Pune builder Vishal Agarwal’s minor son, just short of 18 years, had been arrested by the police for allegedly causing the death of two techies under his speeding Porsche on Sunday, May 19. Vishal’s father Surendra Kumar Agarwal has now been arrested by the police. He will cool his heels in custody till May 28. The ill-fated car’s driver, Gangaram Pujari, was detained illegally in Agarwal’s house and was pressured by Surendra to tell the police that he (Pujari), and not the minor, was at the wheel at the time of the tragedy, according to police charges. Pujari was taken to Agarwal’s house by a police party to recreate the alleged detention’s chain of events. Surendra, it was reported earlier, has been found to have links with underworld don Chhota Rajan. His act of detention of the driver will be presented to the court soon. The police party also interrogated the household help and checked some documents. Incidentally, after a prolonged silence, Maharashtra’s deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar has explained that he has been monitoring the investigation of the case in Pune, he being the guardian minister of the district. His silence had become a topic of speculation and criticism.
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Absence Of Guardian Ministers In Chief Minister’s Drought-Relief Meet Face Opposition Ire

 The absence of state agriculture minister Dhananjay Munde, along with five other guardian ministers in a meeting called by the Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde, to review the prevailing drought-like-situation in Marathwada region of Maharashtra, has attracted criticism from the Opposition parties. Only two of the eight guardian ministers from the worst-affected Marathwada region, were present at the meeting to discuss drought relief at a time when the state is reeling under a severe water crisis with 2973 villagers and 7671 hamlets dependent on 3692 tankers for their water supply. When Sharad Pawar termed the absence of agriculture minister as reflection of a “lack of seriousness” on the part of the government, deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis retorted back that the Opposition was being “too negative” and politicising the drought-scenario prevailing in state. NCP (Sharad faction) party president Jayant Patil accused the government of still being in election mode while senior Congress leader Balasaheb Thorat pointed out that relief work was affected as guardian ministers were holidaying abroad. With the voting process having wrapped up in the state on May 20, state political leaders have finally started paying attention to the water crisis looming large in the state. Incidentally, though the heat wave and water crises was very much prevalent in Maharashtra during the election process, none of the political parties chose to raise this issue in the election process. Instead the polls in Maharashtra were fought on issues like party rebellion and betrayal. Sharad Pawar has demanded a relief for farmers starting with fodder camps for cattle, restructuring crop loans, freeze on loan recovery processes, relief in exam fee and electricity as drought-relief measures.
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Sixth Phase Poll: Didi’s High Stake Battle Against BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari For Eight Seats

In the sixth phase of Lok Sabha polls on May 25, West Bengal is headed for a dramatic showdown in eight seats — Bankura, Jhargram, Purulia, Bishnupur, Medinipur, Tamluk, Kanthi and Ghatal. Significantly, five of these seats are held by BJP and the remaining three — Tamluk, Kanthi and Ghatal are with ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC). However, Kanthi and Tamluk were held by Opposition leader Suvendu Adhikari’s father Sisir Adhikari and his younger brother Dibyendu Adhikari who have also moved from TMC to BJP. While BJP has fielded Soumendu Adhikari, another brother of Suvendu from Kanthi, the saffron camp has given a surprise ticket to retired judge Abhijit Ganguly. Ganguly has been the fiercest critic of Didi who gave ruling against the TMC government in the Teacher’s Recruitment Scam. Both Kanthi and Tamluk have special attention as former being the hometown of Adhikaris and Tamluk also has Nandigram Assembly segment which is held by the Opposition leader. It may be recalled that Didi was defeated by her former ally Suvendu in the 2021 Assembly election at the Nandigram seat. Meanwhile, BJP is up for Ghatal seat, where TMC’s star candidate and incumbent MP Dev Dipak Adhikari is contesting against BJP’s MLA Hiranmoy Chatterjee. There was a war of words when Adhikari accused Dev of taking money and expensive gifts from a relative of a cattle smuggling accused. Dev, however, denied these allegations stating that he had only taken a loan from a firm for his film production in 2022, which he has repaid, and denied receiving any gifts from third parties. It is clear that this penultimate phase of polling is a matter of survival for Didi while for Suvendu it is all eight wins.
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As Nadda Reignites BJP Free Of Sangh Influence, Entry Of Non-RSS Leaders Sees BJP Grow Under Modi

There was excitement in political circles when BJP president JP Nadda first made a statement in a TV interview and later to English daily, The Indian Express that broadly meant that his party had “grown from the time it needed the RSS and was now ‘saksham’ (capable) to run its own affairs”. According to Nadda, BJP’s parent body Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was an “ideological front and does its own work”. Nadda’s assertion coming in the midst of elections made a Congress spokesperson wonder why there was no public debate on the “strained relationship” between the BJP and Sangh. The moot point is that BJP and Sangh have maintained their own separate identity even during Vajpayee era. Sangh leaders have always maintained that the RSS is not a political party but a socio-cultural organisation involved in nation-building. They claim that the RSS does not take part in elections nor its office-bearers are supposed to become office-bearers of any political party. RSS sources said what Nadda said was not off the mark. The BJP has grown and expanded under PM Modi’s leadership in the last decade only with inclusion of several non-RSS leaders in the party.” Take the case of Assam where with inclusion of former Congress leader Himanta Biswas Sarma, who is doing a fantastic job in the spread and growth of the BJP in the North East. Such inclusions are happening across India. In Odisha we have some BJD leaders joining us, “pointed out an RSS leader. Meanwhile Nadda’s tenure as party president was extended till June 2024. Lots of speculations about who will succeed him. Whoever it is, she/he will be PM Modi’s choice tasked to implement delimitation and women’s reservation by 2029.
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Photo : X - Lawyer Prashant Patil sitting to Sharad Pawar’s right

Sharad Pawar Angry Over Questions About His Photo With Agarwal Family Lawyer

The Pune car crash tragedy is taking a political turn as different angles connected with the police station concerned and the family of builder Vishal Agarwal are coming out, one after another. The latest is about veteran leader Sharad Pawar. A picture of Pawar with the lawyer of the accused family members went viral on social media. When Pawar was asked about it on Friday, he lost temper and said connecting any past meeting with this episode was not fair. He retorted that it was not necessary that he should express opinion on every issue. The Pawar family is facing criticism on several counts about the deadly car crash. His daughter Supriya Sule, MP, broke her silence over the incident after she was repeatedly attacked for not saying a word for four days about it in her hometown. When Pawar was asked why his nephew and now adversary Ajit Pawar was not seen handling the investigation as guardian minister of Pune district, he snapped, “Ask this question to Ajit.” Even as the furore continues, local Congress MLA Ravindra Dhangekar has levelled serious allegations of corruption against Pune police force. The Lok Sabha candidate has circulated a couple of pictures of constables from a police station in inebriated mood and has threatened to expose such elements from different police stations every day from today. Deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has condemned politicisation of the sorry incident, saying that Pawar and I.N.D.I.A bloc are facing depression.
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Stalin Besieged By Tamil Nadu’s River Water Woes

