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Dr RG Anand

JP Nadda's Mega Wedding Reception For His Son Leaves A Bitter After-Taste

BJP President J P Nadda held a gala wedding reception for his second son Harish in a Delhi stadium on February 5. It was held in such pomp and style that guests were simply overwhelmed, so were the hosts it seemed. From high profile dignitaries such as President Droupadi Murmu, PM Narendra Modi, Vice- President Jagdeep Dhankar, former President Ramnath Kovind, UP CM Yogi Adityanath to a swish set of foreign envoys to all BJP CMs, MLAs and MPs and the media – there were simply too many VVIPs guests. Unlike Arun Jaitley who would have normally held three to four receptions for comfort of his guests, Nadda went for an overkill — a mega one. Party sources said a record 25,000 invites were sent out. It was as if Nadda had decided to make most of the one-year extension he had secured in office. After all, PM Modi had reposed faith in him to lead the party for 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Never mind if his home turf Himachal was lost by less than 1% votes. Significantly, Modi spent about 40 minutes at the reception. Besides, there were far too many guests than invitees. And there were such long queues at food counters that many guests simply made a hurried exit as they didn’t want to be jostled as at least one dignitary did.

Maharashtra & Karnataka Compete To Woo People Of Border Areas

In a bid to match the Maharashtra government’s announcement to extend ‘cultural funding’ to the Marathi-speaking areas along the border with Karnataka, a provision of Rs 100 crore has been declared by Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai for the Border Area Development Authority. The BJP government in Karnataka is completing its five-year term this year and will be presenting its last budget on 10 February. In view of the ensuing election, Bommai has made the populist announcement. Although the tension prevailing over the border feud has subsided, Bommai’s counter-announcement could provide another provocation for the protagonists from the neighbouring states to take up cudgels again. He has stated that the amount would be provided for in the budget for expending in border areas for education, industry, infrastructure development and for promoting Kannada. Earlier, the Karnataka government had made a provision of Rs 25 crore for these areas. Maharashtra’s Marathi language minister Deepak Kesarkar had declared that financial provisions would be made by the state to create facilities for educational and cultural activities in the Marathi-speaking border areas.  Bommai’s announcement has come to counter this move, it is felt. The border dispute has been holding fire for several decades and is now before the Supreme Court. Both states have fielded top-notch attorneys to reinforce their claims. Though the situation has remained peaceful after initial skirmishes, the initiatives by both the states are considered potent.
nirmala sitarama new

Nirmala Sitharaman: Don't Focus On My Saree, Look At The Budget

Two days after she presented the Union Budget, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman opened up on how she felt about the media focusing more on her saree than on the Budget and didn’t know whether “to take it positively or negatively, I have no clue about it”. She wondered if a male FM presenting a budget “wearing a black colour suit or jacket” would be asked a similar kind of question. She was responding to an audience question on the sets of India TV’s Aap ki  Adalat. “Don’t look at my saree, hair or its colour, rather look at my budget,” she pleaded. At least three observations made in this interaction stand out. One is the FM’s reaction to Robert Vadra’s comment on the Adani issue. She wanted to know if he had come “clean” on the land that he acquired in Haryana and Rajasthan and was amazed at his “confidence” to offer comments on Adani.  On the Adani issue, she said “it is not a matter relating to the government, regulators are looking into it” and referred to state governments who had invited the industrialist to set up projects. “Modi Ji never does this. He always prefers open and transparent bidding through tenders. The Rajasthan government gave land for his project. The Communist government in Kerala invited him to carry on with the port project. If you (Left) don’t like him, jaa kar hata do ji“. She also made an important disclosure: in the Modi Government, “we don’t give instructions on phone to ED, I-T”.
Ajit Pawars

Ajit Pawar’s Revelations Raise Hackles, Congress Livid

Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar’s sensational disclosures about the victory of Congress rebel Satyajeet Tambe in the legislative council election for the Nashik graduate constituency and Uddhav Thackeray’s perceived failure to prevent the fall of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra in June last year are likely to become a bone of contention within MVA. The revelations have angered Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole as Tambe defeated official MVA nominee Shubhangi Patil by a huge margin. Tambe had claimed that he had not received the required authorisation from the Congress in time and hence was forced to contest as an independent. Ajit had said that NCP president Sharad Pawar himself had advised his Congress counterpart Mallikarjun Kharge to field Tambe but things didn’t work out that way. Similarly, Ajit said that Sharad Pawar had alerted then chief minister Uddhav about the possible rift in the Shiv Sena but the latter had replied that he did not expect his MLAs to walk away from him. The dramatic change in Maharashtra occurred soon thereafter. So far Uddhav or the Sena (U) have kept mum about Ajit’s utterances. Patole has objected to both statements, saying that though the NCP was holding the home portfolio, the Uddhav government fell. The matters will be taken up in the next MVA meeting with the NCP, he announced.
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Cong Puts Capt Amarinder Singh's Wife & Patiala MP On Sack Notice

Six months after her husband and former Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh joined the BJP, Patiala Lok Sabha MP Preneet Kaur has been suspended and given a show-cause notice to explain why she should not be expelled from the party for indulging “in anti-party activities”. Explaining the action against Kaur, Disciplinary Action Committee member Tariq Anwar said the party was getting regular complaints from PCC president Amarinder Singh Raja Warring about Kaur for indulging in anti-party activities and the state unit has been pushing for disciplinary action against her. “Kaur was working for her husband and our Punjab unit wanted us to take action against her,” said Anwar. For the moment, the AICC decided to suspend Kaur and issue a show-cause notice to her to explain within three days as to why she should not be expelled. It seemed odd that the Congress should take punitive action against a Lok Sabha MP just a year ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Besides, the party’s number from Punjab will take a hit with the death of sitting Jalandhar MP Santokh Singh Chaudhary in Bharat Jodo Yatra. Only last month, the party saw the exit of senior leader Manpreet Badal to the BJP.

Maharashtra Legislative Council Election Shocker For Shinde-Fadnavis And MVA

The severe jolt received by the ruling Shinde-Fadnavis alliance in the legislative council election in Maharashtra has generated shocks on both sides as each has lost a prestigious seat or two from its assured traditional area of influence. The ruling alliance lost both Vidarbha seats, Nagpur and Amaravati, which the BJP had been holding for a long time. Similarly, the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA)lost the Raigad seat, which the BJP has won for the first time. The decision of Nashik seat victor Satyajeet Tambe about his future plans is yet to become public. Overall, the ruling alliance’s performance is considered dismal especially since deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis is known to wield clout in Vidarbha area. The defeat of BJP’s Amaravati nominee Ranjit Patil, a confidant of Fadnavis, is intriguing since almost 6000 ballot papers bearing his name have been declared invalid in a battle he has lost by just over 3000 votes. The rules require that a voter has to indicate his or her first and subsequent preferences. As Patil’s was the only name marked, the votes were rejected. Rather than pleasing MVA, the outcome has sparked off a war of words within as Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole has decided to admonish the NCP for some of its leaders’ remarks in connection with the election in Nashik.
WhatsApp Image 2023-02-03 at 11.25

The Mystery Deepens, Who Killed 23 Russian Oligarchs?

