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Collage Maker-16-Jan-2023-04

Odisha-Based Sri Sri University Signs MoU With W20 For Knowledge Partnership

Odisha-based Sri Sri University is the first University in India to sign MoU as a Knowledge Partner with W20, under the aegis of G20 Presidency of India. Prof Rajita Kulkarni, President at Sri Sri University says “We look forward to working with the W20 team this year across important priority areas like women entrepreneurship, climate change, education and skill development.” W20 is the official G20 engagement group focused on gender equality. Its primary objective is to ensure that gender considerations are mainstreamed into G20 discussions and translated into the G20 Leaders’ Declaration as policies and commitments that foster gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. Envisioned by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji, Sri Sri University which became operational in 2012 blends the best of the East and the West, enabling the holistic development of its students. In a span of 10 years the university is offering different courses in areas of management, architecture, humanities, agriculture, health and wellness, science, literature, osteopathy and performing & fine arts.  In 2021 Sri Sri University was ranked 1st in State & Zone, and 8th in India (quantum jump from 26th Rank in 2020) under the category of Best Private Universities and 27th in the category of Top 50 University of Eminence (Deemed & Pvt) by Indian Institutional Ranking Framework.

Will BJP Move The Tamil Nadu Governor Out?

Word has gone back to the BJP top brass that the ideological confrontations the Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi is getting into are not helping the party’s cause in the State. This is a time when there has been a bit of an upsurge in the party being led by former police officer K Annamalai to take on the Dravidian ruling party. The bit of salience achieved may be at risk if the Governor stays on the warpath on issues like religion and culture, which are very differently viewed in Tamil Nadu, a State known for religious diversity not causing any communal disturbances. The Governor seems to be intent on continuously raking up Sanatana dharma while putting down Tamil culture. It went to such an extent that he even tried to change the title of Tamil Nadu, which has constitutional ratification. This riled the chief minister who was keeping his cool on the issue while advising his party men not to make it personal though he may not have discouraged allies like VCK and even the PMK from taking on the Governor in a more direct manner. Stalin even called him with the disdainful Tamil pronoun of “Oruthan” in describing how “one person” was going around saying not to call the land Tamil Nadu. It would be the national party’s interest not to let this Governor needle the rulers and people of the State any further.
Collage Maker-12-Jan-2023-06

U.S. NRI Dhaliwal Clarifies PM Modi Didn't Apologise To Him

US-based billionaire Darshan Singh Dhaliwal, who was conferred with the ‘Pravasi Bharatiya Samman’ clarified that Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not apologise to him after some media reports claimed that Modi had “apologised” over his deportation from India in 2021 for allegedly supporting the farmers’ protest against the now-repealed three agriculture laws. “Elders never apologise. PM Modi is a man of big stature, and I respect him a lot. He said it’s my big heart that despite once being sent back, I came to India,” Dhaliwal was quoted as saying. He added, “It’s an honour for me to get felicitated with ‘Pravasi Bharatiya Award’…50 years ago people in foreign countries didn’t know about us but now India has become one of the world’s biggest power.” Dhaliwal was deported in October 2021, for allegedly arranging a langar for protesting farmers at Delhi’s borders. His brother is Akali Dal leader Surjit Singh Rakhra. After receiving the honour, Dhaliwal was quoted by the media saying, “PM Modi is really going out of his way to work with the Sikh community, both inside and outside India.” Earlier, Dhaliwal had claimed that Modi told him at a meeting in April 2022 in the presence of Union Minister Hardeep Puri, “Hum se galti ho gayi thi jo humne aap ko wapis bheja, aap ka baddapan hai ki hamare kehne par aap phir aye. He added, “PM Modi met me in front of 150 people at his residence.” The meeting that Dhaliwal was referring to was called ‘Sadbhavana: A Gesture of Goodwill’.
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After Bengal, Now Andhra Pelts Stones On Vande Bharat Express Train

Creating infrastructure in non-BJP ruled states for the Centre is increasingly becoming a hazard as it was discovered on January 12. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was supposed to launch the eighth Vande Bharat train of India from Secunderabad to Visakhapatnam on January 19 but his brief visit had to be temporarily postponed. It has however been made known that the PM will launch the Vande Bharat train virtually on January 15 on the occasion of Makar Sankranti. The news of PM putting off his visit came amid reports that Vande Bharat train was damaged after stones were pelted at its coach in Andhra Pradesh’s Visakhapatnam on January 11. In a repeat of what happened in West Bengal, the incident occurred when the train was going to the maintenance centre at Marripalem. Two glass panes of one of the coaches were damaged in the incident.  Besides the train’s launch, the Prime Minister was also scheduled to address a public meeting at the Parade Grounds of Secunderabad. He was also expected to launch various developmental projects. Union Minister of State G Kishan Reddy said the PM would be launching the train at around 10 am on January 15.The train will cover the entire distance in eight hours. The intermediate stops envisaged for the journey include Warangal, Vijayawada, Khammam and Rajahmundry.
Collage Maker-12-Jan-2023-05

Amit and Dheeraj Deshmukh

Congress Rattled By News That Vilasrao Deshmukh’s MLA Sons May Both Join BJP

The Congress party in Maharashtra is preparing to face a major jolt following the sensational disclosure that former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh’s two MLA sons, Amit and Dheeraj, are likely to join the BJP.  Deshmukh family’s generational foe and former minister, BJP MLA Sambhaji Nilangekar has leaked the possibility out at Latur, their home district. He warned that he would not allow their entry into the party. While Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole has dismissed the likelihood as a rumour, former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan refused to comment on it. State BJP president Chandrashekhar Bawankule cryptically said, “Wait for the time and the place. The Congress is going to receive a solid blow.” Vilasrao was the face of the Congress party in Marathwada ever since his emergence in state politics in 1980. His rise was very fast with the blessings of another giant S B Chavan, former CM and Union home minister. Vilasrao had challenged the monopoly of veteran Shivajirao Nilangekar in Latur district. Sambhaji is his grandson, who has been engaged in establishing his hold in the district. Shivajirao and Chavan were bitter opponents of each other. For some time, Chavan’s son Ashok, former CM, is facing suspicion in the Congress owing to his absence at some crucial party meetings. At such a juncture, the news about Deshmukh siblings has rattled the Congress.

Gautam Adani Meets Raj Thackeray Who In Turn Calls On Fadnavis Sending Out Multiple Signals

Business tycoon Gautam Adani’s call on Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Tuesday (Jan 10) and a meeting between Raj and deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis hours later the same night has sent multiple signals as the Adani group is entering various commercial activities around the state. Adani reached ‘Shivteerth’ at Shivaji Park and was closeted with Thackeray for half an hour. For some time,  Raj’s wife Sharmila and son Amit were present. Afterwards in the evening, Raj reached ‘Sagar,’ the official residence of Fadnavis. However, both have kept mum about the meetings. Adani has recently won a bid to redevelop Dharavi, the largest slum in perhaps the world. The multi-billion rupee project was held up since the erstwhile Thackeray government had revised the bid terms. The presence of the group in the state has been heatedly discussed since Adani Electricity has sought to enter the power supply sector around Mumbai’s periphery. The matter is under consideration of the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC). Adani’s political liaisoning in Maharashtra has increased over the past few months. Earlier, he had called on Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar at Baramati. Adani was driven around by Pawar’s grandson, party MLA Rohit Pawar, who is emerging as a formidable player in the state polity. Adani had called on former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, too, recently.
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Rajesh Dharmani and Sudhir Sharma

