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Priyanka G_003

Priyanka Vadra’s Intense Poll Drive Lifts The Spirit Of Cong Cadres In Uttar Pradesh

In a scorching campaign, Priyanka Vadra walks, talks and takes the BJP head on, holding her saree pallu in a spitting image of her Dadi, and the UP crowds roar in déjà vu approval. Why didn’t the Congress field both siblings from the family seats – Amethi and Raebareli? The glib explanation that if both stand, who will take care of the campaign? Behind the scenes murmur reveals a plausible gambit. Priyanka has to contend with her husband Robert Vadra’s claim for a seat, an ambition that could queer the pitch for Rahul. Sonia is now on mission mode, Rahul has to win from Raebareli. Priyanka has galvanised over 7000 Congress workers to visit every nook and corner of both the constituencies. Her latest plan is to camp in Raebareli and Amethi till May 18 and cover every stump group she can address. Wait and watch …Priyanka may yet outdo her Dadi…if she lands that slot.
modi_006

As PM Modi Questions Rahul's Deal With Ambani & Adani, Gandhi Scion Hits Back

In an unexpected twist, PM Modi picked on Rahul Gandhi’s accusation of crony capitalism by asking “why Shehzada had suddenly stopped talking of Ambani and Adani in this elections all of sudden? He wanted to know if he had been “compromised” into silence by the big business houses. Addressing an election rally in Telagnana’s Warangal, Modi shared how for years after he lost the Rafale battle in the courts, “Congress ke shehzade din raat ek mala japte the…’5 industrialists’, ‘Ambani’, ‘Adani’.., but since the elections are declared, they have stopped abusing Ambani, Adani…” He said, “I wish to ask the Shehzade of the Congress, how much black money have they received from Adani, Ambani? How much the Congress has ‘received’ from those industrialists for the elections?” PM Modi’s questions are interesting considering at least two former CMs — Ashok Gehlot for Amethi and Bhupesh Bhagel for Rae Bareli — have been deployed to manage the elections for the UP seats. The former CMs with resources have been deployed to “salvage” the prestige seat for Gandhis. Initially it was Priyanka Vadra who rushed to her brother’s defence while campaigning in Rae Bareli and attacked Modi for being nervous about his nexus with Adani and Ambani. Later, Rahul shared a video on X where he seemed very happy that PM Modi had for the first time named Adani and Ambani publicly. Taking a swipe at PM for suggesting that he may have cut deals with the top business honchos, Rahul wanted to know if Modi was speaking from his personal experience about transporting cash in tempos. He even suggested sending ED, CBI to the business groups..
Ram mandir

Cong Move To Undo Gains Of Ram Mandir?

In an usual move, Prof Ram Gopal Yadav, cousin of  Samajwadi Party founder, the late Mulayam Singh Yadav, courted controversy when he remarked that the Ayodhya Ram Mandir was ‘bekar’ (useless) and not built according to ‘Vastu’.  It may seem odd that the Yadav patriarch should make these comments on the day of polling for third phase — when at least three members of Yadav family including his son Akshay, Akhilesh Yadav’s wife Dimple and Shivpal Yadav’s son Aditya were trying their luck from Firozabad, Mainpuri and Badaun Lok Sabha seats. It was felt SP leaders have always been anti Ram temple as they have been anxious about pandering to their Muslim vote bank. UP CM Yogi Adityanath said “These are the same people who opened fire on Kar Sevaks and even denied the existence of Lord Ram.”  However, what added a new dimension to the Ram Mandir debate was a disclosure by former Congress leader Acharya Pramod Krishnam that Congress MP Rahul Gandhi was in favour of revisiting the Ayodhya judgement of the Supreme Court– that is if the Congress were to come to power at the Centre. Rahul wished to overturn the mandir verdict of the apex court just as his father Rajiv Gandhi had nullified Shah Bano order in the 80s. The temple which has proven to be a boon for UP and rejuvenated the state is now being threatened with political action. PM Modi used Krishnam’s disclosures in his campaign to warn people about the SP and the Congress’ evil designs on Ram Mandir. So far the Congress has not contradicted the claim.
buddhadeb

Left Goes Hi-Tech In Bengal, Harnesses SRK's Influence And AI To Counter TMC & BJP

 Once known for its archaic outlook, CPI-M is going all out using an AI-generated video of ailing former Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya to usage of AI-generated news anchor and whistleblowing Bollywood dialogues to revive the Left Front’s fortunes in West Bengal in this Lok Sabha Election. But, can it counter Trinamool Congress and BJP’s political binary in the state? CPI-M recently created buzz with a teaser post “aei bhabe-o phire asha jay” (this way can also be returned) before releasing Bhattacharjee’s message urging voters to vote for the Left and secular forces. The video shows the former CM addressing a spectrum of concerns spanning from Sandeshkhali to unemployment and accusations of corruption in West Bengal, criticising the ruling TMC. The video also scrutinised the BJP-led Centre on demonetization, electoral bonds, and inflation by saying “Who is Narendra Modi? Who is Mamata Banerjee? Don’t give them a chance to ruin our country, our state.” Incidentally, questions have been raised about missing star campaigners. Countering it, Srijan Bhattacharya from Jadavpur Lok Sabha constituency has garnered significant attention with his inverse statement of the famous SRK dialogue from Jawan — Bete ko haath lagane se pehle baap se baat kar to Baap ko haat lagane se pehle bete se baat karna parega. It may be noted that CPI-M since 2019 Lok Sabha and 2021 State Assembly polls has failed to open any accounts. Though candidates such Bhattacharya, Saira Shah Halim from Kolkata South and Dipsita Dhar from Serampore are trying to revive the Left Front’s fortunes in Bengal. But, it certainly seems like an uphill task.
modi patnaik

Gloves Are Off, PM Modi Openly Attacks Naveen Patnaik

It’s now certain that the bonhomie situation between BJD-BJP is over at the highest level. It’s a war like situation between hopeful BJP and well entrenched BJD in Odisha. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his electioneering visit to Odisha said “BJD’s expiry date is June 4, the day the Assembly election result will be announced”. Modi also invited Odisha netizens to the swearing-in ceremony of BJP CM on June 10, saying BJP will make Odisha No 1 in five years. Modi in his election speech compared BJD to the setting sun and Congress is already past, while BJP has come with the hope of a new dawn in Odisha” he said. Modi said, the BJP CM in Odisha will be someone who deeply understands and takes pride in Odia culture. Political watchers are asking a couple of questions: Is this Modi’s ploy to intimidate BJD, setting the election tone? Is Modi’s statement based on the feedback given by Odisha BJP leaders? Those who know Modi’s penchant for political spin, say this is Modi’s way for positive thinking just like his famous election promise of “achhe din“. After PM’s expiry day remark Patnaik’s protege VK Pandian said “Naveen Patnaik will take oath as Odisha CM for 6th time on June 9.” On his part, Patnaik said “It has been a long time BJP is daydreaming.” Former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh took a jibe at BJP Modi saying “Odisha has suffered gross neglect in the hands of Modi sarkar. He sighted CAG reports saying central transfers as percentage of revenue receipt has decreased from 57% in 2017-18 to 38% in 2021-2022.”
sambit patra

BJP’s Sambit Patra Has An Edge In Puri As BJD Changes Candidate In Temple Town

The contest is keen as it is set to take place between BJP’s Dr Sambit Patra and Biju Janata Dal’s (BJD) Arup Patnaik with the regional party replacing its candidate and sitting MP Pinaki Misra. The wager this time round is that Dr Patra could have an edge as he narrowly lost the 2019 polls to Pinaki Misra by 11,714 votes. Legal eagle Misra who has contested and won from Puri a record six times since 1996 did not wish to contest again. The BJD replaced Misra with Arup Patnaik, a former Mumbai top cop. The buzz about Patnaik is that he is too aloof as a candidate; he apparently doesn’t even get off his vehicle to interact with voters. He merely asks people if they know who he is. Sources sympathetic to Patnaik say he has some health issues and is not strong on communication. Yet,  BJD sources insist that the key to winning Puri would depend on the kind of  candidates selected and deployed in the assembly seats as state polls are being held with Lok Sabha polls . That is why Arup Patnaik still could be home and dry, if the right candidates have been picked as MLAs. “It all depends on what Bobby Das, our BJD General Secretary, who is contesting Sambalpur Lok Sabha seat against Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, has planned for Puri,”says a BJD veteran. All indications are BJP’s Dr Patra is having it easy at the assembly level too. Meanwhile, the Congress refused to let its candidate Sucharita Mohanty drop out due to lack of support. Senior leader KC Venugopal said that the party was replacing Sucharita with another candidate. Polling in Puri will take place in the sixth phase on May 25, along with assembly polls. In 2019, the BJP won a total of 8 Lok Sabha seats in Odisha, BJD grabbed 12 and one seat went to Congress.
asauddin