The mysterious deaths of at least 23 elite Russians have sparked a global murder mystery. But no one seems too bothered as the war rages on in Ukraine and Vladimir Putin is busy threatening the world with nuclear weapons and spouting war rhetoric. What media investigators looking into the issue are asking is: how can so many billionaires with bodyguards and the best healthcare just drop dead? Many people are suggesting Russian President Vladimir Putin is involved but they are too scared to come out in the open. The string of deaths started just before the Ukraine war while the manner of death has varied from strokes and suicide to freak accidents like falling off a speeding boat or a simple fall down the stairs have also cropped up. Oligarchs, aged between 37 and 73, have been disappearing, among whom have been military leaders, billionaire oil and gas oligarchs, top business executives and high-ranking public servants. The common thread is the deceased’s elite status in Russian society and the wealth they have amassed during their ascent to the top of their industries. Several were either closely tied to the Kremlin or outspoken opponents of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. An anonymous Wikipedia user created a page entitled “2022 Russian Mystery Deaths” which began a running count of the fatalities. Putin and his state are not averse to using violence and coercion. Meanwhile, the string of oligarch deaths is expected to continue.
Narendra Modi

Modi To Visit Mumbai Second Time In Three Weeks, Why?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second Mumbai and third Maharashtra visit within 50 days is being planned to highlight the importance the BJP attaches to the city and the state in view of the elections scheduled in the near future. With this visit scheduled on February 10, Maharashtra will be the only state to boast four Vande Bharat trains, two of them just within the state. The other highlight of Modi’s upcoming visit will be the opening of the Dawoodi Bohra community’s Arabic Academy in Andheri East. The sect’s head, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin, will be present on the occasion, a community official said. Modi’s acceptance to attend this event will endorse the BJP’s systematic efforts to reach out to various sections of the minority population. One Vande Bharat train that Modi will flag off will be on Mumbai-Solapur route, the other will link Mumbai with Shirdi on February 10. The Mumbai-Solapur Vande Bharat train will cover the 455 km distance within six and a half hours while the Mumbai-Shirdi Vande Bharat train will traverse the 340 km distance in five and a half hours. Already, two Vande Bharat trains ply in Maharashtra. The first started running between Mumbai and Gandhinagar. The second, linking Nagpur and Bilaspur, was shown a green flag by Modi in December.
Collage Maker-02-Feb-2023-06

Centre's Largesse For Karnataka Has Cong Worrying About Poll Outcome

The Union Budget announcement to allocate Rs 5,300 crore for the Upper Bhadra Project in poll-bound Karnataka seems to have completely upset the Congress, which instead of welcoming the allocation slammed the Centre for failing to allocate even a quarter of the total funds required to implement the project. Leader of the Opposition K Siddaramaiah said the project is estimated to cost around Rs 23,000 crore and the Centre has agreed to fund only around a quarter of the project. “Moreover, it hasn’t clarified whether the allocation was for a period of one year or five years.” While Siddaramiah appeared critical, Karnataka Congress leaders concede that the Centre’s move in the Budget for drought prone regions would have an impact on people living in the state’s drought-prone districts of Chikkamagaluru, Chitradurga, Tumkuru and Davangere and could influence poll outcome. Party sources feel Centre must have extended a helping hand only because of chief minister Basavaraj Bommai’s track record as Irrigation Minister; apparently he is also known to deliver results. A major lift irrigation scheme, the Upper Bhadra Project envisages lifting up to 17.40 thousand million cubic (TMC) of water in first stage from Tunga to Bhadra and lifting 29.90 TMC of water in second stage from Bhadra to Tunnel near Ajjampura, in Tungabhadra sub-basin of Krishna basin. In 2021, the Union Jal Shakti Ministry approved a national tag to the project with an estimated investment of Rs 16,125 crore.

The Woman In Red Dominates Parliament

Nirmala Sitharaman has evolved, over her terms as finance minister. From briefcase to Bahi Khata to a red covered tablet, her budgets too have traversed the gamut of potholed roads and paved runways. This year, presenting her McDonald’s (Burger, Nuggets, Fries and Cola) populist budget, she stunned Parliament in Red Avatar, the way of fire. Gracefully clad in a red handwoven ILKAL silk saree, made in her Rajya Sabha borough, Karnataka she must have made the women member’s envy her. Dharwad’s Aarathi Hiramath and artist Rukaiva Bandunavar were given just 10 days to create this heirloom for an anonymous client, and now the duo are drenched in praise. Was Sitharaman sending a message in her Durga Avatar? Was it a subliminal warning to that encircling cabal that her government saw red in all coincidental portends hitting her party, en masse? The tea leaf readers and talking heads are on overdrive… Sitharaman has raised the battle conch of Dharmakshetra Kurukshetra. The lady in red can give as good as she gets in power dressing.
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Kasba Peth Assembly By-Poll: Acid Test For BJP As MVA May Play Spoilsport

By-election to the Kasba Peth assembly constituency in Pune is proving to be a potential battleground among the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) partners while the BJP is yet to decide upon its candidate after the demise of its sitting MLA Mukta Tilak. The last date for filing of nominations is February 7. A traditional BJP stronghold, the Congress, the NCP and the Shiv Sena (U) have claimed the right to contest, trying to junk the assertions made by the other MVA constituents. However, the two Congress parties are serious claimants as the Sena had always left this seat for the BJP under the two-party electoral adjustment. Sitting Pune BJP MP Girish Bapat had been winning the seat successively. It was won in 2019 by his party’s Mukta Tilak with a thumping margin. Her untimely demise has caused the by-election, which will be a major test of strength between the ruling Shinde-Fadnavis alliance and the MVA. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, too, has declared its intention to contest from Kasaba though it is not taken seriously. Internecine differences have surfaced over the probable candidature as each MVA party has at least half a dozen hopefuls. On the other hand, the BJP also is treading cautiously since it is determined to repeat its victory in the constituency. It will face a tough task to endorse a candidate, party leaders admit.

Green Signal: West Bengal BJP Leaders Woo Muslim Voters With An Eye 2024 Lok Sabha Polls

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi sending out a clear message on the need of wooing the minorities, a new buzz in Bengal BJP is reaching out to the muslims since the community comprises nearly 30% of total voters and BJP must reach out to them to garner votes ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha election. Out of 294 Assembly seats in Bengal, 125 are muslim-dominated and Trinamool Congress (TMC) won 90  of those seats in the 2021 Assembly poll taking her party tally to 213. However, incidents like Leftist student leader Anis Khan’s death and the arrest of Indian Secular Front MLA, Naushad Siddique, the scion of Furfura Sharif in South 24 Parganas, one of the muslim dominated districts have raised questions against TMC. Interestingly, besides Congress and CPI(M), BJP too led movements against the arrest of the minority MLA.  Minority Cell chairman Charle’s Nandi has recently stated that muslims in Didi’s tenure are the “most poor and backward”. Sources in the saffron camp said that a two-wheeler rally will be taken out in 13 Lok Sabha constituencies which are majorly dominated by Pasmanda muslims to sharpen its outreach among this socially backward muslims. Moreover, the state BJP which has a minority morcha cell, in the 41 of the 42 Parliamentary constituencies, held a residential training camp for its minority leaders and workers at Berhampore in the muslim-dominated Murshidabad district. Will all these efforts yield dividends? That’s the moot point.
Collage Maker-31-Jan-2023-06

Tit For Tat Politics In Maharashtra: Sena (U) Leader Anil Parab’s Unauthorised Office Demolished

Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray’s confidant Anil Parab’s Bandra (East) office demolition on Tuesday (Jan 31) has set off a verbal slugfest, joined by independent MLA Ravi Rana. Former BJP MP Kirit Somaiya had been pursuing the matter with Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) in whose jurisdiction the office is located. Somaiya was prevented by the police from visiting the site. The political atmosphere in the state will become murkier as Somaiya has warned to intensify similar campaigns against former ministers Nawab Malik, Aslam Shaikh and Hasan Mushrif. Parab later led a Sena (U) morcha to MHADA offices to protest against the demolition which he himself had started the previous night. Taking on Somaiya at a Press meet, Parab asked him about his allegations against some leaders like Narayan Rane who subsequently joined the BJP and Somaiya’s silence thereafter. In retaliation, Ravi Rana said his residence in Mumbai was attempted to be dismantled by the BMC under Parab’s instigation. The vocal MLA challenged Parab to speak about a new residence of Uddhav Thackeray alleging that there was some FSI theft. A civic action against actress Kangana Ranaut’s apartment, too, came up.

