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Rahul Gandhi 2

TN Media Asks Rahul: Not Ready To Be Cong Prez But On Yatra To Unite India?

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi created a flutter on Day Two of his Bharat Jodo Yatra when he suggested that he could possibly return as Congress party president. At the same time, he added, “I have decided what I have to do. There is no confusion”. Suggesting that everyone must wait till September 30 when nominations open for president’s post, Rahul said the matter of him becoming party president will be clearer when elections happen. What added to the buzz was the news of the party general secretary Mukul Wasnik being relieved of his Madhya Pradesh responsibilities. His was one of the names doing rounds for the party’s president post. Meanwhile, Rahul was responding to questions from local media in Pulliyakuruchi in Tamil Nadu that wanted to know why he was not accepting party responsibility but instead had embarked on a yatra to unite India. Fobbing off more prying questions, the Congress leader offered to even learn Tamil. He made it clear that he was only participating in the padyatra. “I am not leading this padyatra. You like to focus on me, that is a different issue.” Meanwhile, the BJP and Congress slugged it out in the social media over the high priced Burberry T-shirt that Rahul wore during the yatra launch. The Congress was also trolled for 60 luxury containers that were being used as transport vehicles for Bharat Jodo.
Dilip-Ghosh

Is BJP Leader Dilip Ghosh Defying Party Lines In West Bengal?

All is not well with the West Bengal BJP unit ever since Trinamool Congress came to power with a thumping majority for the third term. The divide in the state saffron unit was clear since Balurghat MP Sukanta Majumder became the state president replacing Dilip Ghosh. Ghosh, a diehard RSS man, was the state president between 2015 and 2020 and under him BJP won 18 Lok Sabha seats. Recently, Ghosh criticized the CBI stating that it has “done some setting in Bengal”, putting the BJP leadership in a spot. His criticism can be attributed to the RSS’s cold war with the BJP. This is reflected as a direct attack on PM Narendra Modi. Moreover, it is not the first time Ghosh has defied the gag order from the central leadership. Earlier in June, in an email communique, the former Bengal president was asked to refrain from making comments against his party colleagues. Even the party president JP Nadda spoke to him on this issue. However, repeated defiance by Ghosh makes a section in the BJP believe that he enjoys sanction from “powerful authorities”. It is learnt that RSS has a game plan to add around 700 more shakhas to its existing network of 1,900 shakhas in West Bengal by 2024. This syncs well with Ghosh’s defiance.
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Yakub Memon Shadows Maharashtra Politics 7 Years After He Was Hanged

Mumbai Bomb Blasts case accused Yakub Memon has generated a furore in Maharashtra politics seven years after he was hanged as the ruling and opposition parties have indulged in a blame game over the beautification of the 1993 blasts convict’s grave in south Mumbai. Police and civic authorities removed the marble slabs and decorative lighting as soon as the news was flashed, but not before the political storm had started sweeping the state. The revelation that terrorist Yakub’s grave in Bada Kabrastan at Marine Lines in Mumbai was beautified with white marble and decorated with LED lights dismayed the state. Within minutes, the ruling BJP came down heavily against the Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray. BJP leaders lamented that the Uddhav government could go to this extent in its appeasement bid. Even as the onslaught continued, Congress and NCP leaders accused the BJP of diverting the public attention from the burning issues of the day. Opposition leader Ajit Pawar said, “Numerous farmers are facing hardships throughout the state, but the BJP is engaged in a political blame game, ignoring their plight completely.” Expectedly, a thorough enquiry has been ordered to find out how the beautification was permitted and took place. Yakub’s brother, Tiger Memon, is among the main accused led by Dawood Ibrahim, absconding since 1993.
Collage Maker-08-Sep-2022-04

Lifetime Achievement Award To Odisha Chief Minister Burns Up BJP, Congress

Looks like both BJP and Congress have not been able to stomach this achievement of the Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. On September 4, Patnaik was conferred the Lifetime Achievement award by the Delhi-based Capital Foundation in recognition of his distinctive and outstanding leadership. The award was presented by former Chief Justice of India NV Ramana in New Delhi.  On his return, a crowd of 50,000 people thronged at Bhubaneswar airport to receive Patnaik and accompany him all the way to his residence, blowing conch shells, choking the lanes and bylanes. So instead of congratulating him both the parties started firing salvos using social media platforms. BJP called upon the Odisha Governor Prof Ganesh Lal to highlight the state’s law and order problems. BJP said “Women and children are not safe in Odisha.” Odisha Congress said “The award is an ordinary one. CM Naveen is doing a drama. People in 2024 will give a befitting reply.”  Reacting to BJP and Congress outbursts, BJD MP Sasmit Patra said “I will not politicise the matter. This award has been rightfully won by CM Naveen Patnaik giving the state 25 years of hard work”. Odisha State Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Pramilla Mallick dismissed it as “BJP’s stunt. They are just trying to prove their presence by doing such politics”.
R.N

Is The Tamil Nadu Governor Taking A Crash Course In Tamil?

Of late, RN Ravi, the TN Governor is busy taking a crash course in spoken Tamil. He is now being tutored intensely to deliver speeches in Tamil. Why? Apparently, the Modi government is peeved that none of the people-friendly schemes that are initiated by the Centre have been conveyed effectively to the TN voters by the local BJP leaders. Recall the effort finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman put in while in Telangana about the PDS subsidies and how she ticked off the Collector in chaste Telugu. Similarly, home minister Amit Shah and other senior BJP leaders are intensely involved in spreading the pro people programmes of the Centre in the non-BJP states. TN Governor to his credit gives a decent discourse on “Sanathana Dharma“, a talent run-of-the -mill governors don’t possess. Once he masters colloquial Tamil he will perhaps use various fora to expound the generosity of the Centre to TN people. In that publicised meeting in the Raj Bhavan with superstar Rajinikanth, the Governor spoke in moving terms about his liking and admiration for the people of TN, in stark contrast to the prickly apprehension of the Tamilians about the imposition of Hindi. His tutors are sure going the whole hog to make him fluent in Tamil. Looks like BJP wants to take no chance in the run-up to 2024 Lok Sabha poll as its avowed mission is: “Telangana first, TN next”.
Collage Maker-07-Sep-2022-05

With Kartavya Path, Will Modi Change Rules Of Engagement With Lutyens?

A day ahead of unveiling its Central Vista project, the Modi Government shed one more colonial baggage by renaming Rajpath as Kartavya Path. Known as Kingsway in honour of King George V, the arterial road connecting Rashtrapathi Bhavan and India Gate was built in 1911. The name change was formalized at a special session of the New Delhi Municipal Council on September 7 and it came a day ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurating the entire stretch that has been renovated under the ambitious Central Vista redevelopment project. The renaming is in keeping with PM’s Independence Day speech this year when he called for abolishing symbols that reflect the colonial mindset. In this renaming there is also a message to the ruling class “that the era of rulers and subjects is over”. Modi has been working on changing the landscape of Lutyens’ Delhi ever since his first 2014 mandate. In 2015, Aurangzeb Road was renamed APJ Abdul Kalam Road. In 2017, Dalhousie Road was renamed Dara Shikoh Road. Also, Teen Murti Chowk was changed to Teen Murti Haifa Chowk in 2018. The revamped Central Vista Avenue along the Rajpath will have state-wise food stalls, red granite walkways with greenery all around, vending zones, parking lots and round-the-clock security. The moot point is with the kartavya path will Modi change rules of engagement with the Lutyens?
Collage Maker-06-Sep-2022-05