Tamil Nadu’s never-ending fight for river waters has taken several new turns in recent times. Kerala, once a regular supplier of water including in diverting west-flowing water east to TN through the Mullaperiyar dam, has started placing its own priorities first in applying for a new Mullaperiyar dam to replace the limestone wall dam built 128 years ago. Kerala has also been charged with building a dam across the Silanthi River, a tributary of the Amaravati that may lead to less water flow into the Amaravathi Dam that serves Tamil Nadu. Badgered by the Opposition and an ally like MDMK, chief minister MK Stalin swung into action to activate the state’s appeal process in the Cauvery water management authority. He also shot off a letter on the Silanthi River being tapped by Kerala, an issue the state may have raised earlier but was brought into the open only by Edappadi Palaniswami raising it in the media. The State is being blamed for keeping quiet due to I.N.D.I.A bloc coalition compulsions as both the Congress that rules Karnataka and the LDF that rules Kerala is part of the umbrella national coalition fighting the polls. With Karnataka hell bent on a dam in Mekedatu across the Cauvery and Kerala wanting a new Mullaperiyar dam, the DMK supremo Stalin is between a rock and a hard place.
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Pune Porsche Accident: Skeletons Tumbling Out Of Builder Agarwal’s Family Cupboard

Skeletons are tumbling out of the wealthy Agarwal family’s cupboard following the arrest of its young member, whose Porsche car crushed two people in Pune late last week. A feud over property between two brothers, Ram Kumar and Surendra Kumar Agarwal, had an underworld connection, according to a Shiv Sena (Shinde) functionary. Another allegation is that some molestation angle, too, has come forward, believed to be another cause of this clan conflict. The family business values over Rs 600 crore and many prestigious structures in Pune and around have been constructed by one of the family firms. Surendra is the grandfather of the accused youngster. Sena leader Ajay Bhosale has disclosed that Surendra had sought help from underworld don Chhota Rajan to pop off Bhosale, who was friendly with Ram Kumar. Visiting Bangkok to meet Rajan to discuss the alleged contract, Surendra had told the don that Bhosale was hindering the settlement between the two brothers. Bhosale was shot in Pune in 2009 and a case has been sub-judice in the matter ever since, he told the media. Bhosale’s chagrin was evident when he remarked that the Agarwal family thought that it could do anything and escape scot free. Vishal, father of the accused, has many high level connections, it has transpired. Once his mobile phone is unlocked, more skeletons are likely to follow, investigators believe.
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Rashmi Thackeray Wanted Aaditya To Be Maharashtra CM But Sharad Pawar Overruled It

Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray’s wife Rashmi’s insistence to install Aaditya as the chief minister of Maharashtra in 2019 was overruled by veteran leader Sharad Pawar, who had refused to offer the same post to Ajit Pawar in 2004 since he wanted to promote Supriya Sule’s image as a future chief minister. Once Aaditya’s name was rejected, then unified Sena leaders Sanjay Raut and Anil Desai had pleaded with Pawar to appoint Uddhav as CM. This chain of events has been described by NCP (Ajit) chief spokesman Umesh Patil. He was trying to refute various claims being made by leaders of different parties involved over the past few days. Patil said the unified NCP had more MLAs than the Congress in 2004 and Ajit Pawar, as NCP legislative party leader, was the logical choice as CM. But Sharad Pawar put his foot down because he wanted to ensure that no competitor to his daughter Supriya should emerge. Patil also dismissed Raut’s claim that Eknath Shinde’s chief ministership was opposed by senior leaders Ajit Pawar and Sunil Tatkare. Even in 2019, it had been decided by the NCP to team up with the BJP. However, Sharad Pawar reversed his stand at the eleventh hour, Patil has said. He claimed that the then Sena had decided to elevate Shinde as CM but Rashmi’s intervention led to Uddhav’s appointment.
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Congress Leader Atul Londhe, BJP leader Nilesh Rane

NCP(Ajit) to Split, Uddhav & Family To Flee Country, Claim Political Opponents

No sooner was polling for the Lok Sabha over in Maharashtra, than a spate of sensational charges has started making rounds in political circles in the state. At least a dozen MLAs of the NCP (Ajit) are likely to cross over to the BJP after the results are out while many others may return to the NCP led by Sharad Pawar, according to state Congress spokesman Atul Londhe. He has specifically mentioned the names of NCP(Ajit faction) state president Sunil Tatkare and prominent OBC leader Dhananjay Munde, who had deserted the BJP a decade ago to join Sharad Pawar. The ‘X’ post by Londhe has taken a swipe, saying that Ajit Pawar perhaps would remain the lone member of his party. The post has come after Ajit’s trusted lieutenant Nilesh Lanke has once again refuted reports that he is returning to NCP (Sharad Pawar). He has stated that he will continue to follow Ajit Pawar. Even before denials were issued by NCP(Ajit) to contradict Londhe’s post, another audacious statement has created ripples. BJP MLA Nitesh Rane has claimed that Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray and his family are planning to flee to London after the LS results are out on 4 June. Rane, the second son of former CM Narayan Rane, has demanded that the authorities impound the passports of the Thackeray family. The verbal battle in the state is certain to escalate in the days to come.
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Sambit Patra Says Will Fast In Puri For Sacrilege Ahead Of May 25 Vote

It was a sort of “Indira is India” moment for the BJP made by the infamous Congress leader DK Barooah during Emergency. Puri Lok Sabha candidate Sambit Patra committed sacrilege when he remarked that Lord Jagannath was a bhakt or devotee of PM Narendra Modi. Dubbing it as a slip of tongue, he announced that he would undertake a penance and fast for three days. Taking a jibe at Patra, BJD leader and close aide of Odisha chief minister, VK Pandian cautioned Patra against fasting in this scorching heat. “I think he should take care, there is too much heat and dust. He should eat properly and take care. Three days before elections, he should not faint. He is a doctor, he should know what to do.” The BJD leader denied it would escalate this issue as it did not believe in doing politics over religion, especially Lord Jagannath who is the symbol of Odisha’s identity. A day earlier, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik denounced Patra’s remark saying it has hurt the sentiments and demeaned the faith of crores of Jagannatha bhaktas and Odias across the world. The BJP candidate clarified that he wanted to mean that PM Modi was an ardent devotee of Lord Jagannath. To think the gaffe happened on a day, Modi had campaigned for him in Puri!
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Ajit Pawar’s NCP Defensive As Its MLA Faces Flak In Connection With Pune Car Tragedy