As Opposition Pipedreams About Coalition, Modi Says Stable Govt Firewalled India

Efforts to unite Opposition parties ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha elections may still be at a nascent stage. But then PM Narendra Modi is not the one to take solace from the fact that 15 Opposition parties of the 23 political parties had stayed away from the closing event of Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra in Srinagar January 30. Or is he willing to take comfort from the fact that Telangana CM KCR’s Bharatiya Rashtriya Samiti efforts were restricted to inviting just four political parties in Khammam town  on January 18. That is why it was significant that President Droupadi Murmu’s first address to the joint session of the Parliament on January 31 had a message. It focussed on the kind of decisive mandate Modi government had received in May 2019 and how such a mandate had helped the country cope with many adverse situations in the last few years.  “I express my gratitude to the people of the country for electing a stable government for two consecutive terms… From surgical strike to a firm crackdown on terrorism, from a befitting response to every misadventure from LoC to LAC, from abrogation of Article 370 to Triple Talaq, my government has been recognized as a decisive government…India is in a much better position than the rest of the world due to the decisions taken by my government in the national interest.”

Bageshwar Provides BJP-Baiters A Hefty Stick In Maharashtra, Utters Irreverent Remarks About Sant Tukaram

Self-proclaimed holiness Bageshwar Dham Baba Dhirendra Shastri has provided a hefty stick to the Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi in Maharashtra to kick the ruling BJP by making a ridiculous statement about Sant Tukaram, revered throughout the country for his egalitarian Bhakti philosophy. The spiritual-religious issue has turned political as all major parties have joined the chorus to embarrass Hindutva outfits. The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have come down heavily against the BJP while the Shiv Sena (Uddhav) has asked some stinging questions to deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. According to Baba’s utterances shown in a video clip that has gone viral, he has said,“Sant Tukaram’s wife used to beat him up daily. When asked, the Sant replied that had he been married to a loving wife, he would not have loved God. This wife was giving him that opportunity.” Maharashtra Navnirman Sena has demanded immediate action against Bageshwar for the comment while Congress spokesman Sachin Sawant has alleged that this is a BJP conspiracy to demean Maharashtra’s icons. Its object is to banish reformist thinking and re-establish Manu’s tenets. If people don’t wake up in time, they will be chained forever, he has warned. Sena (U) firebrand speaker Sushma Andhare has challenged Fadnavis to take action against the controversial god-man. “While Bageshwar is insulting our topmost saints, why are followers of Mohan Bhagwat silent,” she has asked.
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Herd Mentality: Tamil Nadu BJP To Have Its Own TV Channel

On the lines of what most political parties in Tamil Nadu do, the BJP too may soon have its own TV channel to carry its message to the people. Yes, Janam Tamil Television, a new Tamil news channel with close links to BJP-RSS is being launched in April. The channel will be along the lines of its counterpart in Malayalam and will coincide with the start of TN BJP chief K Annamalai’s state-wide yatra from Tiruchendur in April .“Our goal is very clear: we should keep our individual agendas aside when it comes to the national agenda. We work predominantly with people and professionals who believe in ‘Nation First’,” says U S Krishnakumar, MD, Janam TV Malayalam. “Our Malayalam channel was able to make a remarkable change in the attitudes of TV channels and the public, which was evident during the Sabarimala season,” he added. In a statement, the promoters said the channel promises to work with “truthfulness to Tamil people”, and that standing by the truth in an unbiased manner was their motto. They further said that they aimed to deliver news in a balanced manner, and without political bias. S Narendran, director of Janam Tamil Television, said that the channel was a necessary initiative in the state and would delve into nationalism as well as spirituality.
Sena Bhavan

Sena (U) Attacks Modi Regime For Honouring Mulayam But Forgetting Savarkar & Thackeray

The Shiv Sena (Uddhav) has attacked the Modi government for conferring the Padma Vibhushan honour posthumously on Samajwadi Party leader and former UP chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav ‘who had massacred Kar Sevaks’ in Ayodhya. Lashing out at the Union government for forgetting to honour Hindutva icons Veer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and Balasaheb Thackeray with posthumous Bharat Ratna laurels, Sena (U) mouthpiece ‘Saamana’ has insinuated that the firing resorted to by the Mulayam Singh government killing Kar Sevaks had led to generating a wave of anger among the Hindus and finally politically benefitted the BJP in North India. “Is the honour bestowed upon Yadav for repaying this debt?” the edit has asked. Sena (U) MP and ‘Saamana’ Executive Editor Sanjay Raut said the government of Mulayam Singh had killed more than a hundred sadhus and sevaks, turning the Sarayu waters into a red pool. Afterwards, the Sangh Parivar outfits began calling him ‘Maulana Mulayam.’ They had also demanded to file murder charges against him. “The same Mulayam Singh has been selected for the second highest civil honour by a government claiming itself to be staunch Hindutvwadi,” Raut jeered. People should remember this lapse, he has advised in the edit. Raut alleged that honouring Mulayam and the late S M Krishna was a ploy to garner OBC and Vokkaliga votes, respectively, in the election

PM Modi's Public Outreach In North Karnataka Has Put Cong In A Tizzy; Kharge Worries For Son

Initially, Gujarat assembly results had a numbing effect on Congressmen in Karnataka. They were particularly worried by the impressive win posted by the BJP — a record 156 seats out of 182 seats. At that time Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge had assured state leaders not to worry. He was confident that Modi could be paid back in his own coin in Karnataka. Yes, Kharge was confident he would be able to play the “asmita card “– pride in the son of the soil — that is to seek votes like the way Modi did in Gujarat. Yet, party sources had felt it would be a tall order for Kharge to pull off the asmita card considering he had failed to win the popular vote in 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Gulbarga. And ever since PM Narendra Modi began his public outreach in northern Karnataka on January 19, the Congress hopes came crashing down. In fact, Congress leaders were stunned by the manner in which PM Modi handed the ‘Hakku Patra’ (land title deed) distribution drive for over 52,072 nomadic Lambani (Banjara) tribes in five districts in north Karnataka visiting Kalaburagi. Party sources say Kharge is now more worried about the fate of his son Priyank in the assembly polls after Modi’s outreach. Former CM Siddaramaiah even charged the ruling BJP “feasting on the meals” on the initiative of Thandas revenue villages started during his government from 2013 to 2018.
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Stalin Evolving Into One Of The Smartest CMs

From allowing the Governor to bury the hatchet to maintaining civil relations with the highest in the land while not allowing any of it to hamper his ideological tilt, Tamil Nadu chief minister M K Stalin is evolving into the smartest of chief ministers around the land. He was in a bit of a corner when the Governor called him on his mobile to invite him to the Republic Day tea party on the lawns of the Raj Bhavan and also sent an invite to his home through his principal secretary. Having decided to sip tea with the Governor, Stalin brought most of his Cabinet too as if to show political differences mean nothing when it comes to celebrating a national day. Cordiality in interactions with people across the political spectrum stops when it comes to electioneering, which is when he lets go at Narendra Modi & co. In kicking off the poll campaign for the Erode East constituency, Stalin blasted Modi for silently supporting Hindi imposition while mouthing Tiruvalluvar couplets every other day. Stalin is also encouraging the pursuit of aims like taking Tamil Nadu off NEET and even the impossible dream the Sethusamudram project appears to be. The fact that he knows he is in a stable condition with the people’s vote seems to have helped him quickly evolve into a statesmanlike figure who will, however, not give up ideological goals.
Prakash Ambedkar

Shocker: After Shaking Hands With Uddhav Thackeray, Prakash Ambedkar Warms Up To BJP