BJP Resolves To Wrest Baramati From Pawar Clan In 2024

If Amethi constituency was the focus of BJP’s 2019 Lok Sabha election campaign, the spotlight for the next LS election will be Baramati, the traditional stronghold of Sharad Pawar and family. “We will wrest Baramati from the Pawar clan,” declared Maharashtra BJP president Chandrashekhar Bawankule after visiting the prestigious constituency in Pune district. He said Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been entrusted with the responsibility and she will start touring the area soon to devise strategy to trounce sitting MP Supriya Sule, lone child of Pawar. Bawankule landed in Baramati immediately after Union home minister Amit Shah had addressed top BJP leaders in Mumbai on September 4 on how to plan for the coming elections in Mumbai and Maharashtra. Supriya will have to face a situation similar to what Rahul Gandhi had to encounter in Amethi. While Rahul lost very badly to Smriti Irani, taking on Supriya will be a formidable challenge for the BJP as the constituency has remained loyal to the Pawar family for decades. Pawar’s nephew Ajit has been elected to the legislative assembly from Baramati. The BJP’s strategy is to confine Pawar to Baramati so that he would hardly find time to campaign elsewhere in the state. Bawankule said, “We will win 200 out of 288 assembly seats and 45 out of 48 LS seats in 2024 in the state.”
Rahul Gandhi (1)

The 3570-Km Padayatra That Will Define Congress And Rahul Gandhi’s Future

The Indianisation of Rahul Gandhi begins on Wednesday (Sep 7). The real test for him as he takes up a padayatra in the fashion of many in India, from Mahatma Gandhi downwards, is whether he can sustain a 150-day walk covering 3,570 kms. The padayatra is his biggest attempt to revive a sinking party as he hits the ground that he has rarely done as a politician more prone to taking foreign breaks periodically. He is to begin this campaign with a visit to his father’s memorial in Sriperumbudur on September 7 morning and then to the starting point of the padayatra where Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin will give him a national flag to carry on his march. The walk is loaded with symbolism and if Rahul is serious enough in walking from one end of India to the other, he stands some chance of washing off the image of a person born with a silver spoon in a political dynasty. While he is still inclined not to worry about who becomes the Congress President, he will assume the mantle of campaign leader for the 2024 elections. If he can simply double the Congress 2019 tally of 52, he would be giving his party and the combined opposition half a chance to down the BJP. But first, he would have to be seen walking like an Indian on home soil.
Bharat Jodo Yatra

Cong Pins Hope On Rahul's Padyatra, Says Will Take Break Only For Poll Campaign

As Rahul Gandhi embarks on his ambitious 3,570 km Bharat Jodo Yatra by foot from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu on September 7, the Congress touted it as a campaign to connect the party with people. AICC media in charge Jairam Ramesh described it as “a mass mobilisation campaign”. Unveiling theme song of the yatra of “Ek tera kadam, ek mera kadam, mil jaye, jud jaye, apna watan” Jairam admitted that the Congress had never attempted such a yatra though there have been smaller yatras by Congress leaders. He referred to Digvijaya Singh’s 3,000 km Narmada yatra as a “spiritual yatra, not a political yatra”. Incidentally, it was Digivijay who was incharge of putting together the Bharat Jodo Yatra. Jairam pointed out that Rahul’s yatra was the first political yatra in Indian political history.”Chandra Shekharji did a Bharat Jodo Yatra in 1983, but it was an individual yatra, this is the first time a political party has launched such a massive Bharat Yatra on foot. There will be 118 people accompanying Rahul completing this entire length”. Though the yatra is to last for 150 days, Rahul will be available for campaign in poll-bound states.  27% of the 118 volunteers are women, age-wise those selected to walk the entire 3,570 km stretch across 12 states are mostly in their late 30s. Rahul and AICC spokesperson Pawan Khera are in their early 50s.
Amit

@AmitShah

“Punish Uddhav’s Betrayal By Ousting His Sena From BMC,” Roars Amit Shah

“Punish Uddhav Thackeray for his betrayal by winning at least 150 seats in the coming BMC election,” Union home minister Amit Shah has exhorted BJP workers during his two-day visit to the financial capital. He has assured all the support to Mumbai BJP from the party headquarters for capturing the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. Shah told BJP workers on Monday that Uddhav had betrayed the BJP twice. In 2014, the Shiv Sena broke the alliance for a frivolous reason. In 2019, Uddhav joined hands with the Congress and the NCP. “This treachery can’t be tolerated.  Teach him a lesson he will never forget. Oust the Uddhav Sena from the BMC and reestablish the Hindutva imprint in Mumbai,“ Shah said. Taking Uddhav to task for the rampant corruption in the BMC, Shah said it was time to make a change. To bring it about, every worker, office bearer, corporator, MLA and MP will have to take to the streets and mobilise the public opinion, Shah declared. The BMC has 227 electoral wards, which were earlier restructured by the Uddhav government in a bid to increase their number to 236 and to make them easier for the then ruling coalition. However, chief minister Eknath Shinde’s government has restored the earlier status. The BJP’s strategy planning will accommodate the Shinde faction, too, according to party insiders.
Collage Maker-05-Sep-2022-11

Siblings As Rivals: Priyanka Gives Rahul's Rally A Miss

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s address at the “Halla Bol rally” against price rise on September 4 turned out to be a damp squib. Partymen found the speech tad boring as it dwelled more on Rahul’s insecurities. Like his troubles with the ED over doubtful transactions in the National Herald case involving Rs 5,000 crore scam. Instead of focusing on issues of people, Rahul talked about how he had been grilled by the ED for 55 hours. The big takeaway from the rally was that for the first time differences between Rahul and his sister Priyanka came out in the open. It was unimaginable that Priyanka skipped the rally, though some of her cut-outs were spotted at the venue. Amidst speculations whether Priyanka had returned to Delhi or not, there was a buzz how the sulking sibling had decided to finally speak her mind. It is being said in the midst of ongoing party polls, Priyanka who is in-charge of UP is keen to take over as Congress President. Both Rahul and Sonia want Priyanka to keep away. They are backing Ashok Gehlot as Congress President. Priyanka is being backed by leaders from south states that will go to assembly polls. Some of her backers like Acharya Pramod Kishan have openly batted for Priyanka as the only Congress leader who is capable of taking on PM Modi in 2024.
BJP JP Nadda

Is BJP Daydreaming Of Forming Govt In Odisha?

An eternal optimist, BJP never gives up. Odisha is the state they have been trying to make inroads for quite some time now. But to no avail because of Biju Janata Dal supremo Naveen Patnaik’s strong performance. Recently, the home minister Amit Shah visited Odisha and proclaimed to win 2024 Assembly elections in Odisha even though BJP has been decimated continuously by BJD in panchayat, corporations and assembly elections. But, they don’t give up. They keep rejigging their strategy in the hope it will rule Odisha one day. Recently, BJP recast its party leadership by appointing Sunil Bansal as its key election strategist for Odisha hoping he would replicate UP magic. It also appointed controversial firebrand BJP MLA Jayanarayan Mishra as leader of opposition (LoP) in the Assembly. Jayanarayan considers himself as BJP’s “hanuman” who is determined to lead BJP into power by exposing BJD’s misdeeds. When asked how they were hoping to defeat the BJD supremo who won election five times, a confident four-time MLA Jayanarayan says “Naveen’s style is bound to fail someday.” Political observers say, BJP is daydreaming to form the government in Odisha in 2024 given the fact Naveen babu has proved his mettle of having transformed the state and personally he is not corrupt. So why would people of Odisha vote against him? Makes sense!
Collage Maker-03-Sep-2022-01

