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@Dev_Fadnavis

Poaching By BJP Worries Opposition In Maharashtra

Besides the Shiv Sena, its two allies, the Congress and the NCP, are feeling apprehensive since the BJP has turned its attention towards their influential leaders in different parts of the state. After debilitating the Sena by denting its legislative and parliamentary wings, the BJP feels it should not stop just there but try to weaken the opposition as much as possible. While a dozen Sena Lok Sabha members have already joined the faction of chief minister Eknath Shinde, it is whispered that two or three more are on their way out. If this happens, the faction led by Uddhav Thackeray will be left with only three LS MPs. Against this background, detractors of Thackeray point out that Uddhav did not find time to call on senior MP Gajanan Kirtikar, who has been recovering from a minor surgery at his Goregaon residence, which is just a few kilometres away from Matoshri. In stark contrast, Shinde made it a point to meet Kirtikar. Though the MP has not revealed his plans, his moves are monitored closely by both sides. BJP leaders have now turned their attention towards affluent pockets in western Maharashtra. On their radar are the sugar barons who are the mainstay of the Congress and the NCP in this belt.
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Balasaheb Thackeray’s Daughter-In-Law Calls On Eknath Shinde, Kicks Up Political Storm

Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray’s daughter-in-law Smita Thackeray called on Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde, kicking up a political storm. Smita is the estranged wife of Thackeray’s second son Jaidev, who has a legal dispute with his younger brother Uddhav over property. The ‘informal’ meeting assumed inevitable political overtones as it took place in Mumbai on the eve of Uddhav’s birthday on Wednesday (July 27). Smita herself has been in the news time and again for various reasons. She is a film producer and headed a film producers’ body some years ago. She met Jaidev around 1987 when she was working as a receptionist. They were married some time later. The nuptial bond developed cracks during the Sena-BJP alliance government regime. The development became hot news since Jaidev and Uddhav, too, have had serious differences. Smita was once considered very powerful politically. However, she faded away from the public glare after Uddhav took over the reins of the Sena from Balasaheb.  Since then, she has avoided any political activity. Even after meeting Shinde, she said there was nothing political, “I merely greeted Shinde, I have known him for years.” There was no comment from Shinde or other political parties.
Dr-

BJP Has A Field Day In Odisha, Exposes BJD MP Achyuta Samanta Of Violating Environmental Norms

Odisha’s high profile educationist, media baron and BJD Lok Sabha MP Achyuta Samanta seems to be in the eye of the storm. His media rival OTV (Odisha Television Network) has flashed a story of Samanta’s KIIT University encroaching upon natural water bodies to build its computer science department.  And now local citizens are questioning the government as to how the sub-plot no 121 which is recorded as a water body has been allowed landfill by KIIT to undertake civil construction. Is the Patnaik’s government aware of the alleged encroachment but choosing to remain silent because Samanta is a BJD leader? Incidentally, OTV is owned by Jagi Mangat Panda, wife of ex BJD MP Baijayant (Jay) Panda who is now national VP of BJP.  It is not for the first time Samanta — founder of both KIIT (Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology) and KISS (Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences –is in the news for wrong reasons. Way back in 2018 NGT had reportedly ruled that KIIT and KISS had in an unauthorised manner built a playground, houses and gardens without approval from the Forest & Environmental department. With pressures mounting on the state government to protect depleting water bodies post the directive of Odisha HC to bring in appropriate laws the Patnaik government will have to move fast lest BJP makes a political capital out of it.
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MTNL Surprises Margaret Alva With Prompt Response To Her Phone Woes Tweet

Two days after speaking to some friends in the BJP, Opposition candidate for the Vice Presidential election Margaret Alva announced that all calls to her mobile were being diverted and that she was unable to make or receive calls. Tagging BSNL and MTNL, she vowed, “If you restore the phone. I promise not to call any MP from the BJP, TMC or BJD any longer. When Alva made public a letter purportedly written by MTNL customer care person seeking her KYC and warning that her SIM would be suspended, the veteran expressed surprise that her KYC details were being sought afresh. Much to her surprise, the MTNL promptly responded to her phone woes on Twitter.  And made it clear that the PSU service provider never “Asks for the e-KYC on WhatsApp/SMS/Call.”  And requested her to avoid such type of e-KYC SMS/WhatsApp/Calls as it may lead to some kind of fraud.” Hence you are requested to ignore such e-KYC messages”. Interestingly, Alva had fumed about “Big Brother always watching and listening to all conversations between politicians across party lines in ‘new’ India.” She felt that was the reason MPs carried multiple phones, frequently changed numbers and talked in hushed whispers when they met. “Fear kills democracy”, she lamented. As part of her campaign Alva had reached out to leaders from across political parties including CMs of Karnataka and Assam.
Collage Maker-26-Jul-2022-11

As A Recruitment Scam Tarnishes Brand TMC, Mamata Regrets Not Dropping Old Guard

When West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee declared she does not support corruption or any wrongdoings on the back of the arrest of her Industries Minister Partha Chatterjee by the ED following orders of Calcutta High Court, she knew she had no choice but to distance herself from him. Partha, who is also TMC general secretary, had made three calls to her at the time of his arrest. Mamata did not take his calls. Didi had no choice but to distance herself from Partha as unseemly visuals of the cash haul of Rs 21 crore recovered from Partha’s aide Arpita Mukherjee’s flat had exposed the underbelly of TMC style governance. It also exposed threadbare West Bengal School Service Commission recruitment irregularities that occurred when Partha was the state Education Minister. Mamata had moved him out of the ministry. However, now the scam has tarnished Brand TMC. “I don’t support corruption or any wrongdoing. If anyone is found guilty, he or she must be punished,” said Mamata.  Are her words enough to breathe credibility into TMC? Meanwhile, amidst push by nephew Abhishek Banerjee to rid the party of old guards, it is being said Mamata already regrets not having  dropped old guard like Partha and Firhad Hakim (Kolkata Mayor) from her team when she returned to power third time in 2021.
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No Flowers For My Birthday, Give Me New Members, Urges Uddhav Thackeray

Shiv Sena party chief Uddhav Thackeray has urged his followers to gift him “not flowers, but new members” on Wednesday, 27 July. The former chief minister turns 62 two days from now. Uddhav’s emotional appeal has come in the face of a challenge to establish that the Shiv Sena he heads is the ‘true’ organization. The Election Commission is scheduled to consider his plea for recognizing his faction and reserve its election symbol, Bow & Arrow. The rival faction led by chief minister Eknath Shinde has countered it. Both have been busy wooing the Sena workers to their side. Uddhav’s son Aaditya is on a whirlwind tour of the state to meet Sena workers face to face and ensure their backing. Shinde, too, has been meeting Sena workers from various parts of the state.  Shinde and deputy chief minister Devendra Fadanvis were in New Delhi for two days, ostensibly to attend the swearing in ceremony of President Droupadi Murmu. The duo is expected to announce the expansion of its team any moment now as part of its strategy to wean away Uddhav’s supporters. The EC will need signed affidavits from the rank and file belonging to both factions so as to evaluate their claims for recognition and the party’s election symbol
Balasaheb Thorat and Ashok Chavan

Internal Sabotage Within Maharashtra Congress In MLC Election Uncovered

Congress leader Mohan Prakash has reportedly conveyed to the party high command that the defeat of party candidate Chandrakant Handore in the recently held legislative council election could have been caused owing to internal sabotage. Due precautions were taken for the Presidential election voting. The party is relieved that there was no cross voting in this election. While Handore lost the election from the legislative assembly constituency, another Congress nominee, Bhai Jagtap, was elected with many more votes than the number allotted by the party. Alarmed by the debacle, Congress president Sonia Gandhi had rushed Mohan Prakash, who is in-charge of the Maharashtra Congress affairs, to Mumbai. Prakash met all important Congress leaders after ascertaining the voting done by party MLAs. He was told by many of them that though Hanore’s vote quota was much higher than that of Jagtap, the latter polled more votes than allotted. Following the defeat, Handore called on Sonia. He was accompanied by Maharashtra Congress committee president Nana Patole. The high command has taken cognisance of the complaints against Congress legislative party leader Balasaheb Thorat and former chief minister Ashok Chavan, according to party circles. The defeat was more humiliating since top Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge himself had come down to Mumbai to finalise the vote quota for both, Handore and Jagtap.
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Is Mamata Banerjee Deliberately Projecting CPI(M) As Her Principal Opposition Instead Of BJP In West Bengal?