Himachal Cabinet Expansion Leaves A Tonsured Head And Warning For The Congress

The Congress government in Himachal got a full-fledged Cabinet after a month this week and seven ministers were inducted. In spite of the delay there are many heartburns and interestingly protest statements like a tonsured head have made headlines. These protests are also a warning for party managers. Yes, supporters of two AICC secretaries, including Kangra MLA Sudhir Sharma and Ghurmawin MLA Rajesh Dharmani, have openly expressed their resentment after their names were dropped from the list of Cabinet ministers. “I have shaved off my head in protest against the step-motherly treatment of Rajesh Dharmani. I also appeal to others to protest peacefully. Let us see what Chief Minister Sukhwinder Singh Sukhuji will do now,” says Ghumarwin Congress leader Subhash Sharma. Names of Sharma and Dharmani figured in the list sent for party high command approval by the CM but their names didn’t make it to the final list. “I am a third time MLA and my constituency falls in Bilaspur, the same area where BJP chief J P Nadda comes from,” says Dharmani. Looks like the party high command may have decided against taking in one more person from Hamirpur — considering both CM and Dy CM belong to the same Lok Sabha constituency. As for Sudhir Sharma, a four-term MLA from Dharamshala and a former minister in Virbhadra government,seems to have lost out  because of faction politics.
Collage Maker-10-Jan-2023-06

PM’s Jan 19 Mumbai Visit Expected To Be A Game Changer

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scheduled Mumbai tour on January 19 will prove to be a game changer, party rank and file feel since he is expected to make some major announcement during his first visit to the metropolis after the split in the Shiv Sena and the formation of the Shinde-Fadnavis government. According to the PM’s tentative schedule, he will dedicate two Metro routes – 2 A and 7 – to the nation. The state BJP is keen to organise a public meeting to be addressed by Modi but no final decision has been made so far. Another possible event during the visit will be the inauguration of a cancer hospital in Thane, the backyard of chief minister Eknath Shinde. Modi will either go there or open the hospital online; but the modalities are still being worked out. The Mumbai and state BJP units are in an upbeat mood since they are determined to win the first public test through the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) election, likely to happen any time soon. The opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi constituents are still looking in different directions but efforts are on to face the hustings together. Eknath Shinde and deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis are scheduled to visit Davos on January 15-19 to attend the World Economic Forum. However, if the PM confirms his plans to be in Mumbai, they will rework the schedule, according to party leaders.
Stalin and MLAs (1)

War On Against Governor Ravi But Stalin Plays It Cool

War may have been declared on the Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi, but the Chief Minister MK Stalin is not saying it. He had a word of caution for his MLAs the day after the theatrical events of the first Assembly session of the year in which the Governor skipped portions of his address prepared by the government and added a few things of his own. Stalin warned his MLAs about there being a conduct code for them and that they are also bound by the whip in the Assembly. “Don’t make it personal,” he cautioned. It will be DMK’s allies who will be taking on a brunt of the campaign against the Governor who has not endeared himself to Tamil Nadu by suggesting that the State be named “Tamizhagam”, maybe because the “Nadu” (country or place) in Tamil Nadu may be suggestive of a land seeking autonomy or independence. The issue itself could be quite silly as the DMK had shed its call for breaking away from the Union of India almost 60 years ago, in the wake of the China war of 1962. There were demos by students as well as DMK’s political allies and posters reading “Get Out Ravi”. Stalin would like to keep it to protest in formal channels rather than take it to the public as the appointment of a Governor is at the President’s pleasure.
Rahul 1

Rahul Gandhi Kicks Up A Row By Praising ‘Tapasvis’, Running Down ‘Priests’

Seemingly overwhelmed by rigours of  Bharat Jodo Yatra Congress leader  Rahul Gandhi indulged in a bit of self-praise and succumbed to  describing India as “land of tapasvis” and not ‘poojaris’ and how  the Congress believes in ‘tapasya’, while the BJP was an organization of ‘pooja and pujaris’. Short of describing himself as a tapasvi, he went on to say how “BJP-RSS forced people to worship them” adding” India is a country of ‘tapasvis’ (ascetics) and not ‘pujaris’ (priests).”  Rahul’s statement naturally irked several priests. Ujjwal Pandit of Yuva Teerth Purohit Mahasabha alleged that Rahul had insulted India’s ancient cultural traditions in which priests have played a central role. It was clear that the Congress leader wore ‘janeu’ (holy thread) and tilak on his head for show, he alleged in a statement. Swami Dipankar noted that the Gandhi scion had described his yatra as his “mohabbat ki dukan” (place for love), but was now talking about “hate”. Should priests be then thrown into the sea, he asked.  At some places, including Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh, priests carried out protests and burnt Rahul’s effigies. In the temple town of Deoghar in Jharkhand, priests demanded an apology from the Congress leader for insulting their tradition. RSS ideologue Ratan Sharda found it odd that Rahul Gandhi found his yatris to be tapasvis. He said foremost tapasvis that the nation has known are Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi.
Pawar with rohit

Pawar’s Two Grandsons Fight Cricket Body Election, MLA Rohit Pawar Winner

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar’s two grandsons fought out an election to the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA), despite his efforts to bring them on the same page. The keen contest resulted in the victory of party MLA Rohit Pawar as MCA president. The loser, Abhishek Boke, is a grandson of Pawar’s sister while Rohit is a grandson of his elder brother, the late Appasaheb Pawar. MCA has been under Sharad Pawar’s control for decades. However, he took little interest in the MCA affairs though it has been operating from his home base, Pune. Initially it was handled by the late Dnyaneshwar Agashe and subsequently by Ajay Shirke. However, Pawar kept away from the MCA. Ever since the MCA election was announced, the atmosphere has been politically surcharged. Opposition leader Ajit Pawar was approached in a bid to arrive at a settlement so that the election could become unopposed. Ajit convened a meeting of about 40 voters but the efforts came to a naught as Boke declined to withdraw even after receiving suggestions to do so. Finally, polling was held on Sunday (Jan 8) and results announced late in the night. Several other members of the MCA body owe allegiance to the NCP as well.
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Donkey Milk Sells At Rs 2000 Per Litre In TN, May Soon Get GI Tag

Tamil Nadu‘s Tenkasi district is seeing huge demand for donkey’s milk by rural folks. Donkey’s milk? That smirk and guffaw with epithets of ‘gadha’, will soon be replaced by incredulousness.  While city folks are protesting at Rs 2 increase per litre of Mother Dairy or Aavin Milk, the villagers are ready to fork out Rs 100 per 50 ml or Rs 2,000 per litre of fresh donkey milk to build immunity especially in infants and ward off other ailments. Who knows the next unicorn or IPO may well be from this remote area in Tenkasi if some enterprising donkey aggregator decides to set up a world class plant to process and peddle this much sought after milk and get GI Tag too.  The global market value for donkey’s milk stood at $ 23.2 mn in 2021, expected to grow at a CAGR of 9%by 2028. This faith in the efficacy of fresh donkey milk may gain currency like curcumin turmeric latte, tulsi tea, neem oil and coconut products. Donkey owners in Tenaksi have their own logistics and promos for fresh donkey milk, with megaphone announcements. An enterprising breeder, brings his herd to the spot, on fixed days in a truck and rurals line up with conch shells or even silver cups. Looks like it’s big money at the bottom of the pyramid.
Eknath Shinde

Don't Name And Shame Corrupt Officials, Say Maharashtra Govt Employees

The Maharashtra government has been presented with a bizarre demand by its employees’ organisation, which says that the identity of the officials caught red-handed while accepting bribes should be kept confidential until the case against them has been finally decided by the court of law. In a petition submitted by the organisation to chief minister Eknath Shinde, the reasoning behind the demand has been explained unreservedly. It says that government officials are under the scanner of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and caught often. After the action, their pictures and other information is provided by the ACB to the media. However, this needs to stop as the official is defamed even before judicial conviction, the organisation has complained. The petition has pointed out that in many cases, such officials are exonerated by courts. This has happened time and again. However, in the intervening period, the official and his or her family are subjected to infamy and social consequences. “Therefore, it is our demand that till the moment the official concerned is convicted by court, his or her picture or identity should not be disclosed,” the petition has stated. The most corrupt arm of the government is the revenue department Maharashtra; the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is the most corrupt civic body while Pune is the most corrupt district in the state, according to various findings.
Collage Maker-07-Jan-2023-12

L to R: Yogesh Kadam, Jaykumar Gore & Dhananjay Munde

Third MLA In Maharashtra Survives Near Fatal Accident In A Month, Yogesh Kadam Demands Enquiry