Nationalist Congress Party (Ajit Pawar) is forced to go on the defensive in connection with the two-day old Pune car tragedy as its local MLA’s name has been linked with the alleged royal treatment given to the minor offender. Congress and Uddhav Sena leaders have seized the opportunity to lambast the three-party Mahayuti government in the state. According to the chargesheet filed by Pune police, the accused’s speeding car killed two youngsters. His father, famous builder Vishal Agarwal, as well as the owner and manager of the bar when the minor consumed liquor have been arrested. From the moment the news of the accident became viral, the name of NCP (Ajit faction) MLA Sunil Tingre began surfacing. As the offender had been reportedly served with pizza and burger while under arrest in the police station, social media was agog with discussion that Tingre had intervened on behalf of the builder. On Tuesday (May 21), Tingre finally came out with an elaborate explanation, claiming that he had not hindered the police procedure at any stage. Soon thereafter, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar called Pune police commissioner Amitesh Kumar and asked him not to come under any political pressure. Amitesh denied all social gossip and maintained that the police had taken utmost precaution while applying various criminal charges. He announced that efforts will be made to apply IPC 302, considering the gravity of the incident.
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Didi’s Controversial Comment Provokes Hindu Saints To Stage Protest March

The controversial statement by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee against Hindu saints seems to have raised the political temperature in Kolkata. A section of saints have decided to walk bare feet in protest of the statement. The rally will take place on May 24, ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s roadshow in Kolkata for the seventh phase of polling. According to Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) sources, sadhus, saints will undertake ‘Sant Swabhiman Yatra from Girish Avenue in North Kolkata to Swami Vivekananda’s ancestral home. Incidentally, the rally takes place in Kolkata North seat, which is being contested by BJP’s Tapas Roy against his arch rival and TMC veteran Sudip Bandopadhyay. During a recent campaign in Hooghly, Didi questioned Bharat Sevasram Sangha’s monk of Murshidabad Chapter – Kartik Maharaj (or Swami Pradiptananda) for his political comments of not allowing TMC agents during elections. She even stated that a section of saints from ISKCON, Bharat Sevashram Sangha are working on behalf of BJP. While, VHP head here in Kolkata Sachindranath Singh claimed that the Yatra is apolitical programme, the ruling Trinamool said that VHP which is part of RSS and BJP hence it is a way to use saints for political campaigning. Meanwhile, Didi found surprising support from her bitter critic — Pradesh Congress President Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who also said that Kartik Maharaj does not have the qualities of a saint and is known to people as a political figure.
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Uddhav Alleges Deliberate Ploy To Slow Pace Of Polling In Mumbai, Mulls Legal Action Against EC

Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray has fired the first salvo in the electoral battle by implying that the election officials in Mumbai had been deliberately slowing the pace of polling and that delays were occurring in the areas supporting him. It may be recalled that he was the first prominent I.N.D.I.A bloc leader to come out against EVMs a couple of months ago. A visibly ruffled Uddhav told the media that in certain localities, voters’ identity was verified repeatedly. It appeared that the Election Commission representatives in various polling centres were delaying the process. “If you find that the delaying is on purpose, get the names of the officials concerned so that if we go to court tomorrow, the information will be useful,” Uddhav thundered. He explicitly alleged that this was Modi government’s design to see to it that the voting against it was lessened. “But don’t fall for such tricks. Wait till tomorrow morning but do vote,” he appealed to people. Uddhav said these complaints were received from the areas where voting was in favour of the Opposition. He charged that this dirty game was being perpetrated through the EC. It could be said that the EC was working for the Modi government, he taunted. Uddhav was speaking against the backdrop of the complaints that the pace of polling was very slow and causing harassment to the elderly and the physically challenged.
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Raj And Uddhav Thackeray Likely To Join Hands With Modi, Says Prakash Ambedkar

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader Raj Thackeray’s presence at the dais graced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Mumbai on May 17 has started generating political speculation. The most common inference is that MNS and the Shiv Sena led by chief minister Eknath Shinde will come together and the new entity will be headed by Raj, who will be called Shiv Sena chief, a title exclusively used for the late Balasaheb Thackeray. At the NDA rally at Shivaji Park, Raj praised Modi’s leadership and had presented five demands on behalf of Maharashtra. In response, Modi declared that all that was required for Mumbai would be done by him. However, the prominence given to Raj, who spoke just before Modi, has surprised even his supporters. Taking a cue from the social media posts, Republican leader Prakash Ambedkar, too, has predicted that Raj will head the Sena (Shinde). However, Ambedkar ridiculed both Raj and Uddhav Thackeray. He said it was likely that both cousins will go with Modi. The caustic criticism of the PM by Uddhav was just a charade, Ambedkar remarked. On the other hand, Uddhav has lashed out at Raj and called him ‘suparibaj’ in an interview. He said the NDA wanted a Thackeray on its stage and got one, like the hired crowd that had filled up the venue. Raj has maintained total silence though expected to give a reply in his trademark stinging fashion soon.
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Kejriwal's Aide Rained Blows And Kicked A Menstruating Swati Maliwal

Amidst allegations of assault by AAP Rajya Sabha MP Swati Maliwal against Bibhav Kumar, personal aide of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal on May 13 and registration of FIR against him, AAP has unleashed a full-scale war in social media to damage Swati. The party released video footage of what happened at Kejriwal’s residence on May 13 to battle allegations of Swati assault. The video recordings are not CCTV footage as CM’s drawing room is not fitted with cameras. It is a video by somebody inside. In unleashing personal attacks on Swati, AAP seems to have completely lost its logic. For a party that initially admitted Bibhav Kumar had assaulted her. Kejriwal deployed his minister Atishi Singh to dub Swati as a BJP stooge. It may be recalled that Kejriwal’s assault of Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash in 2018 had no video evidence because of lack of CCTV images in the drawing room. BJP sources said in her call PCR from CM’s residence, Swati had clearly mentioned that she had been attacked by Bibhav Kumar at the behest of CM (she referred to him in  third person). Oddly, she did not mention him in the FIR. As images of her walking with difficulty to AIIMS for medical check-up and trip to the magistrate to register her statement, it established beyond doubt that she had been assaulted by Kejriwal’s PA. That’s why senior ministers in the government like FM Nirmala Sitharaman and Assam CM Himanta Sarma came out rallying in her support. Delhi BJP leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa pointed out that it was Sunita Kejriwal who had prompted Bibhav to attack Swati. That’s why Kejriwal has gone all out to protect Bibhav. In the FIR, Swati reportedly appealed to Bibhav not to hit her as she was menstruating and in pain. “I repeatedly told him that I am having my period and he should please let go of me as I am in unbearable pain.” It was only thereafter that she called the police.
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Shunned By I.N.D.I.A Bloc In North, DMK Mulling Alliance Options