Republican leader Prakash Ambedkar keeps on shocking the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) by expressing his opinions right and left. His conditional willingness to go with the BJP has administered another jolt to the three-party coalition. Already under fire due to charges that he heads the BJP’s ‘B’ team, Ambedkar’s latest handshake with Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray has generated many riddles in the state’s polity. On top of that, he has beckoned the BJP. Ambedkar told the media that the BJP would not be taboo for him ‘provided it burnt Manu Smruti.’ He also renewed his barbs against NCP president Sharad Pawar by charging that Pawar and BJP were hand in glove. Sena (U) MP Sanjay Raut and several NCP leaders had warned Ambedkar to be careful while talking about Pawar. However, he has not taken any cognisance of the disapproval. Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole extricated his party from the simmering feud. He said Ambedkar has formed an alliance with the Sena (U) and MVA was not concerned with it. NCP leaders Jayant Patil and Sunil Tatkare have made it clear to Uddhav that the seat share for future elections will be limited to three MVP partners and if Ambedkar had to be accommodated, Uddhav will have to do it from his party’s quota. Ambedkar’s response to the developments is awaited with baited breath.
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Tamil Nadu’s Enduring Tryst with Titles, Doctorates & Epithets

Tamil Nadu politicians have this strong fetish for creating titles and using them on every billboard and official communication. So much so, many organisers have been pulled up for invites not including these “conferred” honorary titles. So you find a plethora of Doctorates conferred on chief ministers, and the competition to add more epithets is overwhelming, often laughable. The unlettered wouldn’t know that such doctors can neither heal nor have they added to the boundless fund of knowledge. PonmanaChemmal (Golden Heart), the late MGR was conferred three Doctorates, his protégée J Jayalalithaa went overboard with five. Kalaignar (creative artist) is M Karunanidhi’s everlasting sobriquet. The former PM Manmohan Singh was asked to use the epithet, in spite of his difficulty to pronounce Kalaignar, as Tamilians love titles. Not only politicians, even film stars love such honorifics and epithets. Rajini is Superstar and Thalaiva; Kamal is Ulaga Nayagan (global hero); Vijay is Ilaya Thalapathy and Ajit is Thala (head). Recently, yesteryear hero Sarathkumar hurled a challenge to Rajini. He claims that his own Supreme Star title overtakes Superstar! No wonder TN Governor R N Ravi too got into this christening fray, wanting to float his own cache of titles? Social media wags aver that you get as good as you give. Was Guv’s controversial effort to make Tamil Nadu, Tamizhagam a reflection of this amusing craze for honorary title culture?
Rahul 2

Bharat Jodo Yatra’s Concluding Event Puts Pressure On South Leaders To Put Up A Grand Show

The Congress leadership has decided to make January 30 a mega event in Srinagar when Rahul Gandhi will unfurl the national flag at Sher-e-Kashmir International Cricket Stadium at the closing ceremony of Bharat Jodo Yatra. It is apparently the same national flag that was unfurled at Kanyakumari, say party sources. Not only party MPs, Congress Working Committee members and state Congress presidents and CLP leaders have been asked to be present in Srinagar. Most leaders from states have been asked to bring along supporters — a minimum of five. It is this sort of advisory that is adding to anxiety at least in a poll-bound state like Karnataka as many leaders worry if they don’t make it to  Srinagar they may not get a party nomination to contest elections. Party sources admit with reports of police action on terrorists in J&K many Karnataka Congress leaders are wary of visiting the state. While top five leaders including PCC chief D K Shiv Kumar and CLP leader K Siddaramaiah will definitely visit Srinagar. It will be a task to get more enthusiastic numbers to make the brief trip. Added to this was the security fuss kicked up by Rahul Gandhi about local police not being available to manage crowds at Banihal, near Anantnag on January 27 and how he had to abandon his walk and get into the vehicle. His aide K C Venugopal tweeted about how the “sudden withdrawal of security personnel from the D-area had caused a serious security breach at the yatra. Who ordered this”?
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Will Capt Amarinder Singh Replace Koshyari Or Will It Be Om Mathur?

The names of former Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh and former BJP national vice president Om Mathur are making the rounds of political grapevine as replacement for Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, who has expressed willingness to step down.Though no formal or informal confirmation has been available about the successor to Koshyari, his departure is expected to be imminent as he himself has disclosed desire to retire. Frequent visits to the national capital by chief minister Eknath Shinde and deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis are considered significant against this backdrop. Koshyari has turned out to be the most controversial head of the state due to some of his decisions and statements. Within three years, he has sworn in three chief ministers, another record for Maharashtra. Capt Amarinder is considered more suitable for the post as Punjab and Maharashtra have a very long association, dating back to the 12th century when Sant Namdev travelled to Guman and constructed several verses, some of which have become an integral part of the Holy Granth Sahib. The Samadhi of Guru Gobind Singh is at Nanded in Maharashtra. A self-made politician, Singh is expected to handle the tricky political situation in the state which will go to the polls after a year. Om Mathur from Rajasthan is a BJP veteran, who was a member of the Rajya Sabha. He was a party vice president as well.
EPS Jan 27

EPS Needs Party Symbol To Fight Ruling DMK In Erode East Bypoll

Edappadi K Palaniswami, who needs the Two Leaves symbol, to make a fight of the Erode East bypoll, moved the Supreme Court with an urgent plea. The court has agreed to hear it on January 30. With the last date (Feb 7) looming for the bypoll nominations, EPS is keen that the AIADMK party issue be settled in the Supreme Court as soon as possible. The party was depending on a favourable verdict from the top court on January 24 but the case was not even listed that day. With time pressures on and the importance of the symbol being enhanced in rural areas, the fight is really about the party symbol though the EPS group has a clear majority of the party. EPS wants the top court to record that he is the Interim General Secretary of the party and that the post of Coordinator, held by rival O Panneerselvam, had been abolished at the party meeting authorised by the Madras high court as well as the SC. As the principal opposition party to the ruling DMK, the AIADMK, now controlled by EPS, is the one expected to put up a fight. EPS has put in place a large panel of 117 members to help with the campaign and the name of the candidate is to be announced soon.

Bengal Guv Bose Irks State BJP Leaders With His Pro TMC Approach

West Bengal Governor CV Anand Bose arrived in Delhi on January 26 night amidst BJP leaders openly expressing their dissatisfaction with his style of working. It is likely that he may hold a meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah. What shocked the state BJP leaders was at a Saraswati Puja event inside the Raj Bhavan on January 26 the Governor reiterated TMC’s ‘election slogan’ at the end of his speech in presence of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. BJP leader and Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari accused Mamata Banerjee of misleading Governor Bose. “Hatey khori” or a ceremony of learning Bengali alphabets as part of Saraswati Puja event was organized at Raj Bhavan. However, no Bengal BJP leader joined the event. BJP leaders objected to the Governor’s speech as he had ended it by saying ‘Jai Bangla, Jai Hind’ in Bengali. “Jai Bangla” was used by Mamata and the TMC against BJP’s ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogan during the 2021 state assembly elections. In fact, BJP leaders have questioned the bonhomie between the CM and the Raj Bhavan as Mamata Banerjee had described the new governor as a “gentleman”. Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari said: The governor is known as an educationist, writer and nationalist. He was part of the central BJP delegation team during the post-poll violence. Mamta Banerjee, a dramatist, liar and Lady Kim, is misleading the Governor.
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BBC Documentary Creates Political Ripple In Kerala Cong, AK Antony's Son Quits GoP

The Congress party faced a crisis of sorts in Kerala, following the sudden decision of former defence minister A K Antony’s son, Anil Antony quitting the party. Anil who was part of AICC Digital Communications team chose to quit after he was asked to delete his tweet endorsing the Modi government’s stand on the BBC documentary ‘India: The Modi Question‘ on Gujarat riots. He blamed someone close to Rahul’s inner circle – possibly K C Venugopal – at whose behest he had to delete his tweet.”It is very disappointing because you have your leader Rahul Gandhi who is walking from Kanyakumari to Kashmir spreading the message of love and his supporters are tearing down everything he is trying to achieve,” said Anil. Kerala Congress leaders like Ramesh Chennithala tried to reach Anil in Delhi but he remained unavailable. “This is my personal decision and I do think this is the best course of action. I did not discuss it with my father. I’ve sent my resignation. I hope that the leadership will accept it. I don’t think this Congress has space for me, “he said. A Stanford University alumni in AI, Anil is a tech entrepreneur. Interestingly, Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor who is considered close to Anil played safe and said, “His (Anil) stand that a documentary on the 2002 Gujarat riots would threaten the sovereignty and national security of India was immature”. Meanwhile, BJP leader Tom Vadakkan came all out backing Anil Antony.
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Sharad Pawar Mastermind Of Plot To Arrest Fadnavis, Claims Controversial Lawyer Sadavarte

