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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.
School buses burn

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.
devendra and Raj

@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”.
CPM 1

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.
bjp

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.
Gotobaya

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.
uddhav_sonia_sharad

Fotocorp

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.
Rishi-and-Penny

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.
Collage Maker-14-Jul-2022-11

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.
naqvi-and-irani-1200x900

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.
Sharad Pawar

Fotocorp

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.
WhatsApp Image 2022-07-11 at 5.23

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.
EPS at GC meeting

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.
Raj

Fotocorp

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.
Maha Gov

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”.
Collage Maker-08-Jul-2022-05

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.
EPS gives OPS out

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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Twitter

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?
Collage Maker-04-Jul-2022-05

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.
Collage Maker-02-Jul-2022-01

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.
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Former Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah

With Minorities Looking At Other Options In Karnataka, Congress Banks On Siddaramaiah To Win State Elections Next Year

After attending a closed door meeting with Rahul Gandhi on election strategy for Karnataka elections early next year, an ecstatic Siddaramaiah could not avoid interacting with select journalists from Delhi media at a 5-star hotel. That’s because the Congress leadership more than ever seemed dependent on him. A party survey showed that 20 to 30% Muslims votes had shifted to formations like the SDPI and AIMIM.  In a four hour discussion with state stalwarts like Siddaramaiah and DK Shivkumar, Rahul had expressed anxiety about Muslims moving away from the Congress and urged the need to win them over.  He wanted both Siddaramaiah and DK Shivkumar to work together.  What made Siddaramaiah happy was that the party was now ready to endorse his AHINDA formula under which party candidates were selected from minorities, backward castes and Dalits. However, even as he was interacting with journalists, he received a call from Randeep Surjewala, AICC General Secretary in charge of Karnataka warning him not to utter a word to Delhi media as they tend to misinterpret his statement on Karnataka politics. Nonetheless, Siddaramaiah could not help conveying that he was the top leader in Karnataka not DK Shivakumar.
Eknath Shinde CM

Why BJP Backed Sena’s Eknath Shinde For CM’s Post

Former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis sprung a surprise by announcing that Shiv Sena rebel leader Eknath Shinde would be the new Maharashtra CM. However, this is not the ‘large-heartedness’ of the BJP, as Shinde believes, but a masterstroke that the BJP has played to cut to size the stature of Shiv Sena founder late Bal Thackeray’s son Uddhav and grandson Aaditya in the party and the state politics. “With Shinde at the helm of affairs in the state as well in the party with the backing of 39 MLAs, the significance of Uddhav Thackeray in the party will drop significantly,” said Jay Prakash Singh, a senior political analyst. He added that the move will help Fadnavis and the BJP garner sympathy votes during the upcoming civic elections for letting go of the CM’s chair for the sake of Hindutva.  Fadnavis will be very much in the driver’s seat as deputy CM and this is the wish of the party high command. Fadnavis has declared, “BJP is the single largest party in the legislature… I will ensure the smooth functioning of the government.” However, is causing embarrassment to the Thackerays the only reason why Fadnavis passed on the CM’s chair to Shinde? “Once bitten, twice shy!” Singh asserts. “Fadnavis wants to play safe as he doesn’t want to face a situation similar to that of 2019. NCP leader Ajit Pawar went back to the party fold less than 48 hours after rebelling. What’s the guarantee that the rebel Shiv Sena MLAs won’t return to the Thackeray camp in the coming days/months?”
rahul-gandhi

Newstrack.com

RaGa's Phone Call To AIADMK’s Edappadi To Back Presidential Candidate Yashwant Sinha Stirs Up Hornet’s Nest In TN