DMK top brass led by Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin has been in a huddle at party headquarters mulling party’s options in the country’s polity with the kind of Lok Sabha results that 2024 would throw up on June 4. Two things are really worrying the DMK — one is the indication that Congress may not be in a position to form government at the Centre. Which means the party will have to explore post poll realignment. Probably explore the idea of having a good working relationship with the NDA. Besides, the regional party it is being said has also been very miffed with the way it did not get to play any national role in the I.N.D.I.A Bloc in North India. The DMK because of TN minister Udayanidhi Stalin’s utterances against sanatana dharma which is generally considered synonymous with Hinduism in rest of India became a sticking point even for secular parties like RJD and SP in the Hindi belt. So much stigma was attached to the DMK that the party was not even invited to big I.N.D.I.A events in Mumbai and Patna. Responding to Stalin’s worry about lack of role in the North, a senior AICC functionary described it as a “bahana, an excuse.” What Stalinji is trying to do is looking for an excuse like Mamata to get out of the I.N.D.I.A front. Just as TMC is talking about outside support now, so that it can join hands with Modi-led NDA if PM needs support, the DMK is also looking for an excuse.” Meanwhile TNCC chief K Selvaperunthagai who is an MLA has begun talking about strengthening the Congress independent of the support of Dravidian parties — taking a leaf out of state BJP leader K Annamalai. The buzz is Stalin wants to advance state polls and install his son as CM. Also sister Kanimozhi is keen to head the Parliamentary team.
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Didi Clarifies Stance, Signals Unity With I.N.D.I.A Bloc After 'Outside Support' Remark

The high-voltage Lok Sabha Election 2024 is witnessing several eye-catching claims, dialogues and then taking a complete u-turn from those. None other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has been making statement after statement saying that he has never used “muslim polarisation” as his crux of any poll speech. Now joining him is Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee back tracking from her statement of “outside support” to the I.N.D.I.A government if voted to power within 24 hours. Didi has made it clear that her statement has been misinterpreted since she’s the one who created the Bloc, hence there is no room for outside or inside support since she’s part of it. However, her statement explains that Mamata wants the attention of the Bloc, maybe an invitation to lead it, after giving it the cold shoulder for months. Congress choosing Left over her in Bengal left Didi miffed which led her to distancing from the Bloc. Further, she was also angry that Rahul Gandhi’s Nyay Yatra passed through Bengal without informing her.  However, Didi’s comments can be influenced by the state’s 2026 assembly election, with Congress and CPI-M becoming formidable opponents. She must prepare to tackle the anti-incumbency campaign and stop BJP’s 77 MLAs, and potential Left revival, which could increase their vote shares. Having said so, not to be forgotten that Mamata like many veteran politicians has an eye on the PM’s chair.
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Trinamool Accuses BJP Of Fielding Dummy Candidates In Bengal

As South Bengal gears up for remaining phases of ongoing Lok Sabha elections, a new controversy has emerged with accusations that the BJP is fielding dummy candidates to upset the electoral calculations of Trinamool Congress. Reportedly, the BJP which has no muslim candidates in Bengal’s 42 constituencies, has indirectly fielded Mumtaz Ali, as a ‘dummy’ candidate in the high profile south Kolkata constituency which has dominant muslim votes. BJP’s own candidate is Debasree Chaudhuri. This is a prestige seat for the Trinamool as it is the home turf of the party supremo Mamata Banerjee. She used to contest from here; now it is being contested by her loyalist Mala Roy. Similarly, at the Jadavpur seat, three dummy candidates — Arun Sarkar, Shankar Mandal and Avanikumar Mandal have been fielded by BJP making room for its nominated candidate Anirban Gangopadhyay and dent vote share of TMC’s Saayoni Ghosh. In the same manner, the BJP candidate for Barasat Lok Sabha constituency, Swapan Majumdar, has fielded an experienced BJP worker, Sumay Hira as a dummy candidate against TMC’s veteran and Didi loyalist, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar. However, at Trinamool ‘strongholds’ like Basirhat, Mathurapur, Uluberia, Jayanagar seats names of independent candidates are not being announced by the BJP. BJP leader Abhijit Das (Bobby) who’s contesting against Trinamool scion Abhishek Banerjee at Diamond Harbor seat is not revealing the names of dummy candidates for the fear of he/she may be attacked.
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Finally Swati Maliwal Gives Statement To Cops, Trouble Mounts For Kejriwal

In a significant development, Delhi Police recorded AAP Rajya Sabha MP Swati Maliwal’s statement in connection with alleged assault on her on May 13 at Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence. Her statement to the police comes four days after the incident when she had made two calls to PCR from CM’s residence. On the day of the incident, Swati had gone to the police station to file a complaint but had refrained from doing so and had remained incommunicado. In her initial complaint she had blamed Kejriwal’s aide Bibhav Kumar and another person for assaulting her. It is not clear if her police complaint followed efforts made by Delhi Police to reach her. Delhi’s Additional Commissioner of Police Special Cell and Additional DCP North   visited Swati’s residence. Swati’s complaint to cops is bound to spell trouble for Kejriwal perhaps cancellation of his bail. It is not clear what would be Swati’s fate after this fate — it is quite likely she would not be able to stay in the AAP. There is already talk of Punjab Rajya Sabha MP Raghav Chadha having moved close to BJP.  Taking suo moto cognizance of media reports of Swati being assaulted by Bibhav, the NCW has summoned him to appear before it on May 17. It must be recalled that, two days after the assault, Kejriwal had sent Sanjay Singh to negotiate with Swati. Singh had accepted that Bibhav had attacked Swati. However, instead of keeping promise made to Swati, AAP supremo Kejriwal tried to brazen out the assault incident. He reached Lucknow for a media interaction with assaulter Bibhav Kumar. Sanjay Singh gave vague excuses like Manipur incidents and Prajwal Rewanna to justify non-action on Bibhav. The only silver lining was Congress leader Priyanka Vadra came out in support of Swati notwithstanding her party’s alliance with AAP.  
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Election Officials In Nashik Check Maharashtra Chief Minister’s Bag, Finds Nothing

Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde’s last Nasik visit had turned into a political slugfest since Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut had questioned why the CM needed large suitcases for such a brief visit. “What was in the bags,” he had asked, apparently to imply that they were stuffed with cash. When Shinde landed at Nashik on Thursday (May 16), his luggage was examined by election and police officials. They later declared that the baggage contained only some essentials, including medicines. Shinde then teased his opponents by saying, “Yes, today also I have come with bags.” The Nashik Lok Sabha seat is among prominent fights in the state as Shinde’s loyalist Hemant Godse finally secured the NDA nomination despite local BJP and NCP opposition. He is opposed by rival Shiv Sena’s Rajabhau Waje, picked by Uddhav to wrest the seat. Senior NCP (Ajit) leader Chhagan Bhujbal, too, had thrown his hat in the ring and his name was almost finalized though Godse was asked to go ahead at the last minute. Ever since, the holy town of Nashik has turned into a fierce battlefield, Shinde, deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and other top leaders from both sides have been frequently visiting it. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s May 15 rally has only highlighted the importance of the constituency.
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Ending Speculations, Ajit Pawar Says Will Attend PM’s Shivaji Park Rally

He was conspicuous by his absence. Maharashtra’s deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar was missing when PM Narendra Modi visited Maharashtra on May 15.  Ajit’s second disappearance has become a topic of political speculation though his aides have clarified that he is down with throat infection. This is Ajit’s second act of disappearance in as many years. The first disappearance was in April 2023 and it immediately became hot news against the backdrop of constant gossip that Maharashtra’s BJP leadership had been in touch with him. Ajit teamed up with the BJP in July 2023 as deputy chief minister and was greeted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a public function by tapping him on the back. At that time, too, it was clarified that he was indisposed and hence unavailable. It was also remembered that he was not present when Modi filed his Varanasi nomination a couple of days ago. Ajit’s NCP was represented by senior leader Praful Patel. When Modi visited Kalyan on May 15 before reaching Mumbai, Ajit’s close confidant Sunil Tatkare honoured the PM. Now, it has been confirmed that Ajit Pawar will attend mega rally at Shivaji Park on Friday. The rally’s another highlight will be MNS chief Raj Thackeray, a severe critic of the unified NCP. Ajit was last seen publicly on 13 May at Baramati from where his wife Sunetra is pitted against cousin Supriya Sule. Taking a swipe at his nephew, veteran Sharad Pawar sarcastically quipped, “Ajit is really unwell at present.”
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Confirmed! Raj Thackeray To Be On Stage At Modi’s Friday Mumbai Rally

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s public rally at Shivaji Park in Mumbai on Friday (May 17) will have one more attraction. MNS chief Raj Thackeray’s presence at the crucial campaign meet is expected to benefit the ruling Mahayuti for the polling to be held on 20 May in Mumbai and around. Maharashtra BJP president Chandrashekhar Bawankule has confirmed the consent of Raj, after calling on him to thank the MNS for its help in Pune and Nashik election campaigning. The six Lok Sabha seats in Mumbai as well as those in Thane and Kalyan have become a prestige issue for both sides, the Mahayuti and the Maha Vikas Aghadi, as the political fates of chief minister Eknath Shinde and Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray will depend upon the outcome. To ensure the saffron alliance’s victory, PM Modi was urged to give time for the Mumbai rally. His acceptance has boosted the spirits of the Yuti. Raj is expected to lambast cousin Uddhav’s decision to embrace the Congress and Sharad Pawar’s NCP, as well as his increasing affinity towards the minorities. CM Shinde and Raj jointly plan to breach the traditional strongholds of the Sena (UBT), especially in Mumbai. The partnership will apply to the legislative assembly election slated in October this year. Considering the potential of this cooperation, Raj has been wooed by the BJP and Shinde. He, too, has responded positively, signalling a long term camaraderie.
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PM Modi's First Proposer For Nomination Is A Tamil

Astrology scholar Ganeshwar Shastri Dravid, a figure revered not only for his knowledge in astrology but also for his role in determining the auspicious moment for the foundation laying of the Ram Janambhumi and the consecration of Ram Lalla  were among the four people who proposed PM Narendra Modi’s nomination for  the Varanasi Lok Sabha  for the third time. Hailing originally from Tamil Nadu, Ganeshwar has made the Meerghat area of Kashi his home, residing at the Sangveda Vidyalaya in the ancient city. He is the second son of Rajeshwar Shastri, who was also a scholar of Vedas and Shastras. He lives along with his brother, Pandit Vishweshwar Shastri, who is also an equally esteemed scholar. When in Kashi, Ganeshwar teaches and primarily implements decisions provided by the Girvanavagvardhini Sabha at the Sangveda Vidyalaya. Additionally, he generously offers guidance on astrology, Ayurveda, and rituals to address people’s concerns. Ganeshwar operates his own Shastrarthshala, established by his great grandfather who had migrated from Tamil Nadu. Legend has it that when his grandfather arrived in Kashi, local Pandits rigorously examined him before granting him residence. According to reports, Ganeshwar’s ancestry can be traced to Thiruvisanallur, a small village near Kumbakonam in Thanjavur District of Tamil Nadu. Ganeshwar Shastri’s remarkable contributions include determining the auspicious timings for the consecration of Ramjanmabhoomi Temple in Ayodhya. Particularly, he was the one who identified the special muhurtham of 84 seconds for the consecration of Ram Lalla in Ayodhya. For the Bhumi Pooja of Ram Mandir, he had allocated a precise 35 seconds as the auspicious time based on astronomical calculations. Other significant events like the consecration of the Kashi Vishwanath Dham and also its Bhumi Pujan were also marked by him. While 13th December had been deemed auspicious for the inauguration in Kashi, many scholars had opposed it, citing...
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All Eyes On Swati Maliwal, Was She Bullied By AAP To Quit Her Rajya Sabha Seat?