West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee was at her usual self in launching a scathing attack on CPI(M) during her address at the Martyrs’ Day Rally in the heart of Kolkata on July 21. She not only referred to the alleged corruption during the Left Front regime but also threatened to rake up controversial files which would be a deviation from her slogan “Badla Noy Badol Chai” (No Revenge, But Change). Amid the row over irregularities in School Service Commission (SSC) appointments, Mamata slammed the CPI(M) by referring to the erstwhile government which always favoured and appointed the wives of CPI(M) party cadres as school teachers. She categorically named senior CPI(M) leader and Rajya Sabha MP Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, who has been contesting the TMC government over irregularities in SSC appointments for some time now. Is Mamata’s reference to the CPI(M) and Left Front a clear attempt to project CPI(M) as her principal opposition? Political observers believe that Mamata is clear about her opponents which remain Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. She doesn’t even take names of state BJP leaders instead she’s in cordial terms with veterans of CPI(M).Will CPI(M) take a cue from Mamata’s attack to rejuvenate the party and set forth Bhattacharya as the new face of the party?
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Is Mamata Mending Fences With Delhi By Abstaining From VP Poll?

The decision of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) which has 36 MPs — 23 Lok Sabha and 13 Rajya Sabha — to abstain from voting in the vice-presidential election on August 6 on the ground that the party was “not consulted” before Margaret Alva of the Congress was selected as the Opposition nominee seems like a very lame excuse for the Bengal party to move away from Opposition camp. Didi’s decision to boycott polls has upset 80-year old Alva who took the trouble to fight a losing election. The TMC cannot complain about lack of consultation though Sharad Pawar did mention efforts to reach Mamata had failed. But Congress President Sonia Gandhi did speak to Mamata canvassing for Alva. Yet it is not clear if Mamata has merely upped her ante over Alva because CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury had a big role in it. Or has she taken a cue from regional parties like BJD and YSRCP? Is she also cosying up to the Centre like Naveen Patnaik and Jagan Mohan Reddy — both CMs of Odisha and Andhra — who back the BJP in Parliament and seem to be getting a lot of things done for their States. For a start, it is no coincidence that the Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai announced recently that the Centre has received West Bengal’s proposal to rename the state Bangla.
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ED Action Against Praful Patel Makes Some Opposition Leaders Shiver

The ED’s attachment action against NCP leader Praful Patel’s property in Mumbai’s elite Worli area in an alleged money laundering case has led to apprehensions that similar steps can be initiated against some more opposition leaders.  The property in which Patel has a sprawling residence is charged to be linked with deceased underworld don Iqbal Mirchi. Earlier, too, Patel had been summoned by ED in connection with the same property. It is not just a coincidence that the action against Patel was taking place in Mumbai when Congress president Sonia Gandhi was facing ED in New Delhi, NCP circles point out. It is an open secret that several leaders of different political parties reside in palatial properties in Mumbai.  Fear is expressed that some of them could find themselves in the ED net sooner than later. Current political developments in Maharashtra have fuelled speculation that this is an attempt to pressurise them to align with the ruling dispensation or else face action. In the recent past, former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, former BJP minister Eknath Khadse and many others have been summoned by ED for questioning. Two NCP bigwigs, Anil Deshmukh and Nawab Malik, are in custody for a long time. Malik is also charged to be linked with underworld boss Dawood Ibrahim in a property deal in Mumbai.
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thehandsindia.com

At The ED Office, Investigating Officers Show A Wary Sonia Their Vax Certificates

After Sonia Gandhi left the Enforcement Directorate (ED) office on July 20 at the end of three hours of questioning, the Congress went to town claiming that the investigating agency had nothing to ask her. The party claimed she had even offered to stay longer if needed but was sent away. It is another matter that Sonia has to make another trip to the ED office on July 25. Clearly, the Congress which unleashed violence and protests across the country to protest Sonia’s questioning in the National Herald case had become defensive by end of the day.That is because what the Congress did not disclose was that the ED officials had gone out of the way to be extremely courteous to Sonia; the agency also fulfilled some of her conditions.  Since she was recovering from Covid infection, she wanted an infection-free environment. Apparently officials questioning her displayed their vaccine certificates. Ironically, no one knows if any of the Gandhis have taken the vaccine shots — at least none of them have been seen publicly endorsing India made vaccines. Sonia also wanted her daughter Priyanka to be reachable in case she needed medicines; ED agreed to this request. Also, ED officials questioning her ensured Sonia was comfortable. Sources say her basic questioning pertaining to the National Herald case is over.
Sunak versus Truss

Why Liz Truss Will Beat Rishi Sunak To UK PM’s Post

The basic conservatism of Britain may kick in when it comes to the final contest between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss for UK prime ministership. The PIO whose parents moved from East Africa to the UK was frontrunner for PM up to the moment Tory MPs were the electorate. Now that the polling moves on to 2 lakh primary members of the Tory Party, the odds shifted in favour of the Foreign Secretary to Boris Johnson who stood by her boss till the bitter end. Truss leapfrogged the Trade Secretary Penny Mordaunt into the final head-to-head contest for PM. Even Rishi softened his approach to his rival in saying he respects his opponent as well as her proposals for tax cuts in his Op-Ed article in the Daily Telegraph of July 21. Rishi made it known that he is the successor to Margaret Thatcher and that he will bring the economy back to shape despite a 40-year inflation high beyond 9%. There are a dozen in-person hustings (debates) to be run before the votes are to be counted and the results declared on September 5. But the odds are that Liz Truss has already taken the lead among the party voters. Rishi’s background, his personal wealth and his rich wife’s non-domicile tax status may work against him in the final count.
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Only TMC Has The Spine To Take On BJP, Says Mamata At Martyrs’ Day Rally

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee made a call to reject the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha Polls. Addressing at the Shaheed Diwas (Martyrs’ Day) rally in the heart of Kolkata, Didi launched a scathing attack on the BJP stating that 2024 will not be a vote for election, but one for rejection of BJP for its monumental incompetence. Mamata made it clear that only her party has the spine to take on the BJP since her party is not afraid of ED, CBI and other Central agencies. Mamata said that in 2024, when the BJP fails to form a majority, the Opposition parties have to come together to set up the next government. According to political observers, Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo had been trying to bring the Opposition parties together by organising a mega rally at Brigade Parade Ground but that attempt failed in 2019 general elections. Mamata stressed that in the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections, her party will win in West Bengal and other states such as Tripura, Meghalaya and Uttar Pradesh where it would be contesting. Significantly, the TMC chief remained tight-lipped about Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s questioning by the ED. However, party insiders say that Didi is focused on regaining the lost Lok Sabha seats, Opposition unity will therefore come later.
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Didi To Unveil TMC’s National Agenda At Martyrs Day Rally As More Cong, BJP Leaders Flock To Her Party