Notwithstanding the fact that AIADMK has backed the NDA candidate Droupadi Murmu for presidential elections, that did not stop Congress leader Rahul Gandhi from calling up AIADMK leader Edappadi K Palaniswami to seek his support for Opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha. The call apparently surprised AIADMK’s top brass as O Panneerselvam was present in Delhi when Murmu filed her papers. So why and how did Rahul reach out to the AIADMK when it is already an ally of the DMK? It is being said Rahul’s call to the AIADMK leader was put through by election strategist Sunil Kanugolu. Having worked with AIADMK, Kanugolu had access to top AIADMK leaders. It seems the idea to approach the AIADMK was the brainwave of Viduthali Chiruthali Kathchi (VCK) leader T Thirmamaavalavan. The Chidamabaram Lok Sabha MP wants the Congress to move away from the DMK and forge an alliance with the AIADMK for 2024 Lok Sabha polls as the mood in the state is going against the DMK. On his part, Edappadi politely told Rahul about his party’s commitment to support Murmu.
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Tamil Nadu All Set To Ban Online Gaming Sites With A Stake

The online gaming industry may be in for a rude shock as the Tamil Nadu government seems bent on banning any site offering online gaming with a stake. By stake it means money you pay to place a bet. The government, worried over reports of suicides due to debt problems of some addicted gamers, had appointed a committee headed by retired Justice Chandru of the Madras High Court to recommend what action to take.  The committee which submitted its report to Chief Minister MK Stalin on June 27, recommended that the government enforce a ban of not only gaming sites but also the advertisements that promote it which are often seen during the cricket telecasts. The problem is that a blanket ban will not care to distinguish between the legitimate e-gaming sites and the gambling sites, including many offshore sites that are operating freely in the internet environment as it exists. The three largest online skill games associations are already concerned over reports suggesting that the GST rates on online skill games are to go up from 18 % to 28 %. Banning by one state could be emulated by other states. Karnataka had been contemplating action on online gambling in which several sites are claiming revenues in excess of Rs 1,000 crore per annum.
Draupadi Murumu (4)

This Droupadi Is All Set To Preside Over Maha Bharat

When BJP announced the name of 64-year old Droupadi Murmu from Odisha as NDA’s Presidential candidate penny and jaws dropped. One of India’s best management minds Prof R Vaidyanathan said: “The choice of Droupadi Murmu is a massive tectonic shift in Indian polity. Mark my words, not many developed nations could have mustered the consensus for such a role model like Droupadi to adorn the Presidential chair”. Murmu, a capable administrator comes from the adivasi Santhals of Odisha with stints as a Minister and later, a Governor. A devoted Sanathana dharmi, the first thing Murmu did was to visit the Shiva temple. Undoubtedly, the polity and power shift is in favour of the OBC’s. The RSS, focusing on the importance of the Vanavasis, set up 600,000 vidyalayas in tribal areas to bring the tribals under the umbrella of education. So the choice of Murmu is a logical step for inclusion. Two significant irritants cast their shadow on the tribals of India –.the Naxalite threat and the Christian Missionary Conversion issue, parading under the euphemism, “Soul harvesting by planting the cross”.  With successive government’s tough stand, the Naxal threat spread over 185 districts has now come down to 25. Murmu is bound to face and preside over more such irritants and challenges as our nation moves up to pole position.
Collage Maker-28-Jun-2022-06

Fotocorp

Will Congress Replace Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot With Sachin Pilot To Quell Dissension?

Looks like the Congress high command may have to opt for leadership change in Rajasthan if it has to halt erosion in the party’s cadre ahead of 2023 assembly elections. Acharya Pramod Krishnam, a close aide of Priyanka Vadra, has openly called for elevating Pilot as CM and a central role for Gehlot. Party sources admit that a groundswell of sympathy is emerging in the state for Pilot, who as PCC chief led the Congress to victory in 2018, but was denied CM’s post. Sources said if Gehlot leads the party to assembly polls, then it’s likely that BJP may sweep the poll. It was felt if Pilot was made the CM, the Congress could somewhat reverse the damage. After all, even state BJP leaders call Pilot “Neelkanth” (swallower of poison). Significantly, Rahul Gandhi recently praised Pilot’s patience at Jantar Mantar. Rahul’s praise seems to have rattled Gehlot which is perhaps why he has begun attacking his former deputy chief minister for taking BJP’s help during his 2020 rebellion. On his part, Pilot continues to play cool about Gehlot’s taunt and takes it in his stride. “Earlier, also the CM had spoken about me saying nakara (useless), nikamma (jobless) and much more. Ashok Gehlot is an experienced, elderly and fatherly figure, if he speaks something I don’t take it otherwise,” he said.
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Telangana Today