Glaring Omission of Muslim Candidates In Maharashtra Stands Out, AIMIM To Contest Four Seats

On the last day of filing nominations on May 3, the All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) surprised all by putting up a candidate in Mumbai North Central constituency to make up for failure of major political parties to nominate even a single Muslim candidate among the 48 seats in Maharashtra. AIMIM even invited Congress leader Arif Naseem Khan to join the party and contest on AIMIM ticket but he refused. The AIMIM,which has no tie-ups in state either with the INDI alliance group or with the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi(VBA) has now put up four candidates across the state including in Aurangabad, Osmanabad, Pune and Mumbai North Central. Currently, Maharashtra has only one Muslim Member of Parliament, AIMIM’S Imtiaz Jaleel out of the 48 seats and about 10 legislators out of the 288 MLA’s seats in the state. There is much anger expressed among the 11.56% Muslim population in Maharashtra against the Maha Vikas Aghadi particularly the Congress for their failure to nominate even a single candidate from its tally of 17 candidates from the 1.3 crore Muslim community in state. The party failed to act even when its own senior leader and aspirant, ex-cabinet minister Arif Nasim Khan resigned from key party posts after it failed to nominate him from the North Central constituency. The Samajwadi Party, which enjoys a support base among the Muslim community, is upset with the Congress for not allocating even two seats for it in the state. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge chose to blame it on three-party coalition compulsions.
recruitment scam

Recruitment Scam Fallout: TMC, Opposition Face Electoral Backlash Over Job Cancellations

The Calcutta High Court judgement of nullifying the appointments of 25,000 teachers in the Teachers’ Recruitment Scam seems to have impacted the fortunes of the political parties particularly the ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal. It has dealt a severe blow to the credibility of TMC supremo and chief minister Mamata Banerjee-led government.  Not only has it tarnished the image of the Trinamool government but raised questions about its commitment to transparency and meritocracy. The party is now grappling with the fallout from the scam. The cancellation of such a large number of teaching jobs has not only sparked outrage among the affected candidates but has also fueled discontent among voters in Bengal. Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his rallies in Bengal on May 3, reassured the youth of Bengal that those responsible for their distress would face severe consequences. He encouraged the BJP Bengal to set up both a legal cell and a social media platform to support the victims of the scam. Incidentally, several people blamed the CPI-M’s Rajya Sabha MP and senior leader Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya as well as BJP for the verdict as their main aim was to gain power and not think about common people. The verdict’s implications extend beyond the immediate loss of jobs for thousands of aspiring teachers; it has become a focal point in the broader political contest for power and legitimacy.
priyank kharge

Is Priyank Kharge “The New Power Centre” In Karnataka?

The 2024 Lok Sabha elections have turned into a battle of survival for India’s regional parties, with centralisation of political power emphasized by the only two national political formations – BJP and Congress. The centralisation of power has also witnessed a new phenomenon: Remote controlled state governance from Delhi. While BJP was known to have done so in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka (erstwhile government), Congress has also unofficially appointed president Mallikarjun Kharge’s son Priyank, known for his strident anti-Hindutva, as Karnataka’s de-facto CM after placating CM Siddaramaiah, Deputy CM DK Shivakumar through an equitable state control. Meanwhile, regional fault-lines have erupted replacing coalition dharma across India that hitherto accommodated regional concerns of allies. The NDA witnessed soft murmurs of protest among regional partners over inadequate representation for general elections although things did not come to a head. The I.N.D.I.A front, however, witnessed sharp differences and varied responses from regional players apparently taking the Congress head on despite the alliance. CPI in Kerala pitted Annie Raja’s candidature against Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad. Similarly, RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav quickly announced his daughter’s candidature to contest against Pappu Yadav (Rajesh Ranjan), a day after the latter merged his standalone Jan Adhikar Party with Congress for general elections 2024. Similarly, in Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party/Congress bonhomie evaporated after Congress’ manifesto reiterated reservations not only for caste but also minorities (read Muslims). Akhilesh Yadav has taken note of the Congress outreach to the minority vote-bank and now additionally worries about outsider AIMIM party’s full-fledged foray into UP that threatens to upstage his own Lok Sabha fortunes.
rahul sonia priyanka

Rahul Agrees To Contest From Raebareli Too, Congress Cadres Upset As Priyanka Keeps Out Of The Fray

Nothing has disappointed Congressmen across the country more so in Uttar Pradesh than the fact that Priyanka Vadra did not figure as a candidate either from Raebareli or Amethi. Instead, her brother Rahul filed his papers from Raebareli, a seat their mother Sonia vacated, moving to a Rajya Sabha seat from Rajasthan. The Amethi seat which Rahul unsuccessfully contested in 2019 and lost to Smriti Irani was given to an old party hand, KL Sharma. Party sources said for some reason Rahul was not keen that his sister, who has shaped up as a key campaigner, should enter the fray. Maybe he will let her contest the Lok Sabha seat, say Wayanad, in the event he wins. With UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s goal of securing all the 80 Lok Sabha seats and Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan also setting similar goals, Rahul may perhaps not get the privilege of making such a choice . That’s why Congress leaders insist keeping Priyanka out of the electoral fray at this stage isn’t a great idea and has impacted at least 25 seats. “Priyanka’s entry would have galvanised the Congress cadre. In fact, the Samajwadi Party was insisting that at least one of the Gandhis should enter the fray from UP. Rahul was not keen on fighting for a second seat. He had to be persuaded,” says an AICC functionary.  It is rather odd that Rahul didn’t want to share family turf with his sister. This at a time when party cadre feels more inspired by her.  With Women’s Quota becoming an Act, a reality that would be rolled out from 2029, Rahul should know he can have little choice.
raj thackeray ujjwal

Raj Thackeray Expected To Jump Into Campaigning Soon

Now that all Lok Sabha candidates have been announced in Maharashtra by major parties, the ruling Mahayuti alliance is planning to add ace orator Raj Thackeray to the list of its star campaigners. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), the party established by Raj, has already become active in select Lok Sabha constituencies though its rank and file is yet to be roped in across the state. But that will happen in a couple of days, it is expected. Raj has already declared his support to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the NDA. He himself will launch his state tour either from Mumbai, Pune or Nashik. Raj’s main attack will focus on cousin Uddhav Thackeray and the Shiv Sena faction led by him. Hence, Raj will be seen more in Mumbai, Thane and the Konkan region, which are all Uddhav’s strongholds. Veteran Narayan Rane, who is contesting from the Sindhudurg-Ratnagiri seat on a BJP ticket, will be among the first to organise a public rally for Raj. Similarly, chief minister Eknath Shinde’s son Shrikant (Kalyan) and his confidant Naresh Mhaske (Thane) are looking forward to holding meetings for Raj on whom they called in Mumbai. Similarly, BJP’s high profile candidate advocate Ujjwal Nikam had an hour-long meeting with Raj at the MNS chief’s residence. Raj has kept mum all these days and it is said that he is storing his ammunition for setting it afire at appropriate times.
MK_stalin_011

Hounded By Social Media, Stalin Cuts Short His Holidays

Hounded by social media critics, Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin dashed back to Chennai on cutting short his stay in Kodaikanal by at least two days. Mocked for staying in salubrious hill station weather while the rest of the state was being roasted in extraordinary conditions of high heat and worse humidity, Stalin called for a chartered flight to take him back from Madurai on May 2. He had gone on a break to one of Tamil Nadu’s two best known summer resorts, with sentiment guiding him to the more southern queen of hill stations as it had proved lucky for him after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in which his DMK+ alliance that he led won 38 of 39 seats. He called for an emergency meeting in the state capital on May 3 to take stock of the harsh summer conditions and what the state could do to mitigate the plight of the people. Tamil Nadu has a history of CMs going to hill stations with J Jayalaalithaa known to camp for months in her favourite tea estate in Kodanad in the Nilgiris. But she had to withstand much mockery then even though she was running the administration from there at a camp office. With Stalin trying his hand at putting on the Kodaikanal Golf Club’s greens, the noise on social media became louder, forcing him to take a call on the summer blues of the people.
eknath ajit fadnavis

In Maharashtra Shinde Gains, Ajit Sacrifices And BJP Adjusts

Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde is perceived as the main gainer in the Lok Sabha seat distribution among the three partners of the ruling Mahayuti alliance. While the BJP has the largest share of the seats, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) under deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar has had to satisfy with just four the undivided NCP had won in 2019. Hence, Ajit’s political future is a matter of discussion now since his adversaries have started painting him as a loser. The Shiv Sena under Shinde has obtained 15 seats, leaving the remaining 28 for the BJP. The NCP (Ajit) will thus fight in Raigad, Dharashiv, Shirur and Baramati constituencies. On the other hand, Shinde has been able to secure Kalyan, Thane and Nashik LS seats, which will witness a close fight. Incidentally, the BJP was trying to obtain these three seats as it was under pressure from its local leaders. Sensing the possible criticism, Ajit had explained that the NCP (undivided) had won four seats in 2019 and would recontest them this time, too. Additionally, he wanted his party to get the prestigious Satara seat won by it the last time, but dropped its claim since a scion of the family of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was selected to stand there.  Ajit and Shinde have the assembly as the focus of their future politics. Hence, the present arrangement is viewed as an adjustment for the long term strategy to decimate the Congress and Sharad Pawar from the state political scene.
Ravindra yamini