Congress In Maharashtra Jolted, Some MLAs May Make Drastic Move

The Congress party in Maharashtra seems caught in a trap of its own making as the party’s two former chief ministers and seven MLAs are under fire for different reasons, all certain to weaken the party further. The ‘coincidental’ meeting between former CM Ashok Chavan and Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis a couple of days ago has caused acute embarrassment in the Congress camp. Chavan was missing at the time of Eknath Shinde government’s trial of strength on the floor of the legislative assembly. His absence at some other critical junctures is now remembered. Another Congress veteran, Prithviraj Chavan, has been facing flak since he called on Ghulam Nabi Azad after the latter left the Grand Old Party. A member of the G-23 Group, Prithviraj had advised the party leadership to pay attention to the issues raised by Azad. Following this, demands are being made to initiate disciplinary action against him. The unrest within the state Congress unit has resurfaced since the seven party MLAs who cross-voted during the recent legislative council election have been identified. It was owing to their breach of party diktat that the BJP was able to win one more seat in the upper house beyond its quota. The MLAs could take a drastic step fearing party reprisals, some leaders have warned.
Collage Maker-02-Sep-2022-03

Amit Shah To Launch ‘Mission BMC’ On Monday In Mumbai

Union home minister Amit Shah’s much awaited Mumbai visit will be marked with his directions to the BJP machinery on how to fight the coming election to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), likely to take place later this year. After arriving in Mumbai on Sunday night (Sep 4), Shah will begin his itinerary Monday morning (Sep 5) with darshan of Lalbaugcha Raja, his longtime practice but interrupted due to Covid for two years. Shah will also take darshan of the Lord at the residences of deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, chief minister Eknath Shinde and Mumbai BJP president Ashish Shelar. During the day, he will be confabulating with his party leaders about the strategy to be adopted for the crucial election. The principal object of the BJP is to dethrone the Shiv Sena under Uddhav Thackeray, which has been in power in the BMC since 1985. The Shinde-Fadnavis duo is tightening the screws against Uddhav by trying to isolate his faction. So far, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray has responded enthusiastically to the saffron overtures. Raj is expected to go an extra mile to form an electoral arrangement with the duo to minimize the chances of the Uddhav faction. The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party don’t have any strong presence in the BMC. Accordingly, they are yet to open their cards.
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EPS Is AIADMK Supremo Again After HC Division Bench Shoots Down Single Judge’s Status Quo Order

There have been more twists and turns than in an India-Pakistan cricket match in the legal battle for the AIADMK party control. Now, after a division bench of the Madras High Court gave its verdict, Edappadi K Palaniswami is restored as the (interim) General Secretary of the party. The legality of the July 11 meeting that EPS had convened and in which he became the party supremo has been restored. There are still many “overs” to be played in this match as the matter is certain to go to the Supreme Court. But, given the speed at which the top court disposes of cases, it can be safely assumed that EPS will be heading the party for a while from here. The division-bench shot down most of the assumptions in a single judge order that had taken the status quo to before the first meeting held on June 23 in which the question of who will head the party if its cadre wishes to have a single leader surfaced. EPS had proved that he had the majority of the party behind him then.  The idea of a unified party with EPS, OPS, V Sasikala and her nephew TTV Dhinakaran, appears even more unattainable now after the one-man commission to probe Jayalalithaa’s death recommended that Sasikala be investigated for her role in the time that treatment was being given to the former CM in the Apollo Hospital.
Collage Maker-30-Aug-2022-12

Shame! India’s Financial Capital Continues To Retain The Tag Of Slumbai

The tag of Slumbai for India’s financial capital seems difficult to shrug off as slums continue to occupy over 8000 acres of the city. While responding to questions raised at the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly recently, deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis informed that 8333 acres of Mumbai was occupied by slums. This included 3620 acres of private land, 2140 acres of state government’s land, 856 acres of land belonging to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), 272 acres of land belonging to the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) and about 673 acres of Union government land. With the BJP, back in the saddle in Maharashtra, Fadnavis has promised to help get Centre’s clearances to rehabilitate the slum dwellers. About 48.35% of Mumbaikars continue to live in slums occupying 24% of the total Mumbai’s habitable area of 34,000 acres, according to the Slum Redevelopment Authority, which was set up in 1995 and tasked with making Mumbai slum-free. Far from wiping slums off Mumbai, the SRA scheme led to the slummification of Mumbai thanks to its builder-centric approach of bundling and warehousing people into 25-30 storied, highly congested buildings (6500 people per hectare in 1300 tenements) without proper amenities like open space, light, air and privacy say claim urban planners like PK Das.
Sharad Pawarr

@PawarSpeaks

Not In PM Race But Shall Unite Opposition, Vows Sharad Pawar

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar has every intention of uniting the non-BJP opposition though he is not prepared to become India’s Prime Minister. Pawar told the media that given his age, he was not ready to accept any governmental position now. “Morarji Desai became PM at the age of 82. I don’t want to emulate his example,” Pawar said in reply to questions. However, he asserted that he would continue to highlight people’s grievances, in the state and at the Centre. Pawar launched a broadside against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He charged that Modi had not fulfilled any of his promises.  In such a situation, it was necessary that all forces opposed to the BJP should come together to present a united front for the coming elections. “My effort will remain in this direction,” the 82-year-old said. Pawar has been combing Maharashtra in a bid to mobilise public opinion against the change of power ever since the Maha Vikas Aghadi formed under his stewardship collapsed due to the rebellion of present chief minister Eknath Shinde. As a first step, his effort is to make all three MVA partners contest the coming civic elections in the state jointly. So far, the response of the Congress and the Shiv Sena under Uddhav Thackeray has remained tepid. But Pawar is going ahead with his efforts.
Sasikala-and-Jayalalithaa

Jayalalithaa Death Probe Report: Will Stalin’s Govt Take Any Action?

To do nothing with the Jayalalithaa death probe report submitted by the Justice (Retired) A Arumugasamy commission is probably the best course of action that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin may have decided upon. The very decision to first place the report in front of the Assembly, which is not due to meet till December 2022, is a clear indicator that the government does not wish to take any of the recommendations too seriously. Primarily, it has to do with a death that occurred in December 2016. And Stalin would be the last one to wish to interfere in the Opposition Party matters. The AIADMK is already doing enough to damage itself as the principal opposition. It needs no action from the ruling party to call for a probe into Jaya’s aide and confidante V Sasikala, who anyway met her Waterloo in the Disproportionate Asset case and spent four years in jail while also being ineligible to contest any election for another six years.  Also, it suits the DMK to watch on as the AIADMK implodes with the EPS versus OPS fighting for the spoils and the not inconsiderable Rs 3,000 crore party kitty that lies in two trust accounts. At worst, the government may call for action on the people named in the report without pushing the police seriously to probe them.
Raj

Political Focus Back On Raj Thackeray, Wooed By BJP Leaders

Focus in Maharashtra politics is back on Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader Raj Thackeray, who is wooed by one top BJP leader after another. However, the issue of any alliance with Raj is still kept open by the BJP, apparently as a precaution. Maharashtra BJP’s newly-appointed president Chandrashekhar Bawankule called on Raj at the latter’s Shivaji Park residence on August 30. Bawankule said it was a goodwill visit. “I regard Raj as an elder brother and am impressed by his solid support of Hindutva,” he added. Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had received Raj at his official residence ‘Sagar’ on August 29 morning. In the evening, BJP’s all-India general secretary Vinod Tawde was closeted with Raj. Both are old friends. As Tawde is now burdened with various responsibilities, the visit has assumed importance. Union home minister Amit Shah is slated to visit Mumbai next week. He will bow before Lalbaug cha Raja, as has been his practice for many years. The visits were interrupted for two years due to the Covid outbreak. Shah will also perform Ganesh pooja at the residence of Fadnavis and meet chief minister Eknath Shinde.  BJP president JP Nadda will be visiting Mumbai in September. Bawankule said any decision about taking Raj along for fighting various civic elections in the state will be taken in Delhi by the party leadership. ‘Mine is just a friendly visit,’ he quipped.
Collage Maker-26-Aug-2022-06

Post Partha-Anubrata Fiasco Didi-Nephew Go All Out To Restructure Trinamool Congress