Controversial lawyer Gunaratna Sadavarte has alleged that NCP president Sharad Pawar was the mastermind behind the conspiracy to arrest the then leader of Opposition Devendra fadnavis. Sadavarte was arrested last year for leading a violent morcha to the residence of Sharad Pawar. He said, “I understood their design after my arrest.” Sadavarte described the details of his interrogation in police lock-up. More questions to him pertained to the RSS, the Right Wing, Nagpur and Fadnavis than the state transport employee strike for which he was arrested. The strikers had stormed Pawar’s house under Sadavarte’s leadership. The then government wanted to implicate the lawyer for the attack, he alleged. Fadnavis had made the grave charge while participating in a news channel event on Tuesday (Jan 24). The charge was refuted by former home minister Dilip Walse-Patil immediately. Sadavarte has reopened the issue with his allegations. Sadavarte said he possessed knowledge about a crucial meeting in which the conspiracy to trap Fadnavis was hatched, including its location. Some politicians and police officials were present, including then Mumbai police commissioner Sanjay Pandey. Claiming that a hard disc existed in a Mumbai police station containing sensitive information, Sadavarte demanded that certain footage from Kolhapur should be brought in so that the details about the conspiracy planning would become clear. The lawyer showered abuse on Pawar on some social issues as well.
Modi at a temple

Will Modi Give Up Varanasi, Contest From Ramanathapuram In 2024?

It has been whispered that the BJP has tasked a private agency with the task of finding out the chances of Prime Minister Narendra Modi winning from a Lok Sabha seat in Tamil Nadu in the coming 2024 elections. Sample surveys are being made in constituencies like Ramanathapuram and Coimbatore already. It seems a stretch that Modi would wish to give up his Varanasi constituency that has far greater meaning in its Hindu spiritual association as well as politically. Rameswaram may be a big abode of Lord Siva too but Uttar Pradesh looms much larger on the political scene of India with its 80 seats in the Lok Sabha. But the TN BJP has been given the task of sussing out the possibilities and they are doing their masters’ bidding. It is a distinct trademark of the BJP that it takes elections as a 24×7 task, and they have begun work already to assess how much Tamil Nadu can give them. Of course, the western parts of the state are more receptive to Narendra Modi and the BJP than the #GoBackModi ways of the young urbanites of Chennai and surroundings. Senior leaders, including Tamilisai Soundarrajan are sounding out their party with their willingness to enter the poll fray. It will be interesting to see if it can even be imagined that Modi would leave the comfort of Varanasi for Dravidian Tamil Nadu.
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How This Fake Passport Holder Got Caught In Coimbatore When Asked To Sing National Anthem

When a full Flight, G9413 from Sharjah landed at Coimbatore’s International airport on the night of January 22, the Immigration authority homed in on this 28-year old man, Anwar Hussain. Scrutinising his travel documents, they made an unusual demand of Hussain. They asked him to sing India’s national anthem. Passers-by may well have thought Ah! It warms the cockles of our patriotic hearts to see that the immigration guys are true Desh Bhakti, asking even an Indian Passport holder to sing Jana Gana Mana! But Hussain could not sing! Stage fright? No. He was holding a fake Indian passport, with a fake West Bengal address. The authorities immediately got suspicious on why a WB passenger would travel to Coimbatore from Sharjah. The local police then took charge to make this canary sing in all its fake ID glory. Hussain was from Bangladesh’s Mymensingh DT’s Palpur village. Why was he in Coimbatore? The Q Branch after intensive questioning, quickly realised that his ignorance of the national anthem was a serious aberration in his preparation for entering the country illegally. Hussain is now booked under 14 C of Foreigners Act, 12 A of the Passport Act. It’s evident that Formal Training and intense drilling in spycraft need more such innovative methods.

Rahul Gandhi Takes Digvijaya's Outburst In His Stride, Dismisses It As "Ridiculous"

Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi has shown how much he has worked on himself through the Bharat Jodo Yatra. A day after senior party leader Digvijaya Singh’s utterances questioning authenticity of India’s surgical strikes on Pakistan, Rahul pretty much displayed how he has evolved as a political leader. Reiterating his utmost respect for the Indian Army, he described Digvijaya Singh’s views as ridiculous, outlying views. “We are absolutely clear that the Armed Forces do their job exceptionally well and they do not need to provide proof of that,” he said in his remarks to the media in Jammu. When asked if the controversy had undone good work of his Yatra, Rahul said: “I think the yatra has achieved something fundamental and very powerful. What the yatra has done already and this cannot be changed now, it has shown that there are two visions of India. One is a hate filled, arrogant, cowardly vision and other is love filled, embracing, and brave vision”.  As for Digvijay, Rahul said, “I am sorry to have to say this about a senior leader, he said a ridiculous thing.” However, the only time Rahul seemed elated was when a question about a BBC documentary on PM Modi was asked. He said “no amount” of banning the press and using institutions like ED and CBI against people can suppress the truth from coming out.”

Uddhav Closed Door For Talks, Planned To Jail Me, Alleges Fadnavis

“The Uddhav Thackeray government had hatched a conspiracy to jail me,” Deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said while making several sensational disclosures, inviting immediate refutation from the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi leaders. Fadnavis also indicated that Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s term had still two more years and he could remain in the post if he wished. But Koshyari himself had been expressing the desire to retire, nobody has asked him to step down, DCM said. Speaking at a tete-a-tete programme on a news channel, Fadnavis revealed that then commissioner of police Sanjay Pandey had been tasked to arrest him. “However, the police could not touch me since I had done nothing wrong,” he said. Fadnavis complained that Uddhav Thackeray had himself closed the doors of Matoshri for him. “We were together in government for five years from 2014. But after the 2019 election, Uddhav even refused to accept my telephone calls,” he told a questioner. Former home minister Dilip Walse-Patil denied the accusations. There was no plan to incarcerate Fadnavis, he said while taunting Fadnavis. Shiv Sena (U) leader Ambadas Danve also dismissed the charges and reminded Fadnavis that the present government had sent to custody leaders like Sanjay Raut and Anil Deshmukh while it was trying to send some more leaders including Anil Parab of his party and Hasan Mushrif of the NCP
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Congress Distances Itself From Digvijay Singh's Comment On Surgical Strike, Seeks To Protect Rahul Gandhi

After being chastised in social media, the Congress distanced from itself the views expressed by senior party leader Digvijay Singh on Army’s surgical strikes and made it clear that it did not reflect the position of the party. Singh’s comment questioning the 2019 Pulwama terror attack which claimed lives of 40 CRPF jawans and the Army’s surgical strike snowballed into a controversy as the general public  were surprised by the Congress’s response to the former Madhya Pradesh CM’s bid to raise a controversy in Jammu. That too at a time when Rahul Gandhi was visiting the state. Singh’s comments so embarrassed the Congress leadership as PM Narendra Modi’s move to rename 21 Andaman & Nicobar Islands after Param Vir Chakra winners to mark Netaji Subash Chandra Bose’s birth anniversary got wide public support. Film personalities like Ajay Devgn, Akshay Kumar and Suneil Shetty backed the gesture. “Surgical strikes were carried out before 2014 by the UPA government. The Congress has supported and will continue to support all military actions that are in the national interest,” tweeted Jairam Ramesh. Oddly, it was Jairam’s gesture of pushing away an India Today reporter seeking more clarification from Digvijay Singh on his comment that came up for wide scrutiny. Singh said the Centre hasn’t placed a report on the 2016 surgical strike or the 2019 Pulwama terror attack before Parliament till date.