After a gap of two years, Trinamool Congress is holding its Martyrs’ Day Rally in Kolkata on July 21 with the party chairperson and chief minister Mamata Banerjee likely to raise her national pitch ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha Elections, and to lay out the big strategy of expanding TMC base outside West Bengal. This will be the first physical rally after Mamata’s historic hat-trick win in the State Assembly polls last year. Even though the senior party leaders including second-in-command of the party and Didi’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee remained tight-lipped, speculations are rife that some senior leaders from both BJP and Congress are likely to join the TMC. One-time aide of Mamata, Sovan Chatterjee and his associate Baishakhi Banerjee are likely to rejoin the party after a gap of almost four years. Barrackpore MP Arjun Singh who switched camps from TMC to BJP during 2019 Lok Sabha Polls was back in the party a couple of months ago. Now his son Pawan is likely to join the TMC. Besides them, three prominent Congress leaders of National ranks presumably from North South and North East States would also be present at the rally tomorrow. Interestingly, after catering to the northeast with the Tripura bypoll election and making public Mamata’s national ambition with the Goa election, large TV screens will be placed in Meghalaya and other north-eastern states for the audience to watch Mamata speak.
Collage Maker-20-Jul-2022-06

Tough Battle Ahead For Both Uddhav Thackeray And Eknath Shinde

The Supreme Court’s decision to post the next hearing to 1 August concerning various petitions in regard to recent political developments in Maharashtra has shifted the focus to lawyers’ chambers from the floor of the legislative assembly. The apex court’s fiat has mounted a formidable legal challenge for both, Shiv Sena boss Uddhav Thackeray and state chief minister Eknath Shinde. As the court has asked them to furnish their claims supported by data, both sides are readying their defences. While the Sena’s legal team is led by Kapil Sibbal, eminent jurist Harish Salve is appearing for the Shinde faction. Although Shinde and deputy chief minister Devendra Fadanvis are maintaining a brave face, it is obvious that they will not take any hasty steps concerning major decisions. Fadanvis has clarified that there is no bar on expanding the two-member state cabinet. However, he and Shinde will be treading cautiously, lest they will need to repent later. The Shinde camp is jubilant as it has dealt one shock after another to Uddhav. The fact that so far 12 Sena Lok Sabha members have switched sides and a couple more are expected to join the bandwagon has boosted its morale. It will get a further fillip if NDA Presidential nominee Droupadi Murmu bags around 200 votes from the state, as predicted by Shinde.
WhatsApp Image 2022-07-20 at 4.02

Tamil Nadu Minister’s Penchant For SUVs Sees Him Import High-Priced Toyota Land Cruiser Even Before Its Launch

Tamil Nadu Public Works Minister KN Nehru apparently has a passion to collect SUVs. Do not know if it has anything to do with his previous stint as Transport Minister in the state government. It is in this light, an automobile publication described him as the Indian politician who had not only managed to import the all-new Toyota Land Cruiser before it was launched in the country but had customised it and even started using it too. All of Nehru’s previous cars have been the Land Cruisers. This was the same Toyota Land Cruiser spotted earlier this year in Coimbatore. Toyota Kirloskar will announce the official prices of the all-new Land Cruiser later this year around the festive season. However, Nehru seems to have jumped the queue by privately importing the SUV before the official launch. The price tag of Toyota Land Cruiser LC300 is likely to be around Rs 2 crore. The minister must have paid extra to privately import the SUV to India. Toyota Kirloskar will import a limited number of Land Cruiser LC300 in its ‘Sahara’ version to India. Toyota confirmed that there is a waiting period of four years for it because of the high demand and shortage of semiconductors. It is also because Toyota has ditched the massive V8 engine for the new fuel-efficient V6 engine with the new model.
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Is Tamil Nadu BJP Head Annamalai Proving To Be A Thorn In The Flesh For Stalin Govt?

Tamil Nadu’s BJP President K Annamalai is making news for his energetic snoop, scoop and share. He figured as a juicy news break in the mainstream media last week. The DMK is now clearly wary of him, and his exposes. The latest is about the fake passport issue scandal in Madurai which has reached the desk of ADGP, David Asirvadam, no less. Annamalai constantly trains his guns at the dynastic rule of the DMK. RS Bharathi, long term DMK spokesperson brushes this aside and retorts “Annamalai talks nonsense “. He made headlines once again as he thundered at a Press meet like a modern day Nostradamus, “The Eknath Shinde of TN has already taken avatar. Wait and watch.” When everything is cornered by one family, rebellion erupts. Late Bal Thackeray and Kalaignar traversed identical paths, as did Aaditya and Udhayanidhi. It may be mentioned that Stalin has consistently been anti-Centre and anti-Modi with his subtle delimitation of Union and States powers. But the recent threat by A Raja to the Modi government that TN would secede if the state was not granted more autonomy in Stalin’s presence has provided more ammo to Annamalai.  He has promptly sent a petition to the Lok Sabha Speaker that A Raja cannot continue as MP after this secession rhetoric. A case has been filed too. Annamalai surely believes that the BJP’s ‘Telangana first, TN next’ strategy slogan has been fast forwarded significantly.
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Sangrur MP Simranjit Singh Mann, Now Swears By Constitution, Cong Mocks Him For Doing It Secretly

Sangrur MP and pro-Khalistan leader Simranjit Singh Mann reposed faith in the Constitution as he took oath of office as member of the Lok Sabha for the third time .For some strange reason, Mann did not take oath in the House along with other three-newly elected MPs on July 18; he preferred privacy of the Speaker’s chamber to take his oath. He met Speaker Om Birla in his chamber and took oath in his office. Congress MPs from Punjab wanted to know why Mann did not take oath in the House. “Mann saab came to the House; he was moving around in Central Hall too. He was perhaps too embarrassed to swear by the Constitution in full public view,” pointed out Congress MP Jasbir Singh Gill. Taking oath in Punjabi, Mann had said, “I affirm faith in the Indian constitution.” If Mann returned to reaffirm his faith in the Constitution, it should not surprise anyone — after all he was an IPS officer who had quit service following Operation Bluestar in 1984. Mann also promised to work for the betterment of Sangrur.  A three-time MP, Mann represented Sangrur in 1999 too. A vocal supporter of Khalistan, Mann had won from Tarn Taran by a margin of over 4.6 lakh votes. He had then refused to enter Parliament without the kirpan. Time has really mellowed the man now.
Collage Maker-19-Jul-2022-03

NCP In Maharashtra Cosies Up With Shinde-Fadanvis, Disregards Congress And Uddhav

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Maharashtra appears to have adopted a conciliatory stance towards the saffron alliance regime headed by Shiv Sena’s breakaway group leader Eknath Shinde and deputy chief minister Devendra Fadanvis. Disregarding its earlier association with the Shiv Sena and the Congress to form the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition in Maharashtra, NCP leaders headed by former deputy CM Ajit Pawar called on Shinde and Fadanvis to greet them for their new responsibility. They urged Shinde not to stall various development projects for political reasons. Pawar said Shinde and Fadanvis assured them that only those works sanctioned for political expediency will be reviewed. Neither the Congress nor Uddhav were consulted by the NCP before trooping to Shinde and Fadanvis. Significantly, several NCP MLAs from different states have openly voted for NDA’s Presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu. On the other hand, Shinde has declared that about 200 MLA votes from the state will have gone for Murmu. The saffron alliance was supported in the trust vote by 165 MLAs. Hence a pall of suspicion hangs against indications that cross voting has occurred in Maharashtra, too. Meanwhile, many MPs from the Uddhav camp are said to be on their way to join the Shinde group. Their announcement is expected any moment.
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Class 10 Girl’s Mysterious Death: Tamil Nadu Cops Caught Napping

Tamil Nadu cops of Chinnasalem in the central district of Kallakurichi were caught napping on a Sunday morning when protesters gathered in force around a school in which a Class 10 girl died in mysterious circumstances. Police were hopelessly outnumbered when they woke up to the protesters having scaled the walls of the school property. When they tried to gather in force, they were told by protesters not to come near until their vandalism of the school was complete. School Infrastructure, including buses to ferry students, worth around Rs 10 crore may have been damaged beyond redemption by the time the cops were engaged by the protesters in a stone throwing contest. Police had to fire in the air and use tear gas freely to try and rein in the protesters. The police were heard giving the lame excuse that the mob had used social media to gather in numbers. The truth may be closer to the fact that a Sunday morning was a quiet time for the law enforcers. The high court passed strictures against the police while ordering a CBCID probe and a SIT to deal with those who were seen destroying school property in several videos that were shot on the scene. The TN police force may pride itself on being one of the smarter ones in the country but this time they had slipped up.
WhatsApp Image 2022-07-18 at 3.33