Yashwant Sinha Seeks To Meet LK Advani, Staff Decline Appointment Stating Daughter Pratibha Down With Covid

Before filing his papers for President’s election, joint opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha reached out to BJP veteran L K Advani for a meeting with him and to seek his blessings. The staff of the BJP leader however told Sinha that since Advani’s daughter Pratibha was down with Covid, a meeting perhaps would not be possible now. Interestingly, before the papers were to be filed the Telangana Rashtriya Samiti pledged its support to Sinha. It was also announced that KCR’s son KT Rama Rao would be present. And he did. Prominent among those who joined him to submit his papers included Rahul Gandhi, Sharad Pawar, Praful Patel, Akhilesh Yadav, DMK leader A Raja and Tiruchi Shiva, and Farooq Abdullah. Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot was also present. However, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha was not represented as Jharkhand’s ruling party is yet to decide on whom to support in the presidential polls. Also present was Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress Leader Jairam Ramesh, TMC’s Abhishek Banerjee and Saugata Roy, CPI-M’s Sitaram Yechury and CPI’s D Raja, Rashtriya Lok Dal’s Jayant Chaudhary, Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Misa Bharti, Revolutionary Socialist Party’s N K Premchandran and Indian Union Muslim League’s Mohammed Bashir.
Simranjit Singh Mann

By-Election Setback For AAP, Punjab Elects A Khalistani Backer To Lok Sabha

Normally, in by-elections ruling parties tend to have an advantage. This was seen in the manner in which BJP clinched the two Samajwadi Party (SP) bastions of Azamgarh and Rampur in Lok Sabha by-polls in Uttar Pradesh (UP). However, what came as a surprise was that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) lost Punjab’s Sangrur Lok Sabha seat — a parliamentary constituency, vacated by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, in less than four months after it swept to power in the state. While the two Lok Sabha seats in UP were previously held by SP chief Akhilesh Yadav (Azamgarh) and senior SP leader Azam Khan (Rampur), the Punjab seat considered a stronghold of Mann has gone to an avowed Khalistani supporter Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) candidate Simranjit Singh Mann. AAP’s Rajya Sabha MP Raghav Chadha, however downplayed the loss by pointing out that “AAP had retained its vote share with a meagre fall from 37% to 35% and all other parties INC, SAD (Akali Dal) and BJP lost deposits.” The BJP’s tally of Lok Sabha seats in UP has risen from 62 to 64, while the SP has been reduced to three seats. Though the BJP bagged the Rampur seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, it lost the seat in 2019. Interestingly, Akhilesh Yadav had stayed out of campaign in Rampur while Azam Khan fielded a “weak” candidate.
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Didi Leaves Nothing To Chance, Hits Campaign Trail For 2023 Panchayat Polls