Shiv Sena (Shinde) group’s MLA Yogesh Kadam’s survival in a major road accident has flabbergasted political circles in Maharashtra as he is the third MLA to suffer such a highway mishap in a matter of a month. The first to be injured in such a smash-up was BJP MLA Jaykumar Gore. He was followed by controversial NCP MLA Dhananjay Munde. Both were immediately hospitalised and are recovering. Kadam is not hurt though his car driver and a police constable deployed for his protection have sustained minor bruises. All three MLAs were coming towards Mumbai. Kadam’s father, Ramdas, is a veteran Sena leader who has joined the camp of chief minister Eknath Shinde. A former minister, Ramadas has been a bitter critic of Uddhav Thackeray. His son Yogesh was elected to the assembly from Dapoli, an important tourist destination in the Konkan region, in 2019 on a Sena (Uddhav) ticket. Later, he deserted the organisation and started facing local opposition from the rival camp. Yogesh Kadam’s car was banged by a dumper on the Mumbai-Goa highway even though it was between two police vehicles escorting the MLA. The rear portion of the car has been badly damaged. Yogesh Kadam has raised grave suspicions about the incident, given the police cover under which he was travelling. He has decided to demand a thorough enquiry into the disaster.
Stalin at a temple event

Stalin Slams Those Who Brand His Party As Anti-Religion

It is not often that Stalin gets worked up so much about religion that he must lash out at those eternally projecting his party as anti-religion. Provoked by a series of comments including the latest round of loaded political words from the feisty Governor RN Ravi, chief Minister M K Stalin came out in voluble defence of how his party is not anti-Hindu as the opposition makes it out to be. He emphasised at yet another function hosted by the HR&CE, this one to announce Rs 2 lakh support to each of 2,500 small temples in rural areas, that his government was committed to protecting the temples as they exemplified the State’s art and culture and stood as witness to traditional expertise and talent in sculpture making and art. He said he had attended as many as 25 events connected to temples in a year and presided over grants that benefited nearly four lakh people. Regardless of his personal faith in God or lack of it, Stalin has always maintained that his party is for all religions and that the only reform they aim at is social equality by which temples must be made to accept that priests can be from any community. This was also part of the Dravidian Model, he pointed out in the course of a stout defence of Dravidian beliefs.
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Cong Partly Bows To Wishes Of Telangana Unit, Shifts AICC In Charge Manickam Tagore To Goa

Virudhunagar Lok Sabha MP and AICC secretary Manickam Tagore suffered a personal setback in the beginning of the year as he was relieved of Telangana charge. This was following revolt by Telangana Congress leaders who had protested against his style of functioning and backing PCC chief A Revanth Reddy to the hilt. Though Telangana leaders basically were targeting Reddy for his pro TRS approach and soft-pedalling issues against Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, they wanted Tagore out of the AICC for encouraging the rot. “Before Revanth Reddy we used to only lose elections, but after he took over we began forfeiting deposits,” said a leader. Pointing to the rot he cited how former Chennur MLA Nallala Odelu and his wife Nallala Bhagyalakshmi, who is the Mancherial ZP chairperson, had rejoined the TRS in October citing factionalism within the Congress. Both had quit the TRS and joined the Congress in May last year in the presence of Priyanka Gandhi. In the face of Telangana backlash, Congress high command shifted Tagore to Goa. The Goa assignment is an unenviable one as it comes at a time when the party has just three elected MLAs left. Of these, one may join BJP. Tagore replaced Dinesh Gundu Rao as Goa in charge amidst reports that the party chose to replace Rao following ongoing fight between Karnataka and Goa over diversion of Mhadei river water.

Is Kanimozhi Emerging As The New Power Centre In Tamil Nadu?

On January 5, DMK MP Kanimozhi turned 55 and the road to her Chennai residence was jam packed with birthday greeters and revelers indicating she is a force to reckon with in Tamil Nadu politics. The whole neighbourhood was festooned with DMK flags. Late Kalaignar’s favourite child Kanimozhi is chief minister M K Stalin’s half-sister. What is even more evident as she led a big crowd to her father’s resting place on the Marina beach was that she no longer appeared to be that tentative, hesitant and defensive politician who was incarcerated in the 2 G scam. Kani has parachuted out of that crisis, to become a significant power centre. Potential for an alternative to the first family’s dynastic culture, Kani was made deputy treasurer of DMK, a sop to keep her content against the rising son, claim party wags. Stalin’s son Udhayanidhi’s confrontational attitude towards his aunt has changed too, maybe in the interests of warding off rebellion. The DMK behemoth built by cadres and functionaries is definitely chafing at the dynastic moves. A recently charge-sheeted Youtuber and journalist voiced scathing opinions when comparing Udhayanidhi and Kani in terms of capability, political savvy and experience, groomed as she is by none other than Kalaignar. Suddenly, whispers are getting loud and overt. What if BJP uses her as a Trojan and a deserving family claimant to TN throne?

Flight Of Industry From Maharashtra Cause Of Youths Remaining Unmarried, Says Sharad Pawar

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar has linked the flight of industry from Maharashtra with the increasing number of young men remaining unmarried in the state. Addressing a NCP function in Pune, Pawar said industrial units from the state were shifted outside while new industries wishing to start in the state were refused facilities and concessions. Consequently, unemployment was on the increase in Maharashtra, leading to many young men remaining single since they could not get married. Pawar’s observation has come against the backdrop of public protests by young men in a couple of districts of Maharashtra on account of their unemployment and the resultant lack of prospective brides coming their way. In Solapur district, youngsters had, Pawar said, the double-engine government at the Centre and in Maharashtra had been pursuing the same policy of leaving the populace to fend for itself despite rising prices. Tall claims and exaggerated promises were made by the ruling party before coming to power. However, as it is not possible to implement them, caste and religion are used for creating enmity in society, he alleged. Taking a dig at Pawar’s observation, BJP MLA Atul Bhatkhalkar said, “Sir, what you say is correct. Many unemployed men like Rahul (Gandhi) and Aaditya (Thackeray) can be cited as the best example to support your analysis.
Didi 1 (1)

After Mamata Dismisses Vande Bharat As "Refurbished" Old Train, BJP Sees Her Hand In Attack On It

Vande Bharat Express is nothing but an old train refurbished with a new engine declared West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee amid reports of Vande Bharat train being attacked by stones on the newly inaugurated Howrah-New Jalpaiguri route. While the first incident happened near Malda, the second also occurred in the state. However, dismissing the claims about the attack, Banerjee said the incidents occurred in Bihar and not West Bengal and said actions will be taken against those spreading rumours. PM Narendra Modi flagged off Vande Bharat Express on December 30. The BJP did not take kindly to Mamata’s running down the concept of Vande Bharat itself. Party co-in charge for Bengal Amit Malviya felt from Mamata’s comments it was “abundantly clear that Vande Bharat was targeted on Mamata Banerjee’s instruction. She is both, incompetent and jealous of the Modi Government working for the state”. He went on to point out that Didi had refused to go on dais at the time of launch not because of Jai Shree Ram slogans. “The problem was never slogans of Jai Shree Ram but BJP taking a lead to improve lives of people. What a disgrace she is!” The blue-and-white train, meant to be the gateway to the northeast, covers a distance of 564 km between Howrah and New Jalpaiguri in 7.45 hours thus reducing travel time by three hours.
Didi campaign