Eknath Shinde Picks Two Mumbai Lok Sabha Candidates, Both Once Close To Uddhav And On ED’s Radar

Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde has selected two Lok Sabha candidates from Mumbai. According to the much-awaited announcement, MLAs Yamini Jadhav for Mumbai South and Ravindra Waikar for Mumbai North-West will take on Uddhav Thackeray’s confidants Arvind Sawant and Amol Kirtikar, respectively. Jadhav and Waikar, both close to Uddhav once, were also on the ED’s radar. Sawant has been elected twice from the constituency which houses all important government offices, including Mantralaya, the Reserve Bank and the Mumbai Stock Market, besides various international financial corporations. Deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has explained that the Shiv Sena led by Shinde was allotted three of the six seats from Mumbai and accordingly, Jadhav and Waikar are in the fray. Till last month, Waikar was with the Uddhav faction but changed sides recently to join the Sena under Shinde. He will be opposing Amol Kirtikar, whose father Gajanan has been representing the Western suburban constituency for a decade. The third Sena (Shinde) candidate is sitting MP Rahul Shewale, from Mumbai South Central, considered the stronghold of the Sena (Uddhav). His opponent is top Sena functionary Anil Desai, who is considered among the closest to Uddhav. The BJP has fielded ace lawyer Ujjwal Nikam (Mumbai North Central), Union minister Piyush Goyal (Mumbai North) and Mihir Kotecha (Mumbai North East). All fights in Mumbai, thus, will witness a keen tussle.
HD Kumaraswamy

JD (S) Aghast As Congress Makes Use Of Prajwal's Videos

BJP leaders are quite perplexed by Congress efforts to drag PM Narendra Modi into outright sexual misconduct of JD(S) MP Prajwal Revanna, just because he campaigned for the Hassan candidate.  Clearly upset with the BJP-JD(S) alliance that is having an edge in the LS polls, it is being said deputy chief minister DK Shiv Kumar(DKS) had reportedly zeroed in on Prajwal’s shortcomings just to undermine the alliance and had unleashed a digital campaign to dent the JD(S) image days before the April 26 voting. DKS, worried about the fate of his own brother DK Suresh losing to former PM HD Devegowda’s son-in-law Dr Manjunath that he resurrected an old video and circulated it in the constituency. BJP sources are surprised that the Congress which was too scared to speak up for women of Sandeshkhali, was now speaking for “exploited” women of Hassan. Home Minister Amit Shah shut-up the Congress by saying it was now up to Karnataka to probe the matter. As for Prajwal, he has been suspended from the JD(S).The video clips, allegedly involving Prajwal surfaced on social media a day after his constituency went to polls. On reports of Prajwal leaving the country pending a probe, Karnataka Home Minister G Parameshwara has asserted that Prajwal will be asked to return to India by the SIT. BJP Leader Devaraje Gowda said he had written to then BJP state president BY Vijayendra in December 2023, flagging “grave allegations” against the HD Deve Gowda family, including Prajwal Revanna. He claimed that he had received a pen drive containing 2,976 explicit videos of women which were then being used to blackmail them into continuing to engage in sexual activities. Meanwhile, the buzz is JD(S) Chief HD Kumaraswamy feels when his son Nikhil lost Ramanagara Assembly it had a lot to do with elder brother HD Revanna sabotaging it.
amit odisha

Amit Shah Sets Cat Among Pigeons, Says Bureaucrat Pandian May Be Patnaik’s Eventual Successor

Union home minister Amit Shah who is on a whistle-stop tour across the country was in Odisha recently where both the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections to boost the morale of his voters and win the confidence of the voters. He told the cadres and leaders, BJP will form the Odisha government in 2024. As for the electorate he told them that BJP will make Odisha No1 state in the country if given an opportunity. He dropped the succession plan bombshell of Biju Janata Dal. He publicly said that chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s confidant VK Pandian may be a possible successor. This statement seems to have unnerved seasoned BJD leaders. But, there is no denying the fact that just like Modi who is admired across the country, so too is Patnaik across the state. He is the undisputed king; nobody can ease him out of the throne in this lifetime. The general feeling is that Patnaik will be sworn in as the CM for the sixth consecutive time in 2024. Yes, what goes against Patnaik is his age (77-year) and health but not lack of development of the state per se.  Pandian emerging as eventual successor seems to have sown seeds of discord among senior BJD leaders. After Patnaik, they feel the party will disintegrate as nobody would want to be led by an outsider like Pandian. Against this backdrop, BJP seems to have the field wide open for it.
Mahua Moitra_004

Can Mahua Moitra Retain Her Krishnanagar Seat Against BJP's Onslaught?

BJP, it seems, is leaving no stones unturned to ensure that the Trinamool Congress leader Mahua Moitra who was expelled from the Parliament in a cash-for-query case loses her Krishnanagar Lok Sabha seat. According to BJP sources, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to hold a rally at Krishnanagar on May 3 in favour of BJP candidate Amrita Roy, daughter-in-law from Krishnanagar Royal Family. Mahua Moitra who came into public glare for her fiery speeches and strong political stance has been a strong critic of the BJP-led Central government.  She has been going hammer and tongs over the Adani issue. When she was expelled from the Parliament, her future seemed a question mark but TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee went all out to back her by renominating her. Before Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah was scheduled to address a gathering in Krishnanagar on April 30 but the meeting got canceled at the last moment. Interestingly, this constituency has several religious places like Shantipur, Nabadwip and Mayapur and it is easy for BJP to mobilise Hindu voters for public gathering. Besides, BJP is banking on the Matua and Namasudra community votes. Local BJP leaders admitted that there is a panic in these areas over NRC and if the PM can clear the doubts on this front in his speech it will help. Modi’s decision to personally campaign for the BJP candidate in Krishnanagar underscores the party’s determination to clinch victory and also an opportunity to embarrass Mahua vis a vis Didi. If Mahua wins and returns to Parliament then it could be a face loss for BJP. But June 4 will decide which way the wind is blowing.
stalin holiday

photo : asianetnews.com

Superstition Or Lucky Charm: Why Stalin Is Holidaying In Kodaikanal

Post April 19, Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin had an onerous task of getting voting feedback from every constituency, in keeping with his clarion call — 40 on 40 for DMK and its allies. Satisfied about the outcome, Stalin then set off on April 29 with wife Durga and family to cool off in Kodaikanal, the hill resort de rigueur for the angrez. But this powerful and wealthy family could have chosen any ritzy global getaway, so why Kodai? Wags and watchers are busy with superstition theories. Post 2021 Assembly polls, Stalin sought this same hill station even as the DMK supremacy news wafted in. Whatever the rationalist ideology, agnostic posture, superstition is rife among most Indians — especially politicians who reach out to vaastu experts, numerologists and astrologers surreptitiously. It is recalled that family pointsman son-in-law V Sabareesan predicted a huge victory margin in 2021. This election, his ministers have concerns of a different kind; Stalin has warned that any plunge in vote share would directly hit the minister in charge of that constituency. So they are speculating that the CM could be planning axing some names, after feedback from the oracles. Stalin is busy assuring his coterie that no such exigency may arise as he expects DMK to sweep the polls this time too. So where does this leave the BJP? Psephologists have different stories to say. The day of reckoning is June 4.
EVM VVPAT

Why Cong Was Quick To Distance Itself From EVM Petition?