Maharashtra Governor’s Exit: Is It A Precursor To The Union Cabinet Reshuffle?

In a significant move , Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari announced his exit from office on social media on January 23 afternoon, saying he had discussed with PM Narendra Modi during his recent visit to Mumbai his desire “to spend the remainder of my life in reading, writing and other activities”, having discharged all his political responsibilities. Koshiyari’s exit is being viewed as an indicator of a possible Union Cabinet reshuffle and shuffling of governors or fresh appointments, ahead of the Budget Session beginning on January 31. Koshiyari’s exit may also not be good news wherever the Governor is seen as hogging the extra limelight. For now Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi has made course correction, piped down on controversy he kicked up over Tamizhagam. As for Koshiyari, the former Uttarakhand CM was appointed as Maharashtra Governor in September 2019 and has completed a little over three years in office. The BJP leadership was however not too comfortable with his controversial utterances — such as ones like importance of certain sections of voters from Rajasthan and Gujarat to Mumbai. Sources close to the Koshiyari conceded that the Governor was not feeling comfortable after his recent controversies. “He had begun to feel uneasy in Mumbai, he wanted to return to the hills,” conceded a close aide. In a tweet, Koshiyari hoped he would always receive “love and affection” from PM Modi.
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Thackeray Birth Anniversary Takes Off With Verbal-Twitter War, Both Sides Combative

Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray’s 97th birth anniversary celebrations have begun in Maharashtra with a verbal and twitter war between the two sides of his supporters, both claiming his rightful legacy. The battle will intensify, the indications suggest. The day started with a tweet by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who praised Balasaheb’s contribution. It was followed by a tweet of MNS leader Raj Thackeray, who recalled his last meeting with Balasaheb. “Go, fight, Balasaheb told me,” Raj said in his message. He claimed that he has built up his party on the confidence reposed in him by Balasaheb. He has reiterated that he was unlike others, who had joined other parties after leaving the Sena. On the other hand, attacking the Shinde-BJP coalition, Sena (U) MP Arvind Sawant has appealed to people to demolish “the forces that have stabbed the Shiv Sena in the back and who are traitors to the interests of Maharashtra.” In a stinging retaliation, senior minister Deepak Kesarkar, a confidant of Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde, has reminded the Sena (U) that Modi has fulfilled Balasaheb’s dream to integrate Kashmir with the rest of India. “There can’t be a greater insult to Balasaheb’s memory than embracing Congress leaders, who kept on abusing him, in Kashmir.” The sly reference is to Sena (U) MP Sanjay Raut walking the Bharat Jodo Yatra with Rahul Gandhi a couple of days ago in Jammu.

What Will Happen To Uddhav Thackeray After Monday, Legal Imbroglio Deepens

The Shiv Sena established by Balasaheb Thackeray is undergoing an unexpected convulsion since his replacement was never imagined when the Sena’s constitution was drafted. The legal question now is: Will Uddhav continue to be the Sena ‘party chief’ (Paksh Pramukh) after Monday, 23 January 2023? Balasaheb died on 17 November 2012 and since then, the post of Shiv Sena Pramukh has remained unfilled. The party had argued that there was no question of his replacement as he was ‘one and only.’ Uddhav was ‘elected’ Shiv Sena Paksh Pramukh soon thereafter. The Eknath Shinde faction has argued that this new post has been created by Uddhav, who was elected for another five-year term to it in 2018. That period expires on January 23. Till now, there was no dispute about the post of Paksh Pramukh. However, after the split led by Shinde resulted in the two factions, the validity of Uddhav’s position has become a matter of legal wrangle. Now that the arguments of both sides are over before the Election Commission, they have been asked to file their written submissions. However, the moot question is: what about Uddhav after Monday? The Shinde faction has alleged that this change was carried out in 2018 without anyone’s knowledge. Uddhav’s lawyers have ridiculed this accusation. As the matter is sub judice, the EC’s verdict is awaited eagerly
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Udhayanidhi Stalin Picks Naveen As Role Model, TN Signs MoU With Odisha For Best Sports Practices

Newly inducted as minister Udhayanidhi Stalin seems to be keen on earning his spurs in the Tamil Nadu Sports Ministry. Which is why in the midst of the ongoing Hockey World Cup 2023, Udhayanidhi decided to bring best sporting practices of Odisha to TN.  Currently on a visit to Odisha where he witnessed some key matches like the one between France and Argentina at Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium, Rourkela and visited the stadium infrastructure. Impressed he got the Sports Development Authorities of Tamil Nadu and the Sports Dept of Odisha, sign an MoU to facilitate exchange of coaches, sports administrators and sports scientists. In a tweet, host Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik shared pictures of inviting Udhayanidhi to watch a match between India and Wales in Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. Meanwhile, it has been otherwise a busy week for Naveen. That is because the dismantled Dakota aircraft used by his aviator father and legendary politician Biju Patnaik several decades ago was finally brought from Kolkata to Bhubaneswar. Escorted by Odisha Police, three trucks carried the dismantled portions of the aircraft from Kolkata’s Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport to the Odisha capital, where they will be reassembled. After that, the Dakota (DC-3) VT-AUI aircraft will be kept at a designated place in the international airport. The CM said his father who died in 1997 had many historic exploits in Dakota planes.
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CII, FICCI, Assocham Overdrive In Tamil Nadu Gives Local Trade Bodies Shivers

State governments across the country are jostling with each other to lure investment. They spare no effort in making their state a desirable destination for investment.  Tamil Nadu, too, is keen to attract global investors. The DMK Government is gearing up to organise global investors’ meet in 2024. Even as the Stalin regime is trying hard to hard-sell Tamil Nadu, many national trade bodies such as the Federation Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Associated Chambers of Commerce (ASSOCHAM), CII, ICC and the like are vying with each other to get a prominent space in Tamil Nadu. They already have offices in Chennai. They are not willing to leave any stone unturned to gain more than toehold in Tamil Nadu.  They are bringing to bear everything they could to represent the interest of Tamil Nadu. The heightened activities of the national trade/industry bodies have thrown a big challenge to the native chambers. There are many local chambers such as Madras Chamber, Southern India Chamber, Hindustan Chamber, Tamil chamber and the like. Most of the native chambers are traditionally supported by the family business houses in this part of the world.  With the national chambers aggressively pushing their claim to represent Tamil Nadu, the local trade bodies are finding the turf hard. Perhaps, they need to re-invent their role.
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EPS Keeps Party In The Fray, AIADMK Throws Its Hat In Erode East Ring

In a quick turn of events, AIADMK supremo Edappadi Palaniswami (EPS) decided not to let the Erode East bypoll to the Tamil Nadu Assembly go without the party contesting, He requested ally GK Vasan of TMC to permit AIADMK to contest. The party will do irrespective of which way the verdict goes in the Supreme Court about the party, symbol etc. The party lawyers are confident of a favourable verdict on January 24 but EPS wishes not to depend on it and is going ahead with his plan to put up a candidate so that he can put O Panneerselvam’s faction in its place. AIADMK is confident that BJP will not disrupt the plan by insisting on a candidate of its own. The AIADMK candidate may be former minister KV Ramalingam of Erode to oppose any candidate Congress may put up as part of the DMK+ alliance. If the court orders don’t favour EPS claiming the party symbol of the “Two Leaves’, the candidate will contest on the “Crowing Cock” symbol that Jayalalithaa had first stood on in her political career. Congress has been asking the stalwart EVKS Elangovan to contest but he would rather point the way to his second son Sanjay as his eyes are set on a Lok Sabha seat in 2024.