Didi Combats BJP’s Expose With ‘Didir Suraksha Kawach’ Outreach Campaign

Keeping a hawk’s eye on upcoming panchayat polls, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has launched her maiden extensive digital campaign – ‘Didir Suraksha Kavach’ through Didir Doot’ (party cadres). The public outreach comes at a time when Didi’s party and government are battling scams including the recent protests at the panchayat level over irregularities in the allocation of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, teachers’ recruitment. During the launch of the programme Didi said that this will be a medium where 3.5 lakh party leaders would reach every block and cover 2 crore families in 60 days, with workers staying in villages to understand the problems faced by locals. They will be also promoting 15 welfare schemes, covering various sectors such as food, housing, health, education, social security, income and employment through the newly developed app under the same name. Most importantly, post Lok Sabha Polls 2019 debacle where Didi lost several of LS seats to BJP, the saffron party launched an initiative called ‘Didi ke Balo’ which primarily opened the pandora’s box of the issues such as “cut money” and “syndicate raj”. According to party insiders, over 3343 gram panchayats are there in Bengal, but this new launch is not only eyeing the rural polls but also at the Lok Sabha Polls 2024. However, political analysts said that Didi has sent a strong message to party functionaries and leaders accused of corruption.  
Collage Maker-04-Jan-2023-06

Cong Flaunts A Letter From Ayodhya Priest As Rahul Gandhi's Yatra Moves In UP

The Congress may not have lifted its little finger for Ram Temple in Ayodhya but it has lost no time in flaunting a letter of blessing it has received from Ayodhya temple chief priest. A day before Rahul Gandhi’s Yatra entered UP, Ram Temple chief priest Acharya Satyendra Das stirred the political pot by wishing the Congress leader success in the yatra, good health and long life. Das had handed over a letter to the local Congress leader of Ayodhya Gaurav Tiwari. Tiwari said he had taken the letters of invitation for the yatra to many temples and saints in Ayodhya, who gave their blessings in return. A similar letter was also sent to Acharya Satyendra Das who said he wanted to write a letter in reply. “He had also written that the blessings of Lord Ram would always be upon Rahulji”.  As the Congress’ foot march entered UP, the letter’s contents were proudly shared by Congress twitter handles. But then the letter from the Ayodhya priest has warmed up a section in the Congress which always wanted the leadership to deliberate issues of interest to Hindus– something that was denied to them even at Udaipur chintan shivir. “It is significant that the Ayodhya temple priest has blessed the yatra and Rahulji…sants and sadhus should feel free, and not be tied to any political party,” said Acharya Pramod Krishnam, a close aide of Priyanka Gandhi.

Ajit Pawar Blames A BJP ‘Mastermind,’ Without Naming Him

Opposition leader Ajit Pawar’s claim that a BJP ‘mastermind’ was behind the statewide agitation against him is the hot political topic now. His comment that “Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj was Swarajya Rakshak and not Dharmaveer” is the focus of a BJP statewide agitation for the past three days. Pawar alleged at a media conference that the agitation was engineered by the BJP. “When I was speaking in the house, their mastermind was not present. Still, the protests against me are according to a plan.” Pawar claimed that various BJP leaders had been calling him up to tell that they were instructed to protest against him and send the clips to the party office. “Burn the picture of Ajit Pawar, hit it with shoes” they were instructed, he said. Certain names are being mentioned to pinpoint the so-called mastermind. Pawar’s assertion that he has been elected to the opposition leader’s post by NCP MLAs is also being debated since no major decision in that party is taken without the consent of NCP chief Sharad Pawar. Pawar has been facing criticism that his stand vis a vis the Shinde-Fadnavis government is ‘mild.’ His detractors point out that he did not condemn the government when state NCP president Jayant Patil was suspended from the lower house. Pawar had invited snide remarks for not signing a no-confidence motion against assembly speaker Rahul Narvekar.

Reinvention Of Kamal Haasan As A Politician

There has been a burning ambition in Kamal Haasan (named Parthasarathy Srinivasan at birth) to be counted as a force in politics. None in Tamil Nadu may ever come close to MGR and his protégé J Jayalalithaa in terms of switching from films to politics and capturing the hearts of the people. When Kamal stepped in, it was with a view to making an impact in politics. Little did he know then that he would be a bigger flop than even the thespian Sivaji Ganesan. To Kamal’s credit, he is not giving up. His journey to the Bharat Jodo Yatra was to cement his place in the DMK-Rahul equation while abandoning his old association with Arvind Kejriwal when he was a political novitiate. The DMK is looking for a broader alliance to take on the AIADMK-BJP front that is the main opposition in Tamil Nadu and towards this would like to invite the likes of Kamal Haasan and even the caste-based PMK to join a broad-based alliance for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Kamal’s consorting with Rahul Gandhi has enhanced his image and Chief Minister MK Stalin is known to be a fervent admirer. Voters may not understand Kamal’s politics, but their votes will be his if he stands with DMK support in his chosen western Tamil Nadu base of Coimbatore.
Collage Maker-03-Jan-2023-06

Urfi Javed’s Attire Latest Political Fight In Maharashtra

Small screen actor Urfi Javed’s attire is among the latest political battles being fought in Maharashtra. Charges are hurled against each other by women leaders from the opposing sides. Urfi, too, has jumped into the fray.  BJP’s Maharashtra Mahila Morcha (Women’s Front) chief Chitra Wagh has warned Urfi that the actress would be dealt with severely if she continues to offend ‘sensibilities of Maharashtra’ by appearing in public in objectionable attire. Shiv Sena (Uddhav) firebrand deputy leader Sushama Andhare has questioned Wagh’s right to order anyone about what to wear or not. Urfi has charged that Wagh was at the forefront of a campaign to demand the resignation of then minister Sanjay Rathod in connection with a woman’s death. However, Wagh has been silent since the Shinde-Fadnavis government was formed and Rathod included in it, Urfi has said. Ridiculing Wagh, she said, “Even I am going to join the BJP. Then Wagh will be friends with me.” Wagh says there is no reason to object to anyone’s dressing up to meet the needs of a job or profession. However, it is necessary to be socially conscious while appearing in public. Andhare has demanded to know why there is silence on a statement by Baba Ramdev, who had said at a public function in Thane that women look good even when not wearing anything.

Rahul As PM Debate Dampens Karnataka Cong, Did Kamal Nath Kick-Start It Too Early?

For whatever reason senior Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath kick-started this whole issue of projecting Rahul Gandhi as the Opposition’s PM candidate for the Lok Sabha elections in 2024. The cacophony over this mindless campaign is already said to have put the Congress’ efforts to win Karnataka assembly elections in a tailspin. That is because news of a 2024 prime ministerial candidate from the Congress side for the Opposition side has already left Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge unenthused. He was gearing  up for the assembly polls, hoping if he clinched Karnataka he would be rewarded with something  higher — projected as PM candidate for 2024. Now that seems to have gone out of his reach. Nath’s praises for Rahul on leading the Bharat Jodo Yatra, saying “He is not doing politics for power but for the betterment of the common people of the country”, has simply stunned those backing Kharge. Not only Nath, even Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel rooted for Rahul. Even an ambitious Bihar CM Nitish Kumar has said that he doesn’t have any problem with Rahul’s candidature. The only cautious response came from Jairam Ramesh who made it clear that “the question of who will emerge as PM will be decided by election outcomes. Election of the PM can’t be treated as a beauty contest. Contests in India happen between political parties.” He admitted the yatra had strengthened the Congress.
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Union Budget To Be Presented In Parliament House, Budget Session Likely To Be In The New Building

By all indications, it looks like this year’s Union Budget will be tabled in the present Parliament House. The new Parliament building is likely to be inaugurated in March, when the House reconvenes for the second part of the Budget Session. Officials say work was going on in full swing on the Parliament building and was expected to be completed by February. PM Narendra Modi had performed the Bhoomi Poojan and foundation stone laying ceremony of the new Parliament House in December 2020. He is known to be closely monitoring progressing work on the building via drones. While inaugurating a drone festival in Delhi last year, Modi had emphasised on the use and importance of drones in governance. He had spoken about how the drones have been useful for him in conducting “surprise inspections of development work across the country”. The design of the Lok Sabha Hall in the new Parliament House is such that a joint session can be held there easily. The new Lok Sabha Hall will seat 1,272 people and it will have no Central Hall. The new Parliament House will have a seating arrangement of 888 MPs in the Lok Sabha. The current Lok Sabha has a seating capacity of only 552 MPs. Thus, when the number of MPs will increase in the coming years, there will be no problem.
Ajit Pawar