It is really interesting that on a day the Supreme Court dismissed petitions that called for comprehensive cross-verification of votes cast using EVMs with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT), the Congress  asserted  that  its “political campaign on the greater use of VVPATs to increase the public trust in the electoral process” would continue. This even after Congress leader Jairam Ramesh wrote on X that “Congress was not a party, directly or indirectly, to the petition on VVPATs rejected by the Supreme Court”. So what is the Congress compulsion to continue its campaign against EVMs, something that it introduced while it was in power? Well, the answer lies in its 2024 manifesto where under the heading “Defending the Constitution” the party speaks about a promise to restore the voters’ trust in the election process. “We will amend the election laws to combine the efficiency of the EVM and the transparency of the ballot paper. Voting will be through the EVM but the voter will be able to hold and deposit the machine-generated voting slip into the voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) unit. The electronic vote tally will be matched against the VVPAT slip tally.”  Of course such a promise goes against the latest SC verdict. That’s why even if one accepts the Congress position that it had nothing to do with the petition before the SC, PM Modi  may not be surely off the mark when he dubbed the apex court  verdict as a jolt “to those who wanted to loot ballot boxes “. The court had clearly said the era of ballot papers shall not return.
sunita kalpana

Wives' Of Jailed CMs Look For A Large Role In Party Affairs

Ever since Sunita Kejriwal and Kalpana Soren –wives of jailed chief ministers Arvind Kejriwal and Hemant Soren — took part in the Opposition I.N.D.I.A rally on April 21 in Ranchi, their role in party politics seem to be getting firmer. AAP leadership now wants Sunita Kejriwal to campaign for its three Lok Sabha candidates in Delhi from April 27.  Sunita’s campaign will be to protest her husband’s arrest, explained Delhi minister Atishi Singh. Sunita Kejriwal will apparently hold a roadshow in East Delhi Lok Sabha on April 27, follow it up with another roadshow in the West Delhi Lok Sabha constituency the following day. She is also expected to visit Punjab, Haryana, and Gujarat.  AAP sources hope people of “Delhi, Punjab, and the entire country will vote in favour of Arvind Kejriwal”. The party has also launched a Lok Sabha campaign focussing on Kejriwal’s arrest by the ED. Titled Jail Ka Jawab Vote Se is a song written and sung by AAP MLA Dilip Pandey.  Meanwhile, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) has declared Kalpana Soren, wife of jailed former chief minister Hemant Soren, as candidate for by-election to Gandey assembly seat. Bypoll in Gandey, which fell vacant following the resignation of JMM MLA Sarfaraz Ahmad, is scheduled on May 20 along with Lok Sabha polls in the state. Kalpana, a homemaker with MTech and MBA qualifications, is contesting from a general seat as she is a non-tribal and hails from Odisha. She was previously considered a frontrunner for the position of CM after Hemant Soren’s resignation but faced opposition from Sita Soren, the elder daughter-in-law of Shibu Soren.
nupur sharma

Career Boost For Nupur Sharma, May Get Rajya Sabha Berth

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The BJP that was seriously considering the rehabilitation of its former spokesperson Nupur Sharma, relegated to political silence in the wake of her controversial comments over the Gyanvapi temple issue, may likely elevate her to parliament through the Rajya Sabha. Sources close to the development told shortpost.in, “Sharma’s rehabilitation was under active consideration for over two months now. Originally, BJP intended to field her from one of the seven parliamentary constituencies in Delhi. However, issues of security, with a fatwa of sur-tun-se-juda (decapitation threat) issued against her by Islamic fundamentalists, resulted in her candidature not being confirmed as it would lead to security challenges as she would have to publicly canvas for the general elections.” The source added that the BJP is still to finalize her exact mode of political elevation with the Raebareli and Amethi Lok Sabha seats also being considered as options if Rahul Gandhi’s second parliamentary candidature or Priyanka Vadra’s nomination respectively are announced from either of the two seats. “The BJP is keen to serve out a double drubbing to the Gandhi family from their traditional parliamentary bastions in Uttar Pradesh. On Hanuman Jayanti, which was celebrated on April 23, Nupur Sharma was seen distributing food to people. Coincidentally, Lord Bajrangbali’s birthday and Sharma’s fell on the same day.” Nupur, who insists that her comments were in response to pejorative statements against Lord Shiva’s Jyotirlinga at Gyanvapi, being referred to as a mere water fountain by Muslim panelists on the televised show, may thus benefit from divine intervention to kickstart her political career once again.
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Voters Shocked As Maharashtra Electioneering Dominated By Allegations, Abusive Language

 The flurry of allegations and counter-allegations has reached another level in Maharashtra this election season. Day in and day out, various leaders slander their opponents, at times using abusive language. Now, Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Sanjay Raut has made a serious allegation against deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, and his boss, Uddhav Thackeray, has endorsed it. Fadnavis has reiterated his charge that the Thackeray’s Maha Vikas Aghadi government had tried all options to arrest him but failed since it did not find anything incriminating. Even a police commissioner of Mumbai was roped in but in vain, he added. Responding to the charge, Raut said that Fadnavis had ordered phone tapping when he was the chief minister. When the MVA government began investigating the matter, Fadnavis got worried and engineered the fall of the Thackeray government. Though Uddhav who so far had maintained silence about the issue he endorsed what Raut said. Uddhav also questioned the exoneration of various prominent leaders from charges of corruption. He was hinting at the clean chit issued by the Mumbai police to Sunetra Pawar in an alleged fraud case. Uddhav said such questions had been uppermost in people’s minds. Even if no answers are forthcoming, the voters will not forget them, he warned. Only a few days ago, Uddhav’s son Aaditya had used derogatory terms against CM Eknath Shinde. There is no sign of the combat of verbal invectives subsiding.
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Shinde Warns Uddhav, Behave Or Shall Expose Your London & Lucknow Property Details

Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde has threatened his arch enemy Uddhav Thackeray that various documents concerning properties from London to Lucknow and khoka to container are in his possession and if his predecessor does not observe limits of decency, everything will be made public and then he (Uddhav) will not be able to move around openly. In an interview to Marathi news channel ABP Majha, Shinde castigated Aaditya Thackeray for using intemperate language against him and others.  In an oblique reference to London, the CM said there was no reason for somebody to become restless when relaxing in the British capital was mentioned. “Observe limits, or else all will come out. We have documents about London and 200 acres in Lucknow,” Shinde warned Aaditya. He reiterated that the then Thackeray government had planned to jail top BJP leaders like Devendra Fadnavis, Ashish Shelar, Pravin Darekar or Prasad Lad. He recalled how Union minister Narayan Rane, MP Navneet Rana, journalists like Arnab Goswami were jailed during the Uddhav regime. He alleged that Uddhav was trying to weaken the BJP on one hand and strengthen Maha Vikas Aghadi on the other by using governmental machinery. Praising MNS leader Raj Thackeray, he said Raj was a broad minded person unlike Uddhav. He expressed confidence that the Mahayuti will sweep the polls in Maharashtra.
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Post Poll Feedback: AIADMK Chief Livid After He Discovers Cadres Did Not Reach Out To Voters

Polling in Tamil Nadu, held in the first phase, has apparently left AIADMK leader Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) very disturbed, particularly after he discovered that the party cadre did not even bother to reach out to voters. Soon after the voting was over, a livid Palanisami held a review meeting and gave the cadre a dressing down. Apparently, the AIADMK cadre was not happy about going alone, snapping ties with the BJP. With a potential ally like the PMK preferring to tie up with the BJP rather than the AIADMK, Palaniswami feels his party could draw a blank in the Lok Sabha polls. His rival O Panneerselvam has stood as an independent in Ramanathapuram backed by the BJP. Some AIADMK leaders wonder if snapping ties with the BJP was dictated by Palaniswami’s animosity towards TN BJP chief K Annamalai. EPS was so determined to defeat Annamalai that he had even deployed two or three of his close aides in Coimbatore.  As for breaking ties with the BJP, EPS had expressed concern over getting minority votes from southern districts. Post polling, doubts remain if any minority votes came AIADMK way.
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(left) Left Radhakrishna Doddamani and Dr CN Manjunath

Karnataka Witnesses Prestige Battle Of Two Famous Damads

At least two Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka –Gulbarga and Bangalore (Rural) — will witness two prestige battles of sorts of the sons-in- law. Gulbarga Lok Sabha will witness Radhakrishna Doddamani, son-law of Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge taking on incumbent BJP MP Dr Umesh Jadhav, while Dr CN Manjunath, son-in-law of former PM HD Devegowda will be locked in a battle as BJP-JD(U) candidate  to oust DK Suresh, sitting  Congress MP and brother of Karnataka Deputy CM  DK Shivkumar. The most interesting part of the poll campaign is that 81-year-old Kharge tried to strike an emotional chord with the people of his home district of Kalaburagi.  He appealed to voters to at least attend his funeral if they thought he worked for them if they did not wish to vote for the Congress candidate. Kharge had lost in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Congress sources said Kharge is not confident of reclaiming Gulbarga seat via his relative. In contrast, Dr Manjunath, engaged in the prestige battle in the Vokkaliga stronghold of Bangalore Rural seat, is quite aware that he is up against the might of Congress’s DK brothers. Yet, what is giving him confidence is the BJP-JD(S) alliance and a certain “gratitude factor” as he is a cardiologist to work in his favour. Manjunathwho has done much clinical work says there are at least 10-15 cardiac patients that have been treated by his healthcare institute not only in Bangalore Rural but in every village. He adds that the gratitude factor among these patients has added momentum to his electoral campaign.  Of course, he is not relying on gratitude alone. “Narendra Modi’s charisma is there,” he has been quoted as saying.
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(left) Sunil Tatkare and Anant Geete