Vice Presidential Elections: Opposition Makes It A North-South Battle

Whose idea was it to field the former Rajasthan Governor Margaret Alva, a senior Congress leader who fell out of favour way back in 2008, when she talked about tickets being sold in Karnataka assembly elections? Well the credit for pitting Alva against formidable NDA candidate Jagdeep Dhankar, West Bengal Governor and a Jat leader from Rajasthan goes to CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury. It was Yechury who proposed Alva as a candidate at the July 17 Opposition meet at Sharad Pawar’s residence. Yechury who is close to Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul seems to have done all the preparatory work with Alva. Congress leaders breathed easy as they knew the Gandhis would not object to Alva’s name once they became aware of Yechury’s role. It was Yechury’s idea to turn the Veep’s battle into a North versus South, a minority Christian against Hindu nationalist candidate.  But did Alva’s candidacy help in swinging Southern parties like the pro- Christian YSRCP to the UPA side? Apparently not. Even the TMC may not back Alva. Mamata did not enjoy good terms with Alva while she was in the Congress. As for Dhankar his elevation is bound to have salutary effect on the Jat votes in Rajasthan, Haryana and UP. MPs cutting across party lines are bound to vote in his favour on August 6.
Collage Maker-18-Jul-2022-11

Kerala Govt Gets Into Internet Play, To Provide Free Service To 20-Lakh Economically Backward Households

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has issued an internet service provider (ISP) Category B licence to Kerala Fibre Optic Network Ltd (KFON). This enables KFON to provide internet services within Kerala. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in a Facebook post said that Kerala has become the first state in India to have its own ISP and internet project. Kerala will provide internet services as a basic right to the people. The project announced in 2019 envisages installation of 35,000 km of optical fibre cable (OFC) network across 14 districts in Kerala. Till date 30,000 km of OFC has been laid and connected to 5000 Government offices and 25,000 Government institutions. KFON aims to provide free internet access to 20 lakh economically-backward households. The project also plans to connect government offices, educational institutions, hospitals etc.  KFON will allow telcos and other service providers and community -level networks to offer services to under-served areas. Of the total OFC network, 50% will be leased out to telcos and cable TV operators.  KFON will be able to connect to the nearly 8000 odd mobile towers in Kerala and significantly enhance the mobile call quality and also accelerate the 4G/5G transitions. The project is backed by Kerala State Electricity Board, Bharat Electronics Ltd, Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board and Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Ltd.
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@Dev_Fadnavis

Fadanvis-Raj Thackeray 90-Minute Tete A Tete Indicates New Formations In Maharashtra

A 90-minute tete a tete between Deputy chief minister Devendra Fadavnis and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) boss Raj Thackeray at the latter’s Shivaji Park residence in Mumbai is considered significant in view of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) election due later this year. Fadanvis drove to Thackeray to ‘honour’ his earlier pronouncement that he would be meeting Raj soon. MNS was considered a formidable factor against the Shiv Sena of Uddhav Thackeray till the last civic election held five years ago. However, its performance was disappointing and hence was sidelined in Maharashtra politics. The installation of the Eknath Shinde-Fadanvis saffron alliance regime has changed most equations in the state overnight. The major among them is the BMC, which has been under Shiv Sena control since 1985. All attempts to wrest this body having the largest civic budget in the country away from the Sena have failed so far. To deal one more fatal blow to Uddhav, the BJP, the Eknath Shinde faction and MNS are in the process of reaching a pact that will take on the Sena of Uddhav.  Raj’s decision to ‘postpone’ his public address a second time is viewed as confirmation of such an emerging understanding. Shinde, Fadanvis and Raj will sing the same tune from different platforms at the same time soon to sound the bugle, saffron insiders have indicated.
Collage Maker-18-Jul-2022-11

Soumaya Ranjan Pathak and Bhatruhari Mahtab

Odisha’s Media Barons-Cum-BJD Leaders Question Naveen Patnaik’s Working Style

Odisha’s two prominent media barons Soumya Ranjan Patnaik of No 1 daily Sambad and Kanak TV, and Bhatruhari Mahtab of Odisha’s oldest daily Prajatantra seem to be questioning chief minister Naveen Patnaik’s working style. Interestingly, both are senior BJD leaders. Patnaik, son-in-law of the late chief minister JB Patnaik is BJD MLA and so too is Mahtab, BJD’s Lok Sabha MP.  Sources say it was Naveen babu’s clever move to get these media barons on his side by offering them party tickets.  According to sources, these barons now are uncomfortable and would like to speak their minds on a host of burning issues plaguing the state. They want to give an alternate opinion as independent thinkers. But in Naveen babu’s scheme of things policy issues and role of think tank were assigned to bureaucrats who in turn ensured these politicians were kept out of bounds, be it strategic issues or cabinet reshuffle. Feeling left out they have started playing the role of watchdog.  Result: Odisha’s media has started publishing/broadcasting hard stories exposing government’s shortcomings, allegations regarding Covid mortality details being fudged, dominance of bureaucracy ,rising trend of alcohol consumption, corruptions within the party. BJD sources say “The complaining media owners are also part of the BJD government now. When an individual joins a party he ceases to be an independent voice”.
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Is CPI(M) In West Bengal Still Basking In Its Past Glory?

The CPI (M) in West Bengal is currently under extreme political crisis after being completely whitewashed in the 2021 Bengal Assembly Election. With no MLAs at the Assembly, the party has been trying desperately to reach out to the grassroot level and increase their public relations by highlighting the achievements of the 34 years of Left Front regime. Lack of leaders with the stature of someone like the late chief minister and CPI (M) patriarch Jyoti Basu and his successor Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the party continues to highlight upon their 34 years of Left Front regime. Moreover, it celebrated the anniversary of the establishment of the first Left Front government. Numerous social media posts and videos were shared along with the talk shows participated by former Left Front chairman Biman Bose, former Left Front minister and senior leaders Surjya Kanta Mishra, Ashok Bhattacharya and others. Significantly, Bhattacharjee still remains still the go-to person, despite staying away from public limelight since leaving office in 2011. The party made an interesting choice, when it urged the 78-year-old ailing Bhattacharjee to address the 11th All India Conference of the CPI (M)’s youth wing the Democratic Youth Federation of India recently held in Kolkata. For a party that is now looking to gain a toehold in the state after over a decade of continuous electoral reverses, has also held ahead several events on the occasion of Jyoti Basu’s 109th Birth Anniversary.
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After Cong Mukt Bharat Is BJP Working Towards An Opposition Mukt Bharat?

The BJP’s velvet gloves were off at the National Executive meet in Hyderabad.  The message was “Look South for our next push”. No one was surprised by the new slogan, “Telangana first, TN next”.  So is BJP working towards Opposition Mukt Bharat?  Maybe! The Delhi-based journalist R Rajagopalan who has attended over 15 such political party executive meets in his long career says that the Hyderabad session left him in awe and admiration. Sensing its move, Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao made his displeasure known by not receiving the PM Narendra Modi when he visited Telangana twice. “Telangana has several Eknath Shindes”, says BJP leader Bandi Sanjay in retaliation. The recent development in Maharashtra where two-thirds of Sena MLAs walked out to align with BJP and form the government could well be an eye-opener for KCR that BJP means business. In the neighboring Tamil Nadu the appointment of the Governor RN Ravi has made the MK Stalin-led DMK government very uncomfortable from Day One. It may be recalled that BJP has been trying hard to make inroads by appointing by former IPS officer K Annamalai as its party chief as its earlier experiment of wooing superstar Rajnikant failed. What perhaps could help BJP gain inroads in TN is the infighting within AIADMK. One thing is loud and clear that Telangana and TN are on BJP’s radar as it seems doable.
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Why Tamils Never Forgave Gotobaya