Looks like Trinamool Congress Supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee is taking no chance as far as elections in her state are concerned. Panchayat polls are in 2023 but Didi is already in an election mode. She plans to visit every district in the state so as to establish direct contacts with TMC booth-level workers and voters. This early preparation by Didi is for several reasons. First, to take stock of the implementation of her government’s development schemes and glean whether local leaders and administration are working in tandem. Second, to nip factional feuds within TMC. Third, to weed out corruption from the grassroots level. Above all, Didi has recruited a special force from outside to give her reports without dilution of what’s happening within her party at all levels. Didi who kicked off her panchayat campaign visiting the Jangalmahal areas in the Jhargram district is likely to visit all 23 districts of the state. Her one message to her party workers is: ensure panchayat polls are peaceful unlike 2018, which was marred by violence and opposition not allowed to contest. That poll violence cost the TMC dearly in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections where it lost 16 seats – from 38 it was down to 22 seats. This worked to BJPs advantage, winning 18 seats. Didi cannot afford that mistake again.
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Didi Makes Efforts For Opposition Unity But Doesn't Get To Preside Over High Table

Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee has had a tough time in forging Opposition initiatives to finalise a candidate for Presidential elections. Even as Yashwant Sinha quit TMC to please Left parties that found it difficult to back a candidate affiliated to a political party, Didi was quite stumped by her efforts to get NCP chief Sharad Pawar to be first a candidate and later to even attend the initial round of meeting she had called on June 15. Pawar’s presence was important for her to forge Opposition unity but for some reason the NCP chief was reluctant to take any lead. Didi had to persuade Supriya Sule and Praful Patel to ensure that the veteran leader was present at the event. Mamata even called on Pawar at his residence along with her nephew Abhishek on June 14. Yet in spite of her extra efforts, not all non-BJP parties turned up. Parties like AAP and TRS gave it a miss while the Left was critical that the meeting was held at short notice. Leaders of regional parties seemed more worried about their worth in 2024. At the meet Pawar surprised Mamata by ruling himself out of the contest right at the launch. This wasn’t how Mamata had planned. So finally on June 21 when Yashwant Sinha’s name was finalised at the Opposition meet, 2nd round, Mamata chose to skip it. 
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With EPS Taking Over The Reins Of AIADMK, Will OPS Be Shown The Door?

Having exhausted all attempts to stop the conduct of the AIADMK General Council (GC) meeting, to be held on June 23, party coordinator O Panneerselvam (OPS), who is expecting to be ousted from his post, has decided to boycott the event. He refuses to be part of what could be the coronation of his party colleague, joint leader, and now enemy No 1 as he aims to crown himself the sole leader of the party. OPS had been telling his supporters in the GC to strategise counter moves to those of the Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) camp who are determined to raise the issue of a single leader and take control of the party. OPS could not scuttle the GC legally as the court refused to stay the meeting. He also wrote a letter to the Avadi Police Commissioner requesting him to deny permission for the meeting at Vanagaram that falls under his Avadi jurisdiction. But the police are unlikely to take OPS’ word as the party has officially convened the meeting. Police are expected to be present in good numbers as OPS has raised the bogey of violence both in the court and with them. It does appear OPS’ days are numbered in AIADMK and he may also lose the post of Treasurer presiding over two big trusts that control about Rs 3,000 crore corpus.
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MLC Polls: Defeat Of Dalit Leader Handore, Snub To Mallikarjun Kharge And Message To High Command, Feel Congressmen

The defeat of Congress’s first candidate in Maharashtra Legislative Council elections — Chandrakant Handore– and victory of second candidate Bhai Jagtap by eight votes reflects more poorly on vote management by senior ministers Ashok Chavan and Balasaheb Thorat, who is also PCC chief. Party sources feel defeat of Dalit leader Handore, who was to get first preference votes, was a shocker and, fear it would have implications in the Mumbai civic elections. Handore’s defeat also reflected the mood of MLAs who did not like the way party affairs were being managed. Sources said Handore’s defeat was a snub to Rajya Sabha Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge. Apparently, state leaders were irritated by the way Kharge got around to pushing for neo-Buddhist candidates in every election. Once it had even cost the party post of deputy chairman in the Legislative Council in 2018 as he insisted on the late Sharad Ranpise’s candidature. Many in the party feel the defeat of Handore is also a message of Maharashtra Congress to high command for imposing non-Maharshtrian candidates for Rajya Sabha in the past three consecutive elections — Rajiv Shukla, P Chidambaram and now Imran Pratapgarhi. Post Shiv Sena’s Eknath Shinde revolt, senior Congress leader Anant Gadgil feels Congress should have never joined the Government. “I had told Ahmed Patel in 2019, let us provide outside support to MVA,” recalls a vindicated Gadgil.
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Amidst ED Summons To Rahul Gandhi, Ashok Gehlot Emerges As Troubleshooter