With two of the senior party leaders in jail over corruption charges the debate of the era of young rule has once again surfaced in Trinamool Congress (TMC). Recently an explicit banner in support of Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee who is also the party’s national general secretary was put up near Didi’s home turf of Kalighat. The banner read “In the next 6 months, TMC will come up in a new avatar. Just like the one desired by the people”. Within 48 hours, a counter banner was put up in the same area stating “Old is base, new is the future”. The poster also read, “Under the leadership of Mamata Banerjee and under the command of Abhishek Banerjee, Trinamool has been and will remain”. Post the Partha-Anubrata fiasco, the ruling party is undergoing an organizational overhaul across all the units including the youth wing, women’s wing, and students’ wing besides the mother unit. The whole process is being overseen by Abhishek. Once restructuring is complete then Didi along with Abhishek and others in the top-tier leadership are likely to meet all the office-bearers right down to the grassroots. According to insiders, Didi will be laying out the road map for the rank and file, which will be diligently followed after the Puja season. It will essentially be the run-up to the panchayat elections next year.
Nitin Gadkari

Nitin Gadkari Scotches Rumours Of His Retirement, Declares Resolve To Fight 2024 Lok Sabha Election

Union highways and transport minister Nitin Gadkari has declared his resolve to contest the next Lok Sabha election, setting to rest all speculation about his probable retirement from active politics. Addressing a convocation ceremony at the All India Local Self Government Institute at Andheri in Mumbai, Gadkari said he has always believed that people respect good work and performance. “I have decided to ask for votes in the next election on the basis of what I have done for the nation. I will not offer even a cup of tea to anyone for supporting me. Let people see my work and decide,” he declared amidst huge applause. Without referring to the praise that had been showered upon him by Institute director-general Jairaj Phatak and other speakers, Gadkari said he had been working every waking moment to create new infrastructure of international standards in India. He outlined his vision for the future, expressing confidence that adopting proper technology and methods would catapult India to the top. Gadkari was in the news after the recent restructuring of the BJP supreme body, the Central Election Committee since he had been replaced by Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. Soon, there was talk of his saying goodbye to active politics. A couple of days ago, Gadkari had threatened to take legal action against all those elements spreading such canards.
Collage Maker-26-Aug-2022-05

Uddhav Teams Up With Sambhaji Brigade, Eyebrows Raised

The Shiv Sena faction under Uddhav Thackeray has joined hands with Sambhaji Brigade to form a new equation in Maharashtra politics. The Brigade has been a controversial outfit which once upon a time had warned Uddhav to remove his father Balasaheb’s picture from the frontage of Shiv Sena Bhavan since it was above the portrait of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Various BJP leaders have said that the alliance will not benefit Uddhav at all. Uddhav and Brigade president Manoj Akhare made the announcement of their alliance on Friday (Aug 26), signaling a major shift in the state politics in the near future. The Uddhav faction is already battered because of the rebellion by chief minister Eknath Shinde and his loyal band of 50 MLAs. His decision to go along with the Brigade will prove an acid test since his other two partners, the Congress and the NCP, had kept the Brigade scrupulously away all these years. Akhare said the Brigade and the Sena will contest coming elections jointly. Uddhav’s decision to take the Brigade along has been viewed by some as an attempt to play the ‘Maratha Card’ from now on. The powerful caste had been backing BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis for his strong advocacy for reservations for the Marathas. Uddhav will try to wean away this factor, it is felt.
Collage Maker-26-Aug-2022-05

Congress Presidential Elections: Whom Are The Bookies Betting On?

The Congress is in turmoil over electing its President. It won’t be Rahul Gandhi if he has his way. Since owning up to the 2019 defeat, he has been steadfast in not only staying away from heading it but also insisting on someone from outside the Rajiv Gandhi family to take the mantle. While those like Ghulam Nabi Azad who are dissatisfied with his way of wanting power without responsibility are quitting, the field is narrowing. Azad, only a long shot for the job – bookies had him at 100-1 as he is one of the G-23 rebels – is out of the race now. Among the non-Gandhi family members likely to head the party, if Sonia Gandhi and both her children do give the green signal for it are: P Chidambaram, who the bookies place at 3-1, on par with Jairam Ramesh who has gained traction since being a sober and disciplined soldier of the party and family as the chief spokesperson. But the overwhelming favourite among bookmakers is Ashok Gehlot at evens since rumours are that he has already been offered the job by Sonia. At 10-1 beyond the favourites is the debonair Shashi Tharoor who might even be a bright face for the party provided Sonia is okay with him being in the contest.
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Fotocorp

Finally Ghulam Nabi Azad Quits Cong; Gehlot, Jairam Troll Him For Questioning Rahul

In a major setback to the Congress, party veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad quit as its primary member; he announced he would launch his own party in J&K. Short Post broke the story on August 18. In a 5-page letter to party president Sonia Gandhi, Azad made it clear that the situation in the Congress had reached a point of ‘no return’. In a parting shot, Azad bitterly criticised Rahul Gandhi as a “non-serious person “for conceding  political space at the national level and at state levels to the BJP and regional parties. “Post 2019 elections after Rahul Gandhi stepped down in a huff and not before insulting all the senior party functionaries who have given their lives to the party. The remote-control model that destroyed the UPA got applied to Congress,” said Azad. “While you are just a nominal figurehead, all important decisions were being taken by Rahul Gandhi or rather worse his security guards and PAs,” he said. Congress leaders attacked Azad for writing a letter when Sonia was abroad with her son Rahul for a medical check-up and claimed it was aimed at demoralising party workers gearing up for September 7 Bharat Jodo Yatra.  Top party leaders from Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot to AICC media-in-charge Jairam Ramesh to Tamil Nadu MP Jothimani trolled Azad. Gehlot said: ”For 42 years, Congress had given Azadji important responsibilities. No one expected such a letter from him “.
Raj-Thackeray

Raj Thackeray’s New Slogan Embraces Hindutva And Marathi Manoos

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray has relaunched his duel campaign by coining a brand new slogan that appeals to Hindutva and Marathi Manoos at the same time. The new slogan is designed for mobilising response to the MNS enrolment campaign. Raj made this announcement in Pune on August 25 while presenting the slogan. Just two days ago, he had supported controversial BJP former spokesperson Nupur Sharma in a rally of MNS. At that meeting, he had announced his plans to tour the state to spread his message. The new MNS slogan is, “Mee Hindavi Rakshak, Mee Maharashtra Sevak” (I am a protector of Hindutva, I am a servant of Maharashtra.) It was made public after Raj inaugurated the enrollment drive. Banners displaying this slogan have come up at prominent locations in Mumbai and elsewhere. Raj’s return to the Hindutva plank is considered important since the Shiv Sena under Uddhav Thackeray has been finding it difficult to make earlier claims of being the sole representative of Hindutva or Marathi Manoos after Uddhav joined hands with the Congress and the NCP. As a result, there is a vacuum which Raj is planning to fill up. Since his bold assertion over Hindutva in Mumbai a couple of days ago, Raj has been receiving increasing response. In Pune, he enjoyed a hearty welcome. Soon, he will be visiting Nasik and Aurangabad.
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After Uddhav’s Right Hand In Custody, Left To Join Soon : Kirit Somaiya

Former BJP MP Kirit Somaiya has kicked up a fresh political storm by declaring that “The right hand of Uddhav Thackeray is already in custody, very soon the left hand will join him there.” Somaiya has been relentless against the Shiv Sena led by Uddhav Thackeray over the past two years by making one serious allegation after another. Although Somaiya has not mentioned any name, it is believed that he has trained his guns against former minister Anil Parab, whose sea-side resort at Dapoli in the Konkan is now on Somaiya’s radar for some illegal construction in the property. Parab has denied any connection with it. By right hand, Somaiya is believed to be referring to Sena MP Sanjay Raut, who is in ED custody. BJP activist Mohit Kamboj has been similarly tweeting over the past few days to warn that ‘some big fish’ from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) would soon be caught in the net. Kamboj says the list has 10 names but hasn’t disclosed any of them. Incidentally, only the Congress party is not targeted by any BJP functionaries. Somaiya poured out his chagrin against Uddhav by describing how his wife Medha, son Neel and he himself were hounded by the previous government. A retired naval officer was beaten up while a family was publicly shaved for talking against the then government, he recalled.
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Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai?