Ajit Pawar’s Comment On Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj Puts Opposition In A Spot, Gives Tool To BJP To Hit

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar’s controversial observation about Chhatrapati Sambhaji Maharaj appears to have caught the opposition in Maharashtra on a wrong foot since most of its prominent leaders have preferred to distance themselves from the furore so far.  Deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis along with several BJP leaders, chief minister Eknath Shinde and Chhatrapati’s descendant, former MP Raje Sambhaji, is among those who have come against Pawar in strong terms. Fadnavis said Chhatrapati Sambhaji had protected nationalism and Hinduism. Despite Aurangazeb’s torture, Chhatrapati Sambhaji refused to convert and sacrificed his own life for Hindutva, Fadnavis said. Chhatrapati Sambhaji, son of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, was a ‘protector of freedom’ (Swarajya Rakshak) and not ‘a protector of religion’ (Dharma Rakshak), Pawar had said in the state assembly. The comment handed a powerful tool to the BJP while many in NCP are finding it inconvenient to express either way. The Shiv Sena (Uddhav) and the Congress also have kept themselves away from the controversy so far. In Pawar’s hometown Baramati, BJP protestors burned his effigy on Monday while demanding his immediate resignation as leader of the opposition. Police deployment around his bungalow, ‘Sahayog’ has been beefed up. Hindu Mahasangh leader Anand Dave has reminded Pawar that he had referred to Chhatrapati Sambhaji as ‘Dharmaveer’ and asked for his changed stand after losing power.
Collage Maker-02-Jan-2023-01

BMC’s Carrot And Stick Policy: Extends Friendly Loans To Hawkers, But Keeps Its Eviction Drive On

The hawkers in Mumbai are facing a strange dilemma. On the one hand, the government is wooing them by literally calling them to take bank loans of Rs 10,000 under the Pradhan Mantri Swa-Nidhi Yojana for self-employed professionals. Perceived as a strategy to woo the mainly North Indian hawkers’ community by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the wake of forthcoming Mumbai’s civic elections, the rules for domicile certification were recently withdrawn to widen the base of hawkers benefit from it. At the same time, hawkers continue to also face eviction from the streets of Mumbai. “It’s a strange situation. On the one hand, those 17,000 hawkers enlisted in the 2014 hawkers survey, receive calls from local ward offices to fill forms and take loans. But, while we get loans, we also continue to face evictions. Not yet being issued hawking licenses means that loans serve as no guarantee of livelihoods for us. How do we repay loans if we don’t hawk on the streets?” asks Jai Shankar Singh, general secretary of the Azad Hawkers Union. The BMC is forced to solicit hawkers for loans as civic officials were given an initial target to approve loans for one lakh hawkers. However, mid-way through their targets were doubled to two lakh hawkers till March 2023. So far the BMC has managed to approve loans for 92,000 hawkers.
Kitit Somayya

BJP Leader Kirit Somaiya’s 2023 Resolve, Shall Expose Top MVA Leaders

BJP’s former MP Kirit Somaiya has threatened to refocus his guns against prominent leaders of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) in 2023. Somaiya has tweeted the names of the leaders on his radar. They belong to the Shiv Sena (Uddhav), the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). He had created a political storm in 2022 by repeatedly levelling serious allegations against many MVA top votaries about their real estate deals. The most prominent leader to face Somaiya’s attack will be former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and his wife. They own 19 bungalows in neighbouring Raigad district, he has been telling the media. Uddhav’s right hand and former minister Anil Parab’s Sai Resort in Dapoli taluka of Ratnagiri district has been in the news concerning Somaiya’s complaint that it has been developed disregarding various regulations. NCP leader and former minister Hasan Mushrif  as well as Congress MLA and former minister Aslam Khan owns 49 filming studios in Mumbai’s Malwani area, according to Somiaya. Some of the structures are under the BMC lens. Former mayor Kishori Pednekar allegedly acquired a few Slum Rehabilitation scheme flats in central Mumbai, Somaiya has said. An enquiry by the BMC in this regard is underway. Large scale emergency purchases by the BMC during the Covid pandemic also figure in Somaiya’s hit list. In his tweet, he has warned, “Ghotalon ka hisab pura karenge” (Shall settle the score about frauds).
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West Bengal BJP Unit Blames State’s Top Three Leaders For Factionalism & Disgruntlement

The recent meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP national president JP Nadda, Bengal Observer Sunil Bhansal, Amit Malviya and others with the Bengal BJP unit in New Delhi was nothing less than a clear revolt on the part of state leaders against the top three functionaries. Party sources said that several MPs and MLAs have directly blamed the factionalism and dictatorship of top three leaders — National Vice President Dilip Ghosh, Bengal President Sukanta Majumdar and Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari. They have also briefed that if the situation continues that state BJP will fail to retain the Lok Sabha seats in 2024 Lok Sabha Polls. It was reported that one of the MPs has cited that there is no coordination between the MPs and MLAs. On several occasions party leaders are openly giving statements against each other. The leaders have also informed Nadda that the state unit will not be able to put up candidates in several gram panchayats. Hence they have also suggested that it would be advisable to support those candidates who would be opposing Trinamool Congress candidates. Besides this, BJP leaders are also mulling the idea that those winning on other party symbols at panchayats, panchayat samitis and zilla parishads could be given the option of switching camps. Several MPs have also given proposals to contest rural polls as independent candidates.

Uddhav Sena Attacks Modi & Maharashtra Governments, Compliments Judiciary

The Shiv Sena (Uddhav) has mounted a blistering attack against the Modi and Shinde-Fadnavis governments while complimenting the judiciary ‘for foiling the attempts to oppress.’ The party has indicated that it will continue to take on the government in 2023. This is viewed as an attempt by Uddhav to recharge the party organisation for the coming combat, which will be fought politically and judicially. Also, it aims to blunt the various statements made by chief minister Eknath Shinde and deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis at the conclusion of the state legislature’s winter session in Nagpur on Friday (Dec 30). Both had criticised Uddhav. He attended this important two-week session for just 46 minutes, Fadanvis had taunted. Sena mouthpiece ‘Saamana,’ under its MP Sanjay Raut, has alleged in its Saturday (Dec 31) editorial that democratic values had been murdered in the year by intimidating government’s critics. The change of government in Maharashtra has been engineered illegally and unconstitutionally, it has remarked. Shinde and Fadnavis had charged in their assembly speeches that the Maha Vikas Aghadi government under Uddhav had hatched conspiracies to implicate them and other Shinde-faction and BJP leaders so as to throw them behind bars. “That is the reason we walked out,” Shinde had disclosed. Fadnavis had revealed that a DGP-level police official had been entrusted with the responsibility to jail him. The Sena will become more aggressive, the party has signaled.

Will Nadda’s Saffronisation Drive In Tamil Nadu Yield Dividend?

Looks like BJP is permanently on election mode and focussing on states where they have no big numbers. A case in point is Tamil Nadu. Recently, BJP President J P Nadda was on a two-day visit to Coimbatore along with Tamil Nadu’s top BJP leaders. Addressing a public meeting Nadda spared no punches. He asked the large crowd, “What does DMK stand for”? And then went on to decode it by saying “D is for dynasty, the first family of DMK. M is for Money. And K is for Katta Panchayat “. Katta Panchayat refers to winning battles and quelling revolt by strong arm politics through Kangaroo Courts. While BJP and Modi focussed only on the national good, DMK functioned only for the first family. The country is thus in safe hands, while TN is not in safe hands. Modi is for real Bharat unity whereas DMK and its ally, the Congress now busy walking for Bharat unity, have regularly trotted out the separatist slogan for revolt. It’s a moot point whether this direct didactic would shake 60-odd years of Dravidam complacency? Post his speech Nadda drove to Isha Foundation run by spiritual guru Jaggi Vasudev who is currently mired in a controversy with environmentalists. Was Nadda’s overnight stay at Esha, a signal that BJP is putting its might behind the spiritual guru?
Collage Maker-30-Dec-2022-04