Confusing Raigad Voters: Two Tatkare and Three Geete Contest From The Same Constituency

The battle between Mahayuti candidate Sunil Dattatray Tatkare and Maha Vikas Aghadi’s Anant Gangaram Geete in Raigad Lok Sabha constituency is likely to end in a suspense since namesakes of both candidates have filed nominations. Tatkare, the sitting MP, has been fielded by the Ajit Pawar faction of the NCP while Geete is contesting on behalf of the Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray. Geete,  a former Union Industries minister, has been elected repeatedly from the constituency. Interestingly, there are two more independent candidates with the same name Anant Geete. They are Anant Padma Geete and Anant Baloji Geete. Similarly, there is a Sunil Dattaram Tatkare, who is not known locally at all. The three pose a risk of splitting the votes. In 2014 a similar thing had happened in Raigad. Tatkare and Geete were in a close fight but the seat was ultimately won by Geete by a slim margin of around 2000 votes while the “other” Tatkare had polled over 9,000 votes resulting in politician Takare losing. In 1991, top PWP leader Datta Patil had to suffer when a similar tactic was used against him. In fact, the Raigad constituency is known for such independent candidates, who can derail real candidates’ winning chances. It is said that Tatkare is using the same strategy this time, played by the Sena 10 years ago to defeat him.
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Ranas Vs Adsuls: Fight At Amravati Is Far From Over

It’s the husband-wife team of Navneet-Ravi Rana vs the father-son team of Anandrao- Abhijit Adsul playing out in Amravati. Both the Ranas and Adsuls have one leg in the state and Centre. While Ravi Raja represented Badnera assembly constituency for three terms from 2009 onwards, his wife Navneet is the sitting MP from Amravati. A similar arrangement had been worked out between the Adsuls — father Anantrao Adsul was the MP from Amravati from 1996 to 2014 while son captain Abhijeet Adsul was an MLA from Daryapur constituency from 2009.Things changed when Naveet Rana defeated the five-term MP Adsul in 2019. The equations changed further in 2024 when both of them found themselves vying for the same Amravati seat from the same Mahayuti alliance with Ranas pitching from the BJP and Adsuls from the Eknath Shinde faction of the Shiv Sena. Ravi Rana famously quipped in a rally that not only will he get a ticket from Amravati but he will also get the Adsul’s to campaign for his wife. Thanks to their clout, Navneet Rana did manage to get the ticket from Mahayuti with the state BJP welcoming her at midnight. However, the arrogance of Rana’s is such that Navneet’s nomination from the BJP was opposed by BJP’s own cadres, as also from the independent parties like Bachchu Kadu of Prahar Party, who put up a candidate against her. To cool things down, the husband-wife duo visited Adsul’s residence. But, senior Adsul seems adamant on opposing Rana. Looks like the Amravati feud promises to hold more surprises.
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Smriti Irani Mocks Cong For Not Revealing Amethi Card

Rahul Gandhi’s plans of announcing his intention to contest Amethi after Wayanad elections on April 26 took a hit with Union Minister Smriti Irani going to town about why and how the Congress has not yet declared a candidate for the seat. Neither jija Robert Vadra, who has been openly declaring his interest in Amethi, has been declared nor has Rahul Gandhi, who lost to Irani in 2019. Irani claimed she had ensured more work in the constituency in the last five years than Rahul did representing the Lok Sabha seat for three terms. Amethi goes to polls on May 20. “Jijaji ki nazar hai, saale sahab kya karenge. (brother-in-law is eyeing the seat, what will he (Rahul do?) There was a time when people travelling in buses would leave their handkerchief to mark their seat so that no one sits on it. Rahul Gandhi will also come to mark his seat with a handkerchief because his brother-in-law is eyeing this seat,” she told a gathering in Amethi.”Just 27 days left for election, but Congress has not announced its candidate,” Irani said. Rahul had evaded committing to contesting from Amethi by suggesting he “will do whatever the party orders me.” As for Vadra flaunting his interest in Amethi, Congress sources say he is a non-serious player. “He has been declaring his open interest in Amethi only because he doesn’t want his wife Priyanka to enter the fray at this juncture,” said a source. The Gandhi siblings do not value his opinion. After the clean chit he has got for his Haryana dealings, Vadra wants to be seen on the right side of the government.
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Is Coimbatore The Hottest Battleground In This Election?

Probably, no candidate, no constituency and no state has made this kind of a news in previous elections as has  Coimbatore in the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections . With reams of reviews and bundles of money wagered and spent, Coimbatore has stood out like a starburst in the very first phase. The moment meteor Malai, Annamalai was named as BJP’s candidate, all six assembly segments went into a tizzy. Sulur, Palladam, Kavundanpalayam are seen as pocket boroughs of the DMK and its alter ego, the AIADMK. Singanallur, Coimbatore North and CBE South are distinct urban strongholds, with overriding corporates and educated elite, and these three segments worked non-stop for Annamalai — 28,000 volunteers, vetted and conscripted worked for him. DMK, on its part, convinced its ally CPM to move over, and allow its candidate Ganapati Rajkumar to contest against Annamalai.  Despite all the hype, the ground reality was that the BJP had very few booth level managers/workers, they had to “import” rank outsiders. Interestingly, all opinion polls and surveys seem to be specially focussed on Annamalai’s Coimbatore constituency and the entire state. And most of them indicate Annamalai has an edge but there is no gain saying the fact that he has emerged as a dominant force in Tamil Nadu politics. This David has age on his side so can vanquish the aging Goliaths to eventually emerge the victor.
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In Bengal, Didi Is Busy Trying To Get The ‘Muslim Math’ Right

In the run up to the Lok Sabha Election, Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s absence from the major meeting of I.N.D.I.A. bloc is seen as her desperate attempt to continue consolidating her grip over the minority section that hold a chunk of her vote bank. The “Muslim math” continues to remain one of the significant vote shares eyed not only by ruling TMC but also Congress and CPI-M who are jointly opposing both TMC and BJP in Bengal. Sources within TMC admitted that with decline of political hold of Congress and CPI-M, Didi is now attempting to seize the bulk of minority vote share. Experts believe that one of the main reasons is that Mamata and her nephew Abhishek, are avoiding the large national gatherings of the I.N.D.I.A. bloc is because of their focus on the Muslim vote bank. Out of 42 Lok Sabha seats, 14 to 15 seats have more than 30% Muslim population. Both CPI-M and TMC have a history of securing sizable Muslim votes. So too Congress which has always dominated Muslims belt like Murshidabad, Malda, and parts of Birbhum districts. Didi seems to be looking at the combination of an absolute consolidation of Muslim votes and an extra 10-12% of “anti-BJP” votes to win majority seats. Hence, for Didi, publicly shaking hands with the Congress may run the risk of confusing her supporters and hurting her party’s chances of winning.
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Sharad Pawar Leverages Family Rifts In Various Seats To Take On BJP

Sharad Pawar may be bearing the brunt of his powerful family torn apart over politics, but he too is not averse to exploiting familial relationships for electoral gains in Lok Sabha 2024 polls.  The most prominent example is that of Kolhapur’s Shrimant Shahu Chhatrapati Maharaj. When the politically ambitious Yuvraj Sambhaji Raje Chhatrapati was all geared up to fire for Lok Sabha polls through his Swarajya Sanghatana, Pawar played a masterstroke. He met and convinced his father Shahu Maharaj to contest from Kolhapur, forcing the son to retreat thus eclipsing himself completely out of the state poll scene. Similarly, at Madha constituency, he thoroughly exploited the rift between the BJP’s Ranjitsinh Naik-Nimbalkar with his politically influential uncle Ramraje Naik-Nimbalkar, which got the senior Nimbalkar to demand a change of candidate from the BJP. When the party refused, Pawar got key aspirant Dhairyashil Mohite-Patil to quit the BJP and gave him a NCP ticket for Madha constituency. Ajit Pawar’s chief aide Sunil Tatkare, who also took on senior Pawar along with Ajit, found his brother Anil Tatkare in Sharad Pawar’s faction of NCP as state vice-president. Ajit himself has been complaining that the entire Pawar clan has stepped out to campaign against him including those who never step out for it.  At 83, Senior Pawar is putting all his skills to play to put his opponents on the backfoot.
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Uddhav Sena Dares Election Commission Directive Over Use Of Hindu & Jai Bhawani