It was with certain relish that sections of supporters of Eelam in Tamil Nadu celebrated the news that Gotobaya Rajapaksa had fled Sri Lanka. They have never forgiven the Sri Lankan Army for killing all of the Velupillai Prabhakaran clan towards the end of the war around May 18, 2009 and Gotobaya had a direct role to play in this as the news of Prabhakaran’s capture was conveyed to him. He asked Sarath Fonseka, chief of the army, to rush to the venue of the capture and ensure that Prabhakaran and his people were eliminated. Fonseka carried out the order to the T also eliminating Prabhakaran’s young son who may have had little to do with his father’s revolutionary movement. The word from Gotobaya, then Defence Secretary, was to get rid of all the clan as not a DNA of the family should linger. The little told story of Prabhakaran’s final hours was to do with how he and his guerrillas had been wiped out but he refused to bite the cyanide bullet as he would rather stand up to the enemy. Instructed to wipe out the family DNA, the army chief acted as told and then the pictures of Prabhakaran’s body lying in the field was leaked because sections of the media had said that the chief of the Tigers was still alive. Gotobaya was the one who gave the order to shoot.
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West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma & West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee

Himanta's Trip To Darjeeling To Meet Mamata On Guv's Invite Creates Buzz

In an interesting move Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma travelled to Darjeeling on the invitation of West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar on July 13. There at the Raj Bhavan, the Governor Dhankar also asked Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to come over as she had arrived in the hills to attend the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration swearing-in ceremony. The meeting of the CMs was something Mamata found hard to refuse; it triggered intense speculations. That is because Sarma is considered to be very close to Home Minister Amit Shah and it was felt he may have come to talk to Trinamool Congress Supremo about supporting Droupadi Murmu in the presidential election on behalf of the BJP. However, post her interactions with Himanta, Mamata made it clear that there was no talk of politics. The whole thing was a courtesy call. Asked whether she and Sarma had any discussion on the presidential election, Banerjee said, “How can that be possible? We belong to different parties.” At the same time she said, “It felt good to meet Himanta. When I went to Kamakhya temple, he helped me a lot. I think our relationship must continue as there are several Assamese in West Bengal and many Bengalis in Assam. We share a border in Alipurduar district. The two state governments must keep communicating with each other.” And therein lies the catch.
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MVA Experiment Fails: Shiv Sena, NCP And Congress Going Their Own Way

The moment Uddhav Thackeray stepped down as Maharashtra chief minister, internecine differences in the then ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) started simmering. Now they have come out in the open, the reason being the impending election to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). Former Union minister Milind Deora has complained against the reorganisation of the election wards for the coming election. He has complained that the Shiv Sena, when in power, restructured the wards to ensure maximum electoral benefit for itself. Deora has appealed to chief minister Eknath Shinde to undertake a fresh drive to reorganise the wards in a transparent manner. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the third MVA partner, has declared that it will start preparations for the civic election, not caring who comes along. NCP chief Sharad Pawar chaired a meeting of his party workers in Mumbai. He surprised them by announcing that he himself will lead the campaign in Mumbai. The Sena’s unilateral decision to support Droupadi Murmu in the Presidential election has angered the Congress party already. Senior former minister Balasaheb Thorat vented the ire just a day before. Now that Deora, too, has jumped in the fray, the two-pronged attack is bound to push the Sena into a corner, it is felt. According to Deora, the Sena-engineered reorganisation can cost the Congress party around 20 seats in the BMC.
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Rishi Sunak Is The Front Runner But Penny Mordaunt Might Swing It

India is fascinated with a PIO as the front runner for occupying 10 Downing Street as Prime Minister of the world’s fifth largest economy but the anticipation among Tories is that Penny Mordaunt might be able to beat him in the head-to-head runoff. She nearly doubled her support to 67 votes behind Sunak’s 88 as Nadhim Zahawi and Jeremy Hunt were eliminated. In an intense phase of campaigning, Sunak is using a staff of 20 besides a personal chauffeur to rush around London while Penny has been clever in making her campaign – “PM (Penny Mordaunt) for PM.” A new poll among Conservative Party members suggests that PM will indeed become PM. As a former military woman, she made some startling observations, including stating the fact that women cannot have a penis in order to ward off criticism that she is too “woke” to be leading the Tories. While Sunak is promising to run the economy like Margaret Thatcher, Penny feels a lot more is needed than just tax cuts to revive the $3.4 trillion economy that is in danger of going into recession in the face of runaway inflation. Under fire for his wife’s non-domicile tax status in the UK, the son-in-law of former Infosys czar NR Narayana Murthy is still certain to take a good shot at becoming UK’s Prime Minister.
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Sharad Pawar To Face More Intensified Saffron Attacks

Rather than rebutting Shiv Sena barbs, Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde faction seems to have decided to focus its attacks against Nationalist Congress party founder Sharad Pawar. The person deputed to do so is Deepak Kesarkar, a former close aide of Pawar and now principal spokesman of Shinde. Interestingly, Kesarkar attended the NDA meeting held in New Delhi to finalise strategy for the election of its Presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu. Kesarkar was first elected to the legislative assembly on an NCP ticket from Sawantwadi in Konkan. He later switched sides to join the Sena and was a minister of state for home in the previous BJP-Sena government led by Devendra Fadanvis. A non-assuming person, Kesarkar is known for his sharp tongue. In his fresh onslaught, Kesarkar has accused Pawar of engineering every past split in the Sena, including the one started by firebrand leader Chhagan Bhujbal in 1991. According to Kesarkar, once Pawar himself had told him that Narayan Rane had walked out of the Sena because of Pawar himself. “Pawar was instrumental in making Raj Thackeray desert the Sena,” Kesarkar says. Pawar, architect of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government led by Uddhav Thackeray, is perceived as the main adversary by the BJP and now the Shinde faction. Attacks against him are expected to intensify further.
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"Murmu No Symbol Of Tribals", Cong Stoops To A New Low Of Name-Calling In Prez Polls

With more political parties like Samajwadi Party allies in Uttar Pradesh, the Akali Dal in Punjab and even the Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena deserting the Opposition ranks for NDA presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu, a nervous Congress has stooped to the extent of describing her as “representing an evil philosophy of India.” Aware that Murmu is poised to win the Presidential election hands down, Congress leader Ajoy Kumar, who was once Lok Sabha MP from Jamshedpur in Jharkhand, insisted that she should not be considered as a symbol of Adivasis even though she is a Santhal. “Yashwant Sinha is a good candidate. Droupadi Murmu is a decent person, but we shouldn’t make her a symbol of tribals. She represents the evil philosophy of India. The Modi Government is fooling the people.” In the same breath, he didn’t even spare incumbent President Ram Nath Kovind, saying atrocities happened against Dalits under his watch. Taking on the Congress, two BJP leaders — Union Minister Arjun Munda and senior leader Babulal Marandi — demanded that Ajoy Kumar apologise for his remarks. “Congress is frustrated. Tribal people got nothing during Congress rule. Congress is having trouble because for the first time PM Modi and NDA leaders have nominated a tribal woman for President’s post.” they said.
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Is Minority Affairs Minister Smriti Irani A Worry For The TMC?

After Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s exit from the Modi Government on July 7 there were speculations whether the Minority Affairs ministry would be wound up. Questions were asked about who would take Naqvi’s place as there was no second Muslim MP in the ruling BJP to fill his shoes. PM Narendra Modi handed over the charge to Women & Child Development Minister Smriti Irani. Curiously her appointment was slammed by Trinamool Congress (TMC) Rajya Sabha MP Jawahar Sircar who wanted to know how could a “Hardcore Hindu, married to a Parsi be given charge of Muslims, Christians. Is this BJP’s brand of secularism?” Sircar was countered by Law Minister Kiren Rijiju who wanted to know why minorities meant only “Muslims and Christians”.  A Buddhist from Arunachal, he hoped, “one can free mind from the shackles of pseudo secularism and appeasement politics. Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jain and Parsis have been notified as minority communities under Section 2 (c) of National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992”. The TMC possibly could be upset with Smriti’s added responsibility and acquiring a profile in Bengal when she went to launch the Sealdah Metro; Mamata’s party may have good reason to get worked up. Meanwhile it is learnt Naqvi moved out of his official residence 7 Safdarjung Road, just a day after his Rajya Sabha tenure ended. That is some record.
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Sharad Pawar’s Salvo On Aurangabad Renaming A Damp Squib

NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s salvo about the renaming of Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar has proved a damp squib as no political party in Maharashtra has reacted to his assertion that his Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) was not consulted beforehand by then chief minister Uddhav Thackeray. Thackeray’s Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) cabinet decided to rename Aurangabad after warrior king Sambhaji Maharaj during its last moments in office. The decision was welcomed all around. However, Pawar during his visit to Aurangabad a few days ago, maintained that the NCP was not aware that such a decision would be taken. Moreover, Pawar said that since the resolution to this effect was moved by Thackeray himself, democratic norms dictated that a proposal by a chief minister is unanimously endorsed by his council of ministers. Critics of Pawar point out that the ultimate cabinet meeting was attended by deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, a nephew of the NCP boss. Ajit is said to have not opposed the proposal nor did he express any reservations. The NCP ministers present could have requested Thackeray to withhold it but they, too, acquiesced.  In fact, it is pointed out that Sharad Pawar himself has not opposed the renaming. He merely has said that the NCP was not consulted prior to its passing.  The expected storm it seems has withered away without a blast.
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Former Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb

Fissures Within Tripura BJP Widen As Former CM Biplab Deb Sidelined

Even though BJP continues with its winning streak in the bypolls of Tripura State Assembly, all is not well within the party. Internal feuds continue to loom large just months ahead of the Tripura State Assembly Polls in early 2023. The rift which transpired after the sudden replacement of the chief minister Biplab Deb a month ago, resurfaced after the former CM was sidelined during the programme to host Presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu. Deb was not seen along with Murmu and chief minister Manik Saha on the dais. He had to be content sitting with the group of common legislators perfectly hinting at “dais to diaspora”. The incident has not gone down well with Deb’s followers. They have taken up the matter with National president J P Nadda and also intend to personally meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi. The rift basically ensued as these followers believed that the replacement of former chief minister with low-key medical practitioner Saha, who was also a late entrant and an ex-Congressman, was temporary. Fissures have deepened further with a clear indication when a relatively weak candidate was nominated to the prestigious Agartala seat during the recent bypoll against a strong Congressman. It was literally a walkover for Sudip Roy Burman who recently went back to his original party – Congress – from BJP.
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PM Modi Unveils National Emblem At New Parliament Complex, Winter Session To Be Held In The New House

PM Narendra Modi unveiled the national emblem cast on the roof of the new Parliament building on July 11. The emblem made of bronze, weighing 9,500 kg and 6.5 metre in height was cast at the top of the central foyer of the new parliament building. It took over nine months to cast. A supporting steel structure weighing around 6,500 kg has been constructed to support the emblem. To take the emblem to the roof, it was divided into over 150 segments and assembled on the roof; it took nearly two months to complete. Modi performed puja at the launch of the emblem. Opposition parties were presumably not invited for the event as they had boycotted the launch of Central Vista bhoomi pujan in December 2020. Nonetheless, AIMIM leader Asauddin Owaisi questioned the propriety of PM Modi unveiling the emblem, insisting it should have been done by Lok Sabha Speaker, perhaps forgetting PM Modi was after all leader of the Lok Sabha. “One can’t take Owaisiji’s objections seriously; he always takes an adversarial position,” said BJP spokesperson Dr Sudhanshu Trivedi. The proposed four-storey building was expected to be completed by August 15 to coincide with Azadi ka Amrit Mahatosav plans. However with the unveiling of the emblem now one can expect at least the winter session of the Parliament to be held in the new complex.
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EPS at AIADMK’s General Council meeting

EPS Takes Total Control Of AIADMK, Sacks OPS From The Party

Presented with a fait accompli of a General Council meeting ratifying Edappadi Palaniswamy as the Interim General Secretary until elections are formally held in the AIADMK party, former CM and now former Coordinator O Panneerselvem will be exhausting all legal avenues before charting his future path. In seizing total control over the party, EPS also had OPS ejected from party membership saying he had been given enough opportunities to discuss issues and sort out differences. The only recourse available now for OPS would be to approach the courts with his claim that the entire GC meeting was illegal as he had not co-signed the notice convening the meeting. The courts did not take kindly to OPS seeking to stop the meeting and OPS didn’t attend the meeting either, preferring to go to the party HQ on Lloyds Road and camp there with his supporters. The BJP washed its hands of the AIADMK internecine tussle and will sit it out until it’s clear who is legally and officially in control of the party.  OPS had no support from the top duo of BJP and is out in the political wilderness. He tried to play his cards too smartly, keeping a foot in the Sasikala camp while keeping channels open to the DMK leadership. OPS’ hold was on the treasury but he has lost that too.
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Will Raj Thackeray Break His Silence Over Maharashtra’s Political Developments?

The curious silence over the past fortnight of a normally strident voice has led to much speculation, especially in view of the impending Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) election, which will take place after the monsoon. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray has hardly spoken about the current political developments though his party’s lone MLA supported the Shinde-Fadanvis alliance during the trust vote and election of the State Assembly Speaker. While stray comments emerge from the MNS camp, Thackeray himself has refrained from speaking. Raj underwent surgery recently and is convalescing. While a few prominent visitors have called on him at his Shivaji Park residence in the past few weeks, he himself has not made any public appearance nor addressed any meeting or the media. Otherwise a regular media feature, Raj is said to be biding his time to speak out. The BMC is called the Shiv Sena’s oxygen plant, being the richest civic body in the country. Hence there is little doubt that the Sena will try its best to maintain its stranglehold on it. However, with the changing political equations in Maharashtra, the Eknath Shinde faction and the BJP will spare no efforts to snatch it away. In such a scenario, the role of MNS and Raj Thackeray will be crucial. Whispers are heard that an announcement can be expected soon about this.
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Signals Sent Out By Shiv Sena Rebel MLAs Create Flutter

Are some members of the Shiv Sena breakaway group likely to reconsider their decision to follow Eknath Shinde out of the party? Guesswork is rife owing to some prominent rebel MLAs repeatedly declaring their loyalty and respect towards Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. When BJP’s watchdog Kirit Somaiya described Uddhav as ‘mafia’ before television cameras, several Sena rebel MLAs took strong objection to the derogatory term and warned the former MP to mind his language. Buldhana MLA Sanjay Gaikwad has declared that many like him will walk out of the alliance with the BJP if Uddhav is attacked. Former ministers Gulabrao Patil and Deepak Kesarkar have declared that Uddhav will not be criticized by alliance members. Another rebel MLA, Suhas Kande, said he will lead a delegation of the rebels to the Thackeray residence, Matoshri. But Shinde’s trusted aide Kesarkar added a rider. He said, “If there is any talk for a patch up, our ally BJP, too, will be in the picture.” On the other hand, Uddhav, his son Aaditya and their spokesman Sanjay Raut have adopted a tough posture in response to the various pronouncements by the Sena rebels. The situation is further confounded as actress and Sena functionary Deepali Sayyad has appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take the initiative. “Uddhavji and chief minister Shinde will not defy your word,” she has said.
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Modi Govt On Mission Mode To Set Up CBSE-Affiliated Eklavya Schools In Tribal Areas