The ‘Prime Time’ of PTR Palanivel Thiagarajan, Tamil Nadu’s finance Minister, has been all the rage for a while now as he dared to take on the Prime Minister and his plenipotentiaries questioning their pronouncements over freebies. The PM had opened up a big debate after comparing freebies to the coarse sweet ‘Revdi’ and Opposition states took it up big time. PTR was on the warpath everywhere, including in an Oxford debate, in which he compared the Modi regime to British rule. He questioned whether the Centre had performed so well on the economy front that everyone had to follow its dictates. Not to be outdone by someone who took on the highest in the land, the BJP’s mouthpieces began digging into the Tamil Nadu economy to point out that its finance minister was just bragging about a Dravidian model while he was sustaining government expenditure by simply borrowing – as much as Rs 72,500 crore in 2021-22, to be scaled up to Rs. 90,000 crore in 2022-23. After PTR took over, the State’s debt ballooned to Rs 3.02 lakh per family from Rs 2.63 lakh per family. The percentage of debt to GSDP is also on an upward curve even as the Dravidian state leans on liquor sales to sustain its expenditure, boosted of course by freebies like free electricity for farmers and others.
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Raj Thackeray addressing party workers in Mumbai

Uddhav Faces Political Onslaught, From BJP And Raj Thackeray

The political focus in Maharashtra once again turned against Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray when he was challenged by the BJP and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader Raj Thackeray in the course of the day. BJP MLA Atul Bhatkhalkar referred to Thackeray’s past announcement of resigning his legislative council membership and asked, “Where is that resignation?” Uddhav had made the announcement the night he quit the chief ministership following the rebellion in the Sena led by Eknath Shinde. In that connection, Bhatkhalkar ridiculed Uddhav and taunted, “You are telling your followers to come to the streets to fight for people’s problems. But what about you? Why can’t you come to the legislature and highlight them? Bhatkhalkar alleged that many crucial decisions under Uddhav’ government were taken at the behest of Aaditya Thackeray. He said these arbitrary decisions had cost Mumbai billions of rupees. Bhatkhalkar demanded a thorough enquiry of all such matters. Raj Thackeray, while addressing his party workers, challenged cousin Uddhav on many counts. He said, ”PM Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah had announced from public platforms in 2019 that Maharashtra’s next chief minister would be Devendra Fadnavis. Some of the announcements were made when you were on the same dais. Why did you remain silent then?” Raj announced his plans to tour Maharashtra after the 10-day Ganesh festival is over.
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SPG Inducts Karnataka's Mudhol Hounds For PM's Security

For PM Narendra Modi atmanirbhar is just not a slogan for his countrymen, it is also meant for his proximate security — Special Protection Group (SPG). Recently, he had talked about Karnataka’s Mudhol hound breed of canines, which have an international reputation for their predatory skills as well as looks. Mudhol hound dogs have been used by predators since the times of kings. The PM had stated that if this breed is encouraged, then other Indian breeds too would get a boost. Taking a cue, SPG which usually prefers Labradors and German Shepherds decided to induct the ‘sharp-sighted, agile and indigenous hounds’. The PM`s security team chose Mudhol hounds after considering the Rajapalayam dog breed from Tamil Nadu and Rampur Greyhound from Uttar Pradesh. The dogs already serve with the Indian armed forces and some paramilitary forces. Now, they could become the first indigenous breed to be part of the SPG.  In April, SPG officials visited the Canine Research & Information Center (Mudhol Hound) at Thimmapur in Karnataka’s Bagalkot district and took two male puppies. They will first undergo four months of training and later rigorous coaching. Lean and tall structured and tiny heads are the special characteristics of this breed. Predators prefer this breed for its capacity to run long distances without getting tired and special sniffing abilities. These dogs weigh between 20-22 kg and grow up to 72 centimeters.
Odisha

Odisha’s Chief Secretary Suresh Mohapatra Likely To Get Second Service Extension

Post his six-month extension, Chief Secretary of the Odisha government Suresh Chandra Mohapatra is due to retire at the end of August 2022. Sources say he may get another service extension. Retaining Mohapatra is a distinct possibility because the Odisha government could not finalise candidates for the top job, though several names were doing rounds including that of Pradeep Kumar Jena, Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Sources say the Odisha government has sent a request letter to the Department of Personnel and Training seeking extension of services of Mohapatra, a 1986 batch IAS Officer. In all probability the Centre would accede to Odisha Government’s request. It is not unusual for capable IAS officers to get a couple of service extensions and there has been past precedence. For instance, RN Das who was Chief Secretary of Odisha between 1992 and 1995 got 3 extensions of six months each when Biju Patnaik was the Chief Minister.  Mohapatra, one of the three candidates whose names was short-listed to be appointed as the Chairman of OERC, may be out of the fray, once he gets another six months extension. This means the Odisha government will have to decide between the other two short-listed candidates, Arun Panda (retired former secretary in the Ministry of MSME) and Union Territory cadre retired IAS officer Manoj Parida.
Sanjay Raut

Jailed Sena MP Sanjay Raut To Write A Book On Patra Chawl Deal, To Uncover Truth

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut has announced that he is writing a book that will uncover the truth about the controversial Patra Chawl housing redevelopment matter, which has landed him in judicial custody. Raut’s had been a daily TV appearance till his arrest by ED on August 1. He was held in connection with the mega deal which would run in a thousand crore rupees at the most conservative estimates. For over two years, Raut used to castigate every person and party against the Sena under Uddhav Thackeray. He would appear on the small screen many times every day and dare the government to arrest him. Even after extension of his ED custody today, Raut showed that he has maintained his aggressive posture. The special PMLA court has extended his custody till 5 September. Over the past two days, ED has dug out some more information which can damage Raut’s case if proved correct. According to tax authorities, two cars with Raut belong to a real estate firm. Earlier, it was alleged that he had purchased property near Alibaug from the proceeds he received from some builder. Raut said he is working on a tome that will throw light on the Patra Chawl matter. He reiterated that he was not connected with it in any manner. The case against him is ‘false,’ he said.
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BJP Fires First Salvo For BMC Election, Attacks Uddhav Thackeray

Maharashtra BJP has fired the first salvo in the upcoming battle for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) by squarely blaming the Shiv Sena under Uddhav Thackeray for the neglect and deterioration of Mumbai. The BMC has remained the Sena’s backbone and losing it would dent its main support base.  “We will make Mumbai free of corruption. Be sure that a mayor belonging to us and the Sena of chief minister Eknath Shinde is going to be installed,” declared deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis amidst huge applause at a rally today organised to felicitate newly appointed Mumbai BJP president Ashish Shelar. All BJP bigwigs, including its city MPs and MLAs, were present to show solidarity.  Fadnavis recalled that when Shelar was heading Mumbai BJP earlier, the party had registered a handsome win in BMC elections. “Even at that time, we would have been able to install our mayor. However, as responsible alliance partner, we allowed the Sena under Thackeray to occupy the mayoralty,” Fadnavis claimed. The BJP and the Sena under Shinde have made it a strategy to corner and attack the Sena under Uddhav at every possible opportunity. He is yet to venture outside Mumbai. But Sena workers feel that Uddhav himself needs to be at the forefront of the assault. He is expected to announce his plans shortly.
CBI