 A day after former DCW chief Swati Maliwal approached the Delhi police alleging assault inside Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s house, the Aam Aadmi Party admitted that the AAP chief’s aide had “misbehaved” with her. Maliwal, a senior AAP leader and a Rajya Sabha MP, went to the Civil Lines police station on May 13 morning and claimed she was assaulted by Arvind Kejriwal’s personal assistant, Bibhav Kumar. However, she didn’t lodge an official complaint. Curiously a day after the episode, AAP MP Sanjay Singh came forward to acknowledge that Kejriwal’s aide indeed had misbehaved with Maliwal when the latter was waiting to meet Kejriwal at his house. It is not clear why Kejriwal is in a damage control mode now. “A condemnable incident took place. Swati Maliwal had gone to Arvind Kejriwal’s residence to meet him. While she was waiting for him in the drawing room, Bibhav Kumar allegedly misbehaved with her. The CM has taken cognizance of the matter, and he will take appropriate action,” Sanjay Singh said. As per Delhi Police records Maliwal had called the PCR number at 9.34 am on May 13. AAP sources say Swati was most likely being pressured by Kejriwal to vacate her Rajya Sabha seat– a position that is being coveted by his lawyer who lost his RS seat in a draw of lots recently from a hill state. That is why no sooner than AAP leader Sanjay Singh came up with a false narrative of action against Bibhav Kumar, Swati’s ex-husband Naveen Jaihind asked him to stop acting. He also felt there could be a threat to Swati’s life. Meanwhile, Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankar has informally sought to know if Swati as RS member would be needing security cover.
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Ghatkopar Tragedy Kingpin’s Pic With Uddhav Goes Viral, Faces Rape Charges

The alleged kingpin of the Ghatkopar hoarding collapse tragedy, Bhavesh Bhinde, is facing serious charges like attempt to rape and at least two dozen other cases are pending against him, according to his own declaration. The 51-year old had unsuccessfully contested an assembly election in 2009 from Mulund constituency. The absconding Bhinde’s picture along with Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray has gone viral and National Democratic Alliance (NDA) leaders have launched a tirade against their arch political foe. Though most of the cases against Bhinde pertain to erecting unauthorised hoardings, the one at Ghatkopar has opened Pandora Box after its collapse that claimed over 14 lives and left 74 injured. The controversial hoarding has been standing since 2022. Former BJP MP Kirit Somaiya had filed complaints against it though no action was taken by the authorities. This has led to a political slugfest between the Sena (UBT) and the BJP. Sena MP Sanjay Raut has blamed the fact that there is no elected civic house and hence the administrator in Mumbai is responsible for the mishap. In a sharp retort, BJP MLA Nitesh Rane has said that Raut’s brother Sunil had taken Bhinde to Matoshri to meet Uddhav. While former minister Anil Parab has maintained that his party is not connected with Bhinde, top leaders of the Congress and the NCP headed by Sharad Pawar have maintained silence about the incident.
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Uddhav Sena’s Sushama Andhare Openly Attacks Raj Thackeray

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader Raj Thackeay has become a latest target of the Shiv Sena (UBT) after he pledged his support to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Nationalist Democratic Alliance (NDA). Now, Sena leader Sushama Andhare’s attack of Raj in choicest terms after the former had targeted her in a public rally a couple of days ago is repeatedly flashed by Marathi news channels. At the time, Raj had shown an old video clip of Andhare, who had criticised Balasaheb Thackeray about 27 years ago. ‘How could you accept such a person in your party?’ Raj had asked cousin Uddhav, in a bid to embarrass him. An enraged Andhare, who has emerged as a firebrand orator, said Raj is known for his pro-establishment stands taken from time to time. As he has no constructive agenda, he is filled with negativity, Andhare told news channels after the speech of Raj went viral. She said Raj should have respected Balasaheb’s memory by honouring the Sena chief’s appeal to take care of Uddhav and Aaditya, made before his demise. Andhare reminded Raj that his MNS was ridiculed by deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis in the past. ‘Now you are campaigning for the BJP,’ she pointed out. Andhare also dug up the sensational Ramesh Kini murder case to hit out at Raj.
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In West Bengal, TMC and BJP Heavyweights In Neck-and-Neck Contest In Several Constituencies

As the voting process now enters into South Bengal beginning from the fourth phase, now it is a straight fight between the ruling Trinamool Congress and the BJP.  Heavyweight candidates from BJP like Dilip Ghosh, SS Ahluwalia, Rajmata Amrita Roy are fighting TMC candidates Kirti Azad, Shatrughan Sinha and Mahua Moitra respectively. It may be noted that Ghosh was shifted from his Midnapore constituency to Bardhaman-Durgapur. The outgoing BJP MP Ahluwalia who is now contesting from Asansol against Shatrughan Sinha, managed to win by slender 3000 votes in 2019. It is likely to be a tough battle for Ghosh since post 2019 Lok Sabha loss TMC has won all assembly seats barring one in 2021. At Asansol seat, TMC MP’s candidate Shatrughan Sinha may have an edge even though it is the home ground of Ahluwalia. Incidentally, on polling day Rajmata’s body language was not that encouraging and she said that “politics is not her cup of tea”. Mahua Moitra is confident of winning by a lakh margin. It is a tough battle for former cricketer Yusuf Pathan fighting on a TMC ticket from Baharampur against Pradesh Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury. Meanwhile, all eyes are on Barrackpore, Hooghly, and Serampore Bongaon. Incumbent BJP MP former actor Locket Chatterjee from Hooghly faces her industry colleague Rachana Banerjee. TMC is keen to wrest back the seat. Similarly, both BJP and TMC are going all out to win the Matua community dominated seats of Bongaon and Barrackpore. Bongaon may be tough for TMC with incumbent BJP MP Shantanu Thakur, a representative of Matua Thakurbari, likely to win the Barrackpore seat. TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee has been tirelessly campaigning for Bongaon candidate Biswajit Das and Barrackpore’s Partha Bhowmick.
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Stalin Gives Up His Deputy PM Ambition, To Focus On Tamil Nadu But Play A Lead Role In I.N.D.I.A Bloc

Chief Minister Stalin who may play a leading role in I.N.D.I.A bloc negotiations in the event of a swing away from NDA in the polls is in his own comfort zone in Tamil Nadu. He gave up his Deputy PM ambitions long ago when even his father did not project him nationally in the UPA. He is content to be the regional satrap who can dictate terms with the largest chunk of seats to I.N.D.I.A after the Congress. An internal survey done by his party shows DMK+ can win up to 32 seats by big margins and 5-6 more in tight contests against AIADMK, which they believe was the closer rival and not the BJP in most of the 39 seats. The party believes it could lose one or two seats and might be just behind the 38-1 performance of 2019 as very high turnouts in a couple of seats has thrown up hints about others gaining a bit. No other regional leader can provide such a chunk of MPs to the I.N.D.I.A bloc. Stalin is aware he can use the clout of numbers to demand prime ministries if it comes to government formation and he might move his sister and cousin Dayanidhi Maran to the Centre and concentrate the party power at home while tending to his health. If the status quo prevails, Stalin would still be in his comfort zone in his State.
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Has AIADMK Chief “No Alliance” Strategy Paid Off?