Rahul Gandhi Reaches Jammu, Wears A Jacket Finally; Dr Abdullah Compares Him To Adi Shankaracharya

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ entered Jammu on January 19 from Punjab for the last leg of his foot march. Significantly, Rahul who has been marching through north India in peak winter wearing just a t-shirt, was for the first time seen in a jacket. It was probably the drizzle in Jammu that forced him to wear the jacket. For 3,400 km during the 125 days journey so far, Rahul Gandhi’s minimal clothing has been a matter of curiosity. The yatra, which resumed from Kathua on Friday (Jan 20) has been given a massive security cover, with both police and paramilitary ring-fencing the Gandhi scion and his co-travellers. Rahul was advised by security agencies to not walk certain stretches in Kashmir. As he entered Jammu, he got a grand welcome, with top Kashmiri leader and National Conference president Farooq Abdullah travelling to Lakhanpur to receive him. Dr Abdullah went overboard, comparing Rahul to spiritual guru Adi Shankaracharya. “Centuries ago Shankaracharya came here. He walked when there were no roads but jungles. He had walked from Kalady (in Kerala) to Kashmir. He (Rahul Gandhi) is the second person who took out a yatra from the same Kanyakumari and is reaching Kashmir. The aim is to unite India.” Rahul’s comparison with Adi Shankaracharya provoked sharp reactions in social media with some suggesting that when Shankaracharya visited Kashmir there was 100% Hindu population.

Modi’s Call To Working Class Strategic, ‘Vikas’ Dominates His Speech

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Thursday (Jan 19) speech in Mumbai was dominated by his direct appeal to the labourers, hawkers and stall-owners, asking them to join the campaign to accelerate Mumbai’s development by bringing in a ‘triple engine’ government. The object of the clarion call was to attract the so-far untapped electors in view of the ensuing Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) towards the BJP and its ally, the Shiv Sena faction led by chief minister Eknath Shinde. Significantly, the word ‘Vikas’ (development) figured 10 times in his 25-minute address at BKC grounds. Modi referred to the downtrodden sections time and again, making it clear that he was looking beyond the traditional vote bank of his party for the next civic election. Modi’s keenness to capture the BMC was evident since his party does not control any of the four metros in the country.  The Prime Minister lauded Maharashtra and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and remembered Balasaheb Thackeray. However, NCP leader Sharad Pawar was conspicuous by absence in the speech, which was applauded continuously with ‘Modi Modi’ slogans and drum beats. Modi’s emotional invocation to the working class for support speaks volumes about Mumbai’s changing demography since voting in upper class pockets is usually less while it is higher in blue collar localities.
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GK Vasan and Edappadi Palaniswami

DMK Has The Edge As AIADMK May Back Out Of Erode East Bypoll

The bypoll for the Erode East Assembly seat in Tamil Nadu to be held on February 27, will be the first major test of the political waters since the Assembly elections of 2021 won by the DMK under MK Stalin. The DMK+ is in pole position to take the seat and may well give it back to the Congress since its MLA Thiruman Eeveraa, great grandson of EV Periyar, had died mid-term, but the Opposition is in great disarray. AIADMK is not even certain it can put up a candidate officially as the cases between the EPS and OPS factions are still in the courts, in Supreme Court as well as Madras HC and ECI, and the final word on them may not come before the time for nominations arrives. As a matter of abundant caution, AIADMK has approached GK Vasan of TMC towards fielding a candidate again in case EPS, who heads the legally recognised AIADMK thus far, cannot get his candidate authorised to stand as the signatures of both Coordinator and Joint Coordinator may be needed for this. Since a TMC candidate had stood there in 2021, it might seem logical for the AIADMK+ in the State to make over the candidature to that party. EPS may also wish to avoid a showdown with DMK so early when the AIADMK cases are still in court.
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Parth Pawar and Sambhuraj Desai

BJP Elated Over More Chinks In Maha Vikas Aghadi Armour

While Mumbai and Maharashtra are celebrating Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s arrival in the city on Thursday (Jan 19), the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) has exposed more dissensions. A new tinge to its bickering has been provided by opposition leader Ajit Pawar’s son Parth, who called on senior minister Shambhuraj Desai, a close confidant of chief minister Eknath Shinde. Even before the dust created by rebellion of Congress MLC Sudhir Tambe and his son Satyajeet filing nomination for the legislative council seat in Nashik as an independent, the by-election for a Pune assembly seat is likely to deepen the discord. As MVA has had no candidate in Nashik, It has decided to support Shubhangi Patil, a new Sena (U) entrant. The Congress has suspended the Tambe father-son duo. In Pune, each MVA partner has claimed its right to contest the Kasaba Peth assembly by-election, caused by the demise of BJP MLA Mukta Tilak. Earlier a Congress stronghold, the BJP has been winning the seat since 1995. Still, the Congress has remained at the second position. However, given the changing scenario, NCP and Sena local leaders have started staking their party’s right to the seat in public statements. To add to the muddle, Parth Pawar’s call on Desai has given the BJP a new tool to hit out at the NCP, in particular the Pawar clan.
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Pinarayi Rewards A Lateral Entrant, Ex Cong Minister KV Thomas Gets Plum Delhi Posting

The CPI(M) Government in Kerala has decided to reward a lateral entrant like former Union Minister KV Thomas who joined its ranks with a plum Delhi posting. Yes, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has decided to appoint Thomas as special representative of the state in New Delhi with a cabinet rank. Thomas was a former Union Minister of State (Independent charge) for Food & Civil Supplies in the Manmohan Singh government. A six term Lok Sabha MP and an MLA for two terms, Thomas was expelled from the Congress in May 2022 hours after he shared the stage with the Kerala Chief Minister in a by-poll meeting of the Left party-led front in Kochi. Once close to former Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Thomas was first issued a show-cause notice for breaking party discipline as he attended a seminar organised by the CPM in Kannur, where he reportedly praised CM Pinarayi Vijayan. He was earlier denied permission to attend the meeting. In his reply to the panel, Thomas claimed that he had been the victim of ‘groupism’ of the Kerala unit, and he had been “discriminated against” by party leaders. The Congress had reportedly turned down his bid for candidature in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, 2021 Assembly and Rajya Sabha elections. Since then, he has been cooperating with CPM. Of course in between he did try to explore his options with the BJP.
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Freebies Back Into TN Govt Coffer As TASMAC Liquor Sales Zoom During Pongal Week

This year’s Pongal celebrations in Tamil Nadu touched a high point for the government-run TASMAC liquor sales. Sales zoomed to Rs 850 crore in the run-up to Pongal (Jan 15) week and by Kanu Pongal day (Jan 17) it was expected to touch the Rs 1000-crore mark. The bump in sales could be attributed to a cash gift of Rs 2000 given to all ration card holders. Pongal is freebie time and all political parties in Tamil Nadu have been capitalizing on it to the hilt. Both DMK and AIADMK have made freebie gifting, a fine art form. Cycles, fans, mangalsutras, Pongal hampers are bankrolled by the state exchequer. But, Tamil voters are canny, impartial…they vote one party to power, alternately. But wait, there is a savvy, fully end-to-end integrated business model to this freebie. The story goes, when chief minister M K Stalin was asked about cash freebies even as TN is burdened with huge debt, one DMK warhorse quipped, “Don’t worry, by this evening the Rs 2000 freebies will come to TASMAC from  our Kudimagans“. Kudimagan has a double meaning – it could mean a citizen or a drunk. PMK Chief Dr S Ramadoss lamented about the high sale of liquor during the Pongal festival. His moral stance, liquor leads to ruination…of health, wealth and family. The very same PMK has climbed on to the alliance bandwagon, alternately to suit their political needs.
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MLA and State cabinet minister Sovandeb Chatterjee being confronted by the locals

Trinamool’s Mass Contact Drive Sees Senior Party Leaders Facing Villagers' Protests

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s emissaries, Didir Doot bear the brunt of misgovernance and corruption during Anchake Anchale module under the party’s massive outreach programme — Didir Suraksha Kawach ahead of Panchayat polls. Under this Anchake Anchale programme 350 state and district-level TMC leaders will be visiting the villages with 15 flagship schemes of the government. The programme which kicked off on January 11 with party MPs and MLAs, state cabinet ministers and prominent leaders spending a day at a gram panchayat were marked by protests from the locals. Party’s state general-secretary Kunal Ghosh faced severe protests in East Midnapore, a stronghold of Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari. Besides Ghosh, state cabinet minister Jyotipriya Mallick, MPs Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Saugata Roy and Satabdi Roy, senior leader and MLA Tapas Roy, youth wing leaders Debangshu Bhattacharya, Sayantika Banerjee also faced protests. Both Tapas Roy and Saugata Roy received complaints against TMC panchayat pradhans of corruption on the other hand Bhattacharya and Banerjee were stopped from entering a village as no action was taken after villagers had complained of bad roads, lack of supply of drinking water, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna and others. Interestingly, one of the MLAs Biswajit Das was confronted by the agitators for switching camps to BJP during the 2021 election and returning to TMC.  Is this move by Didi an attempt to purge the party, amid reports, corruption and scams ahead of 2024 general elections?