Karmayogi Modi: Within An Hour After His Mother's Cremation, PM Plunges Into A Series Of Meetings

Prime Minister Narendra Modi informed the nation via a tweet about the sad demise of his mother Heeraben: “A glorious century rests at the feet of God…“ Within an hour of her cremation, PM Modi was back at work virtually from Raj Bhavan in Ahmedabad. Yes, the dedicated karmayogi was attending to all his official duties such as flagging off a metro from Kolkata to New Jalpaiguri, and chairing the second meeting of the National Ganga Council meeting in Kolkata via video conferencing. The meeting was attended by the Union Minister for Jal Shakti, and other Union Ministers who are members of the council besides the CMs of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal. Bihar was represented by Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav. Presciently, in a blogpost on Heeraben’s 100th birthday this June, Modi shared a glimpse of his bond with his mother and about how she never accompanied him for any government or public programme. “She has accompanied me on only two occasions in the past. Once, it was at a public function in Ahmedabad when she applied tilak on my forehead after I had returned from Srinagar where I had hoisted the national flag at Lal Chowk completing the Ekta Yatra led by Dr Murli Manohar Joshi. That was an extremely emotional moment for my mother because a few people had died in a terror attack in Phagwara at the time of the Ekta Yatra. She became extremely worried at that time.”
Collage Maker-30-Dec-2022-04

Vande Bharat Flagoff: An Angry Didi Refuses To Sit On Dais At Howrah Station Over Jai Shri Ram Chants

High drama prevailed at Howrah Station as a visibly annoyed West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee refused to come on stage from where the Vande Bharat express was being virtually flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, following “Jai Shri Ram” chants by the BJP supporters present at the spot. Incidentally, both Bengal governor C V Ananda Bose and railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw requested her to join them on the stage. In a way, the controversy helped Didi not to share the stage with Suvendu Adhikari, her one-time aide. While Bengal cabinet minister Firhad Hakim and Trinamool Congress spokesperson Kunal Ghosh termed this as misbehaviour and a purposeful act of insult to the state’s chief minister. Besides, Vande Bharat, PM also flagged off the inter-city metro service connecting the southern fringes of Kolkata. However, Mamata made it clear to PM Modi that not only Joka-Esplanade Metro services, but four out of five inaugurated projects were also her brainchild during her stint as Railway minister. Didi categorically voiced that her dream project – the Taratala to Joka Metro, which she laid the foundation stone with erstwhile President Pratibha Patil got inaugurated also. She also reminded that several project proposals during her tenure as Railway minister are now seeing the light of day. Adding to this, Bengal chief minister said that she was the one who earmarked 50 world-class stations across the country.

Chinks In Maha Vikas Aghadi Resurface, Ajit Pawar’s Role Becomes Talk Of The Town

Differences within the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) have come to the fore after a no-confidence motion against Maharashtra assembly speaker Rahul Narvekar has been submitted by MVA without the signature of opposition leader, NCP’s Ajit Pawar. Notice of the motion was given to the legislature secretariat on Thursday (Dec 29) with signatures of 39 MLAs belonging to the Shiv Sena (Uddhav), the NCP and the Congress. However, the absence of Pawar’s endorsement was noticed on the ultimate day of the state legislature’s winter session in Nagpur. Pawar said on Friday that he was not aware of the notice being sent to the legislature. Moreover, he was sceptical if the notice would fulfil legality. Narvekar was elected in July this year. Rules provide that at least a year has to elapse before any new motion can be brought about by the speaker. Sena MP Sanjay Raut glossed over the absence of Pawar’s signature by replying to a question that he was not aware if Pawar had signed the notice or not. However, former minister Bhaskar Jadhav said it was not imperative that every opposition member sign the notice. “Our unity will be seen when the matter comes up in the house,” he stated. As a no-trust motion against the speaker needs at least 14 days’ notice, it could come up only in the next session of the legislature, according to experts.
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Mamata, Stalin Reach Out To Modi On Bereavement; Stalin To Visit Delhi

It is not unusual for estranged foes in politics to bond over death and bereavement. It may seem a bit odd but Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin has decided to visit Delhi to personally convey his condolences to PM Modi on his mother Heeraben passing away. This may certainly come as a surprise to many but apparently Stalin recalled how Modi had visited him when his father M Karunanidhi was seriously ill. Stalin is taking an evening flight today (Dec 30) to Delhi. Similarly, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee who was miffed by Jai Shri Ram sloganeering at the metro inaugural function, went out of her way to offer an emotional condolence to PM Modi over his mother’s death. Significantly, Modi had virtually flagged off the Vande Bharat express connecting Howrah and New Jalpaiguri, just an hour after cremating his mother. Just before the inauguration, Mamata said, “Respected PM, today it’s a sad day and great loss to you. I pray to god, may God give you strength. I convey my gratitude to you that you were supposed to come to West Bengal but because of the demise of your mother you couldn’t come but joined virtually. On behalf of the people of West Bengal, I thank you so much for giving us this opportunity. It’s a sad day for you. Your mother means our mother also….”
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BJP Sees A Plot In AK Antony's Call To Mobilise Hindu Votes

Senior Congress leader AK Antony is one man who is averse to stirring any controversy and found himself in the middle of one. Speaking his mind on the Congress Foundation Day, he urged party strategists to make efforts to win back Hindu voters at least for winning the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. It was failure to mobilise the Hindu votes adequately that had led the Congress-led UDF to flounder in 2021 Kerala assembly polls. “The Congress should bring together the majority and minority if it wants to defeat the BJP”, he declared. He also added that the majority of the people in India are Hindus, and this community should be marshalled in the “fight against Narendra Modi”. Reacting to Antony’s speech, BJP MP Sudhanshu Trivedi recalled how this former Defence Minister who was asked by his party to prepare a report on its 2014 defeat had similarly blamed the Congress rout for its pro Muslim bias. “It just shows that Congress indulges in such theatrics to get support of Hindus and once it gets Hindu votes it dubs them as terrorists or as Pakistani, Talibani or Boko Haram.” He felt that just to come to power, leaders like Salman Khurshid would even call Rahul Gandhi “Lord Ram”. Meanwhile, Khurshid stoked more controversy by asserting that “main Congress leaders were from Gandhi family and Kharge ji was our national president”.
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Shinde Visits RSS Headquarters, Faces Uddhav Sena’s Attack

Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde’s clear signal about his future plans indicated by his visit to RSS headquarters at Nagpur on December 29 has turned volatile since the Shiv Sena (Uddhav) has criticised him with choicest words. Shinde and deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis visited the Reshimbaug RSS complex. Shinde’s visit has assumed political overtones as it signifies his total alignment with the BJP. At Reshimbaug, Shinde paid respects to RSS founder Dr K B Hedgewar and second chief M S Golwalkar, known as Guruji. He said his party would be hand in hand with the BJP. This statement will force Maha Vikas Aghadi partners to rethink their strategy, especially in view of the BMC elections which are likely to take place in early 2023. Shinde recalled that he used to be a RSS worker in childhood. Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray said, “Shinde’s mentality is dirty. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat should check if Shinde had gone there to claim that complex.” His remark was in reference to Shinde faction’s efforts to acquire various Sena offices in Mumbai and elsewhere as its own. Uddhav’s caustic remark has the backdrop of a whispering campaign that the Shinde faction could attempt to take over Shiv Sena Bhavan, the party’s Dadar headquarters in the near future. Sena MP Sanjay Raut said, “Let their father dare to touch Sena Bhavan, developed by Balasaheb. Such a talk can vitiate Maharashtra’s atmosphere.”