Union Minister of State for Tribal Affairs Tudu Bishweswar who hails from Mayurbhanj, Odisha is on overdrive to appease the tribal communities who constitute about 23% of Odisha population. This explains why as many as 87 Eklavya Model Residential School (EMRS), a co-ed school affiliated to CBSE have been sanctioned for Mayurbhanj which is highest for any state as well as district in India.  Eklavya Schools are being set up in States/Union Territories with grants under Article 27 and are being implemented by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. Every block with over 50% of Scheduled Tribe population having at least 20,000 tribal persons will now have EMRS and all backlog have to be completed by the extended target date 2025. Already, the parliamentary committee has expressed dismay over the slow pace of EMRS implementation work by the Tribal Ministry which for not being able to meet the original target of 452 Eklavya Schools by 2022 forcing the government to now extend the deadline to 2025. Tudu, BJP MP, is also under pressure to arrest the large number of tribal children who drop out of school — 55% at primary and nearly 71% at secondary level. It is clear the Modi government is on mission mode to uplift tribal communities and its action of nominating Droupadi Murmu also from Odisha as NDA’s presidential candidate indicates it means business.
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When Tamil Nadu BJP Leader H Raja Turned A Press Meet Into Stand Up Comedy

Tamil Nadu’s senior BJP leader H Raja may have lost elections, and his national Secretary post but neither age nor defeat have withered his chutzpah and energy to take on the DMK and chief minister MK Stalin whom he calls friend. At a recent press meet, Raja took on the DMK’s A Raja for his secessionist speech, daringly, yet managed to entertain the onlookers with his extempore slugs of wit. He nailed it when he demanded Stalin should either put A Raja behind bars for sedition or face his government’s dismissal under Article 356, if Raja was his mouthpiece. “No one should think this can’t happen. Even a lame duck PM like Chandrasekhar dismissed your father’s government in 1991”. Raja claims that Jagat Gasper, a protégée of the first family is an arms peddler, and Stalin has to show him the door. Stalin, according to Raja, has a talent for claiming credit for efforts of the Centre. The BJP government under the leadership of Modi brought home over 10,000 medical aspirants from Ukraine’s war zone Stalin quickly pounced on this opportunity to claim “It was our efforts that all came home unscathed“ . The sucker punch line H Raja delivered that turned the press meet into a Stand Up comedy, “If a neighbour celebrates the birth of a child, we must offer congratulations. But if you claim responsibility for that too….it becomes awkward”.
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Presidential Elections: Left Parties Frown On Mamata's Bid To Keep Yashwant Sinha Out Of West Bengal, Offer To Host Him

Opposition Presidential candidate Yashwant Sinha had decided to skip Jharkhand and West Bengal due to the stand taken by JMM chief Hemant Soren and statements made by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee in favour of NDA candidate Droupadi Murmu. Mamata was open to letting her MLAs do what they want on the Presidential vote; she was also not keen about a Sinha visit to the state. However, it seems Opposition leaders have not taken kindly to Didi dropping Sinha like a hot potato for her electoral calculations in Bengal. In fact CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar and Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge do not want Sinha to skip Bengal or Jharkhand in his campaign as they feel it would send a wrong message. Yechury has even assured Sinha that the Left Parties would host him in Bengal. Meanwhile, Droupadi Murmu is reaching Kolkata on July 9 for a meeting with 69 BJP MLAs. She has also sought a separate meeting with Mamata. Now, it is clear Murmu’s presidential candidature has caught Mamata in a cleft stick– she can no longer wax eloquent about uniting the Opposition, but keep her focus on her home turf in Bengal.
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Fearing Sena-Like Exodus, Congress Undecided About Action Against Cross-Voters In Maharashtra

The Congress high command is in two minds about taking disciplinary action against its seven erring Maharashtra MLAs for defying a party whip in the recently held Rajya Sabha and Legislative Council polls, fearing an exodus like the one witnessed by the Shiv Sena over the past fortnight. Due to the cross-voting by several MLAs, including seven of the Congress, it became possible for the BJP to bag an extra seat in both elections despite its numerical minority. The hurt was aggravated when a dozen Congress MLAs, including former chief minister Ashok Chavan, failed to turn up for voting when the saffron government led by Sena rebel Eknath Shinde was facing a floor test in the lower house. The issue was raised by another former chief minister, Prithviraj Chavan, demanding stern disciplinary action against the defaulters. Subsequently, Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole and a defeated party candidate, Chandrakant Handore, rushed to Delhi to appraise Rahul Gandhi. This was followed up by a meeting with Sonia Gandhi. However, they failed to get any specific direction from Delhi.  Already, there is discontent in the party because of its support for renaming Aurangabad as Sambhajinagar. Hence, Sonia and Rahul are said to be proceeding cautiously. It is expected that they will wait till July 11 when the Supreme Court hears petitions regarding the developments in Maharashtra.
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Decks Clear For Anointing EPS As Sole Leader Of AIADMK, OPS Faction Loses Out

The decks are clear for Edappadi K Palanisamy to take over the AIADMK party as its General Secretary at the July 11 meeting to be held in Chennai.  A division bench of the Madras High Court on July 7 dismissed a contempt application seeking to punish the former CM and AIADMK leader and his supporters for alleged non-implementation of its earlier orders. The bench of Justices M Duraiswamy and Sundar Mohan also dismissed the applications to stay the general council meeting and the one against Tamil Magan Hussain, who had been nominated as the permanent presidium chairman of the party at its June 23 general council meeting. Since their orders passed in the small hours of June 23 had been stayed by the Supreme Court on July 6, the judges said they were dismissing the applications and petitions. OPS has lost the battle because EPS was able to gather a brute majority favouring a “single leader” rule that had been in force till the death of party supremo and CM J Jayalalithaa in 2016. EPS ran a sustained campaign in the background to woo all important party functionaries to his side. His clever portrayal of OPS as a “double agent” leaning towards Sasikala as well as the ruling DMK helped swing support. Only the anointing of EPS as leader of the principal Opposition party in TN remains to be completed now.
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Will Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi Be Our Next Vice President?

On August 6 the country will have a new Vice President and there is a lot of speculation about who it will be. Though the BJP has not revealed its card, there is a strong rumour that it is most likely to be Union Minorities Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.  A day ahead of his term ending in the Rajya Sabha, Naqvi quit as minister. He and JDU’s RCP Singh, who is Minister of Steel, also attended the Union Cabinet meeting where PM Narendra Modi praised both of them. Soon after the Cabinet, Naqvi visited BJP headquarters to meet with party chief JP Nadda. Initially, when Naqvi didn’t make it to the list of Rajya Sabha nominations it was felt that he would probably contest the Lok Sabha by-election from Rampur in Uttar Pradesh, his native State. However, after BJP fielded Ghanshyam Lodhi in SP stalwart Azam Khan’s stronghold, it was felt that Modi was likely to field the only Muslim minister in his cabinet in the vice-presidential elections. Another name doing the rounds is that of Karnataka Governor Thawarchand Gehlot. Seventy-four year Gehlot was leader of the Rajya Sabha before he moved as Karnataka Governor. Yet, what could still work in Naqvi’s favour is that he is much younger at 64 and has been very familiar with Rajya Sabha working.
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A Raja Threatens Modi Govt, Give Us More Autonomy Or Else DMK Will Push For A Separate Tamil Nadu

DMK MP A Raja, a confidante of the late M Karunanidhi courted the country’s ire and shock while addressing a meeting of local cadres of DMK in Tamil Nadu. Raja, in the presence of the chief minister MK Stalin, threatened the Centre that TN would secede if the state was not granted more autonomy. “We will not stop until TN gets state autonomy ….I request the PM and the HM not to force us to revive the demand for a separate TN, an ideological demand made by Periyar for Thani (separate) Nadu “. The outburst, perhaps deliberate, is to remind the Modi government of their unhappiness with the TN Governor’s role, NEET issues not being addressed, inequitable distribution of GST, imposition of Hindi; the usual litany of woes that a non-BJP ruled states has with the Union government. Both AIADMK and BJP have condemned Raja’s seditious speech. But, what is intriguing is the CM playing the role of a mute spectator. Analysts are saying that the CM was using Raja as a trial balloon to assess people’s mood. Political analyst Sumanth Raman says “He embarrassed Stalin…sidelined in the DMK and sulking. Except for such fringe elements, no one in TN talks about separatism “. Says DMK Rajya Sabha MP TKS Elangovan, “Raja aired his frustration “. The grapes of wrath are bound to be sour. A Raja may soon discover, discretion is the best part of valour.
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Rousing Reception To Droupadi Murmu In Ranchi Gives Cong Heebie-Jeebies, Fears A Maharashtra Redux In Jharkhand