New Twist: Tamil Nadu Governor Clarifies About The State Name Change Controversy

In a significant move, Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi clarified that it was “erroneous and far-fetched” to infer that he had suggested changing the name of the state with his recent comments on “Tamizhagam”. In a statement, Ravi sought to end “Tamil Nadu versus Tamizhagam” debate saying that “an interpretation or inference that it was a suggestion to change the name of Tamil Nadu is erroneous and far-fetched”. He said he referred to the word “Tamizhagam” while speaking on the “historical cultural connect between the Tamil people and Kashi”. In those days, there was no Tamil Nadu, he said. “Hence, in the historical cultural context, I referred to the word Tamizhagam as a more appropriate expression,” he said. “Without understanding the basis of my speech, arguments that the Governor is against the word Tamil Nadu have become a topic of discussion. Hence, I am giving this clarification to put an end to it,” he added. It is important to note that the Governor’s clarification came a day after two-day BJP national executive in Delhi and also days after Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai had dubbed the remark as “unnecessary”. He had clarified that controversy over the name change was the “one without any productive outcome”. Clearly, the BJP leadership wants the focus of its work in Tamil Nadu to be on its party unit and state leadership, not on Raj Bhavan.
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BJP Gets A Badal From Punjab, Attrition In Cong Even As Rahul's Yatra Is On

In a major setback to the Congress, Punjab Congress leader and former finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal quit the party and joined the BJP in the presence of Union Minister Piyush Goyal at BJP headquarters in Delhi. He blamed the top brass for factionalism within the party. In a letter addressed to Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, Manpreet said he was “disillusioned” by the Congress. Manpreet is the first cousin of Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal. With his entry into the BJP, hope of Akali Dal re-entering into a tie-up with the BJP further diminishes. A five-time MLA, Manpreet Badal was the finance minister of the state twice — the nephew of former chief minister and Akali stalwart Parkash Singh Badal, Manpreet served as the finance minister of Punjab both in the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP government from 2007-11 and in the Captain Amarinder Singh-led Congress government from 2017-22. Manpreet’s continued absence from Bharat Jodo Yatra in Punjab left many party leaders surprised as the Doon School educated Badal was considered very close to Rahul. Congress sources however conceded that Manpreet was forced to dump the party because he did not have cordial relations with PCC chief Amarinder Singh Raja Warring. In fact party sources say more leaders could head out because of Warring’s style of functioning.

Modi’s Mumbai visit, First After Shinde-Fadnavis Took Over, To Be Memorable

Preparations on unprecedented scale are underway for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Mumbai visit on Thursday (Jan 19) during which he will flag off multiple projects worth around Rs 39,000 crore. Huge police deployment and major traffic restrictions will mark the seven-hour visit that is aimed at boosting the BJP’s electoral prospects in Maharashtra. Infrastructure will be the focus of the PM’s visit as his schedule is replete with various projects that will be helpful in making average Mumbaikar’s life better. Deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis inspected the various arrangements accompanied by top police and civic officials to ensure that no glitch remains at the last moment. As this will be Modi’s first Mumbai visit after the installation of the Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis government, the BJP will exploit its mileage to the fullest extent with an eye on the BMC elections, due any time now. Strengthening the Metro network in Mumbai will be the highlight of Modi’s visit while various civic projects will also be launched by him. Modi, inter alia, will dedicate to the nation the Mumbai Metro Rail Lines 2A and 7. The commissioning of the two lines will connect Mumbai’s northernmost tip at Dahisar East with D.N. Nagar in Andheri (West) and Gundavali in Andheri East reducing the vehicular traffic load in the Western suburbs. Coincidentally, the foundation stone of the two lines was laid by Modi in 2015.
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Is CPM Taking A Leaf Out Of RSS Playbook To Revive The Party In West Bengal?

CPI(M) sees itself as the sole political unit that can combat RSS and BJP ideologically. As the Bengal CPI(M)observes 57th anniversary of its mouthpiece Ganashakti, it has initiated its maiden ‘digitally’ subscription programme for its supporters and sympathisers to donate to the party. Veteran Left leader and Politburo member Prakash Karat on this occasion said that the Left must put forth democratic, secular and Left ideology and vision among people so as to change the political scenario of the country. He further observed that RSS has the unique feature of functioning within the society through its various outfits, socially, culturally, and educationally and Left parties must counter this through their ideology and vision to uphold a democratic and secular environment. Taking a dig at the BJP, the former CPI(M) general secretary said that the minorities in India are being marginalised in the name of nationalism and the country is being run by an extreme right (wing) government. It may be noted that the Left is in power in only Kerala at present, having lost Tripura to the BJP in 2018 and West Bengal to the Trinamool Congress in 2011. The CPI(M) Bengal has released a short video where veteran party leader and Left Front chairman Biman Bose explains the need for going digital.

Nadda To Continue As BJP Chief, Modi-Shah Feel He Is Best Bet For 2024

There were no surprises when Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced that J P Nadda’s tenure as BJP national president was extended. “The tenure of JP Nadda as national president of the BJP has been extended till June 2024. Under JP Nadda’s leadership, we had the highest strike rate in Bihar. The NDA won a majority in Maharashtra, won in Uttar Pradesh, and our numbers increased in West Bengal. We also registered a landslide victory in Gujarat,” said Shah. He also hoped “under the leadership of Modi ji and with Nadda ji, we will win more seats than 2019 in the 2024 polls.” The BJP national executive meet, which extended Nadda’s presidency, will draw a roadmap for the upcoming crucial state polls that will set the tone for 2024 when PM Narendra Modi seeks a third straight term. Nadda started as the BJP working president in 2019 when then party chief Amit Shah became a Union minister.  He took up the full-time party presidency on January 20, 2020 and will complete his one term in office next week. His extension as the national president was inevitable as he has a very good working relationship with both Modi and Shah. In an election year, there was no way Modi-Shah could have opted for a new leader when Nadda had ensured carrying PM’s message up to the booth-level.
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Now, Kejriwal Reaches Out To South Media To Refurbish AAP Image

In the run up to 2024 Lok Sabha polls it is not just Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) who has been proactive in acquiring a national media profile ahead by engaging  a media adviser and establishing an office for his Bharatiya Rashtriya Samiti in Delhi to refurbish his image. Taking cue from KCR, is Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal. He may not have got any relief from the court for spending government money on political advertisements in 2015 and has been issued a notice for recovery of Rs 163.62 crore by his own government department. Yet, there is no stopping the AAP supremo from burnishing his profile. On the occasion of Lohri, Makar Sankranti & Pongal, Kejriwal chose to reach out to Delhi-based media from the South, mainly from Tamil Nadu. The media was invited over for a get-together at the Delhi Vidhan Sabha complex. Invites sent out in the name of Speaker Ram Niwas Goel. Reaching out to Tamil media makes sense because of their pockets of influence and votes in the capital.


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.