The Election Commission’s directive to the Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray not to use ‘Hindu’ and ‘Jai Bhawani’ in its campaign song has provided an unexpected boost to the party’s morale. Uddhav has already challenged the order, saying he is prepared to fight a legal battle over the intended ban. Burdened by the role as the largest partner in the Maha Vikas Aghadi, Uddhav Sena has been finding itself cornered due to various sensational disclosures against Uddhav and his two-year rule. Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar have been in the forefront in this regard. In this atmosphere, the EC’s fiat has come as a shot in the arm as the words – Hindu and Jai Bhawani – possess magical effect on the Marathi psyche, irrespective of any party ideology. Sensing this, Uddhav has declared his resolve to oppose the order. But deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and some other leaders have attacked Uddhav by reminding him that he had left the Hindutva long back when he decided to go with the Congress and other such forces. Uddhav has argued that PM Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah continue to invoke Lord Ram and Bajrang Bali in their speeches. Take action against them first, he has challenged the EC, which is yet to respond to the Sena’s communication opposing the ban.
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Antulay’s Son-In-Law Joins Ajit Faction NCP, Brightens Tatkare’s Winning Chances

The Congress in Maharashtra has lost another influential leader as former chief minister AR Antulay’s son-in-law Mushtaq Antulay has joined the NCP led by deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar. The development will impact the political calculations in Raigad, Antulay’s home district. State NCP president Sunil Tatkare is seeking a second Lok Sabha term from the constituency associated with the capital of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. It was Antulay who as CM had renamed Kulaba district as Raigad in 1980. In his budding years at the time, Tatkare was a loyal soldier of Antulay but later switched over to the NCP set up by Sharad Pawar in 1999. Since then, Antulay and Tatkare became political foes. After Antulay’s exit, Mushtaq was sidelined by the Congress party for a long time. Ending this acrimony, Mushtaq has joined the NCP and supplemented Tatkare’s campaign against the Maha Vikas Aghadi, which has fielded former Union energy minister Anant Geete, who was trounced by Tatkare in 2019. Due to Antulay’s seminal developmental initiatives, he had a large following irrespective of party or caste considerations. Shrivardhan, Dapoli and Mahad assembly segments in the Lok Sabha jurisdiction were known to be loyal to him. Mushtaq, however, could not capitalise on this goodwill. Now in the NCP, he has an opportunity to resurrect his political career during the upcoming assembly polls.
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Ajit Pawar’s Nomination Rejected, Wife Sunetra Takes On Supriya Sule In Baramati

Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar’s nomination has been rejected by the returning officer on technical grounds for the prestigious Baramati Lok Sabha constituency. However, this decision will not impact the fierce electioneering or the outcome. Ajit had filed papers as a precaution in case his wife Sunetra’s nomination was rejected. Now, her paper has been found in order like that of her sister-in-law Supriya Sule, her main challenger. Citing a rule which stipulates that if a political party candidate’s nomination form received first is found valid, the other forms on behalf of the same party are rejected. Due to this provision, Ajit’s form has been unaccepted. Applying the same rule, the nomination form of Sachin Dodake was rejected since he had filed as a dummy for Supriya. However, Sachin’s nomination as an independent has been accepted. Interestingly, one Sharad (Ram) Pawar has also entered the Baramati arena. His nomination as an independent has been found valid. He belongs to a local autorickshaw union. His presence will only be a token. The real fight will be between two titans – NCP founder Sharad Pawar and nephew Ajit Pawar — through Sunetra Pawar and Supriya Sule. Baramati will go to the polls in the third phase, on 7 May. The constituency has remained loyal to the Pawar family since 1967. This is the first time that two factions of the family are taking on each other.
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In Maharashtra Angry Cadres Fail To Turn Up For Coalition Candidates Campaign In Many Constituencies

Coalition politics has come under major strain in this election, with party workers either boycotting or refusing to campaign for candidates of coalition partners. The most prominent example is clearly Sangli, where Congress workers are clearly out in support of rebel candidate VIshal Patil and Uddhav Thackeray had to urge his coalition partner to urge the Congress rebels to withdraw, and workers to campaign for his official candidate, Chandrahar Patil. Congress workers were also initially missing in action from Mumbai South Central constituency, where Congress city president Varsha Gaikwad was keen to contest but Uddhav Thackeray got the seat for his aide Anil Desai. This trend isn’t restricted to any particular party and is evident across many constituencies. Chief minister’s son Shrikant Shinde, too has been struggling to get workers of his coalition partners, the BJP, to campaign for him in his Kalyan constituency. Reportedly, Ajit Pawar’s workers were missing even during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden campaign rally at Chandrapur.  Ajit Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party fresh inductee and candidate from Dharashiv, Archana Patil, whose husband is a BJP legislator, wondered why she had to work for the growth of the NCP over that of her parent party, the BJP, where her husband Rana Jagjitsinh Patil continues to be legislator.  She was made to change her party from BJP to NCP to accommodate seat sharing adjustments. An uproar later, Ajit Pawar’s face and symbol was on her campaign posters. These poll results could well be a determiner about the way coalition politics could play out in the future.
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What’s Naveen Patnaik's Compulsion To Contest From Two Assembly Constituencies?

Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s decision to contest Assembly election from two constituencies — Kantabanji which falls under Bolangir Parliamentary constituency in Western Odisha and Hinjili in Ganjam, has set the tongues wagging. Everyone is asking what’s HIS compulsion? Well-placed sources say Patnaik’s objective in one word is to stymie both BJP and Congress hold in Western Odisha. In a way, he is not only signalling his commitment to develop western Odisha but also challenging BJP in five Lok Sabha and eight Assembly constituencies besides wiping out Congress in Bolangir.  Congress sources say Naveen babu is rattled that Congress is supporting the creation of a separate State of “Koshal”. And this is why he has decided to contest from Bolangir District. Be that as it may, Patnaik seems to be serious about nursing western Odisha Kantabanji and may finally opt for this constituency in his sixth term, instead of Hinjili which he has represented five times. Sources say he may opt to give away Hinjili constituency to his eventual successor. Odisha goes to poll in four phases starting May 13 to June 1. Most opinion polls predict that BJP could win nearly 14 Lok Sabha seats out of 21 and this victory could impact BJD in Assembly elections.
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Cong "Builds" Up A 150 Tally For BJP To Counter "400" Paar Narrative

The bluff and bluster of UP ke ladke or UP boys was on display. It was an unusual show  of confidence on display when Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and SP leader Akilesh Yadav came together on Ram Navami to address a presser in Ghaziabad hotel in UP.  For parties that shunned Ram Temple inauguration, it was interesting that they followed up on Ram’s symbolism and had gathered in UP after Jayant Chaudhary and the RLD had left to partner with the NDA.  After all, even the TMC couldn’t resist releasing its manifesto on Ram Navami? It was interesting to see Rahul Gandhi bandy about some numbers, setting  a lower tally for  the NDA to browbeat the BJP; he asserted that the BJP would not cross 150, while his sister Priyanka gave the ruling alliance some  180 seats. The SP leader even predicted that the alliance between the Congress and the SP would spell the end of BJP from Ghaziabad to Ghazipur. When quizzed about the basis of the Gandhis’ claim to such  figures, Congress sources said it was their way of countering PM Modi’s “400 par” narrative. “There are about 230 Lok Sabha seats in the Ram Mandir belt (UP, Bihar, Himachal, Uttarakhand, MP, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Delhi and Chhattisgarh). While we expect the BJP to do well only in the Mandir belt, we don’t expect them to do well in coastal areas,” said a Congress leader. If the BJP is expected to do well in the Ram Mandir belt, how do Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi plan to contest from Amethi and Rae Bareli without even interacting with voters? This time SP will extend full cooperation. The Gandhis have been assured full support,” says a source
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Size Matters: In Maharashtra Smaller Parties Get Pushed Out Of The Electoral Fray

Multiple splits and alliances have resulted in marginalisation of smaller parties and outfits from Maharashtra in the Lok Sabha 2024 polls. There has been such a scramble for a piece of the Lok Sabha pie from the two major coalitions in Maharashtra, namely the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi or the Mahayuti alliance, that smaller outfits have been completely pushed out of the electoral fray.  Parties like the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, Janata Dal, the Peasants and Workers Party, Republican Party of India(A), Samajwadi Party as also the others like the Communist Party of India have failed to find even a single seat from the major coalitions for the 48 in Maharashtra. With the stakes being so high in Lok Sabha 2024, no one seems to have the political space to offer to smaller parties even a single seat. The bigger parties have said it will accommodate the smaller parties in the October 2024 Assembly polls. The only exception seems to be Prakash Ambedar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi that has put up candidates independently in around 20 constituencies after its seat-sharing talks with the MVA failed. At an individual level, the only exception seems to be Mahadeo Jankar, from the Rashtriya Samaj Paksh, who managed to contest from Parbhani seat with support from the BJP-led Mahayuti alliance. Bachu Kadu of the Prahar Janshakti Party did put up a candidate in Amravati to spite the sitting MP Navneet Rana standing on a BJP ticket. But he is doing this independently without any support.  
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BJP's Poll Strategy: Each NDA MLA Needs To Ensure Big Margin For The Lok Sabha Candidate In Their Constituency