NDA presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu’s visit to Ranchi to seek electoral support from MPs and MLAs of Jharkhand was a resounding success. She not only managed to strike an emotional  chord with her electors as she disclosed that she was connected to Jharkhand by blood as her grandmother belonged to the state but seems to have also got assurance of support from the ruling  Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM). Murmu, who was the Governor of Jharkhand (2015- 2021) shared with the NDA legislators that when she was declared as candidate, she had shared her apprehension with PM Narendra Modi about her ability to do justice to the responsibilities of the high office. To this Modi had told her that “The Constitution will guide and show you the right path.” He had also recalled how she had groomed “Jharkhand while being Governor”. During her stint, Murmu handled ticklish legislation issues amending tenancy laws. Significantly, Murmu called on JMM supremo Shibu Soren and his son Chief Minister Hemant Soren seeking their support. She was welcomed by the Soren duo at the Chief Minister’s residence. Though JMM-Congress is only a post poll alliance, and 18 Congress MLAs backing isn’t a big deal, state Congress Rajesh Thakur is already uncomfortable at the thought of JMM keeping away from UPA candidate. Is it because it could be a redux of Maharashtra once again?
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Odisha State Assembly Session

Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik Unfazed With BJP’s Plan To Make Monsoon Session Stormy

Even though the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik have a good equation, that has not stopped BJP from trying to foist its flag in the state.  So every time there is an election in the state, BJP puts all its might only to come a cropper. Patnaik is a revered leader who has transformed Odisha which is helping the common man. BJP’s goal was to emerge as an alternative to the Naveen Patnaik-led Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Odisha by 2024. Now that seems to be impossible given the fact BJD swept the panchayat and urban elections a few months back thereby derailing BJPs  ‘look east’ campaign. But BJP is not giving up easily. Its State President Sameer Mohanty, National Vice President Baijayant Panda and Odisha State BJP in-charge Vijaypal Singh Tomar have jointly prepared a 3-month strategy to make the monsoon session stormy. This plan will see BJP raise its decibel level on Mahanadi water dispute, power outages, unemployment, mineral theft, PMAY corruption, law and order, tender fixing including Naveen babu’s foreign trip. BJD seems unfazed since it is well-versed in handling opposition darts.  One has to wait and watch whether BJP’s going for the jugular strategy yields dividends?
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Presidential Elections: Worried About Losing Tribal Votes In Bengal, Mamata In Two Minds About Murmu

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s recent remarks that NDA candidate Droupadi Murmu’s chances are better in the presidential elections stirred a lot of political interest making every one wonder whether she was already having second thoughts about the Opposition choice, Yashwant Sinha. A fortnight before the polls, Mamata even began to distance herself saying she had no role in Sinha emerging as the choice even though Sinha was TMC V-P. “Now we know Droupadi Murmu’s chances are better because of developments in Maharashtra.  BJP didn’t discuss with us before announcing their candidate for Presidential elections. They should have taken our suggestions then we could have considered,” she said. A section in the BJP even began to feel that perhaps Mamata’s rethink could make her endorse Murmu. However, such musings were short-lived as Didi loudly wondered in a TV interview on July 4 why the suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma was “not arrested” even after Supreme Court’s much contested observations. Of course, digging a little deeper, it seems Mamata was feeling increasingly nervous about Murmu’s candidature. Maybe she realizes that by opposing Murmu in the Presidential poll, she could lose her party’s tribal vote bank in south Bengal which she had regained from the BJP in the 2021 state Assembly elections. Her arch BJP rival Suvendu Adhikari has already participated in several events across the state’s Junglemahal region, which has a significant tribal population.
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PM Modi Wows Global Leaders With Made In India Gifts

The exquisite array of gifts Prime Minister Narendra Modi carried to the G7 summit tells the story of an extraordinary politician who has made India and Indians proud. And the GI Tag on a few of these gifts came as an added bonus to promote Indian artisans and their body of work. The gifts ranged from a Gulabi Meenakari brooch and matching cuff links, GI tagged from Varanasi for the U.S. President Joe Biden and First Lady. Japan’s PM Fumio Kishida was gifted Black Pottery, a process specific speciality of Nizamabad. The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was gifted an ultra special platinum painted tea set to commemorate the Queen’s platinum jubilee year. Emmanuel Macron was the recipient of a Zari Zardozi box crafted in Lucknow, encased in hand embroidered khadi silk in the colours of the French flag. The contents were even more exotic — it held Attar Mitti, a fragrance mix of jasmine, rose and musk.  Germany’s Chancellor was gifted brassware from Moradabad .The Italian PM was delighted to receive a semi-precious stones inlaid marble table top, reminiscent of the Pietra Dura that originated in Rome.  So what is unusual about PM gifting exotic memorabilia? Normally, one expects such esoteric tastes to a “Manor Born “. Or praise the team designated to choose. Ultimately, it is the leader’s forethought to showcase India discerningly, abroad.
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Dilip Ghosh and Sukanta Majumdar

BJP High Command Cuts Rebel Leaders In Bengal Unit To Size, Keeps Them Out Of Panchayat Polls Core Committee

Nothing seems to work for the Bengal BJP at present. While Trinamool Congress manages to make a significant dent in North Bengal by gaining the maximum number of panchayat and gram panchayat boards under Siliguri division, the Bengal BJP is grappling with internal feuds. Taking cognizance of this, the central BJP leadership has sent out a strong message to the leaders who have been vocal against the present state leadership. Towards this it has excluded Dilip Ghosh, former state president and MP from Medinipur, and Locket Chatterjee, MP from Hooghly, from the panchayat coordination committee. Instead, Debasree Chaudhuri, MP from Raiganj, has been given the charge. Interestingly, Ghosh had spearheaded the 2018 panchayat polls which helped BJP to make inroads and become West Bengal’s principal opposition party. Similarly, Locket who was in charge of the committee set up to celebrate the Modi Government’s 8th Anniversary celebration, also failed to be a part of the Panchayat Committee. Insiders said both Ghosh and Chatterjee had been voicing their dissent against the current president Dr Sukanta Majumder. Debasree is known to be close to Majumder.  When asked why Ghosh has been excluded from the committee, BJP says Ghosh is one of the members of the National Working Committee. But so is Debasree. Locket’s exclusion is understandable as she continues to show her allegiance to the former state president.

TRENDS & VIEWS

We Have Created A New Segment That Has Resonated Well With Readers: Short Post Editor

Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come, said Victor Hugo a long time ago. I felt likewise. So instead of waiting endlessly for the Covid-19 tide to ebb, I decided to take the plunge and launch www.shortpost.in on January 28, 2021. This website, the first of its kind in the country, focuses only on short ‘Authentic Gossip’. Clearly, content is king more so if it is short & crisp (225 words), as a large section of our society is steadily shifting to digital and mobile space. To achieve this, I was fortunate to muster editorial support of some of the most senior and respected journalists in the country to bring out credible content that involves, stimulates and entertains our highly discerning readers — from across continents. We have so far uploaded close to 1,000 posts covering areas like Business, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment. Yes, today we have crossed an important milestone in our journey – #ShortPostFirstAnniversary —  and we are confident many more will follow in keeping with our stated vision – to become a one stop site for authentic gossip. So, what next?  With the third wave showing signs of slowing down things can only look better. So as the year rolls by we promise to pack in more punches. Before I sign off I would like to thank our advertiser IDFC FIRST Bank, angel investors Anuradha Verma, Ashish Kakkar and you readers for making this journey possible.