On 12th May all roads in Tamil Nadu led to Salem. Naturally. It was the 70th birthday of AIADMK chief Edappadi K Palaniswami popularly known as EPS. The road to his lavish residence was thronged with well-wishers, birthday celebrators and other political peeping toms who had come to assess his strength. A hugely confident and commanding Palaniswami stood on his porch and accepted the garlands, fruits, gifts and adulation like a Roman emperor. This crowd, despite his request to stay off coming to Salem as the heat was overpowering. From 8 am to 12 noon he stood valiantly, but had to plead exhaustion and asked for a chair when the greeters line still extended. Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi, senior BJP leaders K Annamalai, Tamilisai Soundararajan , H Raja , Dr Krishnaswami, Tamil film hero Thala Vijay and a host of political who’s who greeted him. Even as Annamalai had predicted that OPS would wean back the AIADMK after the election tie-up with the BJP, even after erstwhile self-styled general secretary Sasikala Natarajan made several efforts to reclaim her “legacy”, even after TTV Dinakaran smugly postured that EPS’s go-it- alone strategy would fall and fail, Edappadi seems to have hit the best option – both for him and the party’s future. Even as the 70 kg cake was being cut, guests were drawn to the Lotus shaped candles that Edappadi lit, and blew. Who knows about the occult significance of the lotus shaped candles? But definitely the DMK could be unnerved by this rallying round Edappadi. 2026 is a big question mark. And the game of thrones goes on.
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Was Kejriwal’s PA Instigated To Assault AAP’s Rajya Sabha MP Swati Maliwal?

In a bizarre incident, Aam Aadmi Party Rajya Sabha MP Swati Maliwal was reportedly assaulted at Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence by his PA Bibhav Kumar. As per calls made to police PCR from CM’s residence, the police received two calls. At first, the woman didn’t reveal her name. But in the second call made around 9.54 am, the caller said her name was Swati Maliwal and she accused Bibhav Kumar of manhandling her. Oddly Swati, who had headed Delhi Commission of Women for 9 years (July 2015-Jan 2024) did not follow up the assault charge with a written complaint. It is being speculated that she initially took two names — police are not sure if she had directly named Kejriwal. Swati had gone to meet with Kejriwal; she was not in India when he was arrested. Bibhav was denying Swati access to meet Kejriwal. BJP leaders dubbed CM’s office as a “boxing ring”, recalling how Kejriwal had assaulted chief secretary Anshu Prakash (Feb 2018) by calling a meeting of his MLAs at midnight. Bansuri Swaraj, the BJP candidate from New Delhi, claimed it was most likely that it was Kejriwal who must have instigated the alleged assault on Swati. AAP sources said party circles including wife Sunita Kejriwal have resented phenomenal growth of Swati — particularly her nomination to Rajya Sabha in January 2024. She was not seen as a grassroot AAP worker. Within AAP, Swati was seen as someone who was always aloof as she had worked with Kejriwal’s NGO. It is possible with Sunita’s growing clout and say in AAP affairs, one could see more such skirmishes at Sheeshmahal!
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Rahul Gandhi Sets A Goal For Kejriwal, Ensure Kanhaiya Kumar Wins

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has reportedly made it clear to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal that he must ensure Kanhaiya Kumar, former JNU student leader and Congress candidate for Delhi’s North-East Lok Sabha seat wins. This is the only seat where the BJP has repeated its candidate, Manoj Tiwari, who is considered to be a popular candidate. With Rahul making the extra push and Kejriwal promising to deliver, BJP sources say the contest will get keen in this seat as well as in South Delhi where the party had changed candidates. In 2019, Rahul’s efforts to get Kanhaiya elected from Bihar did not get adequate support from the RJD (he lost to Union Minister Giriraj Singh). After being in jail for 50 days, Kejriwal, the AAP star campaigner, began his poll campaign .Twenty parliamentary seats in Delhi and Punjab – two states where the Kejriwal-led AAP is in power – will go to polls in the fifth and sixth phase on May 25 and June 1. In his first public interaction, he began with making a wild charge that there was no point in voting for PM Modi as he wouldn’t be around to fulfil his guarantee. He charged that since Modi would be turning 75 next year he would perhaps retire and hand over reins to HM Amit Shah. Responding to Modi’s “retirement”, Countering Kejriwal, both Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh clarified that PM Modi will not only complete his 3rd term till 2029 but will also lead the party for “next round of polls”.
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Has Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel Put In His Papers?

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In March 2024 Haryana chief minister Manoharlal Khattar resigned his post and now, Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel is following suit. Khattar resigned after PM Narendra Modi asked him while honest Patel’s similar intent is owed to familial reasons. Patel communicated his indisposition to public service as he wants to dedicate himself to the full-time care of his ailing son, who underwent neuro-surgery with his medical status pegged at critical. “Unlike Congress culture of holding on to power, Kamal Nath and Ashok Gehlot being prime examples, BJP is endowed with the Sanghi culture of abstinence espoused by RSS Pracharaks like Khattar, former Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani. Fulltime Pracharaks live away from their families for years following a spiritual code of self-conduct prescribing, for instance, daily meals at party offices or homes of BJP workers,” a senior Sangh leader told shortpost.in. Khattar and Modi worked as Pracharaks in Punjab, Haryana for years together riding on the same scooter. “Modi similarly distributed the proceeds after auctioning gifts he received as Gujarat CM among staffers in the CMO before taking charge of PMO in 2014. Rupani eschewed his post when told to and now dons the role of Punjab’s Prabhari. The mantle of Gujarat’s CM will likely pass to another Patel or even Rajput candidate after recent disruptions in the latter community. Only Modi knows though. Khattar has donated his property worth one crore to the PMO in public interest but may have to take charge of Union Ministership next. Godspeed to Patel for his son’s recovery.
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MP Cong Leader Embarrasses Gandhis, Pitches Dole For Women As ‘Polygamy Allowance’