In Discovering India, Rahul Rediscovers Himself

As the Bharat Jodo Yatra reaches its last leg, people are increasingly seeing a different Rahul emerge, from that tentative, inarticulate Rahul Gandhi of his most forgettable years. He almost seems to readily accept the Pappu moniker, as if to say, yes, I needed to connect with India’s reality and my own inner strength. Enough has been said about his winter clothing — a T-shirt, his spontaneous responses to the variety of people and places, about his “Shraddha tinged Tapasya”.  When someone asked what kind of a girl would be his choice for a life mate? Prompt came the response. An amalgam of my mother and my grandmother, Indiraji! A tall order, may be even impossible to replicate two of the most strong-willed women of the  clan. When he was reminded about his Pappu nickname and how he planned to delete it permanently, an unexpected and stunning response from a normally reticent Rahul. “Oh, I don’t mind Pappu. I remember they referred to my grandmother as Goongi Gudiya. See where she reached?” Clearly, Rahul has prised open several secret doors to his latent self, discovering some unexpected strengths in himself. Rahul is emerging as a new avatar — the way of water, earth, space, fire and wind. The Pancha Bhutas, elementary to all in kinetic form.

Mumbai Belongs To Maharashtra, Not To Anyone’s Father, Say Shinde And Fadnavis In Unison

An otherwise cautious chief minister Eknath Shinde and deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis known for his restraint were livid and said in the state legislature on Wednesday, “Mumbai belongs to only Maharashtra, not to anyone’s father.” Shinde said Marathi people are like a fire, none should mess with them. Opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) constituents find this situation ripe to corner the BJP and Shinde. Some of them have been making statements laced with emotional appeals. The latest provocation is Karnataka minister Ashwath Narayan’s demand to declare Mumbai as a Union Territory. Shinde said several leading Kannadigas residing in Mumbai had called on him to protest against Karnataka’s stand, telling him that they had been in Maharashtra for a long time and would not support any atrocity against Marathi-speakers in Karnataka. He warned that Maharashtra would not be a mute spectator to any injustice by the Karnataka government in regard to Marathi-speaking people there. Shinde has been the focus of opposition tirade over the border dispute for his reticence after meeting Union home minister Amit Shah earlier this month in presence of Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai to defuse the situation. Similarly, the BJP in Maharashtra is already in a quandary due to inflammatory statements being made about the disputed Marathi-speaking areas in the neighbouring state, under BJP rule.
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Kharge's Brief Trip To Bengaluru Disappoints Party Workers As Amit Shah Plans 2-Day Camp

Karnataka Congress leaders were disappointed with party president Mallikarjun Kharge’s brief visit to Bengaluru. With assembly elections round the corner, many leaders were apparently advised by PCC chief D K Shivkumar to catch up with Kharge. Hoping to push their case for assembly tickets, the leaders were told by Kharge that he would not be able to interact with them as he wasn’t feeling comfortable – he had complained of backache. It was only natural that Kharge was physically exhausted – he had landed in Bengaluru, a day after keeping pace with Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra in Delhi.  The day-long activity must have surely sapped Kharge’s energy. Unfortunately, the Congress chief had to fly back to Delhi to be at the AICC headquarters for the Congress Foundation Day. Meanwhile, what is irking Congressmen is that Union Home Minister Amit Shah will be  spending the next two days in Bengaluru and Mysuru and interacting with BJP workers. Asked to comment on Shah’s visit, a Karnataka BJP leader said “With elections coming all our top three leaders—J P Nadda, Amit Shah and PM Narendra Modi — will be frequently visiting the state.Why should anyone mind?”  Such coordinated action from the BJP is bound to bother the Karnataka Congress that is in any way in a disarray.
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Why Is Tamilnad Mercantile Bank Always In The News?

It’s an over hundred year old bank. A solid old generation private bank, Tamilnad Mercantile Bank (TMB) became a listed entity when it entered the capital market a few months ago. TMB is a heady cocktail of an organisation. Promoted by the Nadars for the Nadars, this bank has been mired in controversy ever since the Ruias of the Essar group acquired over 65% shares by cashing in on the internecine quarrel between the promoter groups. But the Ruais had to depart by selling the investment arms that held TMB shares to Sterling C Sivasankaran for acquiring cellular licence for Delhi circle from the latter. But Siva too found the going tough and had to sell TMB shares.  While the Nadar community bought back a part of it, it couldn’t muster money to buy the rest.  Former chairman of the bank MGM Maran and other directors got into the act and allegedly facilitated a deal for the sale of 23.6% shares of TMB from Indian shareholders to unauthorised overseas persons. An investigation followed into advance remittances by certain entities for buying TMB shares through an escrow account with Standard Chartered Bank. SCB and Maran were levied hefty penalties. The Enforcement Directorate now has attached the properties of Maran – including his shares in group firms and TMB –and his company Southern Agrifurane. Well, the TMB issue never ceases to go away, it appears.

Himachal Cabinet Expansion Will Now Wait Until Mid-January

Even as Himachal CM Sukhwinder Sukhu is back in Shimla after a brief Covid infection, it still seems the state will still not get a full-fledged Cabinet until the New Year. No this has nothing to do with the Gandhis being preoccupied or Sukhu still remaining undecided about who to include in his team. It is only that Governor Rajendra Arlekar is going to be away for the year end at his home in Goa; he will apparently be back only in the first week of January. It is only after that CM Sukhu plans to hold a brief session of Vidhan Sabha when newly elected members will take oath. Thereafter, his hand-picked team could be sworn into office. This effectively means, Sukhu’s full-fledged team could come into being after the auspicious Makkar Sankranti! Congress sources however deny the CM was waiting all this while for a good date. He did have issues about inducting some MLAs loyal to late CM Virbhadra Singh. He found it difficult to include Virbhadra’s son Vikramditya Singh, Shimla (Rural) MLA in his team. After all, his father had never found it fit to include Sukhu in his ministry. It apparently took some convincing by AICC managers to sort out Sukhu’s problem with the Virbhadra group.

Maharashtra Legislature Reaffirms Claims On Marathi-Speaking Areas, But State Opposition Leaders Not On The Same Page

Maharashtra legislature expectedly adopted a unanimous resolution on Tuesday to endorse afresh the state’s position that the disputed 865 towns and villages with a majority Marathi-speaking population in Karnataka belong to the state. However, unlike in Karnataka, political fissures surfaced at Nagpur later. Opposition members became agitated when chief minister Eknath Shinde said that the border dispute with the neighbour existed even when both states were under the Congress party rule. They charged that Shinde was trying to politicise the issue. On the other hand, Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray’s demand that the disputed areas should be made a Union Territory was deflated by opposition leader Ajit Pawar, who warned that similar demands could arise about the Maharashtra areas like Jath claimed by Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai. Moreover, as the matter was before the Supreme Court, the feasibility of fulfilling the demand would have to be examined accordingly, he said. Pawar also did not attach any importance to Sena (Uddhav) MP Sanjay Raut’s threat that he would make several ‘explosions’ soon, indirectly warning the Shinde-Fadnavis government. Pawar said, “Better ask those who made such statements. I have not said any such thing.” The unanimous resolution says that Marathi-speaking people in the disputed areas have been subjected to atrocities by the Karnataka government. It has reaffirmed Maharashtra’s resolve to fight the case before the Supreme Court by appointing best legal minds.
rahul gandhi

Rahul's Visit To Sadaiv Atal, Cong Says Lesson For Modi

Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Atal Behari Vajpayee’s Samadhi stirred the social media more for what he was wearing in Delhi’s biting cold than he sought to convey. Rahul was spotted in his trademark Bharat Jodo Yatra T-shirt at various VVIP samadhis. He offered his tributes at Sadaiv Atal, Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial at Rajghat and also at memorials for Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. The BJP dismissed Rahul’s trip to former PMs’ samadhis as “part of a makeover exercise,” for the nth time that was meant strictly “for the shutterbugs and chattering elites”. The party wondered if Rahul Gandhi was sincere,” he would have visited former PM, P V Narasimha Rao’s samadhi in Hyderabad too. “He didn’t, even though it was on his way…” pointed out Amit Malviya in a tweet. On the other hand, Congress media chief Jairam Ramesh said Rahul’s visit to Vajapayee’s samadhi was an acknowledgment of  the first BJP PM’s contribution to the nation. He said “Rahulji’s visit to the samadhi would have reminded PM Modi about the rajdharma lessons that Atalji had sought to give him in 2002. Rahulji today showed how politics is done with a big heart. This is what he has achieved by visiting samadhi.” This is a bit rich for the  Congress as a day earlier a party coordinator Gaurav Pandhi had dubbed Atalji as a  British stooge.