Former Haryana CM Bhupinder Hooda has been sulking ever since his arch rival and fellow Jat leader Randeep Surjewala got elected from Rajasthan as Rajya Sabha MP and he couldn’t get anyone elected from Haryana. So when Congress high command initially dialled him to make protests in Delhi and at Jantar Mantar over summoning of Rahul Gandhi by the ED a success, a miffed Hooda told them to take help of Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot who had ensured election of three Congress RS MPs. Hooda’s refusal made a desperate party leadership to send out a message to summon Rajasthan MLAs and party workers to reach Delhi to block streets on June 20 — Rahul’s fourth day at ED headquarters. But then it seems after initial reluctance, Hooda relented; his supporters not only made the protests a success in Delhi, Hooda himself turned up at Jantar Mantar. Meanwhile, party sources admit Gehlot had emerged as a troubleshooter in the Congress and he has been carrying messages on behalf of party president Sonia Gandhi. She wanted Ghulam Nabi Azad to handle the AICC Organisation — something he had managed in the 80s; Gehlot reached out to Azad who declined saying it must be given to younger people. He also pacified a miffed Tariq Anwar. Both Azad and Anwar were hoping to get a RS berth.
Retiring Indian High Commissioner UK, Gayatri Issar Kumar

L to R: Retired Indian HC Gayatri Issar Kumar, Lord Karan Billimoria, Bangladesh HC Muna Tasneem & Sujit Ghosh Acting Indian HC

London Calling Indian Business And Netas, UK Is New “Summer-Capital” Of India

Retired Indian High Commissioner to UK Gayatri Issar Kumar at her farewell hosted by the Indian Journalists Association there said in lighter vein that London looked like India’s new “summer capital”.  There is a ring of truth to what she said. Post Covid, no sooner were travel rules relaxed than there was a beeline of ministers, bureaucrats, businessmen air dashing to London. Union Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, Telangana’s IT Minister KT Rama Rao, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Salman Khurshid landed here in quick succession to engage with the Indian diaspora. Goyal’s frequent visits and systematic follow-ups were to generate investments through government bonds and expedite progress of FTA, slated to be concluded by Diwali this year.  Senior BJP leader and RSS ideologue Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, who is set to visit London, is scheduled to address Indian groups and includes the Overseas Maharashtrians Professionals and Entrepreneurs Group. India’s growing soft power is the message. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also plans to visit London.  Sometime in July, the Chief Justice of India and law department secretaries have their scheduled visits and public engagements. And finally, the Commonwealth Games will likely see the entire sports lobby from India travelling to the West Midlands in the UK. Clearly, London is not just a summer capital. Indian business and politics seems to evolve and revolve around it.
EPS and OPS

Not By Choice But Compulsion AIADMK Will Stay Intact And Not Split

AIADMK, the principal opposition party in Tamil Nadu, is in turmoil. A tussle between the two factions headed by Joint coordinators Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) and O Panneerselvam (OPS) has led even to skirmishes and a former minister’s car being thumped as he left HQ. Together, EPS and OPS mean something in Tamil Nadu politics but if they go their separate ways, the former ruling party, founded by MGR and nurtured by J Jayalalithaa, will lose ground rapidly. Prime Minister had played the peacemaker on his last visit to Chennai, telling both party honchos to stay united and play a constructive role as opposition party. What is causing stress now is the playbook of EPS supporters eyeing to bring back the old days of a unitary leader and to hold an election for a revived general secretary post. But, OPS, fearful that he may stand no chance in a party poll, would like to avoid a head-to-head contest. A compromise may be OPS’ best route out but he would end up losing whatever hold he has on the party. A hidden hand in this is, of course, that of the Jaya confidante VK Sasikala whose political ambitions run sky-high. Truth to tell, EPS is the party’s best-known face but he can assert himself only at the cost of the party splitting. June 23, when the party council meets, should be fraught with interest.
Sonia Gandhi