Both Priyanka Vadra and Rahul Gandhi are very proud of the Congress guarantees and how it has helped the party capture power in at least two southern states — Karnataka and Telangana and in Himachal. However if they were to hear the way senior Congress leader and former Union Minister Kantilal Bhuria is pitching the Mahalakshmi guarantee for women — promised in the party manifesto — that guarantees woman Rs 1 lakh in her bank account — as an assured scheme for polygamy, the Gandhis would be surely shocked. Bhuria who is contesting the Ratlam Lok Sabha seat from Madhya Pradesh, stirred controversy when he said that women from each household would receive “Rs 1 lakh, and those with two wives would get Rs 2 lakh If Congress comes to power, as our manifesto states,” Bhuria said while addressing a poll rally in Ratlam. The Congress on April 5 released the manifesto ‘Nyay Patra’ for the Lok Sabha elections 2024 and has promised to introduce the ‘Mahalakshmi Scheme’ in the poll manifesto which will provide Rs 1 lakh annually or Rs 8, 500 per month to the poor to alleviate poverty. While the manifesto has made no mention of two wives, it is Bhuria at his imaginative best. Tearing into Bhuria, BJP national spokesperson Shehzad Poonawala said Kantilal Bhuria has disclosed the “perverted variant of ‘jitni aabadi utna haq’ scheme/guarantee of Congress. It’s not about women samman but treating women like an object……disgusting.”
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Photo : @AamAadmiParty

Arvind Kejriwal Gets Bail, I.N.D.I.A Bloc Gets A Boost

In a boost to the I.N.D.I.A front, the Supreme Court granted interim bail to Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal on May 10 — three days after the Enforcement Directorate argued that politicians could not be treated differently from non-politicians in the PMLA case. Kejriwal has been granted bail till June 1 in connection with a money laundering case connected to the Delhi excise policy scam even as his counsel pleaded that his bail be extended till June 4 — that is the day of Lok Sabha results. The court has asked the AAP supremo to surrender on June 2. The interim bail has been granted in order to enable Kejriwal to campaign for the Lok Sabha elections 2024. Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi appearing for Kejriwal, stated that interim bail was essential to ensure that Kejriwal had a level playing field in the upcoming elections as Delhi votes on May 25. The ED had arrested Kejriwal on March 21. There is a sense of jubilation over release of the AAP chief in the I.N.D.I.A front with SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee welcoming it. Congress sources, however are not sure if Kejriwal would have polled more votes for the alliance from behind the bars in Tihar or now actively out campaigning across states. Opposing his bail solicitor general Tushar Mehta admitted that “only thing at stake was Kejriwal’s right to campaign for elections, which was not an absolute right to begin with”. Dismissing the objections, the bench headed by Justice Sanjiv Khanna felt “There are extraordinary circumstances for interim bail. We are only examining if those circumstances were met here, in view of the upcoming elections.”
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BJD's Richest Candidate Santrupt Misra Sweeps Streets Of Cuttack To Win Votes

The visuals of Biju Janata Dal’s wealthiest candidate Santrupt Misra (former HR Director of Aditya Birla Group) sweeping the streets of Cuttack has gone viral. The Cuttack Lok Sabha seat is all set to witness a tough battle between six-time ex-BJD veteran MP Bhatruhari Mahtab who recently joined BJP and Misra (BJD) who for the first time is testing electoral politics. Why is Misra in the news? Not because he is the richest BJD candidate having assets of over Rs 461 crore plus investments worth Rs 308 crore and rumours of him investing in BJD? But locals are sitting up and taking notice of this corporate honcho going that extra length of picking the broom to win the Lok Sabha seat from Cuttack.  But, he faces a very formidable opponent in BJP’s Bhatruhari Mahatab who was co-founder of BJD. Are voters impressed by the optics of Misra sweeping the street? Not really! The general impression is that he is not doing it for free…he is merely doing it to win votes. But, the moot point is can Patnaik’s handpicked man defeat a veteran politician like Mahatab?  The general perception is that Mahatab has been six times MP, now it is time for change — a new face with new ideas and Misra fits that bill very well.
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Model Code Of Conduct Proves Irksome To Tamil Nadu Govt

Tamil Nadu was the first State to go to the polls for all 39 seats on the very first day of the Lok Sabha elections of 2024. While getting the polls out of the way seemed a good idea and the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin could even go on a holiday to a hill station where he could take over a whole luxury resort for self, family and doctors, the fact that the model code of conduct is in place till June 4 is proving irksome. The Chief Minister was keen to make a splash with newspaper advertisements to mark his government’s third anniversary on May 7, but the Election Commission came down on it and stopped the ads. Steering clear of any controversy building up over any policy announcements by him, the CM left it to the IAS officers to make the announcements on small policy issues. He did, however, make a personal statement on his government’s achievements, with pride on the breakfast scheme in schools taking off and earning praise from India and abroad and the free bus scheme for women that has helped many domestic aides and casual workers to move around easily to their work spots while saving money. The CM would still like to make a public celebration of three years of running the government smoothly enough with media advertisements to come out on June 5 morning after the model code of conduct expires.
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In Bengal, All Eyes On Barrackpore As PM Modi And Didi Gear Up For A Showdown On May 12

Barrackpore Lok Sabha seat under North 24 Parganas has garnered much attention with both Trinamool Congress and BJP pressing their top leaders Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to campaign for their parties’ candidates. While BJP is fighting it out to retain the seat, TMC is desperate to gain it back since a major Assembly chunk under this LS seat belongs to TMC. The battle will be fought between TMC’s minister and Didi’s trusted lieutenant Partha Bhowmick and TMC turncoat Arjun Singh who jumped ship ahead of 2019 and 2024 Lok Sabha elections after being denied ticket by Didi. PM Modi will be holding his rally for Singh in Jagatdal at 11 am on Sunday ( May 12) Didi will hold hers at 2 pm at Shantinagar ground of Palta under Noapara Assembly, home turf of TMC. However, Mamata will be holding another rally on Monday (May 13) at Amdanga, another stronghold of TMC under Barrackpore Lok Sabha constituency. Incidentally, Amdanga Assembly seat belongs to TMC and has a majority of minority votes. Interestingly, this LS seat comprises seven Assembly seats of which six were won by TMC in 2021 Assembly polls. According to political analysts, Barrackpore which is a Hindi-speaking belt has an added advantage for Arjun Singh. On the other hand Bhowmick will have to rely majorly on the minority belts of Amdanga and part of Naihati, which he represents as an MLA. It may be noted that PM Modi campaigned for Singh during 2019 elections and latter enjoys a great rapport with Union home minister Amit Shah.

TRENDS & VIEWS

Editor’s Note: Big Punch In Small Pack

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