Uddhav Attacks Shinde, Demands Union Territory Status To Disputed Marathi Speaking Areas

Former chief minister and Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray has demanded that the Centre should declare the disputed Marathi-speaking areas in Karnataka as a Union Territory. In his first major speech in the Maharashtra legislative council, Uddhav attacked his successor and former disciple, Eknath Shinde harshly. The Maharashtra legislature was to adopt a unanimous resolution on Monday (Dec 26) to buttress the state’s stand in regard to the border dispute with Karnataka. However, it was still being drafted, deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis said. However, opposition leaders did not spare Shinde for his absence. They wondered how he could attend a function in Delhi rather than remaining in the house. Ridiculing him, Uddhav said it was intriguing that Shinde had not said a word about this dispute. “Nobody knows when he will be back. He can even reverse his flight and return to Delhi if a summons is received. Shinde is in Delhi though this serious issue is staring him in the eye,” Uddhav commented. Sena (Uddhav) MP Sanjay Raut had threatened a couple of days ago to make major exposes against the Shinde-Fadnavis government. When quizzed, Uddhav said his side had ‘several bombs with their fuses removed. They are just to be ignited.’ Uddhav announced that he would show an old film, ‘Case for Justice’ prepared by the state government to establish that Marathi was being spoken in those areas for centuries.

Flip Flops In BMC Mars City Administration In Mumbai

With elections to the coveted Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) round the corner, the media management has assumed critical proportions. On December 19, administrator Iqbal Singh Chahal issued an official diktat barring officials below the rank of additional municipal commissioners, from speaking to the media. However the diktat was withdrawn within a day reportedly with damage control ordered from none other than the chief minister’s office. The third day saw another fresh order, this time department heads could speak to the media but only with the permission of their superiors. All this is meant to ensure positive media coverage, retain its good image and nip fake news, the order explains. The ruling dispensation clearly wants the works of the BMC, especially its pet projects, to be highlighted in the media in the run-up to the elections. A media clampdown means less scope for tom-tomming civic works as soft political campaigning – a major handicap. Flip flops in decision making have come to become a hallmark of the BMC’s functioning ever since the formation of the new government led by Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis. Similarly, transfers of officials have also been withdrawn or changed, within 24 hours at times. “Fault lines within the new government have led to abrupt U-turns, creating chaos and confusion. The administrator’s failure to stand firm for the interest of the city and succumbing to random pressures, has become a bane of our city,” observes Ravi Raja, Congress’ ex- opposition leader in BMC.
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Are Elected Film Stars Just Symbolic Leaders?

Stars and singers from the Bengali film industry who have won the last Lok Sabha and State Assembly elections, across parties, have to come to terms that they are just symbolic leaders; don’t have much say as their constituencies are controlled by seasoned politicians. This seems more predominant in Trinamool Congress (TMC). Tollywood’s popular star ‘Dev’ Deepak Adhikari’s constituency is under the control of Midnapore strongman Manas Bhunia. Actress Mimi Chakraborty’s Jadavpur constituency is overseen by Didi’s close aide and cabinet minister Aroop Biswas. Nusrat Jahan’s constituency Basirhat is under several North 24 Parganas leaders taking all political decisions. Yesteryear’s noted actress Satabdi Roy, three-time MP from Birbhum, has no say. Her constituency is nursed by strongman Anubrata Mondal. Similarly, MLAs like renowned yesteryear actor Chiranjeet Chakraborty, TV star Arundhati Moitra and folk singer Aditi Munshi are voiceless with all decision making under the control of Barasat MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Rajya Sabha MP Subhashis Chakraborty and senior cabinet minister Sujit Bose respectively for the constituencies of Barasat, Sonarpur Dakshin and Rajarhat-Gopalpur. Noted singer, former BJP minister Babul Supriyo who switched to TMC camp is facing a similar predicament. Both Hooghly BJP MP Locket Chatterjee, and Asanaol South BJP MLA Agnimitra Paul, both general secretaries are not treated in the same manner. Paul gets more importance as he is part of Suvendu Adhikari’s camp, while Chatterjee feels shortchanged as she is part of Dilip Ghosh camp.

Border Dispute: Maharashtra Legislature Will Adopt Unanimous Resolution On Dec 26

Maharashtra legislature is expected to adopt a unanimous resolution on December 26 to reiterate the state’s claim over the Marathi-speaking areas now in Karnataka. Opposition leader Ajit Pawar has already hinted that his side will support such a gesture. The Karnataka assembly has passed its unanimous resolution to reject Maharashtra’s claims and stuck to its stand that what has happened many decades ago can’t be reversed. Maharashtra has approached the Supreme Court to stake its right over the disputed areas along the two-state border. The matter has been sub-judice for 18 years. State’s minister Shambhuraj Desai told the media that the resolution to be tabled in the assembly on December 26 will be much stronger than what has been passed by Karnataka assembly. He reiterated the state’s stand that the dispute should be resolved at the earliest and none in either state should face any violence. He alleged that Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai’s behaviour was contrary to what had been decided at a meeting convened by the Union home minister Amit Shah earlier this month. This disapproval will be conveyed to the Centre, Desai said. Desai and education minister Chandrakant Patil are members of a coordination committee which has been formed to handle the matter. Both were to visit Karnataka to meet Marathi-speaking people in Belagavi in mid-December but cancelled the tour following Bommai’s request.
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Maharashtra MLA Ravi Rana Receives Death Threat Calls, MP Wife Navneet Was Threatened Earlier

Independent MLA Ravi Rana has been receiving death threats on his mobile phone, according to a complaint lodged by his personal assistant with Amaravati police. Rana had made serious allegations against former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray in the legislative assembly on Friday (Dec 23). He had said that Uddhav had tried to divert the focus of the investigation of a murder case. Complainant Vinod Guhe said that the threat calls have been received on Rana’s mobile phone. “If you utter a word against Uddhav Thackeray, you will be killed with a revolver and knife,” the caller has threatened the MLA, according to Guhe. At present, Rana is in Nagpur though the threat calls were received even earlier in Amaravati, Guhe has informed the police. The complaint has been filed as a precautionary measure. Rana’s wife Navneet, independent MP from Amaravati, had complained to Delhi police in May this year that she had been threatened by a caller that she would be killed if she entered Maharashtra. Ravi and Navneet Rana had announced their plans to recite Hanuman Chalisa outside Uddhav’s Bandra residence ‘Matoshri’ in April. They were arrested by Mumbai police on various charges. Soon thereafter, Rana’s Mumbai residence had received legal notices from the BMC. Ever since, tension between the two antagonists has been palpable, surfacing time and again.
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TMC Rebuffs Rahul Gandhi's Offer To Join Yatra; Is Didi Cosying Up To Centre?

As Bharat Jodo Yatra winds its way into Delhi on Christmas eve, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was apparently quite keen to showcase the yatra as an event of Opposition unity. Maybe he was a bit too late. With Opposition leaders from South like DMK Lok Sabha MP Kanimozhi — she joined the yatra outside Delhi — and newbie Makkal Needhi Maiam leader Kamal Haasan joining the yatra, Rahul wrote to TMC Lok Sabha leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay, wanting to know if TMC MPs could join the yatra. The Trinamool leader spurned the offer and promptly shot off a reply saying TMC MPs would be busy in “their constituencies “. Clearly, this was a message from the TMC that it was going to maintain an equidistance in Opposition politics in the run-up to 2024 polls.  After all, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee had a series of meetings with PM Narendra Modi to get Centre’s funds released for various state schemes. Only last week, Mamata had a one on one meeting with Amit Shah in Kolkata on the sidelines of the Eastern Zonal Council meeting.  Besides, PM will be in Kolkata on December 30 to chair the National Ganga Council meeting.  He will also be launching the Vande Bharat Express that will run between Howrah and New Jalpaiguri in North Bengal.


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.