The BJP is preparing a strategy under which each MLA will have to ensure a sizable lead for the NDA’s Lok Sabha candidate in his/her constituency. Each Lok Sabha constituency’s six assembly segments will play an important role in bringing back the saffron rule at the Centre. Accordingly, specific targets have been prepared for the BJP MLAs. These will be analysed after the election results are out. In the case of Maharashtra, the Assembly election will take place in October 2024. For Maharashtra, the NDA is working towards winning 40-plus out of 48 seats. The BJP, the dominant partner, is supported this time by the breakaway Shiv Sena and NCP factions. Much will depend upon the collective working by the triumvirate. In view of this situation, even MLAs of the Sena (Shinde) and NCP (Ajit Pawar) will have to be wary and work assiduously to ensure the NDA’s victory. The other aspect of the plan is to curtail potential rebellion. It has started showing its effectiveness. The first beneficiary is Union minister Narayan Rane, who has filed his nomination for the Sindhudurg-Ratnagiri constituency in the Konkan. The other strong claimant was Sena (Shinde) leader Kiran Samant, brother of Uday Samant, a top minister in Shinde’s cabinet, who has declared in the presence of his elder brother that he will work for Rane’s victory. More of this is anticipated around the state.
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Manish Kumar (Left) and PK Bansal

Cong Infighting Over Chandigarh Seat Intensifies, Peeved Bansal Supporters Resign En Masse

When Congress leader Manish Tewari was announced as candidate for Chandigarh Lok Sabha, party circles were quite surprised. Tewari was not close to the Gandhis. In fact, he was among G-23 signatories who had pushed for reforms in the party functioning, so how did he manage to get out of Punjab? He contested from Ludhiana (2014) and Anandpursahib(2019). Sources said Tewari was given Chandigarh only to deny ticket to Pawan Kumar Bansal, former AICC treasurer (2020- 2023). Bansal had consecutively won Chandigarh three times –1999, 2004 and 2009 — before losing 2014 and 2019 to BJP’s Kirron Kher. The Congress leadership is reportedly upset with Bansal for the way he handled party accounts. He is being viewed as responsible for the party’s on-going I-T troubles. But then it seems the Bansal camp is not inclined to give up the fight easily. Sources say, Bansal was expecting a ticket and had even begun campaigning and that is why his loyalists have begun to target Chandigarh Congress president Harmohinder Singh Lucky. He is having a hard time convincing local workers to support Tewari. As many as 15 designated members of the Chandigarh Congress have submitted their resignations to Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge, demanding the removal of Harmohinder Lucky from his post over his alleged disrespect to four-time MP Pawan Bansal on Instagram. Congress leaders are stunned that the BJP replaced incumbent MP Kirron Kher with Chandigarh BJP president Sanjay Tandon without a murmur. Meanwhile, eyebrows are being raised over the nomination of former JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar from Delhi North-East against sitting BJP MP Manoj Tewari. A  Rahul Gandhi favourite, Kumar could not be accommodated in Bihar due to lack of support from RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav.
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Chhagan Bhujbal Withdraws From Lok Sabha Fray, CM Eknath Shinde Triumphs

Firebrand OBC leader Chhagan Bhujbal has announced his withdrawal from the Lok Sabha election. He himself has made this momentous announcement, saying that any delay in deciding a candidate for the Nashik constituency could be denting the Mahayuti’s prospects. Bhujbal indicated that none had asked him to walk out but chief minister Eknath Shinde’s insistence for the seat is seen as the reason for this significant development. Had Bhujbal been fielded, there was the possibility of the Maratha opposition as he is the main exponent of the OBC’s opposition to their reservation demand. However, neither Bhjubal nor sitting Sena (Shinde) MP Hemant Godse have touched upon this aspect. But the announcement has almost endorsed Godse’s bid for a third term. Bhujbal thanked Union home minister Amit Shah, disclosing that Shah was insistent for him, as informed by DCM Ajit Pawar and confirmed by another DCM Devendra Fadnavis. Godse has expressed satisfaction over Bhujbal’s decision and the Mahayuti, too, feels relieved since Nasik was one of the seats for which so far no unanimity could occur. Bhujbal has now declared that he will tour Maharashtra for the victory of Mahayuti candidates. His presence in some constituencies could be beneficial, but inconvenient in some others due to his strident pro-OBC stance. 
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Didi Eyes Key Role If I.N.D.I.A Front Wins?

It is a big question mark but that does not preclude West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee making it categorical that her party will be playing a significant role if I.N.D.I.A front is voted to power. In her recent poll campaigns, Didi dismissed the claims of NDA winning 400 plus Lok Sabha seats by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. She stated that the claims seemed to be a reflection of nervousness of both leaders. Expressing her assessment of the political landscape, Banerjee emphasized her belief in the resilience of Opposition parties against the ruling BJP. According to her calculations, Bengal goes to TMC, AAP will be the majority in Punjab, Samajwadi Party will garner maximum seats in Uttar Pradesh and DMK will clinch Tamil Nadu. Denying the claims of exiting the I.N.D.I.A front, Didi made it categorical that she’s the one who coined the alliance name. However, TMC supremo criticised the CPI-M and Congress alliance in the state in opposing TMC Is indirectly helping the BJP. Banerjee claimed that the alliance between the two opposition parties is splitting the anti-BJP vote, thereby benefiting the saffron camp. It is for this reason she did not attend several I.N.D.I.A. meetings but maintained relationships by sending her representatives. In her campaign speech, Didi has been driving home the point that if I.N.D.I.A front forms the government then they will do away/relook into NRC, Citizenship Amendment Act and Uniform Civil Code. The Alliance will repeal all discriminatory laws implemented by the BJP.
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Shocker! Mahayuti Will Win Only 30 Seats In Maharashtrra, Says ABP Majha-C Voter Opinion Poll

The ruling saffron alliance in Maharashtra is predicted to suffer in the coming Lok Sabha election, according to an Opinion Poll conducted by the Marathi news channel ABP Majha and C-Voter. The channel has flashed the inferences drawn by the poll conducted across the state. The highlight of the prediction is that the three-party Mahayuti will have to content itself with just 30 seats, yielding the remaining 18 to the Opposition-led I.N.D.I.A front. The Mahayuti had won 41 seats in 2019. The shocking prophecy in the poll is that the NCP led by deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar will not be able to win a single Lok Sabha seat. The broad findings of the poll are as follows: BJP 21/22, Shiv Sena (Eknath Shinde) 9/10, Shiv Sena (UBT) 9, NCP (Sharad) 5 and Congress 3. Moreover, in Baramati, Supriya Sule is likely to be re-elected, the poll says. The Congress party will improve its tally to three from the lone Chandrapur seat it won in the 2019 election. The NCP under Sharad Pawar will retain Satara and Shirur while the results in Madha, Nanded and Parbhani will be astonishing, according to the poll. The Sena under Uddhav Thackeray will receive a much-needed boost if it can win about 10 seats since most of its sitting MPs and MLAs have gone with chief minister Eknath Shinde.
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Will Raj Thackeray Share Dais With PM In Mumbai?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much-awaited Mumbai rally has raised extra curiosity since Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray is expected to share the dais with him. Although no formal confirmation has been forthcoming about either the date or venue of the public meeting, it is likely to take place at the historic Shivaji Park grounds in the heart of Mumbai. Thakeray’s son Amit has indicated in Pune about Raj addressing the rally in Modi’s presence. Only recently, Raj had had asked his rank and file to work for Modi’s return and the NDA’s success. If his presence at Modi’s rally is announced officially, MNS workers will campaign for the saffron alliance more enthusiastically, it is felt. Amit hinted at the joint rally during his visit of Pune, which was for expanding his party’s presence there. BJP’s Pune Lok Sabha candidate Murlidhar Mohol, a former mayor, called on him during his stay, to enlist the MNS support. A BJP stronghold for a long time, the party had to face a defeat in the recently held Pune assembly byelection. Hence, the party is unwilling to leave anything to chance this time. The meeting between Amit and Mohol is a boost for the NDA in this situation. About Mumbai, Amit said that the Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray will suffer heavily since in the capital city of Maharashtra.
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Why Has Congress Pitted A Young Minister Against Actor Kangana Ranaut?