INC.IN

Convalescing Cong Chief Sonia Gandhi To Miss June 23 Date, ED Will Just Have To Wait

So now it is quite obvious that when Congress President Sonia Gandhi avoided the first ED summons in the National Herald case on June 8 citing COVID, it is clear she wasn’t suffering from it. A party statement  now has claimed she was  admitted to the Sir Gangaram Hospital on June 12 citing “profuse bleeding from the nose” where she  is currently being treated for a fungal infection detected in her lower respiratory tract, along with other post-COVID symptoms. That it is not COVID became clear by the manner in which Rahul and Priyanka were regularly visiting Sonia in the hospital. She underwent a related follow-up procedure on June 16 morning. “She continues to be under close observation and treatment.” It seemed very odd that a medical bulletin on Sonia’s health should be issued by the party, instead of the hospital. Of course, the statement was carefully worded, loaded with medical terminology to help Sonia avoid her June 23 date with ED. Towards this end new AICC media head Jairam Ramesh has done a thorough job. Yet, it is surprising why the hospital did not issue a health bulletin on Sonia? This is generally the practice most hospitals follow whenever well-known political leaders are admitted under their care.
kcr

KCR Stargazing For National Role, TRS To Be Rechristened BRS Before Presidential Poll?

Telangana Chief Minister and TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao wants to rebrand his party as Bharat Rashtra Samiti on the premise that he wants it to grow nationally. The whispers inside his own party are that their chief honcho is guided by astrologers who seem to have picked on the name ‘TRS’ as the reason why it won’t do well in the next polls. In fact, short of saying he may be heading for defeat for the first time since the State of Telangana was formed and the party its leading votary formed sweeping the polls twice, soothsayers may have warned KCR that the stars don’t foretell a great future beyond the elections that are due in 2023 in the state. By rebranding his party through a change to Bharat, KCR believes he can build on his national ambitions by seeking to expand beyond Telangana boundaries. While it is moot if the party can so much as seek to do well even in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, it’s likely KCR is thinking of projecting himself in the Hindi belt, towards which he would like to take on the avatar of a national leader, beginning with an active role in the Presidential polls in July. What the stars portend may be a fear driving him but KCR is convinced that a national role awaits him.
J P Nadda

Nadda Puts Bengal Bifurcation Plan On Hold, Don’t Press For WB Divide in Public For Now, BJP Leaders Are Told

BJP has woken up to the harsh reality of difficulty in dividing Bengal politically. This realisation saw BJP Chief JP Nadda telling partymen not to rake up the Bengal bifurcation issue in public. Some BJP leaders were pushing for a separate state/Union territory status for North Bengal from the state’s western plateau. This change of heart comes even as TMC postures on unity in political diversity making BJP top leader thinks it is inopportune time to be treading on the statehood landmine and getting perceived as dividers of Bengal. BJP’s MLA numbers are down owing to cross-overs to the TMC. Nine local BJP MLAs have written a letter to Nadda expressing displeasure over recent organisational changes in the state. More importantly, with the Presidential election in July, 2023 panchayat elections and 2024 Lok Sabha elections, BJP’s top brass won’t risk slicing Bengal politically for the time being. BJP has also realised that there is no common cause among political parties in North Bengal. “The splitting of Bengal is far from being over, BJP has pressed the pause button for now”, analysts say. So, for now the party is focussed on consolidation fearing its anti-Mamata and divide Bengal politics may boomerang.

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.