Mallya Effect On CBI: Prez's Nod Secured Before Filing FIR Against Sisodia

Looks like Prime Minister Narendra Modi has got the CBI to do a thorough job before proceeding against Delhi’s Deputy CM Manish Sisodia. Reportedly, the central agency secured prior mandatory approval of the President of India before filing a corruption case against Sisodia in connection with alleged irregularities in Delhi government’s excise policy 2021-22. Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act requires Presidential assent to investigate a legislator in Union Territories. For excise officers, the Lieutenant Governor is the permitting authority. An FIR was filed against Sisodia on August 17 only after receiving the 17A sanction from the President’s office. Once the FIR was registered, the LoCs (look out circulars) were issued against all named 13 individuals, including Sisodia, so that immigration authorities are alerted in case anyone travels out of India. The CBI is taking precautionary steps because it doesn’t want a repeat of the March 2016 slip-up when former liquor baron Vijay Mallya fled the country for the UK. Since then the agency has started issuing LoCs against accused persons in almost all cases “as a precaution”. Meanwhile, the Congress seems to be the pumpkin in the CBI raid episode with party spokespersons speaking /acting differently. While on Day One Pawan Khera was questioning the CBI raid, next day Delhi Congress leaders were marching to AAP offices sensing mood in NCR against AAP over its liquor policy.
Hooda

Sulking Hooda Stumps Cong, Seeks Surejwala’s Scalp For Backing Anti-Price Stir

The Congress announced it was putting off its anti-price rally due to the prevailing Covid-19 situation. “Mehangai Par Halla Bol” Rally at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi was rescheduled from Aug 28 to Sept 4. While growing Covid infection is the official reason, the real reason is Jat politics. The Congress leadership has been forced to drag its feet on the rally as Haryana leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda made it clear he will not support the rally as long as his bête noire Randeep Surjewala remains AICC General Secretary. Hooda has been upset ever since Surjewala got elected as Rajya Sabha MP from Rajasthan. Incidentally, Surjewala, once Hooda’s minister, is now a close Rahul aide. Hooda is one of the few mass leaders of the party and without his support Congress cannot hope to have any rally in Delhi. Only Hooda can mobilise crowds. Ideally, Hooda should not be sulking considering the entire state unit has been entrusted to him. Party sources say Surjewala, who is recuperating from health issues, could soon be relieved of his Karnataka charge. That is why when Congress leader Jairam Ramesh claims “The rally will send a powerful message to the insensitive Modi sarkar!” cynics in the Congress feel the rally would be called an anti-price rally no matter whenever it is held. That is even if the prices are going south.
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Why Govt Was Forced To Contradict Its Own Minister Hardeep Singh Puri Over Rohingyas

PM Narendra Modi apparently took a dim view of his Housing & Urban Development Minister Hardeep Singh Puri comment on Rohingya refugee issues. In his tweet Puri seems to have relied more on his IFS background than on the BJP stand and had gone loquacious about a news item on shifting Rohingya refugees to EWS flats in Delhi. This had led to backlash in the social media against the BJP.  Currently not in India, the minister had commented about how the country always welcomed those who sought refuge in India. As soon as AAP attacked the Centre for trying to provide shelter to Rohingyas, the MHA came out contradicting Puri. In a letter to Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra charged that the decision to shift Rohingya Muslims from Madanpur Khadar to EWS flat in Bakkarwala was one-sided by the Delhi Government. Urging Sisodia to act against Rohingyas under Foreigners Act, 1946 of the GOI with immediate effect, Mishra pointed out how Delhi Chief Secretary had convened a meeting on July 29. At the meeting the MHA director and FRRO officials had clarified that the GOI was not a signatory to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees 1951 nor is it subordinate to the 1967 Protocol. The minister also made it clear that India does not accept the identity card of UNHCR.
NCP

10 NCP Leaders On ED Scanner, Files Of 5 Ready, Claims Maharashtra BJP MP

BJP MP Ranjitsingh Nimbalkar has revealed that 10 NCP leaders are already under ED’s scanner while files of five of them are ready for action. Though he did not mention any name, he amply indicated that the 10 leaders are in the top bracket of the NCP. Nimbalkar has been elected to the Lok Sabha from Madha in Solapur district in south Maharashtra. The constituency was earlier represented by NCP chief Sharad Pawar. The damning revelation has come amidst discussion that the ED’s action will not be too distant now. Nimbalkar is the third BJP functionary to have pushed the NCP in a corner. The first was former MP Kirit Somaiya. He was followed by Mohit Kamboj, who had said a few days ago that ED action against five NCP leaders was imminent. Nimbalkar touched upon the controversial Lavasa project developed near Pune. Pawar is alleged to have been associated with this huge project. The Mumbai high court has disposed of a petition filed against it by a farmer. Responding to such constant threatening utterances, NCP Maharashtra president and former minister Jayant Patil dared the government to go ahead with any action. Within 24 hours of this response, Nimbalkar has come out with a more serious statement against the NCP.
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On Day Of CBI Raids On Sisodia, AAP Has To Fight Charge Of Paid News In NYT

On a day Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia’s home and 20 other locations across seven states were raided by the CBI over the Centre’s allegations of corruption in the Delhi liquor policy, his party colleagues from AAP like Saurabh Bharadwaj and Sanjay Singh were busy defending him on a different score — the  twin articles that appeared in praise of Sisodia in front pages of the New York Times and the Khaleej Times. “If NYT article is paid news, I challenge BJP to get something published in it by spending money,” said Bharadwaj. While BJP MP Parvesh Verma dubbed it as paid news, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal said the CBI landed at Sisodia’s doorstep the “day on which the Delhi education model was praised and Manish Sisodia’s picture was printed on the front page of America’s largest newspaper NYT.” Delhi’s Lt Governor Vinai Kumar Saxena ordered a CBI probe, accusing AAP of bringing the Excise policy “with the sole aim” of benefiting private liquor barons for financial benefits to “individuals at the highest echelons of the government leading up to Manish Sisodia”.  On July 30, Sisodia announced a rollback of the policy, a waiver of Rs 144.36 crore was given to the liquor cartel on license fee tender citing the Covid pandemic as the reason. It has now been alleged that the cabinet was not kept in the loop when this one-time waiver was given.
EPS on warpath

EPS Declares War On OPS, Exposes His Past Misdeeds

Former Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi Palaniswami declared war in the AIADMK against O Panneerselvam. Declining his offer of an olive branch a day after the high court reined in EPS’ moves to get himself elected as General Secretary, EPS went on to demolish OPS’ character at a media conference, alluding even to his role of canvassing against J Jayalalithaa in the 1989 elections. He declared that OPS only seeks posts for himself and his son. He accused him of going to court to try and stop the GC meeting and, worse, getting into the party HQ on the day of the meeting and demolishing the place. Not only was the party office damaged and jewellery stolen but also key property files were taken away. EPS also rammed home the fact that had OPS commanded enough of a following in the party, he would have challenged him on the floor instead of staying away from the GC venue on July 11. He challenged the reporters to name one worthwhile scheme that OPS had initiated when he was CM several times in place of Jayalalithaa while she was fighting disproportionate assets cases against her. So outspoken was EPS in putting down OPS that a long legal battle is the only way forward now for the main Opposition party in Tami Nadu, which might just make way for the BJP to assume that role.
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Odia Actor Turned Politician In The Dock As Marital Discord Turns Ugly, Dropped As BJD Spokesperson