The Congress which lost a Rajya Sabha seat after six of its MLAs cross voted to the BJP candidate is trying to amp up its game in the Lok Sabha polls by fielding a royal heavyweight — PWD minister Vikramaditya Singh for Mandi in Himachal Pradesh against actor Kangana Ranaut. The Queen film actress has been in the limelight ever since BJP announced her nomination from Mandi. Historically, the Mandi constituency has favoured scions of erstwhile princely states, electing royals in 13 out of 19 elections, including two polls since 1952. However, with Singh and Kangana competing against each other from Mandi, the politics of Himachal has spiced up. Vikramaditya is the son of six-time chief minister Virbhadra Singh and Pratibha Singh. His mother Pratibha is the sitting MP from Mandi and the Congress’s state unit president.  Pratibha Singh did not want to contest as MP. Himachal Congress leaders said Vikramaditya was the best bet against BJP bulwark. BJP sources said Kangana was a self-made woman and symbolised what any driven person can achieve. Resting on the laurels of his family, Vikramaditya was conscious that his father Virbhadra Singh and mother had each won from Mandi thrice. He called Kangana “queen of controversies”, the actress termed him “Chota Pappu”. Party sources said before entering the fray both Pratibha and Vikramaditya had called on Sonia Gandhi. It is quite possible the Singhs may have sought a post-election deal — a deputy CM post for Vikramaditya if he fails to win.
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Dalits Miss Out Seats In The Post-Split Maharashtra Scenario

Dalits, who constitute 11.81 % of Maharashtra’s population, have failed to find space in the seat-sharing arrangements from either of the political coalitions in the post-split Maharashtra political scenario. Ramdas Athawale, the erstwhile Union minister for social justice and empowerment, and probably the most prominent Dalit face in the country, has failed to bag even a single seat for his party. Athawale revealed that he has been promised cabinet ministership in the forthcoming Maharashtra government, posts in a few corporations in and assured seats in the forthcoming assembly elections. He also revealed that his supporters had asked him to stay put in the ruling NDA alliance since being in power had benefited his party. He is also cool right now as his own Rajya Sabha term continues till 2026. Ambedkar did rue that despite being an old alliance partner with the BJP-led Mahayuti coalition, those who came in much later like the Eknath Shinde received much better terms than him. Athawale’s pitch for Shirdi constituency had to be given up to accommodate the seat for Eknath Shinde-supporter sitting MP Sadashiv Lokhande. He did admit that deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had reached out to him to cool tempers after he publicly expressed his displeasure. The other senior Dalit leader, Prakash Ambedkar has already put up 20 candidates from his Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi. This time around though Ambedkar has decided to put up candidates from all communities and not necessarily only from the Dalit community.
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In Dharmapuri Its No Holds Barred Fight Between PMK And AIADMK

Dharmapuri in Tamil Nadu seems to be a fiery battleground this election. Both AIADMK and PMK are locked in a no-holds battle. AIADMK chief Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) is quite livid that PMK’s Dr Anbumani Ramadoss who almost signed a seat sharing deal with AIADMK, ditched them at the last moment, tied-up with BJP. As a strategy Dr Anbumani has fielded his wife Sowmiya who has the heft to woo women voters like a film star. In a show of strength the entire PMK family founders and other heavyweights are camping out to ensure Sowmiya wins. Sowmiya takes direction from both father-in-law, Party founder Dr S Ramadoss and husband Dr Anbumani, a former Union health minister. Her three daughters move around and appeal to elderly women. The feeling that a family which campaigns together makes a collective impact, predominates. But EPS is roaring like a wounded tiger…this Lok Sabha constituency has six assembly segments. He too is ensuring that AIADMK wins the Dharmapuri seat. The demographics here tell a different story…a significant number are Vellala Gounders (EPS’s community). A huge 47% are from the schedule lists…these voters are AIADMK loyalists. It may take much convincing for them to switch loyalties, especially to forgive PMK’s expediency. Looks like sentiments and traditions are battling it out in Dharmapuri.
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BJP Rise In TN Scares State Polity, Dravidian Parties Unite To Defeat Annamalai

 The BJP, which is heading a non-DMK, non-AIADMK bloc in Tamil Nadu and is contesting directly from 19 seats, including Coimbatore from where its state BJP chief K Annamalai is contesting, hopes to make good electoral inroads in the Dravidian heartland. With opinion polls indicating that the BJP could spring a surprise in the southern state, the buzz is that there is an unofficial tie-up between the DMK and the AIADMK to defeat the outlier BJP. In fact, the two Dravidian parties are so alarmed by the rise of Annamalai they are even uniting to defeat him in his Coimbatore Lok Sabha constituency. Coimbatore is also the home ground of AIADMK leader Edappadi K Palaniswami. Which is why it does seem odd to see the AIADMK join hands with the DMK to fix Annamalai. It is being said a sinister project to defeat Annamalai in Coimbatore is being executed by Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin’s son-in-law and businessman  V Sabareesan and minister’s son Udhayanidhi. Sabareesan has reportedly been making multiple trips to Coimbatore. Of course, the eagerness of DMK’s first family to pin down Annamalai in Coimbatore has not helped much. Annamalai has been busy traveling to other constituencies and all over the state. Opinion polls are indicating that the BJP-NDA could win four to six seats in Tamil Nadu. Non-BJP leaders concede that PM Modi has been giving a lot of attention to the state; he has visited Tamil Nadu over eight times since the beginning of 2024. Modi’s visits are naturally bound to yield results.
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BJP Vs TMC: The Battle for North Bengal Intensifies as Election Day Approaches

The battle for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections is seeing intense and bitter battle between BJP and TMC in north Bengal’s six constituencies which go to poll on April 19 and April 26. The six constituencies are: Raiganj, Balurghat, Darjeeling, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar. In 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP won seven out of eight seats routing Trinamool Congress. However, TMC regained a significant portion of its lost political ground in the 2021 Assembly election and 2023 panchayat elections. BJP is fiercely contesting to retain its seats against TMC’s aggressive push via its social welfare schemes launched in the last two years. Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee started campaigning for north Bengal on the same day on April 4.  In terms of ethnic support it seems mixed. Bharatiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha is endorsing the TMC candidate, but the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha led by Bimal Gurung is siding with the BJP. Despite the support of Gurung, BJP faces problems from within; Kurseong’s BJP MLA, Bishnu Prasad Sharma is contesting as an independent after being denied a Lok Sabha ticket. Situation also remains critical in Alipurduar, after BJP dropped its outgoing MP John Barla, citing poor performance, who remained conspicuous by his absence during Modi’s recent rallies. Once a bastion of Left Front ally Forward Bloc, Cooch Behar equations remain different — with Lok Sabha seat going to BJP. Similarly, the Greater Cooch Behar People’s Association representing the Rajbanshi Community is supporting TMC.
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Ajit Pawar To File Nomination For Lok Sabha From Baramati As A Precautionary Step

Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar’s surprise move to decide to file a nomination from family fiefdom Baramati is seen more as a precaution than strategy. His wife Sunetra is the nominee of his faction of the NCP. His uncle Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Suleis seeking re-election from the constituency, facing the formidable challenge mounted by her sister in law Sunetra. Ajit has obtained nomination forms and is expected to file the same. As and when Sunetra’s papers are found in order, he will withdraw. The precaution has been prompted after the Congress fiasco in Ramtek seat in Vidarbha. There, official candidate Rashmi Barve’s nomination was rejected on caste certificate grounds. Fortunately for the Congress, her husband Shyamkumar had also filed papers as a dummy candidate. He is now in the fray. Emulating the lesson, Ajit has prepared to fight in case of any complications in the scrutiny. His action is perceived as a firm resolve to end his uncle’s hegemony in Baramati in particular and Pune district, too
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BJP’s Dr Sambit Patra Vs BJD’s Arup Patnaik: Whom Will The Lord Jagannath Bless?

In Odisha with BJD and BJP deciding to fight the 2024 Lok Sabha elections separately, the big question everybody is asking: “Who will wrest the prestigious Parliamentary seat of Puri? Will it be BJP’s Dr Sambit Patra or BJD’s ex-Mumbai top cop Arup Patnaik?  Analysts feel BJP’s articulate spokesperson Dr Patra has an edge; he has a head start advantage over Patnaik as he contested 2019 Lok Sabha against BJD’s Pinaki Misra from Puri but lost it by 11,000 votes. So he knows the constituency well.  Besides, even after losing the last election, Dr Patra has been nursing the constituency for the last five years and building relationships with locals. Also, Dr Patra’s name was announced quite early in the day by the BJP. On the other hand, many feel Arup Patnaik has been para dropped quite late in the day even though his home town is Delang, Puri. Yes, he is also not new to the game. It may be recalled Patnaik fought the 2019 poll against BJP’s Aparajita Sarangi from Bhubaneshwar but lost it by slender margin. Seasoned observers say “Though Ayodhya is a big positive for BJP, one can’t rule out that Puri’s Lord Jagannath Temple too has been transformed at a cost of nearly Rs 1,000 crore by chief minister Naveen Patnaik. And this is bound to have a positive effect on BJD vis a vis Arup Patnaik. One has to wait and watch till June 4 to find out who will Lord Jagannath bless — Dr Sambit Patra or Arup Patnaik?

TRENDS & VIEWS

Editor’s Note: Big Punch In Small Pack

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