The Odia actor Anubhav Mohanty who defeated BJP’s Baijayant (Jay) Panda in 2019 Lok Sabha polls standing on a BJD ticket now finds himself in the dock. Reason: marital discord. His wife Varsha Priyadarshini is also an Odia actress. It has turned ugly with both sides trading charges. Anubhav’s petition for divorce is in the Odisha High Court. The mutual allegations are endless which includes domestic violence and harassment justifying police complaint filing by Priyadarshini. Reportedly, BJD MP Mohanty to defend himself has opted to explain  his troubled relationship through a video broadcast to the netizens as to why he is seeking divorce from his wife alleging denial of conjugal rights while Varsha alleging Anubhav’s extra marital affairs as a reason for the discord. So far, BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik has maintained his usual stoic silence. But in a parallel development, Patnaik thought it prudent to reconstitute the list of BJD spokespersons in the process has dropped Anubhav Mohanty amongst others as national spokesperson. Besides, he has also not been included in Naveen’s apex state executive panel for decision making. Action speaks louder than the word, hope Mohanty sees the writing on the wall.
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Unique Constitutional Stalemate In Maharashtra, Solution Elusive

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A piquant situation has arisen in Maharashtra, the first such in parliamentary history of India, as the chief minister and the leader of the opposition in the state legislative council claim to belong to the same party. Nobody has a ready solution. Chief minister Eknath Shinde and his 50-odd supporters have continuously maintained that they have not left the Shiv Sena; in fact, we are the real representatives of the original Sena, they claim. On the other hand, former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray’s legislative wing had submitted to deputy council chairperson Neelam Gorhe that it was nominating Ambadas Danve as leader of the opposition in the upper house. Incidentally, Gorhe, too, is with Uddhav. Her decision to appoint Danve had generated intense speculation about its constitutional validity. This was viewed in the context of change of guard in the state. The situation became more intriguing as Uddhav had forwarded Danve’s name to Gorhe without consulting either the Congress or the Nationalist Congress party although they were partners of the earlier ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi. Both immediately expressed disapproval of this unilateral action by Uddhav.  As the power play is now before the Supreme Court through various petitions, it will be tricky for the authorities to take any decision either way. Hence, wait-and-watch seems the safe policy.
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Tamil Nadu FM Makes Light Of Chappal Hurled At Him, Says Cinderella Can Collect It Whenever

Hurling shoes at politicians is an art form born of courage.  And the targeted leaders make more news by responding with humour instead of rancour. Seems like the Tamil Nadu FM P Thiaga Rajan popularly known as PTR borrowed a leaf from the former U.S. President George Bush when women BJP workers hurled a ladies chappal at him at the Madurai airport. Immediately, PTR tweeted “If Cinderella wants her sandal back, my staff saved it for you”.  Shoe hurling is tame news; how many of us secretly yearn for such courage? It is the reaction and aftermath that spins even more news. Remember George W Bush on his farewell visit to Baghdad in 2008, when a seething Iraqi journalist Muntadhar Al Zaidi threw both his shoes at Bush! Cool Bush fielded one, said “it’s a size 10 “! Three women BJP workers have been identified and the police are booking them. PTR has harboured a degree of resentment at both the Centre and his own party, as he is seen as a Lone Ranger import, with a fancy education. This incident, when PTR had come to pay his respects to slain TN army personnel, Lakshmanan gave him the ideal opportunity to take on the BJP. He vowed, “By tonight I will teach a lesson to the BJP “. Presumably, the shrewd FM is busy stirring up a storm for K Annamalai and his flock.
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Ghulam Nabi Azad: Does Cong Want Him Out Now?

It is very difficult for anyone in the Congress to believe that senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad would not have been consulted before reconstituting the Jammu and Kashmir unit. The manner in which Azad refused to be part of it and resigned as Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Campaign Committee and a member of State Political Affairs Committee within hours after announcement shows he has blown a war horn. Congress sources say Azad was consulted four times and some of his suggestions were even accepted. If he had headed the Campaign Committee, when Saiffuddin Soz was PCC chief, why was he having a problem to be part of the team under Tariq Ahmed Karra now? Party sources say it is quite likely Azad may have been surprised by the final list as he may not have been apprised about its details. “It is quite possible that the Congress leadership didn’t want him to continue or else the AICC would have shared the list with him,” points out a leader. Officially, of course Azad has cited health reasons to decline responsibilities. However, the buzz is he could be launching his own political outfit to contest the J&K polls which are a year away. A prominent leader of the G 23 who wrote to Sonia Gandhi seeking better practices within the party, Azad was disappointed when the party did not nominate him to Rajya Sabha.
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BJP Empowers Women After Modi's I-Day Call, Also Reshuffles Parliamentary Board

Within two days of PM Narendra Modi’s making a pitch for women empowerment, the BJP appointed two women — BJP Mahila Morcha chief Vanathi Srinivasan and former Haryana MP Sudha Yadav — to the party’s 15-member Central Election Committee.  Both Vanathi, who is also a Tamil Nadu MLA and Yadav belong to the OBC. In another significant move veteran BJP leader BS Yediyuruppa, Maharashtra Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, Sudha Yadav, Union Minister  Sarabananda Sonowal. OBC Morcha chief K Laxman, B L Santosh, Satyanarayan Jatiya and former chairman of Minorities Commission Iqbal Singh Lalpura have been appointed to the 11-member parliamentary board. It also includes party chief J P Nadda, PM Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. The board significantly saw the exit of Nitin Gadkari, probably making way for Fadnavis and Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chauhan making way for former Union Minister Jatiya. While most of the members are common to both the parliamentary board and the CEC, the party has inducted a mix of young and experienced hands. While Fadnavis , Yediyuruppa, Sudha Yadav and B L Santosh are on both the panels , veteran party functionary Om Mathur has a place only on the CEC.
EPS OPS

EPS Suffers Big Setback As Madras HC Restores Status Quo In AIADMK, OPS Elated

Former CM Edappadi Palaniswami took a massive hit in the Madras high court which restored the status quo in the AIADMK party that existed before the contentious July 11 General Council meeting that he had convened and in which he was appointed as interim General Secretary. His colleague O Panneerselvam is now celebrating the restoration of the party to dual control after he had been expelled by EPS. The high court order is not the final word as it is bound to be challenged by EPS in the Supreme Court. OPS had not attended the GC meeting on July 11 but had gone for an earlier meeting. He had walked out when heckled and water bottles were thrown at him. The court order means the party is back to the status which had prevailed after the death of J Jayalalithaa and the imprisonment of her aide and confidante VK Sasikala in February 2017. After being together in his reign as CM of more than four years, EPS had manoeuvred his way to take over the party, his ambition being fulfilled as he had the clear majority of the party members. That majority is in question now as both he and OPS have to steer AIADMK through party polls and they are not even on talking terms.
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Uddhav’s Shiv Sena Now In Attacking Mood, Warns Shinde Faction

Uddhav Thackeray’s mouthpiece Saamana has warned the rival faction over its plans to erect another ‘Shiv Sena Bhavan’ in the vicinity of the original one in Dadar area.  Ever since the Shinde faction revealed its strategy to checkmate the Sena in its Dadar stronghold, restlessness was palpable in Uddhav’s followers since no rejoinder was forthcoming from their boss. Now that the legislature session is beginning in Mumbai tomorrow (Aug 17), the stern warning has been published by Saamana, whose editor Sanjay Raut’s absence was felt as the language and tone of the editorials in the daily had sobered. With this warning, Uddhav has sent clear signals that his followers are now prepared to take on the breakaway group.  The Saamana editorial said, “Shiv Sena Bhavan has been standing tall despite various challenges and attacks. It has been built to exhibit the spirit of Marathi manoos. This is not just a building. It is the impenetrable shield of Maharashtra. Those turncoats who jump from one camp to another need to remember this.” Shinde’s camp is jubilant as the chief minister has been receiving warm welcomes around the state. He has been praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and Devendra Fadnavis unreservedly in his every speech. Despite murmurs of discontent from among the 50 MLAs who walked out with him, Shinde is confident of placating them.
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Stalin On A Goodwill Visit To Delhi, To Thank PM Modi For Giving Opportunity To Host Chess Olympiad

Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin is on a two-day visit to Delhi, primarily to pay a courtesy visit to PM Narendra Modi and thank him for giving him the opportunity to host the 44th Chess Olympiad (July 28-Aug 9) in  Chennai. In view of the Russia-Ukraine war, the Olympiad had decided against hosting it in Russia. Poland and Uzbekistan were keen to host the event, but it was PM Modi’s equation with Russian President Vladimir Putin which had helped in shifting the event to India. Though the Olympiad itself was inaugurated by Modi, Stalin never got the opportunity to come over to Delhi and invite him personally as he was hospitalised due to Covid. Tamil Nadu became the ideal venue as it is home to chess legends like Viswanathan Anand and young Indian grand master R Praggnanandhaa. The state also has a temple dedicated to chess and Lord Shiva – called Sathuranga Vallabhanathar in Thirupoovanur near Needamangalam, in Tiruvarur district.  Assigned to host the Olympiad, Tamil Nadu Government had worked hard for four months, creating the infrastructure for the event at the cost of Rs 92 crore. Stalin has also been advised by senior DMK leaders to call on President Droupadi Murmu and Vice President Jadgeep Dhankar — both of whom the DMK had not backed during their elections. Stalin is scheduled to meet President Murmu, Vice-President Dhankar and PM Modi on August 17.
abhishek chatterji

Is Mamata Grooming Her Nephew Abhishek To Take Over The Party?

The uneasy question among the top leadership of Trinamool Congress is: who would take up the mantle from the party supremo Mamata Banerjee. Significantly, after a long time, Didi was accompanied by Abhishek Banerjee who holds the position of national general secretary during her recent visit to New Delhi. He was also present with Mamata when she took stock of her party’s activities in the monsoon session and endorsed the joint opposition moves in Parliament, especially those against the BJP’s use of central agencies to raid and arrest opposition leaders. Incidentally, a section of senior leaders including Kalyan Banerjee had been vocal about Abhishek’s prominence in the party. He was criticized for both the Goa election and Tripura bypoll debacle, and also for trying to replicate the Diamond Harbour model, his Lok Sabha constituency. However, the opposing faction including Kalyan babu praised Abhishek stating that the young leader gave space and a patient hearing to all senior MPs and leaders. But, the message is loud and clear; in the run-up to the party’s Martyrs’ Day rally in Kolkata, posters put up across the state featured just two leaders — Didi and her nephew Abhishek. Furthermore, it’s Abhishek who’s now expanding the party in Tripura, Goa, Assam, and Meghalaya. Clearly, Abhishek is being projected as the natural successor of Mamata Banerjee, but it has been the BJP that made him a leader by constantly attacking him.
amit and patnaik

Can BJP ‘Really’ Make Inroads Into Naveen Patnaik’s Odisha?

With Amit Shah exuding confidence in his recent trip to Odisha saying BJP will form the government in the state in 2024, questions are being raised if Biju Janata Dal supremo Naveen Patnaik is beatable by BJP in 2024? Political watchers dismiss Shah’s bravado saying “not possible during Naveen’s lifetime”. It’s difficult to defeat a leader like a performing chief minister like Naveen babu in 2024. He has never tasted defeat, as yet. Does BJP have one leader in the state who can match Patnaik’s stature? It is common knowledge that “Modi-Shah juggernaut isn’t all powerful enough to steamroll Patnaik’s huge popularity. This has been amply demonstrated by BJD in the panchayat and urban elections vis-a-vis BJP’s total washout in both instances. Here is the contradiction, while Modi-Patnaik politically are fighting each other at personal level they share a great equation.  Given this scenario, Amit Shah has to tread carefully to ensure BJP leaders don’t attack Patnaik personally and at the same give cadres enough ammo that keeps them charged and hopeful that BJP will be in the saddle one day.  For starters, the party has elevated Sunil Bansal to the National General Secretary position, in-charge of Odisha. He has been asked to replicate BJP’s UP victory in Odisha. Clearly, for BJP their task is cut out, to make a dent against a tall leader like Naveen babu whose popularity continues to be on the rise.
Sanjay Rathore

Sanjay Rathod Repulses Attack, Threatens To Prosecute Slanderers

In a dramatic turn of events, controversial minister Sanjay Rathod has threatened ‘anyone’ who makes derogatory statements against him in public. Rathod had to resign from the previous Uddhav Thackeray ministry in connection with allegations concerning the suicide of a female social media star, Pooja Chavan, in February last year. He is attacked for the same alleged misdeed. Rathod’s most spirited critic is BJP leader Chitra Wagh, who not only condemned his inclusion in the present ministry but also threatened to continue the battle against him, come what may. On the other hand, chief minister Eknath Shinde has said that Rathod had been given a clean chit by the earlier Maha Vikas Aghadi government. Rathod himself has said that there is no FIR against him nor has the judiciary entertained any charges against him. As allegations continued to be aired even after his clarification, Rathod has threatened to file defamation cases if any new damaging statements are made about him. Rathod said, “I have been elected repeatedly to the assembly from Digras in Yavatmal district. I have a family, parents. I know what I have gone through. Such slandering must stop.” Rathod was made to resign by Thackeray in February 2021 after his government was cornered over the suicide of Pooja in Pune where she had come from Beed to pursue a career
nh7m4aig_tmc-leader-anubrata-mondal_625x300_19_May_22

TMC On The Backfoot As Party’s Strongman Anubrata Mandal Arrested

Nothing seems to be going well with the ruling Trinamool Congress after two of its prominent leaders Anubrata Mandal and Partha Chatterjee were arrested by the central agencies CBI and ED respectively. However, despite washing away hands from these two leaders, TMC has been prompt in protesting against Mandal’s arrest in a subtle way by organizing a two-day protest through youth and students wing. However, this was not the case for “Parthada”. “Kestoda” as Mandal is popularly called has held an unprecedented power for over a decade despite not holding any position in the government, not even as an elected legislative representative. His exceptional organizational skill of mobilising the masses to counter the Left in their erstwhile citadel of Birbhum helped Mandal to gain prominence in the TMC. Incidentally, Bahubali of Birbhum helped the party to win 11 out of 12 seats from Birbhum in the 2021 Assembly elections, and both Lok Sabha seats — Bolpur and Birbhum in 2019. Does Anubrata hold power beyond his district? Yes, he does. His influence spread over Purba and Paschim Bardhaman, which is why he was also made a part of the party’s national working committee. Kestoda, who is also a fundraiser for the party, has delivered on all fronts, party insiders. And this is why Mamata Banerjee has always defended him vehemently in public especially now by holding protest marches after his arrest.
eknath Shinde 1

Eknath Shinde Preparing To Deal One More Blow To Uddhav Thackeray

Maharashtra Chief minister Eknath Shinde is preparing to deal one more blow to his nemesis Uddhav Thackeray in his stronghold, Dadar in central Mumbai. Shinde is reported to be looking for office premises for his faction, which he claims is the real Shiv Sena. His supporter and Dadar MLA Sada Sarwankar has revealed that Shinde is looking for space for a party office at a location convenient to people to visit. Shiv Sena Bhavan, the Sena’s headquarters near Shivaji Park in Dadar, has been like a place of pilgrimage for countless Sainiks. Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray and now Uddhav have been regular visitors to Sena Bhavan that has witnessed rise and downfall of various leaders over the decades. The most prominent former Sena leader, Raj Thackeray, has an office a stone’s throw’s away from Sena Bhavan and his residence, too, is close by. Thus, the area around Shivaji Park assumes political significance due to such happenings. Shinde has been feeling the need for a separate party office since the common public can’t easily meet him due to security reasons and the 24X7 police cordon at his Malabar Hill bungalow. If Shinde’s office comes up in Dadar, the after effects will be felt most by the Sena under Uddhav.

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.